Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Ocoee River Rafting Blog

Conquer the Rapids: Middle Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting Guide

middle ocoee river whitewater rafting guide

Are you ready to conquer the rapids of the Middle Ocoee River? This guide will provide all the information you need to navigate this legendary whitewater rafting adventure. From novice rafters to experienced thrill-seekers, there’s something for everyone on this exciting river ride! You won’t believe how much fun you’ll have tackling these wild waters – let’s get started!

If you want to take on the challenge of conquering the rapids of the Middle Ocoee River, we’ve got your back! Our comprehensive whitewater rafting guide provides everything from tips on getting prepared before heading out into the water to instructions on proper paddling techniques once you hit the waves. We’ll also discuss safety protocols and give advice about which routes will be best suited for different skill levels. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get going and make memories that last a lifetime!

Middle Ocoee River

The Middle Ocoee River in Tennessee is a renowned whitewater rafting destination. It’s located within the Cherokee National Forest and runs through Ducktown, Copperhill, and McCaysville. Class III-IV rapids make it perfect for those looking for an exciting challenge on their journey downriver. You’ll find plenty of stretches with waves up to five feet tall! The river also provides calmer sections that let you catch your breath while taking in the stunning scenery along the way. Whether tackling challenging rapids or enjoying the quiet moments, there’s something here for all levels of adventure seekers.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when rafting on the Middle Ocoee River, it’s important to come prepared. Let’s take a look at what goes into pre-rafting preparation…

Pre-Rafting Preparation

Now that we have an overview of the Middle Ocoee River, let’s review some important pre-rafting preparations. Before embarking on your Middle Ocoee River whitewater rafting adventure, proper pre-rafting preparation is essential. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the river:

    1. Research and Choose a Reputable Outfitter: Look for experienced outfitters that provide professional guides and well-maintained equipment. Read reviews and check their safety record to make an informed decision.
    2. Determine Your Skill Level: Assess your rafting experience and choose a proper route that matches your skill level and abilities. The Middle Ocoee River offers various sections with different levels of difficulty, so select the one that suits you best.
    3. Dress Appropriately: Wear comfortable, quick-drying clothes suitable for weather conditions. Consider wearing a wetsuit or splash jacket if the water is cold. Don’t forget to wear secure footwear that protects your feet.
    4. Safety Gear: Ensure that you have a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. Wear a helmet for added protection, especially during challenging rapids. Your outfitter should provide these items, so double-check their availability.
    5. Listen to the Safety Briefing: Pay close attention to the safety briefing provided by your guide. They will explain rafting techniques, paddle commands, and safety procedures. Follow their instructions carefully throughout the trip.
    6. Stay Hydrated and Fuel Up: Make sure to pack an ample supply of water and snacks to keep yourself energized and hydrated throughout your rafting adventure. Maintaining optimal energy levels is crucial for effectively navigating and conquering the challenging rapids.
    7. Secure Valuables: Leave valuable items, such as jewelry and electronic devices, at home or in a safe place. Consider using a waterproof bag or container to keep essential belongings dry and secure during the trip.
    8. Understand Self-Rescue Techniques: Familiarize yourself with basic self-rescue techniques, including how to swim in whitewater, float on your back with your feet downstream, and re-enter the raft if you fall out. This knowledge can be valuable in case of an unexpected situation.


By taking these pre-rafting preparation steps, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the rapids and have a memorable experience on the Middle Ocoee River. So gear up, get ready, and let the adventure begin!

Safety Tips

Conquer the Rapids Middle Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting Guide

While the Middle Ocoee River offers an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience, it’s crucial to prioritize safety at all times. Here are several safety tips you need to keep in mind:

    • Follow the Guide’s Instructions

Listen carefully to your guide and strictly follow their instructions during the entire trip. They are experienced professionals who know the river and can help ensure a safe journey.

    • Practice Proper Paddling Techniques

Learn and practice the proper paddling techniques, including the different paddle commands, to effectively maneuver the raft through the rapids. This teamwork will enhance safety and enjoyment for everyone on the raft.

    • Stay in the Raft

 If you happen to fall out of the raft, remember to stay calm. So, make sure to float on your back with your feet downstream, pointing them away from any obstacles. Your guide will provide instructions on how to re-enter the raft safely.

    • Be Aware of River Hazards 

Keep an eye out for potential river hazards such as rocks, strainers (submerged trees or debris), and strong currents. Avoid them when possible and follow your guide’s directions for navigating around obstacles.

    • Maintain a Secure Grip

Hold on tightly to the raft’s handles or ropes at all times, especially when going through turbulent sections. This will help you stay balanced and avoid being ejected from the raft.

    • Communicate with Your Team

Effective communication with your fellow rafters is crucial. Alert them of any potential hazards or obstacles you spot and work together to overcome challenges.

    • Respect the Environment

Preserve the beauty of the Middle Ocoee River by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly and refrain from damaging or disturbing the natural surroundings.

    • Be Prepared for Emergencies

In the unlikely event of an emergency, stay calm and follow your guide’s instructions. They are trained to handle such situations and will prioritize your safety.

Different Rafting Routes

Now that we have gone over the necessary safety tips, let’s explore the various rafting routes available on the Ocoee River. From beginner to advanced rafters, there is something here for everyone!

The Middle Ocoee offers three distinct classes of rapids: Class I-III, with a few challenging Class IVs thrown in as well. It makes it an ideal river for those looking for a thrilling yet safe experience. Here are some of our most popular trips:

Class I-II Trips

    • Upper Middle – This route features several miles of calm water and plenty of time for swimming or floating downstream. Perfect for families with younger children who aren’t quite ready for more intense rapids.
    • Lower Middle – For those seeking a bit more excitement but still staying within the bounds of moderate whitewater, this trip contains small waves and ripples perfect for honing your skills before attempting bigger challenges.


Class III+ Trips

    • Full Middle – Considered one of Tennessee’s premier whitewater runs, this route provides 8 miles of continuous roller coaster rides over Class IIIs and IVs like Grumpy’s Hole and Hell’s Gate. Not recommended without prior rafting experience!
    • Olympic Section – The historical section where Olympians tested their mettle during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics has been opened up to experienced paddlers eager to tackle its raging waters and massive standing waves such as Double Trouble Falls (IV) and Tablesaw (V). Guided trips allow you to take on these legendary drops under the watchful eye of an expert guide.

No matter which class or type of trip you choose, rest assured knowing there are trained guides at all times to ensure you stay safe while having fun! There is no shortage of opportunities when it comes to experiencing the thrills offered by Ocoee River rafting trips– it’s just up to you how far you’re willing to push yourself! With so much variety available, why not give them all a try? 

Post-Rafting Activities

After an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience on the Middle Ocoee River, there are plenty of post-rafting activities you can enjoy to make the most of your trip. Here are some options to consider:

    • Picnic by the River: Find a scenic spot along the riverbank and enjoy a well-deserved picnic with your friends or family. Bring along some delicious snacks and refreshments to replenish your energy after the rafting adventure.

    • Explore the Surrounding Area: Take the opportunity to explore the natural beauty and attractions in the vicinity of the Middle Ocoee River. Visit the nearby Cherokee National Forest and indulge in hiking, biking, or camping. Discover local trails, wildlife, and breathtaking viewpoints.

    • Visit Historic Sites: Ducktown, Copperhill, and McCaysville, the towns along the Middle Ocoee River, which have a rich history. Take a stroll through these charming towns and explore their unique attractions, shops, and restaurants. Learn about the area’s mining heritage and cultural significance.

    • Relax at Ocoee Whitewater Center: The Ocoee Whitewater Center, located near the Middle Ocoee River, offers an excellent place to unwind and enjoy the surroundings. Take a walk on the trails, have a picnic, or simply relax by the river. The center also provides interpretive exhibits that offer insights into the area’s history and ecology.

    • Try Other Outdoor Activities: If you’re up for more adventure, consider engaging in other outdoor activities available in the region. You can go ziplining, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even try your hand at fishing in the nearby rivers or lakes.

    • Visit Local Breweries or Wineries: After an action-packed day on the river, wind down with a visit to one of the local breweries or wineries in the area. Taste some locally crafted beers or wines and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere while reminiscing about your rafting experience.

    • Relax and Unwind: Treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation after a day of rafting. Book a massage or spa treatment at a nearby wellness center or retreat. Take the time to rejuvenate your body and mind before continuing your adventures.

Weather Considerations

When it comes to whitewater rafting, the weather is an important factor. It’s always wise to check the local weather predictions before you go out on a trip. Hot weather can be especially dangerous when it comes to rapids, so if the forecast calls for high temperatures, you should plan accordingly and make sure everyone in your party has plenty of fluids available. 

On the other hand, wet weather conditions can also present their own challenges. The river will likely be higher and faster than usual, meaning extra care must be taken when navigating through rapids. Cold weather brings its own set of hazards as well; hypothermia is a real risk during winter months that all rafters need to take seriously. Be aware of any potential changes in temperature or precipitation by checking forecasts regularly and preparing yourself properly so that your expedition goes safely and successfully. 


Now that you have the knowledge and tools to conquer the rapids of the Middle Ocoee River, it’s time for us to jump in and make some memories! Keep in mind all the pre-rafting preparation we’ve discussed, safety tips, rafting routes, post-rafting activities, and weather considerations. These are all critical elements when planning a successful whitewater adventure.

Bigfoot Outfitters is an experienced and reputable outfitter that can help you embark on your whitewater rafting journey. We provide professional guides, well-maintained equipment, and a commitment to safety. So don’t hesitate to contact us

  • Posted in: