The Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in east Tennessee offers a wide range of fun family activities, making it a great destination for your next vacation. Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular options for summer trips. It allows you to explore the outdoor beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the thrills of rapids on the Pigeon River. There are many different tours to choose from, so it's easy for every vacationer to find something that suits their preferences.
The Lower Pigeon River offers a laid-back option for beginners who don't have a lot of previous whitewater rafting experience. It can be a lot of fun for families with young children or novice rafters, and requires no special skills. The rafting company will supply the raft, paddles and all the safety equipment you need.
Trips on the Lower Pigeon River go through five miles of the Cherokee National Forest and Smoky Mountains, providing beautiful mountain views and the possibility of wildlife sitings. This area of the river is dam-controlled and includes only Class I and Class II rapids. Only basic paddling skills are needed to handle the raft on a beginner's trip. Plus, it's easy to take time out to splash, swim and cool off in the river water.
Children as young as three can take a trip down the Lower Pigeon River, but may be frightened by some of the rougher areas. Infants and other very small children aren't allowed for safety reasons. Family and friends groups can easily schedule a simultaneous Upper and Lower rafting trip that allows more adventurous members to enjoy rough water, while beginners and kids have fun on the calmer sections. Both trips finish up at the same time, so you can enjoy your evening together without scheduling problems.
The Upper Pigeon River is less controlled than the lower portion, with continuous Class III and Class IV rapids suitable for thrill seekers. You can expect medium to large waves, drops of three to five feet and long stretches of exciting rapids. This is a great trip for anyone who's been rafting before, especially families with older children or groups of adults. Many Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg tour companies don't allow young children to raft on the Upper Pigeon River for safety reasons.
Trips down the upper section of the river are fast and full of fun. They start out with a basic safety training course to make sure you have a wonderful journey. You'll then get the change to raft through Class III rapids such as Too Late, Razor Blade and Power House, as well as the Class IV Acclerator and Lost Guide, as well as many others.
There are periods of flat, calm water along the Upper Pigeon River, so you can take time to swim, relax and take it easy before heading back for more thrills. Many tour companies provide complimentary picnic and barbecue meals after the energetic trip down the river.
Rafting tour availability in the Pigeon Forge area varies by company, but you can generally expect to take a trip from about March to November. During the winter months, the water is too cold for rafting. Spring and fall rafters should consider wearing warm clothing to help them stay comfortable in the rapids.
A whitewater rafting trip is even better when combined with other fun activities. Many companies operate more than one tour, and will allow you to combine rafting trips with zipline glides through the Smokies, ropes courses and many other activities. When you schedule your rafting trip on the Pigeon River, consider asking about package plans that can help you save money and have a lot of fun.