Don’t miss your opportunity to have some of the most fun the Great Smoky Mountains offer! A whitewater rafting trip down the Pigeon River is an awesome itinerary addition while vacationing with your family during a fun reunion in the Smokies or escaping to the mountains with friends in a Pigeon Forge, Tennessee cabin. With over 2,000 miles of rivers and streams and thousands of acres of beautiful mountain forestry to see, whitewater rafting is one of the best ways to experience the great outdoors beyond the deck of your mountain view cabin.
Thrilling class III and IV rapids navigated with experienced guides provides all the thrills of an adventure sport with your safety at the top priority. Whitewater rafting is a fantastic day’s worth of entertainment, especially for church groups, school field trips, and others staying in one of our large group lodgings in Pigeon Forge! So get ready, because here’s the low-down on where you can suit up, grab a paddle, and hit the river in the Great Smoky Mountains, along with seasoned-visitor tips and pointers.
With TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence,” consistently high reviews and returning adventurers, two 5-mile sections of the Pigeon River offering unique rapids and views on the Upper and Lower Pigeon River, and tons of additional amenities available to visitors, Wildwater Rafting offers you a fantastic, action-packed day of fun! Located in Hartford, Tennessee, the ride from Pigeon Forge is a scenic ride under 30 miles with ample space to park, even for buses bringing your youth group.
Seasons to Launch for Whitewater Rafting in the Smoky Mountains
While summer is definitely your best season for whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River, many companies in the Smokies offer trips during the late spring and early fall as well! Catch the gorgeous blooms of late spring or the breathtaking autumn colors of the mountains in early fall from your raft! It’s always best to call your rafting company ahead of time to check on water levels, rapids, and launch times to guarantee your best day on the river.
The Upper Pigeon River
Adrenaline pumping thrills, gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains, and 5 miles of river fun make the Upper Pigeon River a great half-day trip during your Pigeon Forge cabin vacation. You are in for a wild ride on class III and IV rapids with names like Powerhouse, Lost Guide, and Double Reactionary! On the deeper portions of the river, some guides let (and even encourage) rafters to jump ship for a bit and enjoy a swim in the slow-moving currents.
Expect the trip to last about 2 hours, including your put-in, shuttle ride, and time in the water. The Upper Pigeon River is a fantastic excursion for families, youth groups, and bachelor/bachelorette parties celebrating in the Smokies. This is the ride you want if you are not traveling with younger children since the minimum age to raft this portion of the Pigeon River is 8 years, but families don’t have to miss out because there is another whitewater rafting trip for adventurers as young as 4 years old!
The Lower Pigeon River
If traversing the rapids named Powerhouse and Roller Coaster doesn’t exactly sound like your idea of fun, then you will love the more laid-back Lower Pigeon River where the waters are calmer and the views are just as beautiful. The class I and II rapids are perfect for first timers and young rafters while still enjoying 5 miles of river, a great time with your well-trained guide, and relaxing, outdoor fun in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Tips for Your Best Day on the River
What to wear
- quick-dry or cotton shorts
- old tennis shoes or strap-on sandals, like Chacos
- ladies: one-piece swimsuits and sports bras are great
- t-shirts or activewear
- watches or jewelry
- flip flops or slips
What to bring
Wildwater Rafting at Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge provides 2 pavilions with picnic tables alongside a grassy field to play cornhole and a sand volleyball court. Make a whole day out of your adventure and pack a cooler with sandwich-making materials, drinks, and chips for lunch and any outdoor games from home. After working up an appetite out on the rapids, enjoy a picnic lunch and let the sun dry everyone off while playing games in the grass.
The things most often forgotten:
- extra clothes
Beyond Whitewater Fun
So it’s time to talk more adventure, because Wildwater Rafting is so much more than rafts and paddles! You can combine their other fun excursions like ziplining and jeep tours to get the best deal around if you know you want to keep on exploring and having fun. You don’t even have to do both activities in the same day, but you definitely can pack all the excitement into one trip if you would like.
Waterfall Gorge Canopy Tour
You are in for one high-flying ride through the beautiful forestry of the Great Smoky Mountains on this 12-line zipline tour! Flying over the cascading waters of Smoky Mountain Creek and 4 sky bridges, this up-to 3-hour tour ends in an awesome 1300-foot zip over the Pigeon River while 120 feet in the air. Zipliners must be at least 10 years of age and 70 lbs to ensure the safest trip through the treetops.
River Zipline Tour
Got a few more in your group and need something a little cheaper? You won’t miss out on that epic zipline over the Pigeon River on the shorter, but just as scenic, a little less money is the River Zipline Tour! Same height and weight requirements as the Waterfall Gorge Canopy Tour, zipliners will fly for up to 2 hours across 7 ziplines and over 3 sky bridges.
Pigeon Jeep Tours
Get a tour of the Smoky Mountains in one of Wildwater’s custom-outfitted Jeeps for a history lesson like never before! For 2 hours, sit back and relax while enjoying the flowing breezes through the open-air cabin of the Jeep and your tour guide gives all the low-down on this magical national park. You can even request a new route if you are a returning explorer!
Where to Stay
After your adrenaline has come down and you need the perfect place to unwind and rest up between fun-filled days in Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains, you will look forward to that hot tub soak and serendipitous nap when you are returning to a Pigeon Forge, Tennessee cabin. With large group lodgings for youth groups, family reunions, and church events or budget-friendly cabins for friends and families, we have the perfect cabin for that summer getaway to complement your adventurous spirits just right.