Rafting in the Smokies

The Pigeon River of western North Carolina and east Tennessee flows roughly parallel to Interstate 40 for many miles and is impounded by Walters Dam at  Waterville before entering Tennessee, where it flows into the French Broad River. The river takes its name from the passenger pigeon, an extinct bird whose migration route once included the river valley in North Carolina and Tennessee. The village of Hartford is situated in a narrow valley along the Pigeon River and is surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides. The "Big Pigeon" is a diverse river supporting wildlife and tourists alike. In addition to both commercial and private boating, visitors to the area can enjoy plentiful fishing and bird watching...and, if you lucky, you may even spot an elk. 

At Rafting in the Smokies River Outpost in Hartford you'll discover whitewater rafting adventures plus a whole lot more! Don't miss a walk across the 150-ft. swinging bridge to their Family Adventure Island. Here you'll want to race through the trees on their 600-ft. dual zip lines or you can enjoy their high elements ropes challenge course. Family Adventure Island offers picnic tables and grills, a kid's play area and swimming beach, a birding/nature trail, and it's even home to a Geocache location. 

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Latitude: 35.7955385 Longitude: -83.001709 Elevation: 3027 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Brenda Shultz

Typical Class of Water

The Upper Pigeon offers 12 Class III-IV rapids over a 5-miles stretch. The Lower Pigeon features Class I-II rapids with 1 Class III at the end of the 6 mile stretch.

Best Seasons for Experiencing

Spring, Summer, Fall. Every season has a beauty all its own. The huge variety of spring wildflowers and colorful fall foliage are favorite sights during Spring and Fall, while the lush greenery and cool waters offer refreshing respite of the heat of Summer. 

Access Points

Exit 447 (Hartford) off Interstate 40. Rafting in the Smokies offers a variety of commercial rafting trips as well as shuttle service for private boaters. Our River Outpost is located just off the exit - you can't miss the red roof of our log building!

Rafting in the Smokies offers rafting adventures for ages and experience levels. A guided trip on the Upper section offers big waves and thrills of Class III & IV rapids while the Lower section features gentle waves and gorgeous scenery. You can even paddle your own inflatable kayak Duckie down the Lower section. All of our trips are coordinated with the flexibility for families and groups to raft at the same time but at different levels of adventure. 

ADA Accessibility Notes

For our wheelchair-bound guests, Rafting in the Smokies offers a specially equipped shuttle bus capable of carrying two wheel chairs. 

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are not permitted in rafts.

How to Get There

Just a 45 minute scenic drive from the Gatlinburg, TN and the Great Smoky Mountains.  An approximately 90 minute drive from Asheville, NC.  Take exit 447 (Hartford) off Interstate 40. You'll see Rafting in the Smokies River Outpost straight ahead. You can't miss the red roof of our log building. 

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