The Pigeon River—From North Carolina to Tennessee

Named after the Passenger Pigeon, the Pigeon River is a natural 70-mile stretch of water that flows northwest from Haywood County, North Carolina, up to Newport, Tennessee, where it meets the French Broad River. It first gained commercial notice by the milling industry. Champion Paper (now Blue Ridge Paper Products, Inc.) was the earliest operation on it during the early 1900s in North Carolina.

The Walters Dam hydroelectric provider in North Carolina has a special fund that finances projects designed to improve the quality of the water of the Pigeon River, as well as enhancing the habitat for fish and game, and increasing access. The dam has a controlled water release that allows us to provide you with the best experience in white water rafting.  Guaranteed water releases are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Rafters, kayakers, and canoers find a lot of action throughout the river with beautiful views as they progress on their journey. It’s a good place to develop paddling skills and test out tricks. If you’re lucky, your rafting guide might show you how to do a trick with your group, even if you are on the Family Float trip that Rafting in the Smokies offers.

The Upper Pigeon River has about five miles of Class II and III+ rapids, while the Lower section has four miles of flatter water. You’ll find that even if you take the Family Float trip on the Lower Pigeon River, you’ll be paddling to navigate smaller rapids. It is not as intense as the Upper section, so you will have more time to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and the scenery and wildlife around you.

Is all this talk about water getting you ready for rafting season? Book your rafting trip now with Rafting in the Smokies and get an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime. If you want to add more to your adventure, consider adding on a zipline canopy tour or high elements ropes course experience.