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 www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org

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 www.dogwoodarts.com 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 experience, but also all of Sevier County is on board with celebrating the harvest season with beautiful fall displays, traditional arts and 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.  This is an annual celebration of Bavarian 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 Adventure in Gatlinburg.  Special showing just for the month included with your admission.

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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 www.firstclassconcerts.com 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 afterward 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 nine miles on a well-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!  You can call 865.448.9034

State laws for both Tennessee and North Carolina require that children age 16 and under wear a helmet. It’s strongly recommended 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, our zipline course, and ropes challenge!

Fall Color Whitewater Rafting Trips and Scenic Family Float Trips

White Water Rafting In TN- Rafting In the Smokies- Fall discounts It’s bumper-to-bumper fun at Rafting in the Smokies, and we’re the only way to enjoy the fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains. Choose your adventure: Whitewater Rafting, Scenic Family Float Trip, Zipline Canopy Tour, Ropes Challenge Course, or Fishing.  Deals and Packages are available.

Enjoy whitewater rafting in the Smokies on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through October. Special trips can be scheduled for your groups. Rafting and the Zipline Canopy Tour are available through the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Fall Adventure Savings in the Smokies

Fall Rafting 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 that 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 few unique ways to change your perspective on your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Fall Foliage Whitewater Rafting 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 any time 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 ziplining 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 150’ 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.

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A Whitewater Wedding

A River Runs Through It
A Smoky Mountain Love Story


A Fairy Tale Wedding at Rafting In The Smokies

What is more timeless than nature and the beautiful world that surrounds us?  How about love: love of the outdoors, love of life, and yes, love for one another.

This summer Rafting in the Smokies was privileged, honored to be selected by two lovers of all of the above as their wedding site!  Jordan and Melissa, as a testimony to their love of adventure and the great outdoors chose to have their marriage ceremony performed at our Adventure Island!

Even more heartwarming than two people finding love, is the WAY these two found each other!  Jordan and Melissa met while working as river guides right here at Rafting in the Smokies!  So you could say a river, the Pigeon River specifically, runs through their love story!  Oh, the magic of the Great Outdoors!

Imagine: two single people, working side by side for long hours in an environment they excel at and enjoy, suddenly developing a relationship that blossoms into a beautiful romance!  And when love sneaks up on you and takes you completely by surprise, it makes for a wonderful story. This is how Jordan explains how love came to be:

“During my twenties I spent most of my summers camped on an island, or on a river, in the woods, and in the mountains.  I spent my days chasing adventure and adrenaline.  I always wanted to share these experiences with others.  When families came to visit where I was working (or: came to Rafting in the Smokies – if you want to SEO some), I tried to offer them a little piece of my knowledge, my adventure, and my back yard.

“I was never necessarily looking to fall in love, but then there was Melissa.  She was strong of heart, mind, and body.  She could run the rapids I ran, hike the hikes I hiked, and play all the games I played.  Our adventures together defined the beginning of our relationship and helped to create our life long bond.  We have both retired as guides now, but our time as guides taught us to cherish the wilderness that surrounds us and seeks to both share and protect it.”

Rafting in the Smokies wishes to congratulate Jordan and Melissa on their inspirational Smoky Mountain wedding and we wish you many, many happy years together!

We would also like to thank professional photographer Liz Ligon for allowing us to share her work.

Great Smoky Mountains Family Challenge

Hike the Smokies Challenge for Families

Hiking, Rafting, Ziplines & Ropes Challenges!

Hike the Smokies – For Families

The “Hike the Smokies Challenge” was first introduced by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2010 as a way to encourage folks to explore the park on foot. Thousand’s of people visit the park each year and do just that… they hike along the park’s 800 miles of trails and enjoy the best of Mother Nature up close and personal. (There are 300 or so members of the 900-Miler Club that have actually hiked ALL of the trails in the park! Check out the club here.)

Those taking the Hike Challenge would be rewarded with a mileage pin and recording in the official record after completing 100, 250 and 500 miles.  Well, that’s a whole lot of walking for toddler’s little-bity legs and also the legs of our esteemed elders.  The National Park wants to encourage and rewards hikers of ALL ages and experience levels, and have since introduced the “Hike the Smokies – For Families” challenge.

Since so many visitors come to the Smokies during family reunions and family vacations, it only makes sense that they would like to experience park trails together.  All four visitor’s centers offer a Mileage Record Book for only $1.  Pick up your booklet at Cades Cove, Sugarlands, Clingman’s Dome, or Oconaluftee welcome centers and start your family’s hiking journey.  Upon reaching 10 miles, 25 miles, 40 miles, and 50 miles hiked, stop in any visitor’s center to receive a mileage pin or sticker, and have your family recorded in the official “Hike the Smokies-For Families” record book.

There are plenty of family friendly trails that are great for small children and folks just needing an easy hike.  You’ll also find ‘Quiet Walkways’ that are short, easy hikes that most everyone can enjoy.  Hike a new trail each day or visit, or hike the same trails over and over to accumulate your totals.  Stop in any visitor center and a Ranger or staff member will be happy to make trail suggestions ideal for your family.

Check out this video for making your family hiking trip a wonderfully fun and safe adventure!

Additional Safety Tips:

Your safety depends on your being prepared and using good judgment.  Your safety is your responsibility, and here are a few good things to know:

  1. You are hiking in nature’s habitat.  Expect to see insects, snakes, and wildlife and to avoid them if at all possible.
  2. BE SURE someone not hiking with you knows where you intend to hike and your anticipated time of return.  Should you not return in a reasonable amount of time, they can call the National Park Service at (865) 436-1230.
  3. Always keep your family together and stay on maintained trails.
  4. Carry a flashlight or headlamp-even on a dayhike. If you have trouble on the trail, darkness may fall before you can finish your hike.
  5. Carry plenty of water and a basic first aid kit.
  6. Consider wearing long pants and tucking the legs into socks or boot tops to avoid ticks.
  7. HAVE A GREAT TIME!!  Take your time to indulge in all the sights, sounds and smells!

Be sure to join us at Rafting in the Smokies for another family challenge of whitewater rafting, ziplines, and ropes course before or after your nature hike! 

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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