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6 Reasons Why The Ocoee River is America’s Favorite Whitewater

We get it – the community-proclaimed title of “America’s Favorite Whitewater” is a bold statement. But we have the proof to back it up! From a convenient location in Southeastern Tennessee to world-class rapids to stunning scenery, the Ocoee River is a frontrunner as a premier water sport destination in the United States. 

Here are six reasons why the Ocoee River is America’s Favorite Whitewater. 

1. It was the 1996 Olympic Site for Kayak and Canoe Slalom

Photo Credit: US Department of Agriculture

The Ocoee River was deemed so good that it hosted the 1996 Olympic Kayak and Canoe Slalom Events! This makes it the only natural (not man-made) Olympic River in the world. These natural rapids on the upper section of the Ocoee were mainly built by Mother Nature, with just a few tweaks added in for the Olympic Games. That means when you raft the upper section of this river, you’re following in the footsteps of global Olympic athletes on one of the most important days of their lives!

2. It Is Convenient to Reach From Several Major Cities in the Southeast

One of the major draws to the Ocoee is that it is incredibly easy to reach! Just look at these drive times:

  • Chattanooga, TN: 1-hour drive
  • Atlanta, GA: 2-hour drive
  • Knoxville, TN: 2-hour drive
  • Asheville, NC: 2.5-hour drive
  • Nashville, TN: 3.2-hour drive
  • Birmingham, AL: 3.5-hour drive

For several major cities in the US, you could reach the Ocoee quicker than it takes to see a movie at the theater – and this leads to a much more exciting experience.

3. You Can Enjoy Non-Stop Class III and IV Rapids

All white water rafting trips come with some rapids, but not many can claim a near-constant frequency of action. Many rivers have some exciting parts with long stretches of calm water that can get a little tedious. But not on the Ocoee! The middle section of the Ocoee has 30+ rapids to enjoy, spaced out so you never sit still for long. There is only one short break around the halfway point on the trip, perfect for jumping in the water for a quick swim before gearing up for more rapids. 

4. It’s Approachable for First Timers and Exhilarating for Experienced Rafters 

The Ocoee is an ideal option for first-time rafters for several reasons, but one of the most compelling is that the river only runs fully-guided raft trips. That means no matter which of the 23 Ocoee River rafting outfitters you raft with, you are guaranteed a guide in the boat to offer instruction, share safety procedures, navigate through rapids and keep morale high as you tackle some fun white water. 

5. The Ocoee River Offers Wide, Scenic River Views with Warm Temperatures 

The Ocoee River is incredibly scenic with the sparkling river, a lush, tree-lined shore and the surrounding mountains. It’s also incredibly welcoming when it comes to water temperature. The wide river gets direct access to sunshine for much of the day to warm the river. When you visit in the summer, the trip will most likely have refreshing temps, but not bone-chilling like some rivers. No need for a drysuit or wetsuit – shorts and a T or a bathing suit will be just fine for the trip. Because a dam controls the Ocoee River, the water level is consistently released all season long for a dependably fun river trip. 

6. You Can Enjoy More Activities Near The Ocoee Before and After Your River Trip

If you’re making the drive to the Ocoee River, you should stick around for even more activities on and off the water! We recommend planning a multi-day getaway to maximize your time on the Ocoee. From river tubing to hikes to mountain biking trails, you have more than enough activities to fill your trip with adventure.

There you have it – proof that the Ocoee River offers America’s Favorite Whitewater! Still not convinced? Plan a trip to the Ocoee River – we will show you exactly why it will be your next favorite vacation. 

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