For 34 days each summer the Upper Ocoee River is a rushing class III-IV whitewater river. This section of whitewater is most famous for the quarter mile section that was altered to host the 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak events. When it is not releasing and creating awesome whitewater this is what it looks like. It is a landscape of boulders, rock formations, and swimming holes. After a rafting trip on the Middle Ocoee River or a mountain bike ride on the Tanasi Trails this is the perfect spot to cool off in one of the many swimming holes. We hope you enjoy these pictures of the area and they inspire you to see this beautiful place for yourself.
If you have driven I-4 in Florida from Tampa to Orlando then you have seen a sign for Ocoee, FL. For those of us from southeast Tennessee this is a bit perplexing. The word Ocoee is a Cherokee word meaning “apricot place” or “passion flower” and is very distinctive to the Ocoee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. So why is there a place in Florida with the same name? Well here is why.
After the end of the Civil War a native of Tennessee, Captain Bluford M. Sims, settled in Florida. Bluford purchased land and established the first citrus nursery in the United States. This section of land that Sims used to grow his citrus is now the location of downtown Ocoee, Florida. Bluford and other residence of the area created the town of Ocoee. They decided to name the area Ocoee after the Ocoee River in Tennessee. To this day the Ocoee, FL logo is inspired by the passion flower, which is the Cherokee translation for Ocoee.
So, now you know how a place in Florida was named after a river in Tennessee with Cherokee origins.
Awesome white water rafting near Huntsville, AL can be found on the Ocoee River. Located in East Tennessee the Ocoee River is only 3 hours from Alabama so it makes a great day trip!
Home to the 1996 Olympic whitewater events the Ocoee River serves up 10 miles of exciting white water rafting that has something for everyone. Rafters can pick between two different trip options.
Middle Ocoee Rafting and Combo Ocoee Rafting.
The Middle Ocoee Trip is an exciting and splashy half day excursion that winds its way through the wild & scenic Cherokee National Forest.
The Combo Ocoee Trip is an exciting and challenging full day on the river. This trip combines the challenge of the Olympic white water course on the Upper Ocoee with the flowy waves of the Middle Ocoee. We serve a grilled riverside lunch half way down the river for hungry rafters.
All rafting trips are fully guided so no experience is necessary. All equipment and transportation is provided. The minimum age for Ocoee River Rafting is 12 years old.
If you are thinking about a whitewater rafting trip near Huntsville, Alabama then your next adventure is waiting for you on the Ocoee River.
Taking a white water rafting trip on the Ocoee River in early spring or fall is a great time to be on the water. In the spring, everything is blooming and in the fall the leaves put on a colorful show.
But! You need to dress for the occasion. Think Layers! Layers are the key to staying warm.
Basic Layering 101:
1. Base layer:
A good base layer is made out of synthetic fabrics. Athletic clothes that are made out of polyester or nylon are good examples. These fabrics wick away moisture to keep you cool in summer but the same tech helps keep you warm in cool weather. Synthetic fabrics also pack down small, so they can easily be stashed away when you don’t need them.
2. Fleece and Wool:
Fleece and wool are a great second layer because they insulate so well and dry quickly. Fleece is cozy warm and is great for pants and tops. I like wool socks for your feet because you can still wear your Chacos and the itchy part of wool is not a factor.
3. Outer Layer:
A splash jacket makes a great outer layer. It repels water and has Velcro closures for your wrists and neck to help keep you dry and to keep your body heat in. On the Ocoee River a splash jacket is usually all you need because our water is warm by mountain river standards. If the day happens to be especially cool a neoprene wet-suit is just the ticket. A wet-suit works by trapping in your body heat with a layer of neoprene. We like the farmer john type wets suits paired with a splash jacket.
We schedule our spring and fall Ocoee River rafting trips so that you are on the river during the warmest part of the day. This kind of white water rafting schedule helps keep rafters their warmest. If you are warm you can enjoy the great white water and take in the beautiful Cherokee National Forest!
If you have questions about what to wear or bring for your white water trip feel free to call us at 423-496-5050. Our friendly staff would be glad to help.
Ruth’s Golden Aster – Ocoee River Wild Flower Spotlight
As you raft down the Ocoee River keep and eye out for the Ruth’s Golden Aster (Pityopsis ruthii). This gorgeous little flower only grows along the Ocoee River and the Hiwassee River in Polk County, TN.
Preferring full sun this wild flower grows in the rock cracks and crevasses along the rivers edge and on the rock croppings in the middle of the river. The Flowers grow on stems about 8 to 12 inches tall and have narrow green leaves that have silver hairs covering them. They bloom a brilliant yellow, August thru September, so they are easy to spot while rafting most any section of the Ocoee River.
Ruth’s Golden Aster is on the federal endangered species list due to habitat loss and the encroachment of competing plant species. Efforts to save the flower are underway and include greenhouse propagation, habitat preservation and removal of the competing vegetation.
One of the best spots to see the aster is on the Middle Ocoee Rafting Trip. Just past Double-Suck Rapid there is a rock island in the middle of the river. A plaque on the stone island informs guests about the rare wild flowers and warns guests not to walk or pick the flowers as part of the conservation effort.
If you see this wonderful specimen on the river please take only pictures and help us get the word out about this native wildflower.
Rafting through the Olympic section of the Upper Ocoee River is a awesome ride of excitement. The Olympic Section of the Ocoee River is a man altered coarse that was engineered for the 1996 Olympic Games. It was designed to challenge the best canoe and kayakers in the world. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day we get the opportunity to take guests through this awesome section of whitewater.
Your first rapid, Best Ledge, is a diagonal wave that soaks you right off the bat. Then you will slam and splash your way through Smiley Face, Slam Dunk, and Callahan’s Ledge before getting to the two biggest rapids on the whole river Godzilla and Humongous. These last to rapids are right next to each other and success on the first one dictated your success on the second one. So listen well and paddle hard so gold can be yours on the Olympic Section.
1. White Water Rafting On The Ocoee River.
Ducktown is the gateway to the awesome whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. The Ocoee River is a splashy and fun Class III and IV white water rafting river. Adventure seekers can choose from several trip options: The Middle Ocoee River Trip (Half Day), The Upper Ocoee River Trip (Half Day) or The Combo Ocoee Trip with a grilled riverside lunch (Full Day). No Experience is necessary since all trips are guided. Rafting the Ocoee River is a great way to connect as a family and experience the natural beauty of the Cherokee National Park. Ocoee River Rafting Info
2. Blue Hole Swimming On The Ocoee River
Located at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, Blue Hole is a great place to swim and snorkel or just cool off. The water is super clear so you can see a variety of fish and turtles. Blue Hole also has some unique rock croppings that look like swiss cheese. You can swim thru and explore these interesting tunnels. Swimming and snorkeling are only allowed during the week (Monday- Friday) when the water is turned off. On Saturdays and Sundays the water is turned on and the river becomes a swift Class IV white water rafting area and absolutely no swimming is allowed. The area also has a nice picnic area and museum so pack a lunch!
3. Turtletown Creek Falls
If a short hike to a great waterfall is what you’re looking for, then here it is. Turtletown Creek Falls is an easy to moderate 3.8 mile loop trail. The hike usually takes about 2 hours, but allow for more time because there is an upper and lower falls and folks tend to hang out and take photos. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on a leach, so take Fido they will love it! Don’t forget your camera!
4. Toccoa River Fishing
The Toccoa River is considered to be some of the best trout fishing in Georgia. Anglers can fish for brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout in the waters of the Toccoa. The river is stocked by the fishery and has a healthy population of large trophy trout. There are several access points for wading trips including the easily accessible Horse Shoe Bend Park. If you have a boat then drift fishing on the Lower Toccoa is just the ticket. Drift fishing allows anglers to access several great fishing holes that aren’t accessible any other way. There are also guided fishing tours available in the area if you don’t have your own equipment.
5. Brush Creek Bike Trail
The Brush Creek Mountain Bike Trail is 14 miles of flowing single track located in the Cherokee National Forrest. The trial is well maintained and mostly hard packed with a few gravel areas. The trail starts at Boyds Gap Overlook and winds around to meet the Ocoee River. There are long range mountain views and lots of great spots to take in. Brush Creek trail is part of the larger Tanasi Trail System which is worth checking out if your going to be mountain biking in the area.
6. Copperhill, TN Shops
Copperhill is a charming old mining town that has great walk appeal. By that I mean it is a great place to just park your car and walk around town. There are specialty boutiques, open air restaurants and several good antique stores worth checking out. There are also two local breweries in town to help you unwind from a busy day of adventuring.
If you’re considering a trip to the mountains this July check out Ducktown, TN. It’s a great outdoor recreation area with lots of stuff to do. Rafting, zip-lining, biking and hiking just to name a few.
Here are a few of the great July 4th specials and activities going on near Ducktown you can take advantage of.
1. Military Free on July 4th
In honor of our military and their service to our country. All military and retired military can go Ocoee River Rafting for free on the 4th of July. You can check out this deal at: Carolina Ocoee Rafting Specials.
2. Two Days of Fireworks!
If you love fireworks, you can watch fireworks two nights in a row. Ducktown, TN and Copperhill, TN are just minutes apart so, pack a jacket and plan on making it a double!
2019 Fireworks Schedule:
Fireworks in Ducktown, TN – July 6, 2019 @ 9:30 pm atop School House Hill. The Fireworks show can be seen from almost anywhere in town.
Fireworks in Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA – July 5, 2019 @ 9:30 pm atop Tater Hill. The fireworks show can be seen from almost anywhere in town.
Fireworks in Lake Blue Ridge, GA – July 6, 2019 @ 8:30 pm over Blue Ridge Lake. The Lake Blue Ridge Marina has a good viewing area.
3. 4th of July Celebration
Downtown Copperhill & McCaysville will host a street festival, with venders, food and live music. Street Festival – July 5, 2019 @ 6.00 pm
4. Miners Homecoming Celebration
The area pays homage to its humble beginnings in the mining industry!
Friday, July 5, 2019
Miners Homecoming 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Music, Food & Fellowship @ The Hoist House
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Pancake Breakfast 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM @ The Hoist House
Copper Company Employee Reunion, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM @ The Hoist House
Free admission to Ducktown Basin Museum 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Ducktown Fireworks 9:30 PM
5. Blue Ridge Freedom 5k
July 4, 2019 @ 7:30 am
The 3rd annual Blue Ridge Freedom 5K in downtown Blue Ridge, GA.
1. Ocoee River Rafting
The Ocoee River is only a 20 minute drive from Murphy and is a great way to see the national forest and mark another item off your bucket list! Ocoee Rafting is fun and splashy Class III and IV white water. No experience is necessary since all trip are fully guided. Guests can choose from the Half Day Trip or Full Day Trips with a grilled riverside lunch. Carolina Ocoee Rafting
2. Nantahala River Rafting
The Nantahala River is great for families with young kids and beginning rafters. You just need to be 60 lbs or 7 year old to go. Guests have the option of going Guide-In-Boat or if they are feeling adventurous Non-Guide. No experience is necessary. The trip takes about 3 1/2 hours round trip. The Nantahala River winds thur the beautiful Nantahala National Forest. Nantahala River Rafting
3. Murphy River Walk
The Murphy River Walk is a great place to take a stroll. 3+ miles of trails take you along the Valley River and thru Murphy’s historic downtown. As a bonus the trails are also dog friendly! Murphy River Walk
4. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel
The Newly opened Valley River Casino has it all: blackjack, slots, roulette and craps for gaming. If your looking for family fun the casino also has a nice bowling alley and arcade.
If you decide to go to the bowling alley or arcade check their website for specials. We found an unlimited bowling and shoe rental for cheap. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino
5. Flea Market and Yard Sale Spots
Murphy is a picker’s paradise. If you like antiquing and good old fashioned haggling, check out Foster’s and Decker’s Flea Market.
There is also a roadside market every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). You just never know what you might find. I would try to get there early before the good stuff gets gone. Recently found a couple of old matching plant stands that are just perfect!
6. Downtown Pizza
If you are on vacation with your pizza loving family and want great pizza without breaking the bank, then this is the place for you. They have a good variety of specialty pizzas as well as the old standby pepperoni and cheese. As an added bonus they also have a game and ticket area that is done well. Down Town Pizza Co.
7. Nottely River Valley Vineyards
Family owned and operated this vineyard makes old world style wine. The winery is located on a 93 acre farm that is just a short drive from downtown Murphy. Tasting room anyone!? Nottely River Valley Vineyards
8. Nantahala River Gem Mine
The Nantahala Gem Mine is a great way for families to get their hands dirty. Miners get a big bucket of dirt, scoop it into a gem pan and wash it out in the water. Just like the miner of old you never know what you will find. It’s also a good way to learn about where things come from and how they naturally grow in the earth. Nantahala River Gem Mine
9. Valley River Brewery
If craft beer is your thing, then check out Valley River Brewery. They brew a good craft beer and usually have some seasonal varieties also. They have a good menu for eats if your hungry. I recommend the pizza. It goes good with the beer. Seriously! Valley River Brewery
10. Piney Knob Bike & Hiking Trails
The Piney Knob Trail System is 22.3 miles of single track hiking and biking trails. It seems like they are always adding more trails so I would recommend checking for new trail options every time you go. There is a mix of easy, intermediate and advanced trails that are a great way to take in the natural beauty of the area.
11. Rib Country BBQ
I would drive a long way for BBQ this good. Rib County has a large menu with something for everyone. They smoke their meat over hardwoods and it gives the meat a flavor you just can’t get out of a bottle. They also make and serve their own special sauce. Rib Country
12. Market Place Antiques
Market Place Antiques is a great place to go tiqueing! They are always getting different stuff so you never know what they may get in. Marketplace Antiques
13. Hiwassee Dam
The Hiwassee Dam is a pretty cool feat of engineering! The dam is 307 feet tall and is 1376 feet wide. The reservoir created by the lake has lots of boating and hiking opportunities. I recommend taking a picnic lunch and exploring the area. Hiwassee Dame
1. Enjoy, it is only whitewater rafting
It is worth reminding yourself that you have one of the best jobs on the planet. Our job is what everyone goes to do as a vacation. At times the heat and chaos can take hold, but you have to learn to shed it and enjoy.
2. Rafting is the easy part
From put in to takeout there are over twenty major rapids on the middle Ocoee River and you would think that is the hardest part of what we do, but it is not. Making everything look easy and effortless is the hard part. Putting trips together: loading gear, outfitting guests, entertaining on the way to the river, safety briefing, and getting onto the river, and then doing all that in reverse when we get off is by far more taxing mentally and physically.
3. When your team is happy, your guests are happy
Happiness is contagious. Is is important to recognize when you are adding to the chaos and when you are trying to remedy it. Rafting is a team sport, so it is necessary for everyone to do there part. When it shows you enjoy your work it lifts everyone.
4. The customer is not always right
Not everyone can realize when things are a good idea and when they are not. Some rapids are fun to surf and others are not worth the danger if something went wrong. We aim to give a customized trip for the guests that we have in our boats but not when it comes to jeopardizing safety or giving them more than they can handle. We have a motto that you can go home mad at us as long as you get to go home.
5. Flow like water
We work in nature on a beautiful river and sometime we forget that. Take the time to look around and experience what is provided. Go with the flow and not against it. The easiest path is almost always downstream.