Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting Guide

Ocoee River Rafting

Everything you need to know to conquer your next river rafting or kayaking trip on the Ocoee River. Ocoee River rapids, classes, and professional tips to enjoy your next day on the water.

Where is the Ocoee River?

The Ocoee River is located in Eastern Tennessee and is an easy drive from Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.

What class rapids are on the Ocoee?

The Ocoee is a quick-moving, fun and splashy river that contains mostly Class III and IV rapids. It consists of two sections: the Upper Ocoee, which has Class II-IV rapids and includes the 1996 Olympic slalom course, and the Middle Ocoee, which has four miles of Class III and IV rapids.

NOC offers fully guided rafting trips on both sections for ages 12+, but if you choose to paddle yourself down the river, purchase a river map and review definitive guidelines on navigating the rapids.

The following suggestions will help you get started with navigating the popular Middle Ocoee section, beginning at the base of the dam at the put-in. If you choose a rafting adventure with us, our highly trained guides know just have to navigate through each section of the river.

  • Put-in – US 64 closely follows the entire length of the Middle Ocoee, making it easy to access and scout from the road. Put-in at the base of the Ocoee #2 dam. There is a large parking area at the top. (Beginner option: Put in halfway down at Goforth Creek before tackling the full run.)
  • Grumpy – Pick your way down this long Class III by using the eddies on the river left. About a hundred yards down, watch out for an obvious ledge with a large hole behind it. A fast-moving Class III continues below this hole.
  • Staging Eddy – Avoid the playboaters and use the large river left eddy to get in line to surf.
  • Gonzo Shoals – A long section of shallow ledges; lookout for stuck rafts.
  • Broken Nose – A tough-to-navigate Class III+ rapid that’s located on the far river right and has three drops, with a powerful hole at the bottom. See American Whitewater’s wonderful description of the moves required here.
  • Second Helping – Run left or right of the large ledge to avoid pinning.
  • Moonshot – A great place for spins and then some Class II-III fun.
  • Double Suck – Marked by a metal plate on a boulder, a Double Suck is a Class III ledge with two holes. To run this drop, strongly angle river-left to eddy out behind the large rock; this will let you avoid the second hole.
  • Double Trouble – A Class III rapid with a double set of holes and some of the biggest waves on the river. Work your way up the river left eddy to play in the bottom hole and watch for rafts and other river traffic as you surf.
  • Flipper – A well-known play-spot. On river right, the eddy will help you avoid other paddlers.
  • Doldrums – A half-mile run of shallow Class I-II shoals. Near the bottom, watch out for a Surprise Ledge, a 3-foot drop.
  • Tablesaw – A turbulent Class III+ rapid. Stay left of center and paddle through large waves and holes. At the bottom on the right, watch out for a rock with an underwater pothole.
  • Diamond Splitter – A Class III rapid marked by a huge rock, the Diamond Splitter, which sits in the middle of the rapid. Most run river-right of the rock. Witches Hole, at the bottom of the river-left side, is a great surf spot. From here, fun Class II-III rapids continue for another half mile before Acceleratorand Cat’s Pajamas.
  • Hell Hole – A legendary play-spot. Make sure to skirt the hole while coming downstream, entering the river left eddy.
  • Powerhouse – Run the Middle Ocoee’s final rapid on the river right to avoid the large hole at the bottom on the left. Then paddle about 3/4 mile to the takeout.

When is the best time to raft the Ocoee River?

When visiting the Ocoee River as a private boater, keep in mind the dam release schedule and the season; these factors will influence access, comfort, and crowd level.

Always check the TVA Release Schedule or NOC’s Guide to Ocoee Releases to make sure you’ll have water for your trip, and remember that the Middle and Upper sections operate on different schedules. The general release schedule is as follows:

The Upper Ocoee runs on weekends only from May 7 to September 10.

The Middle Ocoee runs on weekends from March 19 – May 29 (plus Memorial Day); every day except for Tuesday and Wednesday from June 2 – September 5. Then on weekends only from September 10 – October 30 (with a full week from September 25-October 2).

You will also want to keep in mind the season of your trip, as it will affect crowd levels and weather. General seasonal information is as follows:

  • March-May: The Middle Ocoee runs only on Saturdays and Sundays (plus Memorial Day). Rafters should expect the water temperature to be in the 50’s and anticipate cooler weather.
  • June-August: The summer months (June to early August) are the most popular time to raft. The weather and water are warm, but the river is usually crowded, with peak crowd times falling on Saturdays at mid-day. From June 2-September 5, both sections of the Ocoee River run every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • September-October: After September 5, the Ocoee only runs on weekends, and the Upper Ocoee stops on September 17. Since the water and weather are still warm, early September Saturdays remain busy, but October weekends tend to be calmer and offer gorgeous fall colors.

What types of animals can you find along the Ocoee River?

When your trip slows down in the calmer sections, look out for black bear, raccoon, beaver, bobcat, river otter, deer, and woodchuck.

For bird lovers, common species include juncos, indigo buntings, cardinals, towhees, chickadees, as well as raptors such as turkey vultures, hawks, falcons, and American bald eagles.

A mix of reptiles and amphibians can also be found, including timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, eastern box turtles, and frogs.

How to find a guided rafting tour of the Ocoee River

Our NOC Ocoee Outpost offers fully guided trips on the Ocoee River. Some rafting experience options include a half-day adventure on the Middle Ocoee and a full-day trip on the Middle and Upper Ocoee or checkout our newest trip the Middle Ocoee High Adventure that offers more surfing, splashing and fun.

How to Become a River Rafting Guide on the Ocoee River?

How to Become a River Rafting Guide on the Ocoee River | Raft One

So you’d like to know how to be a river rafting guide? To join the elite club of die hard snake riding, white water blasting river nuts?

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But there’s a few things you’ll have to know – and even more you’ll have to do.

Ocoee River Guide Required Certifications

It’s not just you and the river. It’s you and raft full of men, women and children. You’re in charge, and it’s not like going on horseback, in which case you can get off. This is a rolling river that just flows, rapids and all.

So to make sure that you’re truly ready, you need to know how to rescue people from the river in the event they fall out of the raft.

Go after the Wilderness First Responder certification, CPR and Swiftwater Rescue offered by WTA. If you get experience in these you’ll be ahead of the game and not just another face with a paddle.

Get Fit

Controlling the raft is up to you. Increase your upper body strength. Go to the gym, use a rowing machine and and focus on your shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest and latissimus dorsi.

Take up running to build your total body endurance for those 6 hour river trips.

Know the Ocoee River

If you live near the river you’d like to work, get into it. Map it, navigate it and learn everything about it. Talk to the people who enjoy it to truly understand its many facets.

This is more than an ecosystem – it’s a natural and cultural world unto itself.

Know the Guides

You’re not in Manhattan – but it still doesn’t hurt to network.

There are probably other people near you who are already doing your dream job. Reach out to them and find how they got started. Ask them how you can do the same thing.

Get Happy

You’re going to be more than chauffeur. Think of yourself as a beacon of light. An old hand with an easy smile and a laugh that can excite and restore calm all at once.

Nobody wants to get on a raft with a sourpuss of a guide. So make sure you’ve got the temperament to match the happy time everyone expects to have. And make sure you can navigate even under pressure while keeping your positive cool.

Stay Serious

In the midst of your happiness, you need to know what you’re doing. All of this preparation should make you competent to bring families on a river, and inside you must remember the serious role you play in ensuring the safety and happiness of everyone aboard.

Whitewater Rafting Trips

Middle Ocoee

Looking for real adventure this summer? Come for an amazing whitewater rafting on the Middle Ocoee River with OAR!

With all equipment and transportation to-and-from river provided, this 3.5 hour trip is convenient for all group ages 12 and up! Never been rafting before? No problem! Our highly trained guides will teach you and your crew all the whitewater rafting techniques and safety skills you need for your adventure. With five miles of class III and IV rapids, the Middle Ocoee River provides excitement and challenge for any group. Whether you’re feeling nervous or daring, whether you just want to stay in the boat or you want a wild ride, our guides can customize your whitewater rafting trip to fit your needs. Either way, you will need your whole crew to make it down the river. Book your Middle Ocoee Trip now for summer adventure, true camaraderie, and enduring stories!

River Class refers to how powerful the rapids are on a given river. Class IV rapids are difficult with constricted passages that often require complex maneuvering in turbulent water.

*a 10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

The trip lasts 3 hours start to finish, with the travel time to and from the outpost included. Trips are typically about 2 hours on the water.

Pricing starts at $41* per person for a middle trip. We do offer a 10% discount for groups of 10 and larger. Sundays and Mondays are only $35 per person!

*a 10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

The minimum age is 12 years old. This is a requirement directly from Tennessee state law. Fortunately, we have plenty of activities for younger kids, such as tubing and low ropes courses.

Whitewater Rafting the Middle Ocoee with OAR

Absolute best time. Great guide, amazing company. We had the best time with Outdoor Adventure Rafting company. A friend had recommended them to me saying they were the best and he was definitely right. We recommended a wild guide and they accommodated us with a very experienced guide, Brett, who gave us an awesome time and still . read more ensured our safety. I can’t say enough how absolutely great they were to us. It was an unforgettable trip, and I will always use O.A.R. anytime I go back. If you’re looking for a great guide, I highly recommend Brett. Thanks again to the guys and gals at O.A.R. 10/10 read less

Fantastic! This was my first time going white water rafting and it was so much fun! The river is great but what sets this place apart was the Tour Guides. These guys are hilarious but still fantastic professionals. If you want to have a blast, ask for David.

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Ryan

What a fabulous experience! I’m an overweight, out-of-shape, middle-aged woman, and I was nervous about whether I could handle white water rafting, or whether they would even have gear to fit me. I shouldn’t have worried! Our guide, Isaiah, was so reassuring and made me feel comfortable and safe at every moment, and never . read more judged for what my body can or can’t do. And he gently encouraged me to challenge myself a bit – I’m so glad I did! OAR guides are knowledgeable, cheerful, fun and courteous (cheesy jokes notwithstanding!). Some of the other companies have a macho vibe, but OAR guides are kind to each other as well as the customers. I can’t wait to go back! read less

My favorite. My third year rafting with these awesome people! My raft guide Ben was fantastic! I love white water rafting. 10/10

Full River

Having trouble deciding between rafting the Upper Ocoee River or the Middle Ocoee River? No worries!

You can do both with OAR’s Full River Trip! Get the full Ocoee whitewater rafting experience with this epic all-day adventure. Our highly trained guides will prep you and your crew about whitewater rafting technique and safety. Start off your adventure with a bang, navigating five miles of class III and IV whitewater at the site of the 1996 Olympic Games. Catch your breath at our scenic lunch stop and enjoy chips, sandwiches, pasta salad, oatmeal cookies, and homemade southern ice tea and lemonade – all included with your full river trip. After lunch we’ll begin the second half of our journey on the Middle Ocoee River, the most classic stretch of whitewater in the South East. You and your crew will brave five more miles of class III and IV rapids before returning to our Ocoee Rafting Outpost. Book your whitewater rafting trip today for the full Ocoee experience!

River Class refers to how powerful the rapids are on a given river. Class IV rapids are difficult with constricted passages that often require complex maneuvering in turbulent water

*10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

*The Upper trip is only available on limited days throughout the rafting season. Make sure to verify availability with our receptionist.

The trip lasts 6 – 6 & 1/2 hours start to finish, with the travel time to and from the outpost included. Lunch is included between the Upper and Middle sections.

Pricing starts at $91* per person for a full river trip. We offer a 10% discount for groups of 10 and larger. The upper section only runs on Saturdays and Sundays!

*10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

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*The Upper trip is only available on limited days throughout the rafting season. Make sure to verify availability with our receptionist.

The minimum age is 12 years old. This is a requirement directly from Tennessee state law. Fortunately, we have plenty of activities for younger kids, such as tubing and low ropes courses.

Whitewater Rafting the Full Ocoee River with OAR

Once again it was an amazing time. Great place!I would recommend this company to anyone. Very accommodating even with last minute changes. Jerry is an amazing raft guide and the ladies handling the counter are great.Always a great experience.

OAR is the best rafting company on the Ocoee! This was our second time rafting with OAR and they are hands down the best rafting company on the river. They are so laidback and not stuffy like all of the other caompnies out there. Rodney was an amazing raft guide and we had a blast! He really knew what . read more he was doing out there and he made it super easy for us. We will always choose OAR! read less

Rafting Trip with OAR Had an excellent trip rafting with our church group! Loads of fun and excitement. We had 36 in our group and everyone had so much fun. All of the guides were exceptional and lunch was great. Darby was our guide and we adored him. He made the trip fun, exciting . read more and everyone had a blast! Can’t wait to go back! Thanks again Darby! read less

So very awesome! Great experience! We had a wonderful time on the river. Brett was our guide and was both informative and fun. We took our teenage sons who said it was their favorite of the four river trips we had done before. My husband’s parents rafted for the first time at age 75 and . read more could not have enjoyed it more! Friendly, safe, and exciting! read less

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downhillsledder

Class V Ocoee

Are you looking for the most intense, most challenging whitewater rafting experience on the Ocoee River? Look no further!

Ocoee Class V rafting with Outdoor Adventures is absolutely the most extreme whitewater rafting trip out there. This trip is not for first time rafters. To be eligible for an Ocoee Class V trip, you must qualify during a regular OAR Ocoee Full River, Upper Ocoee, or Middle Ocoee rafting trip. Qualifications include ability to swim, self rescue into a raft, experience with whitewater, and experience surfing inside a hydraulic. During your regular Ocoee whitewater rafting trip, your guide has the option include Ocoee Class V training. If you make the cut, you will receive an Ocoee Class V certification card. Want to take the most challenging lines, surf the biggest hydraulics, and brave the most daring stunts possible on the Ocoee River? Use your Ocoee Class V certification card to book your trip now!

River Class refers to how powerful the rapids are on a given river. While not technically Class V, our guides pick the most gnarly routes you can take down the Ocoee rapids.

*10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

The trip lasts 5 hours start to finish, with the travel time to and from the outpost included. While this river trip is on the middle section, you experience the full extent of what the river has to offer.

Pricing starts at $54* per person for a full river trip. We do not typically offer any discounts for larger groups. If you have more than 10 qualified individuals on your trip, give us a call.

*(a 10% River Management and Access Fee will be add to the price)

The minimum age is 16 years old. While this isn’t a state mandated law, we enforce it because of the intensity of this type of trip. Take some time on trips down the middle and upper if you don’t qualify.

FAMILY FUN FOR ALL AGES! JON HALL WAS AWESOME! First let me say we had 5 people. Ages ranged from 18 to 42 and everyone had a blast! Jon Hall was an awesome and experienced rafter who really seemed to know his stuff. He was there to make sure we had a great time and believe me we all did. We rode the middle part of the river and it was the last ride of the season. Hopefully, we can return someday and ride the complete river. Thank you OAR for such an amazing ride!

Fun Packed Rafting We were a group of friends and each of us enjoyed the ride. The company believes in the complete satisfaction of the customer. We had Phil as our guide and he was amazing. He gave us a really wonderful time with lot of excitement. Enjoyed it and to be must be tried at this place. We had seen many other companies on the river but the fun these guys made for us was different. I loved the service.

Jon Hall makes the experience. My husband and I went white water rafting on the Ocoee for the first time and had an absolute blast! This was in part due to the nature of the activity but also because Jon made it such an experience! I would highly recommend this operation for white water rafting as the guides will ask you what type of experience you want and ensure that you have that. Whether you want a calm white water rafting experience down the river or you want a more vigorous rafting experience they will make sure it is perfect for you!! It was my first time rafting so I was a little nervous but Jon made sure he put me at ease and allowed us to have an absolutely wonderful rafting experience!! He gave us a a very detailed briefing before hitting the water and continue to give us information as we were on the river and historical facts about the area. Of all the operations available in this area this is definitely the one I would recommend! They are professional from the time you book the trip until the time you leave and there is even a gentleman out taking pictures that you have the option to buy if you choose to.

Upper Ocoee*

Ever wonder what it’s like to experience Olympic-quality whitewater rafting? Join Outdoor Adventures Rafting for the Upper Ocoee River Trip and find out!

The Upper Ocoee River begins with class II rapids and gradually builds to the infamous Olympic Section, specially designed for the 1996 Olympic Games. The Olympic section houses two of the largest rapids on the entire Ocoee, Humongous and Godzilla. This section of river has a walkway feet away from the action so all your friends and family can watch you run the biggest rapids! OAR provides all equipment, to-and-from river transportation, and instruction for this 3.5 hour trip, so it’s convenient for all adventurers ages 12 and up! Our experienced guides will help your crew navigate the class III and IV whitewater. Book your whitewater rafting trip now and become a part of the Ocoee Olympics legend!

River Class refers to how powerful the rapids are on a given river. Class IV rapids are difficult with constricted passages that often require complex maneuvering in turbulent water.

*10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

*The Upper trip is only available on limited days throughout the rafting season. Make sure to verify availability with our receptionist.

The trip lasts 3 hours start to finish, with the travel time to and from the outpost included. Trips are typically about 2 hours on the water.

Pricing starts at $45* per person for a middle trip. We do offer a 10% discount for groups of 10 and larger. Upper section only runs on Saturdays and Sundays!

*a 10% River Management and Access Fee will be added to the price

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The minimum age is 12 years old. This is a requirement directly from Tennessee state law. Fortunately, we have plenty of activities for younger kids, such as tubing and low ropes courses.

Whitewater Rafting on the Upper Ocoee with OAR

Awesome rafting experience! Tito was awesome! This is my third trip with OAR and it’s always been a great experience! Highly recommend them

Trenton rafting guide Trent was hands down the best guide Putnam of all of the other guides. He was willing to get in trouble to just to make sure we had a blast and fun time. 100000% request Trent on this trip

The most fun from the best crew This was our 4th time to use OAR for a trip. We have never had a bad experience. These guys and gals have got the rafting experience down pat. Every one is super friendly, highly knowledgeable and safety conscience. Jon is the best. . read more I call him “our” guide, because he makes you feel welcome, calls you by name and works hard to give you a great experience. He has been doing this for 11 years so he is pro. You can request him and I would recommend doing so. We have used other places, but OAR is tops! read less

TREEENNTTT Trent was our guide and he was the best! He constantly kept us laughing and made sure that we had a safe BUT super fun ride!! Super great.

Rafael was the best guide! Our guide Rafael was the best! He encouraged us and made our trip so fun! OAR has the most fun guides!

Amazing rafting experience We just returned to OAR for our second year and had another great rafting experience. Jon Hal was our guide, and we cannot say enough good things about him. He is professional, friendly, and an expert on the Ocoee. He went out of his way to cater to our wishes . read more on the trip and gave us an amazing rafting trip. We knew we were in excellent hands and felt extremely comfortable with him leading us. Not only did we trust him completely, but we really enjoyed his company. He’s a great guy! We look forward to returning! read less

Five Star Rated on

FAMILY FUN FOR ALL AGES! JON HALL WAS AWESOME! First let me say we had 5 people. Ages ranged from 18 to 42 and everyone had a blast! Jon Hall was an awesome and experienced rafter who really seemed to know his stuff. He was there to make sure . read more we had a great time and believe me we all did. We rode the middle part of the river and it was the last ride of the season. Hopefully, we can return someday and ride the complete river. Thank you OAR for such an amazing ride! read less

Fun Packed Rafting We were a group of friends and each of us enjoyed the ride. The company believes in the complete satisfaction of the customer. We had Phil as our guide and he was amazing. He gave us a really wonderful time . read more with lot of excitement. Enjoyed it and to be must be tried at this place. We had seen many other companies on the river but the fun these guys made for us was different. I loved the service. read less

Jon Hall makes the experience. My husband and I went white water rafting on the Ocoee for the first time and had an absolute blast! This was in part due to the nature of the activity but also because Jon made it such an experience! . read more I would highly recommend this operation for white water rafting as the guides will ask you what type of experience you want and ensure that you have that. Whether you want a calm white water rafting experience down the river or you want a more vigorous rafting experience they will make sure it is perfect for you!! It was my first time rafting so I was a little nervous but Jon made sure he put me at ease and allowed us to have an absolutely wonderful rafting experience!! He gave us a a very detailed briefing before hitting the water and continue to give us information as we were on the river and historical facts about the area. Of all the operations available in this area this is definitely the one I would recommend! They are professional from the time you book the trip until the time you leave and there is even a gentleman out taking pictures that you have the option to buy if you choose to. read less

Request Jon Hall Man, this trip was awesome. We did a half day in late September, so the water was still warm but it wasn’t insanely hot outside. We were a more adventurous group, and our tour guide, Jon Hall, did his best . read more to make sure we were having a blast and staying safe. We had great conversations and a wonderful experience. I’ve never gone with any other companies, but I probably won’t. These guys are #1 for a reason. I highly recommend this company and tour guide! read less

Fantastic company, fantastic experience! There are a lot of choices in this area for white water rafting. I’m glad we chose this one! The proprietor made us feel welcome and is clearly committed to creating an unforgettable experience for his customers that lives through . read more all the guides. They all seemed great. Our guide, John Cleveland was amazing. He was funny, passionate about the river, and also our safety. My entire family had an absolute blast and the pictures are proof of that. Would recommend a thousand times over. ~Jennifer, Jack, Patrick, Sunny, Lisa, and London read less

Awesome Experience I have nothing but great things to say about OAR. I would recommend anyone looking for an Ocoee rafting adventure to use OAR. The guides are great at what they do and it is easy to see they love doing it.

Team trip It was great! We did paintball, white water rafting and rock climbing and repelling. John was our instructor for the white water rafting, and for a party of 20 it was the smoothest trip I had ever been on.

Best bang for the buck! If you want to float down the river and watch people actually hit rapids repeatedly go somewhere else. If you want to get in the stink, go to OAR. Our guide Jon was the trip leader and he definitely set . read more the example for the other guides who seemed great as well. Jon repeatedly put us in surf sessions and made sure we hit every rapid dead center. Highly recommend these guys. Just a tip: Don’t forgot to tip your guides. Something I fortunately learned before it was too late. read less

Awesome experience – better than other companies we saw The OAR team did an awesome job to provide an action packed yet safe adventure. John started us off with the most entertaining (yet informative) safety session I have ever seen. All the guides were super knowledgeable and . read more extremely enthusiastic which really made the experience memorable. Darby was our amazing guide who was just AWESOME! We felt fortunate we chose OAR because we saw other companies on the river with less enthusiastic guides and not doing as many fun extra things like surfing the rapids. really hope we get to come back next year with OAR and that Darby is our guide again. read less

Source https://noc.com/news/ocoee-river-guide/

Source https://raft1.com/uncategorized/how-to-become-a-river-rafting-guide-on-the-ocoee-river/

Source https://ocoee.com/whitewater-rafting/

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