Ocoee river Rafting trips

We’ve been offering the best whitewater rafting adventures on the Ocoee River for the last 41 years, and we’re just getting started!

It doesn’t matter if you are new to whitewater rafting or a seasoned pro, we have just the adventure for you! Paddle down the Ocoee River with your friends in one of our Group Rafting trips, learn the ropes on a half-day rafting trip, make memories on our popular full-day rafting trip or test your chops in our adrenaline pounding, skill-testing Adrenaline Junky challenge – no matter which adventure you select, we know that you’ll leave with incredible new memories of your rafting trip down the Ocoee River.

Looking to add some adventure to your stay in the Chattanooga area? We are nearby and just a 40 minute drive from Hamilton Place Shopping and less than an hour from Downtown Chattanooga. We are also a 2.5 hour drive from northern Alabama, Birmingham, and Huntsville.

At Ocoee Inn Rafting, we take safety seriously. Our rafting guides are some of the most experienced in the industry, with many having over 15 years of experience guiding adventurers down the river. Not only that, but we were the first outfitter on the Ocoee River to feature self-bailing rafts, and are constantly improving our techniques and protocols to ensure that you and your group have the best trip possible. All of these reasons make Ocoee Inn Rafting the best rafting company on the Ocoee River!

It’s time to live the adventure you’ve always dreamed of. It’s time to go rafting with Ocoee Inn Rafting.

Add some adventure to your life!

Book a trip today on America’s favorite whitewater rafting destination!

whitewater rafting on the middle ocoee river

Half Day Rafting Trips

full day rafting trips Ocoee Inn Rafting

Full Day Rafting Trips

youth group rafting on the ocoee river

Group Rafting Trips

advanced whitewater rafting trip

Ocoee WhiteWater Rafting

The Ocoee River in Tennessee stands as one of the most well-known and well-traveled whitewater rivers in the U.S, carrying over 300,000 rafters down its waters each season. Home to the 1996 Whitewater Olympic events, the Ocoee River holds a national reputation for thrilling rapids that offer endless fun to adventure seekers both near and far. Even if you have never tried the sport before, whitewater rafting offers a fun and exciting opportunity to experience a new adventure with your friends or family.

What first began as a practical necessity for early explorers traveling across new lands, white water or whitewater rafting has come a long way in becoming one of the most popular adventure sports in recreation today. Rivers across the U.S make up a playground water system for adventure seekers of all skill and experience levels. Making its first real debut into the world of water sports as an event in the 1970s Olympics, white water rafting soon rose to international popularity as interest in the exciting new sport took root in adventure seekers.

Guided Rafting

When you book your trip with Ocoee Inn Rafting, your rafting trip will be led by an experienced rafting guide. Often referred to as “river rats” our river guides are experienced white water rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, commonly trained in first-response safety techniques such as CPR and white water rescue.

Your guide will give you some basic training information before you hit the water, including different paddling techniques and safety information to best prepare you for your rafting experience. Once you’re ready to set out on the river, your guide will take their place in the boat to expertly navigate you down the river. Depending on your desired level of participation in the rafting experience, there are typically a couple different types of raft boats to choose from for group trips. Oar boats and paddle rafts both offer unique experiences on the water.

Paddle Rafts

The most common raft in commercial rafting, the paddle raft makes a great choice for those looking to have a hands-on experience maneuvering through the water’s rapids and riptides. This is the type of raft that Ocoee Inn Rafting uses. In this style of raft, the guide takes their place in the back of the boat to shout instructions and steer the raft, while each passenger is equipped with their own paddle to help in powering the raft through the rapids.

Oar Boats

In this type of boat, the guide is seated in the middle of the boat with a large set of oars and has full control of navigating the boat through the water. As mentioned above, Ocoee Inn Rafting uses Paddle Rafts. Oar boats are less commonly found in commercial whitewater rafting and you won’t find any of these type of boats on the Ocoee River.

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Raft Materials

Any raft on the water today is typically crafted from tough, plastic inflatable tubes that connect to a solid bottom. Each boat has foot holdings and rope handles to hold onto to help secure you in your seat. Most modern rafts fall into a category called a self-bailer. In this style of raft, the bottom and sides of the boat are connected by a lacing that allows for the river water to flow in and drain out during your trip, so don’t be alarmed when you feel water over your feet. Before your trip, your guide will be sure each passenger is suited with a life vest and a helmet in the case of being are tipped into the water.

If you are new to whitewater rafting, it is very important to take your trips with an experienced guide who knows how to what is called scouting the river and reading the water. Your guide will make certain that you will be best prepared and informed for your trip. Your guide will also be very familiar with the rapids on the river you chose and will know what to expect.


Determining beforehand what elements and conditions make a river safe to raft is a process called scouting. While scouting, our river guides will study the status of the river from the shore, looking for any potentially dangerous obstacles, new developments in the waterway and places to pull off of the water if needed. Among the several different factors to consider in the scouting process, water level is a very important one to take note of. Things such as rainfall and dam regulation can make a big difference in the safety of taking a rafting trip on a river.

Reading the Water

During your time on the water, your guide will utilize the skill of water reading. This is a skill developed after lots of experience rafting through rapids, where the guide is able to interpret the conditions of the water in the raft and as they go to know the best and safest way to utilize power from paddling in order to navigate each rapid.


Whitewater rapids are categorized by difficulty in a Class System, ranging from Class I rapids to Class VI. Rapids may be classified based on how fast the water is moving, how much water is flowing in the limited space of the riverbed, and obstructions in the water path such as rocks or turns. When planning your white water rafting trip, it’s a good idea to look into the specifics of the river that you are looking to raft and also what routes and classifications of rapids a rafting company offers for their trips. This will ensure that you are well informed for your trip and it will be the fun day you are looking for, whatever your adventure level.

The majority of the Ocoee River’s rapids fall under Class I, Class II, and Class III, with a few additional opportunities to reach class IV. This variety makes the river perfect for new or first time rafters as well as those looking for a challenge. Continue reading to learn more about the Whitewater Class System.

Class I

Class I rapids are considered mild or beginner rapids, with few obstructions and a low speed that offers a safe and pleasant day on the water. If you end up overboard in these rapids, there is not a huge safety risk. This class is great for your first time on the water, where you are looking to ease into the sport.

Class II

A little bit faster than Class I and with more obstacles, Class II rapids are great for anyone who has rafted before or is looking for a more thrilling first experience. Trickier water patterns or more rocks combine to create a river run that is manageable but slightly more challenging for first time or beginner rafters.

Class III

Class III rapids hold the intermediate title, tighter channels, larger waves, and stronger currents. Class III rapids require experienced rafting guides with technical knowledge to successfully navigate.

Depending on the thrill level you are looking for class I, II and III are all great classes to consider for your first whitewater rafting trip.

Class IV

Class IV are an advanced class of rapids: waves become much larger in this class, and different obstacles in the river are much harder to avoid due to more powerful and fast-moving water. Ocoee Inn Rafting employs only the most experienced rafting guides and are very familiar with all the areas of the Ocoee River and how to safely navigate any class of rapids.

Class V

Class V is considered a class only fitted for experts in whitewater and presents a high level of challenge for even the most experienced rafters. Complicated current patterns and extremely turbulent waters around extensive obstacles create rapids that are extremely difficult to navigate. There are no Class V rapids on the Ocoee River.

Class VI

This final class is the highest level of rapid classification and is considered nearly or completely impossible to navigate by raft. Only masters of the sport should even consider attempting these rapids and even then, many are not advised for travel at all. There are no Class VI rapids on the Ocoee River.

Solo Rafting & Kayaking

For more experienced white water rafters, solo kayaking can be a thrilling way to challenge your skill level and reach new heights of adventure. Several types of kayaks are available on the market to perfectly suit your preferences and river runs. One type of kayak for this is called a duck and is an inflatable kayak for one rider. It is meant for more moderate rapids only. For rapids of higher intensity, a hard-sided kayak or canoe made from plastic or fiber-glass is needed. This should only be attempted once you have reached an appropriate level of knowledge and experience and are equipped to scout, read the water well and able to master safe bailing techniques.

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What should I bring on a whitewater rafting trip?

One of the great things about Ocoee Inn Rafting is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing any gear: we provide the boat, paddles, helmet, life preserver/vest, and most importantly an experienced whitewater rafting guide. The only thing you need to bring is appropriate clothing, footwear and possibly some sunscreen.

A good rule of thumb to follow when planning your rafting trip is to dress for the temperature of the water rather than the outside air, as you’ll be wet for most of your outing. Packing an extra set of clothes to change into at the end of your trip is a great idea, and especially extra layers to put on after leaving the water in the colder months. Though you may keep cool from the water, thoroughly applying sunscreen is a good idea as you will most likely be in the direct sunlight for several hours. If you plan to bring any belongings with you on the raft, placing them securely inside of a small dry bag attached to your body is essential. Wearing shoes that firmly secure onto your feet is important in not losing them into the water and also because you will be using your feet to help brace yourself into the raft.

Anyone who has been through the rapids of a river will tell you there is nothing quite like whitewater rafting. The thrill of being carried through wild and beautiful waters can take your breath away and put a huge smile on your face at the same time. With so many wonderful opportunities for exploration, your whitewater adventure waits for you just within grasp. Book a trip to the beautiful Ocoee River today and be on your way toward an exciting new adventure!

Whitewater Rafting Death Statistics

George Sayour is an American Canoe Association–certified kayak instructor. He regularly leads workshops on paddling basics, techniques, and safety.

Group of people white water rafting

Accidental deaths from whitewater rafting and kayaking accidents become the focus of news stories in any given year when such deaths spike. In 2006, for example, CNN wrote an article stating that there were 25 whitewater rafting deaths in 12 states in the first eight months of that year, implying that perhaps these deaths were the result of lax regulation.

So just how dangerous is this sport?

Statistics Can Be Misleading

First of all, it must be acknowledged that tallying boating deaths from moving whitewater incidents is very hard to tally. While professional outfitters can and do keep very careful statistics of accidents, a great many accidents occur in the private sector, where statistics are hard to come by.

Simple changes in the sport can affect statistics, too. In the late 1990s, a huge growth spurt in whitewater sports came when whitewater kayaking became enormously popular. The associated spurt in deaths did not mean the sport had suddenly become more dangerous, but only that many more people were participating.

Finally, some years may see an unusually high number of deaths for environmental and weather reasons. A winter that sees heavy snowpack in the high mountains can lead to unusually high volume in mountain-fed streams and a corresponding increased number of accidents.

So just how does whitewater sporting compare to other forms of recreation when it comes to fatalities?

Deaths by Sport

Here are some widely accepted statistics compiled by American Whitewater researcher Laura Whitman in 1998.

ActivityFatalities per 100,000 Episodes
Scuba Diving3.5
Whitewater Kayaking2.9
Recreational Swimming2.6
Whitewater Boating/Rafting0.86

The conclusion from these statistics indicates that whitewater rafting is less dangerous than recreational bicycling, and even kayaking is only slightly more dangerous than recreational swimming.

Whitewater Deaths by Decade

Another common belief is that whitewater deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, leading some to call for much tighter regulation. Whitewater deaths reached a peak in 2011, with 77 reported deaths. Here are the statistics by decade.

  • 1977 to 1986: 48 deaths
  • 1987 to 1996: 219 deaths
  • 1997 to 2006: 453 deaths
  • 2007 to 2016: 530 deaths

While this would seem to indicate an upward trend, the estimated number of paddlers suggests that the sport is actually growing safer. It is estimated that there are 700,000 avid whitewater paddlers in the U.S. currently, while a mere 15 years ago the number was roughly 400,000. Yet decade-over decade deaths increased only marginally.

Commercial Whitewater Outfitters Offer Maximum Safety

Further, the majority of the whitewater rafting deaths occurred among individuals with their own rafts. American Whitewater reports that on average, there are only 6 to 10 whitewater rafting deaths for each 2.5 million user days on guided rafting trips. In other words, there is one death for every 250,000 to 400,000 “person visits” of whitewater rafting. Furthermore, about 30% of those deaths come from heart conditions or heart attacks. ​

Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as the classification of the river, the time of year, and the maturity of the rafter. But the reality is that far more people die each year in from lightning strikes than in commercially outfitted whitewater rafting trips. The old adage, “you’d be more likely to get hit by lightning,” is indeed true here.

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In a typical year, professional whitewater rafting guides see about as many deaths as occur in amusement park accidents—a fairly small handful. And for most of us, a whitewater raft trip is a lot more fun than a rickety roller coaster.

FAQ – Ocoee River

fqa - ocoee river

The Ocoee River has two sections of river for white water rafting the Upper Ocoee and the Middle Ocoee. The Upper Ocoee River is a mix of Class III and Class IV white water. The Upper section of the Ocoee is highlighted by the thrilling White Water Course used in the 1996 Olympic canoeing and kayaking events. The Middle Ocoee River is also a mix of Class III and Class IV whitewater. The Middle section is packed with almost continuous white water and has lots of great rapids to surf and play. Check out our Ocoee River Rapids page.

2. What days does the Ocoee run?

The Middle Ocoee River runs every Saturday and Sunday from April thur October. It also runs every Monday, Thursday, and Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The Upper Ocoee River runs every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

3. How do you stay in the raft when white water rafting?

Listen to your guides instructions. Before and during your trip your guide will give you tips on bracing into the boat with your legs and when to be ready for the rapids ahead.

When rafting you sit on the side tube of the raft, so you can put one foot on the floor of the raft for stability and the other under the tube in front or to the side of you to brace yourself.

Paddle! Paddling actually helps you stay in the boat. The resistance you create when paddling actually helps push you back into the boat. It’s also a really good workout.

4. How deep is the Ocoee River?

The Ocoee has both shallow areas and deeper areas. As the river narrows and widens it changes the water depth. Generally the wider the river section the shallower it is.

The depth of the Ocoee River is millions of years in the making. Heat and pressure caused folds in the rock along the Great Smoky Fault that have gradually built up over time. This process transformed sedimentary rock into metamorphic rock.

Over many millions of years the Ocoee River cut its way through these rock layers to become what we now know as the Ocoee River George. As you pass thought the gorge both light and dark layers of rock can be seen. The two layers have worn away at different speeds creating the rapids on the river.

Check out the full geological story of the Ocoee – The Geologic Story of the Ocoee River

5. How old do you have to be to raft the Ocoee?

You must be 12 years old or older to raft the Ocoee River. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is the law on the Ocoee River.

6. What level is the Ocoee River?

To determine the Ocoee River level we use the International Scale of River Difficulty which uses a Class I -VI system.

The Ocoee has two sections of river used for whitewater rafting. The Upper Section and the Middle Section. Both sections have class III and class IV rapids. The Upper Section is best known for the thrill and challenge of the White Water Course used in the 1996 Olympics. The Middle Section is best known for being packed with lots of wave trains, surf spots and fun splashy whitewater.

7. How long does it take to raft the Ocoee?

The Ocoee River has three rafting trip options. The Upper Ocoee Trip, The Middle Ocoee Trip or the Ocoee Combo Trip. The Upper Ocoee Trip is 5 miles long. It takes approximately 2 hours on the water and 3 hours round trip. The Middle Ocoee Trip is 5 miles long. It takes approximately 2 hours on the water and 3 hours round trip. The Ocoee Combo trip is 10 miles long. It takes approximately 4 hours on the water and 6 hours round trip. The Combo Trip is both the Upper and Middle Ocoee sections with a fresh grilled riverside lunch in between.

8. Where is the Middle Ocoee River?

The Middle Ocoee River is located in the Cherokee National Forest in Eastern Tennessee. Ducktown Tennessee is the closest town to the white water rafting activities on the River. Our outpost is conveniently located just above the put-in at :

9. Where does the Ocoee River begin?

The Upper Ocoee River begins at Dam #3 and goes to Ocoee Lake #2.

The Middle Ocoee River begins at Dam #2 (Roger’s Branch) and goes to Parksville Lake (Caney Creek Take-out).

10. Where does the Ocoee River end?

The Ocoee River Rafting Trip ends just after Powerhouse rapid. The water then goes into the Lake Ocoee watershed. Lake Ocoee covers 1,930 areas and is a popular flat water recreation area.

For more information check out our frequently asked questions for general whitewater rafting.

Source https://www.ocoeeinnrafting.com/

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/whitewater-rafting-death-statistics-3969676

Source https://carolinaocoee.com/faq-ocoee-river/

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