Destinations

On Whitewater Rafting the Ocoee River in Tennessee

It was an early morning in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My husband and I were in town to visit some relatives and just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a little adventure while we were there. The nearby Ocoee River was calling. The site of the 1996 Summer Olympic kayaking run, it was sure to offer some excitement.

This wasn’t my first time on the Ocoee. When I was about 12, I had rafted this same river with my parents and aunt and had a wonderful time. Since my husband had never been rafting before, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to take him out for some adventure.

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The drive to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, our river guide for the day, was about an hour from Chattanooga.We had a quick breakfast and took off on our way. We arrived after a drive through winding Appalachian mountain roads through beautiful forest where Tanner, our guide, gave us a safety demonstration. We then boarded a bus where they took us to the raft launching point.

Words cannot describe the exhilaration one feels while whitewater rafting. That feeling of flying down the river and through rough terrain cannot be matched. Our guide was highly knowledgeable of the river and of safety, so I never felt like we were in too much danger, but there was just enough danger for it to be absolutely thrilling.

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Tanner had names for all the rapids like “Dead Man’s Drop” and “The Funnel of Death” just to make it a little more exciting. Every time he said something like that I would turn around and look at him, wide-eyed, and he would laugh. Apparently I was quite gullible.

During our time on the river, our little raft of six got to know each other pretty well. We had people from different areas on our raft that we got to know and become friends with. One couple was a local couple, and the other couple was from Philadelphia. It was fun getting to know our raft-mates and learning a little bit about their lives back home.

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During a calm stretch of the river, we were given the opportunity to get out and swim a little bit, which was quite refreshing. Then it was back into the raft for the last few thrilling rapids.

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When we finished, we brought our raft back to shore and boarded our bus back to where our cars were parked. By this time, I was hungry and looking forward to having lunch with my family back in Chattanooga.

If you ever find yourself in the region, I highly recommend the Ocoee River rafting experience. The Nantahala Outdoor Center was a great company to go with. I saw people out on the river of all ages, from children to older adults, and all were having a great time. If you’re reasonably healthy and fit, this is definitely something you should do. This really was the highlight of my trip. I can’t wait to go back next time I visit!

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