Big Momma


JP started to unfold him and laid him on a large table. He felt free finally after his long trip and listened to the conversation going on around him. “JP are you going to fill that raft tonight?” “Yes I want to make sure it holds air with no problems before morning.” “OK then I’m leaving for the day and I’ll see you out here tomorrow.” See you tomorrow Fish.” “Fish” he thought “who was that?”
He didn’t see who this Fish was but he could now feel the air filling him up. The sun was still out and he started to shine. He was pleased with how he looked and started to look around at his surroundings. He could see lots of trees and the smell of freshness that he had never smelt before. It was like flowers to him. He remembered when they first put air into him and there was a lady there that had what she called a flower behind one ear. The smell was similar to that. The he could hear a roar. He wondered what that was then remembered that “Water” sounded like that! “Ahhh! He thought. Water that he would use to raft people in here at his new home. He listened to a ringing sound coming from JP’s pocket. He watched as he put it to his ear and started talking. “Rafting in the Smokies” he said “JP here how can I help you?” “I’m good just filling the new raft we got in today. Then I’m calling it a day and will be back in the morning before the trips start.” “Great I’ll see you at 8” and slipped the object back into his pocket.
Everything was so new to him and he soon realized that he had a lot to learn. He was inflated full and he felt great. Then he was suddenly stood up and leaned against other rafts and they were the same color as him. He looked around and saw a grey one and knew he was something different. Some were bigger and others as he was. Then he saw the river flowing and swirling around the boulders and knew why the sound was so loud. He could see the structure setting by the river and could see people coming and going out of it. He liked the red roof and he could see all the busses lined up and watched the sun fluttering across the glass in the windows. He was glad that he had spent so much time listening to Doris on his ride to his new home. Curiosity was getting the best of him. He wanted to know all about everything that was going on. It seemed that most of the people were leaving. It was getting quiet. He realized the other rafts were not saying anything to him. But he spent the time enjoying being out of the box.
When everyone had left the Outpost the quiet set in. It was getting dark. Then he heard a older woman’s voice. “What’s do people call you?” He didn’t know what to say as no one had ever called him anything. “Well… I am the same as the Sun so I guess I’m Sun.” He was pleased with his answer. “You are not the sun little one.” He said then am I little one?” “No you’re not that either. I guess we will call you Sunny!” he liked that he would be called that. “Is this your first time?” he couldn’t remember anything and then remembered that Doris had told him he was “New”. “I guess I am new.” “What’s your name?” he questioned. I’m Big Momma!” her voice deepened and got louder what she spoke those words. He was quiet and she added “I will show you around and how things are done. Just do what I tell you and we will be alright.” He was glad to have someone tell how things are to be done.
“And I am Grey Ghost and the boss around here. You will do things my way or it will be the end of you!”

The Journey Home

He woke up when the truck stopped and the light became brighter. He found a crack where they taped the boxes shut and he could peek out. He watched as they took off some of the boxes and wondered if this was to be his home. He could see the men unloading his fellow rafts and they looked nice to him and beyond them he could see a bright sun shining and a lot of dry land. He wondered out loud “Why would they need rafts here?” the question was answered again by the box below him. “This is a place that uses them to go down the gorge in the big river below us.” He kept quiet to see what was next but then the doors closed and it was dark again. He felt the truck moving and he knew he was off yet to another place. They had all been quiet for some time when he heard “My name is Doris. What’s yours?” He quietly said “Sunny”. He waited for someone to say something like they had the day before but no one said anything.
“Doris are you still here?” “Yes I am right here below you. Are you worried about meeting your new family?” He thought about it and said he wasn’t sure what worried was. “I see you’re a new raft.” “Yes I’m new” the thought of being new made him happy. “You are going to have a wonderful time ahead of you. You will get to meet other raft like you and they will become your family. You will get to have wonderful adventures taking people up and down the river.” He thought about what she said and felt happy at the thought of being with others. “Will you be there Doris?” he questioned. “No I am going with a lot of others to start a new journey for a new company but you my little friend will love your new home. There will be rafts there to show you the ropes and you’ll learn fast as what to do with your families.” “Families?” he questioned. “Why yes the families that will come for you to give them a ride. Mothers and Fathers Kids and even Grandparents. You will enjoy your life on the Pigeon River I can guarantee it.”
He pondered all that she said to him and couldn’t wait to see his new home.
The trip seemed endless to him but he and Doris had many chats. She told him some of her stories and it made him feel happy. As the truck stopped he wondered if this time they would take him out. The doors opened and a man jumped into the truck. “Here is your raft JP you’re only getting one this time” “It is the one I was waiting for Thank you!” He was finally moving and it was into the light. He was so happy. Watching everything go past him outside the box made him even more anxious. Then to his surprise the top of the box popped open and there stood a man. He seemed like a nice man and he heard someone call him JP. JP was taking him out of his box. It was going to be a wonderful day. Sunny could feel it.



SunnyThis was his day!

He knew it was the day he would be blown up then he would be able to see his magnificence. He had waited for months for this day to happen. Today was the day and he was on his way to the department of air!

He was so excited he could hardly stand it. Before he knew it they were reaching for him. How excited he was. Suddenly he exploded and was becoming more then he could ever imagine. He kept growing and growing and then he stopped and looked around. Above him was a bright object in the sky. He could feel the warmth. Then he realized that he was the same color! He was listening to the voices around him and realized that they were calling that object in the sky the Sun. it was the same color as he was and with that decided he must be Sun also. He thought about his new name and kind of liked it. Then he could feel them moving him. He could hear the sound of the water and the next thing he knew he was all wet and floating. He loved the sensation and the water made him sparkle. He was so happy. Then the men pulled him out and started to deflate him. He knew, from the others, that he had to be sent to his new home and full of air was impossible. “Now, my adventure begins”. (more…)

Synchronizing Fireflies

FirefliesFireflies (or Lightning Bugs as we call them in some parts of the country) light up our lives!

 Did you know that more than 19 kinds of fireflies live here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park region? And, they are the only species in America that display a synchronized flashing light pattern.

 But you must catch them when you can!  This year, the Elkmont Firefly Viewing event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take place from Thursday, June 6 through Thursday, June 13. Go to for advance parking passes and more info about what to bring with you!  Because of the popularity of the synchronous firefly display, access to the Elkmont area is restricted after 5 p.m. in late May and early June to registered campers and those who park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride a special shuttle trolley to Elkmont. Access to the Sugarlands parking lot and to the trolley during this period requires a parking pass, which must be obtained in advance through

 These beetles, officially referred to as “Photinu carolinus”, take from 1-2 years to mature, but amazingly their lifespan is only around 21 days. Peak season for the synchronous fireflies in the Park is normally from late May to mid-June.

 While they are larvae, the fireflies feed on snails and small insects – but during their life they don’t eat. The light patterns are what they do to attract a firefly mate! Each species has its own flash pattern that helps them recognize each other. While most have a greenish-yellow light – one species flashes bluish. It is usually the males that fly around and do the flashing and the females stay put, but respond with a flash. No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Maybe the boys are in a competition – they want to see who will flash first. Or maybe if they all flash at the same time, they will have a better chance of being noticed.

While the light show is usually the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June, the dates may vary from year to year. Scientists say it may depend on temperature and soil moisture.  A few insects start flashing, then more join in as the season progresses. The show may be harder to see on misty, moist evenings – and cool temperatures can also shut down the show.

 If you are lucky enough to attend, please remember:

• Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.

• Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.

• Point your flashlight at the ground.

• Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.

You can also help protect the fireflies and their habitat:

• Do not catch the fireflies.

• Stay on the trail at all times.

• Pack out all of your garbage.

Perfect Picnic Spots

Family PicnicRafting in the Smokies Family Adventure Island is the perfect place to have a fun picnic. Bordering the banks of the beautiful Pigeon River, sit in the shade under the canopy of native trees and plants.

No worries here – Family Adventure Island is complete with picnic tables and grills. Remember when you were a kid? Make some memories here. A swimming beach is perfect for the little ones. Get in and splash around or if you’re a sun-bunny bring a book and a lounge chair and relax to the soothing sounds of the Big Pigeon River rushing by. Want to enjoy a little nature walk? Get ready to spot some of our feathered friends or catch some lightning bugs in a jar! The possibilities are endless – we just know they all come wrapped up in fun.

Everyone knows that picnic food somehow just tastes better – it must be the setting! Family Adventure Island is a picture perfect site for an entire day of fun. The perfect picnic definitely involves good company, so bring your family and friends. Come out and play! Soak up the sun and get ready to chow down with those you love – we promise this is going to be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Other Picnic Spots We Love:

  • Close by is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Cosby Campground. Complete with rushing creek, picnic pavilion, nature hikes and more, this location is said to be one of the best kept secrets in the Smokies. Primitive camping is available and you just might hear some mountain music from the Amphitheater. From Rafting in the Smokies, travel on 1-40 West to the 443 Exit (Foothills Parkway). Follow to the end. Turn left and travel approximately two miles to the Campground. Turn right and enjoy!

  • Another great nearby location is the Big Creek section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Big Creek offers you a trip to one of the more primitive and quieter sections of the Smokies. There is a small established campground and picnic area on the site of an old logging camp. To reach Big Creek, take I-40 Waterville Exit (451) and cross the bridge over the Pigeon River. At the end of the bridge, turn left and proceed one mile to the Carolina Power and Water Plant. The power plant sits at the confluence of Big Creek and the Pigeon River. Continue following the road past the power plant another 1.3 miles to the Park boundary and an intersection with the old NC 284 road. The road into Big Creek continues straight through the intersection. The Campground and picnic area is located about 1 mile beyond the ranger station.

  • Stroll through the remnants of the Howell Tree Nursery at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and sit in the Adirondack chairs under the Cedars of Lebanon watching the sun set over the Smoky Mountain ridges in the distance.

  • Metcalf Bottoms is a beautiful and peaceful place with picnic tables along the banks of The Little River. This area is within 2 miles of Wears Valley.

  • Laurel Falls Trail is a partially paved path with a 75-foot waterfall crossing the trail at the 1.3 mile mark. Eat your picnic amongst the native rhododendrons, mountain laurel, silverbell, poplar, hemlocks and old growth oaks. The parking area for the trail is at Fighting Creek Gap.

  • Cades Cove, the most visited part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers numerous picnic spots along the 12-mile loop. Pioneer structures dot this cove and tell the history of its early inhabitants. Wildlife is abundant.

Enjoy Wildflowers Among the Wild Waters

Wildflowers in the Smokies

Springtime at Rafting in the Smokies is an awesome experience.

Get ready to experience your own wildflower “pilgrimage” on our magical Adventure Island!

The area in and surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its variety of wildflowers – in fact more than 1,500 plants can be found here. Did you know that the Park is known as the “Wildflower National Park?”

Thanks in part to the abundance of rainfall in the area and nutrients left from the leaves of last fall, the forest floor is very moist. Before the trees leaf out, the warming sun streams through and awakens the earth and voila! out pop the wildflowers!!!

In late March and early April the flower show begins and the island is dotted with pops of colors from a variety of spring  blooms. Wild phlox, Trillium, Lady Slippers, Columbine, Jack-in-the pulpit and Bluets are just a few of the rare species you may find.

And while you’re enjoying the flora, you can’t help but be serenaded by the songs of our feathered friends. Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Ruffled Grouse make their nests here. You may also see a Screech-Owl, Whip-poor-will or Chipping Sparrow. Listen! That rustling in the leaves may be a flock of Wild Turkey!!!

Trees and shrubs are abloom, too. The mountains are awash with the blooms of Flowering Dogwood, Redbud, Tuliptree and Silverbell. And Spicebush and Dog-hobble  make their home near the forest floor. This area is well known for blooming Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron.

Remember – Adventure Island and Rafting in the Smokies is bordered by the Big Pigeon River, so  bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a day long adventure!!! The rushing waters are very soothing – you might just take a nap!

And be sure to bring your cameras, you’ll likely get a great picture of some of our forest friends on this natural preserve called Adventure Island.



The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an annual five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park consisting of a variety of wildflower, fauna, and natural history walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and indoor seminars. Most programs are outdoors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while indoor offerings are held in various venues throughout Gatlinburg, TN. Register at 

Nearby Knoxville celebrates with their Dogwood Arts Festival which features a vibrant mix of blooming gardens and trails, culinary and visual arts, crafts, theater, dance, music, film, and literary arts. Log onto for more information.

Autumn Adventures in Sevier County, Great Smoky Mountains

Come See the Leaves Change

The Colors are Coming!

Colorful Adventures of Autumn

There’s a world of adventure for you in the Smokies and this October is jammed full of them.  Not only can you still enjoy a Pigeon River rafting, but also all of Sevier County is on board with celebrating the harvest season with beautiful fall displays, traditional arts & crafts, festivals and celebrations galore!

Our October Special Events Lineup Includes:

Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair at Patriot Park celebrating craftspeople from around the country and supporting local charitable organizations.  Admission by donation!

Fall Celebration and Sidewalk Sale at 3 Bears General Store in Pigeon Forge.  Be sure to take your camera and get some great family photos with all their autumn decorations… absolutely beautiful!

1-November 4:
Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort in Gatlinburg.  Annual celebration of Barvian culture with great food, entertainment and shopping.

3-November 3:
Dollywood’s Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration in Pigeon Forge.  Dollywood offers 100’s of free gospel concerts, traditional southern cookin’ and crafts throughout the entire park for an entire month.

Fright Night’s at Ripley’s Haunted Adventurein Gatlinburg.  Special showing just for the month included with your admission.

Save $15 on Rafting with Rafting in the Smokies

Click to Get Your $15 Off Fall Rafting

9, 11, 13: We’re RaftingZipping, and Roping!

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.  Held each year and featuring some of the best talents in the US.  Entertainment, food and early holiday shopping!

Foothills Fall Festival in Maryville, just outside of Townsend, hosts 3 days of entertainment including Gary Allan, Train, Thompson Square and more!

3rd Annual Hazzard Run – The General Lee is coming to downtown Gatlinburg!  Actually, lots of General Lee’s are traveling from Nashville to Gatlinburg.  Car show and live entertainment!

16, 18, 20: We’re Rafting, Zipping, and Roping!

Camp Coleman Truckload & Tent Sale at Pigeon River Crossings (formerly Belz).  Great deals on camping, hiking, and outdoor gear.

23, 25, 27: We’re RaftingZipping, and Roping!

New Winery!  Ribbon Cutting at Eagle Springs Winery in Kodak TN at 4 p.m. at 119 W. Dumplin Valley Rd. Kodak, TN 37764.

Pigeon Forge Safe Halloween Celebration at the Pigeon Forge Community Center.  Begins at 6 p.m. with indoor Trick-or-Treat, not so Haunted House, games and costume contest.  Everyone welcome!

Ray Stevens in Concert at Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge. Call (865) 453-2003 or visit for more information.

27, 30: We’re RaftingZipping, and Roping!

31: Happy Halloween!!  Halloween Carnival at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies from noon-5 p.m.  So much fun!  Costume contests, music, entertainment, fun & games.  Have a bite to eat afterwards and then Trick-or-Treat the Gatlinburg strip with local businesses.

Smoky Mountains Bicycle Trails & Route Maps

Biking in the Smokies

In addition to being a fan of whitewater rafting, are you also a biking enthusiast? Just about everyone wants to experience the joy of breathing in fresh air, exercising without even knowing it, and trying to catch a glimpse of some exotic wildlife that can’t be found in your backyard.  Nothing enhances that experience like a family biking adventure in the peaceful, lush views of the Great Smoky Mountains area!

Here are two of the most popular bicycle trails in the Townsend area of the Smokies to get you started on a family cycling journey:

Townsend Bicycle Trail: This paved trail, approximately 4.5 miles in length, is located in Townsend Tennessee, also known as the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies.” It has only a few short, easy hills and is great for cyclists of all levels including older children. It runs parallel to Hwy. US 321 in Townsend, with a portion running along the Little River. This bike trail offers access to restaurants and shops along the way.

Biking in the Smokies in Townsend TN

Bike the Smokies!

Part of the same trail is the historical biking trail called “Shadows of the Past.”  It is approximately 9 miles on good paved trail with short hills.  During your ride, be sure to stop by the Townsend Visitors Center and take a break in the rocking chairs on the porch or browse in the shop!  Your purchases directly benefit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  View The Townsend Loop and Townsend Bike Trail Route & Directions Guides.

Townsend Bike Rentals:
A.J.’s Restaurant:  865.448.6059
Apple Tree Acres:  865.448.0699

Cades Cove Loop Road:  The most well-known biking trail is the Cades Cove Loop, approximately 11 miles, with new pavement.  Starting at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park it provides cyclists fantastic opportunities to see wildlife while touring 19th century cabins, churches, a gristmill, mountain streams, and panoramic vistas. It’s not unusual to see wild turkey, deer, and a black bear or two!  Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Loop is closed to cars on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. giving bicyclists and hikers unrestricted run of the trail.    View the Cades Cove Loop Road Bicycle Route.

Bicycles can be rented at the Cades Cove Bike Shop from April through October.  Helmets are $1 for anyone over age 12 and free for those under.  Need a baby seat?  They have those too!  865.448.9034

State laws for both Tennessee and North Carolina require that children age 16 and under wear a helmet. It’s strongly recommend that all riders wear helmets, use rear view mirrors, and ride properly fitted and well-maintained bicycles.

Additional Biking Trails include the Clover Hill Caper, Louisville Lap, Ellejoy Jaunt, and Little River Run.  Read about the sights and sounds to be found along all these trails at on Townsend Bike Routes.

Before or after your biking excursion, we hope you’ll join us on the Pigeon River for whitewater rafting, ziplines, and ropes challenge!


Fall Color Rafting Trips

White Water Rafting In TN-  Rafting In the Smokies- Fall discounts It’s bumper-to-bumper fun at Rafting In The Smokies and the only way to enjoy the Fall Colors of the Great Smoky Mountains. Choose your adventure: Rafting, Ziplining, Ropes Challenge Course,or Fishing.  Deals and Packages Available.

Raft Tuesday,Thursday & Saturday through October special trips can be scheduled for your groups. Raft & Zipline Adventures available through Thanksgiving holiday.



Fall Adventure Savings in the Smokies

Fall Rafting in the Smokies

As visitors gear up to make their fall trek to the Smoky Mountains, thoughts of colorful leaves dance through their imagination.  No two trips to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge are the same: the scenery is what people come for and scenery is what they get.

Perspective is what makes a moment special.  If you are sitting in your car in gridlock, your outlook on life is probably a bit gloomy.  If you are hiking on a trail in the Smoky Mountains, we guarantee that your outlook is well over 1000% better. Here are a couple of unique ways to change your perspective on your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Fall Foliage Raft Trips – Rafting in the Smokies offers a fantastic adventure whereby visitors can experience the Smokies’ fall colors from a totally unique viewpoint. As you gently float down the Big Pigeon River, peace and tranquility surround you as the sound of the water rippling underneath your boat fills your soul, and the rustling of cool fall breezes and brilliant colors fill your mind as they burst into their fall ritual.

Paddle & Saddle Trips –  A favorite anytime of the year! Our visitors to Rafting in the Smokies love the opportunity to Paddle one day then mount a beautiful horse and ride some awe inspiring trails the next.

Raft & Zip – For the folks who like to experience the thrill of zip lining through the trees. Paddle down the river to experience the beauty that is all around and then return to Rafting in the Smokies’ Family Adventure Island just across our 100’ suspension bridge.  There you will be treated to one of the few side-by-side zipline adventures in the Smokies.  Wow!  It’s sure amazing to see the colors flash by as you sail through the foliage.

All of these programs feature one thing: FUN in the great outdoors!  For your convenience, your friends at Rafting in the Smokies have packaged these adventures and offer outstanding discounts so that you may experience more of what the Smoky Mountains are famous for.