Whitewater Raft Guide Goes – SOCIAL

Whitewater Raft Guide Goes Social

Whitewater Raft Guide Goes Social

Rafting in the Smokies has an outstanding staff of WhiteWater Rafting guides who routinely go out of their way to ensure guests have the experience of a lifetime. Recently one guide, Scott Porch has reached out into the internet, socially speaking to engage our guests.  Scott a seasoned veteran of Whitewater Rafting in the Smokies; understands his job is more than just getting clients down the river safely. The conversations that occur on the river can be ones that create lifelong bonds of friendship. I still recall my first whitewater rafting guide “Mike-O”, educating us, between rapids, about the river and the history of the dam. Then Mike-O also turned me on to the greatest Turkey Avocado sandwich at the little restaurant next to Rafting in the Smokies.

Creating a memorable experience is a pivotal part of all guided trips. Scott has taken it upon himself to mount a Go-Pro adventure camera to his helmet.  Each day Scott tries to take one photo of each group he guides down the Upper Pigeon River, and when Scott gets off of work he uploads the daily photos with a nice message to each family.  By reaching out digitally, Scott has taken the relationship and experience to a whole new level for our guests. Now that is service, we thank all of our guides for making your experiences worth repeating. Congratulations Scott Porch for your outside the box thinking and your commitment to guest service.


If you would like information on whitewater rafting please visit this section on our website.




3 Tips for a Terrific White Water Trip

3 Tips for a Terrific White Water Rafting Trip

Have you ever gone on vacation and not been quite ready for the experience that you just signed up for?

Many times our guests at Rafting In The Smokies find themselves in town with some free time and they decide to take a White Water Rafting trip.  A little preparation is all that it takes to insure that your day turns out fantastic.  For your convenience Rafting in the Smokies has compiled and published a list of the most Q&A by past visitors.  Click Here to Read Our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Rafting Tip 1: Drink Water

One of the biggest dangers people face when experiencing outdoor activities is dehydration. In the words of Bobby Bouchette (The Water Boy) “We don’t want nobody getting the Dehydration!” White Water Rafting can cause you to exert energy and in all the excitement you do not realize that you need to replenish fluids.  Think ahead make sure to drink plenty of fluids before you hit the rapids,and drink plenty of fluids when you get off the river. The River is a beautiful body of water, but don’t drink the river water.

Rafting Tip 2: Paddles Down

Lets keep those paddles down and NEVER let go of your “T” Grip.  Why you ask ???  A paddle does just that if you get it out of control.  Keep the blade of the paddle in or near the water.  If you get excited and let the paddle swing around, you are likely to contact one of your other raft mates.  This is no way to make friends.  You will make an impression on them but certainly not a good one.  The “T” Grip should always be in one of your hands at all times.  Again Safety first, a Loose T-grip swinging around in the boat can change the day from an exciting fun filled experience to a Fat Lip or worse pretty quick.

Rafting Tip 3: What to Wear

Be prepared to get wet. We recommend wearing quick-dry synthetic material shorts, t-shirt or a bathing suit, something you’re comfortable getting wet in, tennis shoes, deck shoes or river sandals. NO CROCS, FLIP-FLOPS OR BARE-FEET ALLOWED. Wearing secure footwear is required by the County. Failure to wear proper footwear will result in forfeiting your trip without a refund. If needed, we have proper footwear for sale in our store.

Bring a towel and change of dry clothes and shoes. We have changing facilities, restrooms and hot showers. Never wear jeans or sweats, especially when it’s rainy or cool, as they absorb water and keep you wet the entire trip. If you feel you need extra clothing, we recommend nylon, fleece, polypropylene or wool (we recommend wool socks in the spring and fall).




Guaranteed Fun in the Smokies

When it comes to your vacation you want to insure that you have the best experience possible.  White Water Rafting In TN is an old favorite, it is a great way to beat the Heat, have fun as a family and get outdoors.  An important note for travelers to the Great Smoky Mountains is that The Upper Pigeon River water flow is controlled by a Dam, there are days of the week that there is Guaranteed water release form the dam.  Make sure to ask before you make reservations, if the day you want to go White Water rafting is a day that there is a guaranteed release.

There is an old saying that 2 out of 3 aint bad.  In this case that is fantastic, recently 2 out of the 3  major Knoxville based   TV Stations have traveled to Hartford TN to interview  Rafting in the Smokies about White Water Rafting in the Smokies.  WBIR Channel 10 – has actually featured Rafting in the Smokies twice, once for their excellent affordable family fun including White Water Rafting, Zipline Adventure and Ropes Challenge course.


The Second TV Station is WATE Channel 6 who points out the value and importance of Guaranteed Water Release when it comes to Fun in the Smokies. The professional staff at Rafting in the Smokies  constantly monitors the water levels and are in constant communication with the staff of the Dam to insure that you have the best White Water Rafting experience in Tennessee.

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Recipe – Rainbow Trout en Papillote

Gatlinburg Things to Do, Rafting in the Smokies, Trout Fishing, Fishing in the Smokies

Smoky Mountain Trout Fishing at it’s BEST!

A favorite recipe from one of our fishing guides…en papillote is just a fancy French term for meaning we’re cooking it in parchment paper.

 1 (2 lb) whole trout or other fish, cleaned, head on

1 cup couscous

2 ½ teaspoons salt, divided

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 small bunch of fresh oregano

1 small bunch of fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 whole lemon, sliced thin

1 cup grape tomatoes

I cup artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

½ cup white wine or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse couscous in cold water and drain well in fine mesh strainer, then lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (do not use wax paper). Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt over couscous and set aside. Cut parchment paper into a 15 x 48 inch sheet. Fold in half and lay on baking sheet. Unfold and lay fish diagonally on sheet pan on top of one layer of parchment paper. Sprinkle fish with rest of salt and pepper inside and out. Place herbs inside cavity of fish along with half of lemon and half of red onion. Arrange couscous on all sides. Place garlic and rest of onion and lemon on fish and lay tomatoes and artichoke hearts around outside of couscous, creating a wall. Pour wine or chicken stock over fish and dot with butter. Fold over edges of parchment paper, stapling if necessary, to create an almost airtight seal. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Carefully open and serve.

Neat Stuff Nearby – Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail

Gatlinburg things to do, Hiking in the Smokies

Smoky Mountain Hiking at Max Patch

Your Smoky Mountain Rafting adventure can be even more of a thrill when you add in a side trip to nearby Max Patch in the Pisgah National Forest. Max Patch is a gem so special and so rare that we almost hesitated to share it for fear of overcrowding this wonderful place. We’re all about all things outdoors at Rafting in the Smokies, and we think you’re special enough to let in on this little secret spot on the famed Appalachian Trail.

What makes Max Patch so special? For starters, on a clear day, it’s by far one of the best 360 degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains to the south, the Unakas to the north, and the Black Mountains and Great Balsams to the southeast. The summit of Max Patch at 4629’ offers one-of-a-kind views of the regional landscape that includes almost forty other mountaintops over 6,000’. It’s like viewing a sea of mountains…a simply spectacular vantage point! Secondly, if it’s not a clear day, you’ll still enjoy the uniqueness of the 300+ acre grassy bald. Think The Sound of Music and you’re there! Max Patch was first cleared in the 1800’s for pasture for livestock. In the 1920’s the bald was used as a landing strip for tourist planes. If the National Forest Service did not maintain the peak, it would soon grow back into a forest. Another great thing about Max Patch is it’s only about a 1.5 mile walk from the parking area to reach the summit making it easily accessible for young and old alike. We strongly suggest following the loop trail to the left to the summit, in a clockwise direction, and then hike down the steeper part of the trail back to the parking area. On a recent hike up the loop trail, the native flame azaleas were at peak and an amazing site. The blackberries and blueberries were coming on, so there will be an extra treat for those hiking in July.

How to get to Max Patch from Rafting in the Smokies:

Follow I-40 east toward Asheville, into North Carolina and through the tunnel. 2 miles past the tunnel is your Exit 7 – Harmon Den. After exiting, turn left onto Cold Springs Creek Road. The road turns to gravel as you enter the Pisgah National Forest. (Please note this is a winding mountain road and narrow in some places so we do not recommend taking a motor home or camper trailer on this road.) There should be several brown Forest Service signs directing you, but if you come to a fork about 6 miles in, just keep left. Go approximately 2 more miles and you’ll see the small parking area on your right. It’s only 8 total miles in, but the winding road makes it seem much further drive.

Rafting In the Smokies – Outdoor Adventure 3 – MUST Do’s for Fun

A visit to Gatlinburg TN brings out the outdoors-man in most people; you can’t help getting in touch with your inner mountain man or mountain woman being so close to the Great Smoky Mountains  Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville TN are situated in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  Trail Hikes, Swimming holes & heart pounding adventure are around every corner.

3 Things you Must Do on Vacation

White Water rafting, Rafting in the Smokies, Gatlinburg things to do,

Rafting in the Smokies a “Must Do”

Must Do #1–  White Water Rafting in Tennessee it is an age old tradition for many of our families, year after year the number of paddlers on the Big Pigeon River exceeds that of the previous year.  The moments you spend as a family working together laughing together and playing together are the Magic that memories are made of.

Click HERE to Read Recent Endorsement




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Zipline Adventures “Must Do”

Must Do #2 –  Zipline Adventures are the second Must Do on a trip to the Smoky Mountains, there is no better feeling than to glide through the air. It is an experience that is guaranteed to get your heart pumping and your toes tingling. Rafting in the Smokies has created a wonderful family zipline experience on their Family Adventure Island. They have the only side–by-side zipline experience in the Smoky Mountains.  You will be able to share the experience and race through the air alongside your loved one.



Great Smoky Mountian Outdoor adventures, Rafting In the Smokies, Gatlinburg things ot do

Ropes Challange Course “Must Do”

Must Do # 3 – To complete your Adventures in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains a person really should climb something. Safety First However; do not just run out and climb a tree or a cliff.  At Family adventure Island, Rafting in the Smokies has completed your thrill package by constructing an incredible extreme ropes challenge course.  You will first don your safety harness Helmet and static lint then you may Test your skill, strength and tenacity as you ascend level by level through the series of physical challenges that await you.

You are welcome to freely roam the 10 acre Island, it is the ideal location for a fantastic Smoky Mountain Picnic. The kids will love wading in the stream and playing on the beach, Mom and dad can relax while playing a spirited game of corn hole. Plan to laugh; play and just plain-ole unwind for a day with us at Rafting in the Smokies and our Family Adventure Island.




Shopping at Rafting in the Smokies River Outpost

THE Place for Smoky Mountain Souvenirs 

At the Rafting in the Smokies Pigeon River Outpost in Hartford, we have a retail store full of outdoor accessories, apparel, and even necessities that you might need for your rafting or float trip or enjoying the National Park in general.

Smoky Mountains Souvenir Shopping at River Outpost

Tshirts, Towels, Keychain Souvenirs

If you’ve forgotten anything behind, have no worries because it’s likely that Megan will be able to help you find exactly what you need at the outpost store.  Generally open daily from 9 a.m. until all guests are finished rafting, here is just a small selection of what you’ll find:

For Your Whitewater Rafting Trip:  swim trunks, eyeglass straps/retainers, water shoes, beach towels, sunscreen, and disposable cameras.

Rafting Souvenirs:  “river map” bandanas, paddle keychains, car window decals, hats and caps, t-shirts for all ages and sizes, Girl and Boy Scout badges, and so much more.

After you raft, zipline, or conquer the ropes course, plan to spend the rest of your day at our free Family Adventure Island.  There are picnic tables and grills, corn hole, walking trail, playground and even more for the entire family.  Hunger will not get the best of you because at the outpost, you can also get some great food!

Step up to the “RITS,” our snack bar, and get your made-to-order sandwiches, drinks and snacks.   For only $2, there are Grilled Cheese and Grilled Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, and for a little more you can choose a Cheeseburger, Quesadilla, fresh wraps, etc.  It’s great food and great prices!

So, come on out to Hartford for a great time on the Pigeon River, a good sandwich or two, and the best Smoky Mountains souvenirs you can buy—those that commemorate your whitewater Rafting in the Smokies experience!

Memorial Day – Remembering & Honoring Our Veterans

Did you know that Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day? It originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers. Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond, VA and in other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date. Most dates were in May. Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed annually on the last Monday in May. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a marker, it typically marks the start of the summer vacation season.

As we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we honor those veterans who are still with us today. As a special thank-you to our vets, Rafting in the Smokies extends a special discount for active-duty and retired military personnel including spouse and dependents. Call our reservations office for details. Additionally, Rafting in the Smokies, offers a wheel-chair friendly shuttle bus for disabled veterans. It is with great pride and gratitude that Rafting in the Smokies shares our special corner of the world with our country’s heroes.

What Are Your Kids Doing This Summer?

We all know that life is about choices, right? We know that making the right choices are critical to our well-being and success in life. But what leads a person to make a good decision instead of a bad one? I was pondering this when I recently saw the motivational speaker and celebrity life coach, Tony Robbins, on a cable news interview. Robbins said the key to his success in motivating folks to get on the right track was to provide them with an incredible experience that empowers them to believe in themselves and their abilities.

While I’m not claiming any expertise in psychology, I can confidently say that is exactly what can happen on a whitewater rafting trip! I fondly remember my first whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River with a group of friends from college. None of us had ever been rafting, not even our chaperones, but that trip bonded our group to this day (and I hate to admit that was 25 years ago!)

It was truly an exhilarating experience that built up our confidence on so many levels. It taught us that by working together we could tame that wild river and anything else that came our way.

Sure your kids can spend this summer taming the latest digital dragons and vampires, but if you’re looking for something to jump-start the motivation and confidence in your children, then choose a whitewater rafting adventure for your family with Rafting in the Smokies. Time and time again, we get comments from our guests about how their rafting trip enhanced their family relationships. It’s a win-win on so many levels – fostering teamwork, opening communication lines, and appreciating the beauty of the natural world around us. Life really is about choices — so choose to come spend some quality time on river with your kids this summer!

Neat Stuff Nearby – Hiking to Midnight Hole

Even though you can spend an entire day of outdoor fun with Rafting in the Smokies, we’d like to share with you one of our favorite nearby hiking destinations in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park…Midnight Hole. It’s the quintessential Smoky Mountain swimming hole! The water is oh so cold…and so incredibly crystal-clear, that you can see dozens of trout swimming above the pebbled bottom. And if you’re brave enough to tread in the cold waters, the fish just swim around you, and you may even get a nibble or two! At Midnight Hole the waters of Big Creek flow between two huge boulders and drop approximately 6 to 10 feet (depending on rainfall) into an emerald green pool surrounded by a lush thicket of rhododendron. It’s a magically beautiful spot indeed!

Here’s how to get there from Rafting in the Smokies River Outpost:

Take I-40 east to exit 451 (Waterville Road). Cross the Pigeon River and follow the road upstream to the Carolina Power and Light Co. At the powerhouse, the road turns and proceeds 2 miles to an intersection with old NC 284 at the Mount Sterling community. Pass straight through the intersection to the Big Creek section of GSMNP. You’ll pass the Big Creek ranger station and reach the trailhead in approximately 3.4 miles at the Big Creek Picnic Area parking lot. It’s a 1.4 mile walk to Midnight Hole along an old railroad grade. Midnight Hole will be on your left. We’re sure you’ll see other folk as it’s a popular swimming hole…and you’ll probably see a few horses too.

Big Creek, the smallest of the campgrounds in the National Park, offers 12 tent-only, walk-in sites on a first-come, first-serve basis. A restroom and a cold water sink are located here. (Please leave this limited parking for the campers and park at the Picnic Area.) We hope you enjoy this little gem in our beautiful area. We can’t wait to share another special place with you in our next edition.