Rafting in the Smokies in Hartford, TN

3595 Hartford Rd.Hartford, TN 37753
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Overview

Rafting in the Smokies is an adventure-filled family attraction that has been entertaining families, groups and couples alike since 1978. The outdoor area includes a variety of fun outdoor activities. Guests can opt for exciting white-water rafting, canopy ziplining, rope course and rock climbing, family-friendly float rafting, horseback riding, swimming and more.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Hartford Travel Experts
  • River Outpost located in Hartford (exit 447 off I-40), about a 30-40 minute scenic drive from Gatlinburg
  • Changing facilities with hot showers available
  • Best to wear shorts and a t-shirt made of quick-dry, synthetic material - you will get wet
  • Sneakers, river sandals, or water shoes recommended; No flip-flops, Crocs, or bare feet allowed
  • Combos available in season with zip lines, a ropes challenge course, and horseback riding (off-site)
  • Take time to enjoy their picnic tables with BBQ grill, swings, bean bag toss game, swimming beach, and nature trail all on their Family Adventure Island accessed by a 150-ft. swinging bridge.

Description

from Rafting in the Smokies
Need an adventure? Rafting in the Smokies has one for you. Bring your family, friends or both and experience a trip you will never forget. It will be the highlight of your vacation!

UPPER SECTION (Pigeon River)
The Big Pigeon River boasts twelve class III and three class IV whitewater thrilling rapids! Accompanied by one of Rafting in the Smokies professional river guides, you'll be escorted down five miles of lively whitewater, rafting through class III & IV rapids such as "Too Late, Vegamatic, Razor Blade, After Shave, and Lost Guide."

The scenery surrounding the Pigeon River is just as breath-taking as the rapids. Skirted by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cherokee National Forest, Martha Sundquist State Forest and the Appalachian Trail, the Pigeon has carved its rocky riverbed through some of the most dramatic country in East Tennessee.

No Experience Necessary - Minimum age: 8 years old or 70 lbs. - Features 1 ½ hr of spectacular whitewater.

LOWER SECTION (Pigeon River)
Looking for a way to really relax and enjoy natures beauty? Do you have children who weigh less than 70 lbs? If you answered yes to either, then we have just what you need. Check out the Lower Section of the Pigeon River! The Class I and II rapids and one Class III at the end of the trip, make this very casual and laid back section of the Pigeon River perfect for everyone 3 years old and up! Rafting in the Smokies will assist you, your family and friends down approximately six miles of relaxing waves and rippling mountain water. You'll gaze at the beautiful Smoky Mountain surroundings as you casually float this section of the Pigeon River. If someone in your group needs a little more adventure, we can accommodate! Let us help you plan coinciding trips on the Upper and Lower Pigeon. The portion of the group rafting the Lower Pigeon Float Trip can be scheduled to coincide with the other portion of the group's Upper Pigeon Trip.

No Experience Necessary - Minimum age: 3 years old and up -Features 2 hours of introductory whitewater - Length of rafting trip is 6 miles.

We offer a lot more! How about spending time on our Family Adventure Island where you'll zipline on our dual-racing lines and you can challenge yourself to our High Ropes Challenge Course. Test yourself!

Reserve Gatlinburg Customer Reviews

15 Reviews
Gary Bebber
Avington, VA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Great rafting trip"
September, 2018
We loved every minute of the trip rafting and the guide we had was wonderful she explained everything and told us about everything going down the river . I would suggest it to anyone and everyone. I plan on doing it again.Price was great !Enjoyed everything
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Tip: You are going to have a great time

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Timothy Roberson
Raleigh, NC
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Awesome!"
August, 2018
My teenage cousins had the best time ever. Zip-lining and white water rafting was something outside the norm of amusement parks. The staff was awesome and made sure we were safe. Simple love the adventure. We definitely will be back.
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Krista Murphy
Waldorf, MD
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Great"
August, 2018
amazing experience. My family had a great time. The guides were very knowledgeable and fun. Great family friendly trip and we were very pleased.
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Bridgett Hart
Wylie, TX
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Loved it!"
August, 2018
I took my family here and we had so much fun. There was so much to do and to choose from. White water rafting was awesome. We can't wait to go back.
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Tip: Wonder works was awesome. Dolly Parton Stampede was so much fun. Bible museum. It was awesome.

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Phil Hoffmeyer
1 Review
"Amazing Adventure for Parents and Kids"
August, 2018
We had an awesome experience ziplining and white water rafting! The staff was so kind and fun! My wife and I loved every minute of it! Our kids (6 & 7 years old) loved it just as much! What a great way to experience nature by soaring through the treetops and riding the river in the heart of the smokies! Excellent way to show and teach the kids a deep appreciation for the outdoors in our amazing country! Our guide, Josh, made it a truly AWESOME ADVENTURE for us! Thanks Josh!
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Tip: Wear aqua shoes. Bring good floating strapes for your shades. If you get out of the raft to swim, float on your back and look up into the sky-TOTAL RELAXATION!

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Balu Krishna
Dunwoody, GA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Awesome Trip"
August, 2016
This is the first time we tried rafting. We do have a kid who is 3 years old. The lower river rafting that we did was very nice with our kid. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable.
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Maria B.
Parkland, FL
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Wonderful outdoor fun!"
August, 2016
We had the best experience rafting in the Pigeon River! Our guide, Josh, was excellent and made our experience a wonderful one.
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Tip: Call their office to get directions on how to get there. Don't rely on the GPS.

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Sandra Rosploch
South Milwaukee, WI
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Rafting in the Smokies"
July, 2016
Had a great time rafting in the Smokies! Arrived early to check in, had a picnic, waded in the Pigeon River. The guide was friendly and knowledgable. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
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Tip: Bring a picnic and enjoy the area.

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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jackiehH6055ZL
Totowa, New Jersey
"Lots of Fun For the Family"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 09, 2019
Family of 8 went on the raft. We had a ball. Would definitely recommend. Youngest person on board was 6 years old, and he had a ball. Guide was funny, and helpful.
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Paradise695260
"Would have been a great trip if I hadn't ruptured a ligament in my knee"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed December 18, 2018
This was my family's very first rafting experience. We are a family of 3 and opted for the upper river excursion on August 18, 2018. Our guide was very experienced, personable, friendly, etc. However, we were assigned to a raft with another family of 4. So in total, including our guide, there were 8 people in our raft. The other family requested the first two rows at the front of the raft. My children took the 3rd row, which left me seated opposite our guide, on the actual rear of the raft, not on an actual seat down in the raft. Our trip could have been a perfectly enjoyable one; however, when we hit the first series of bigger rapids, I was catapulted out of the raft in a class 4 rapid. I was thrown backwards and out of the right side of the raft but with my right foot still firmly wedged in, as we had been instructed to wedge our outside foot under the seat in front of us for stability. The rapids were far too powerful for me to pull myself back into the raft, so for the several seconds that I was being dragged through the current, my head and upper body were completely submerged and the tumbling around caused my body to twist and turn enough to rupture the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in my knee. Many thanks to our guide who was able to pull me back into the raft by my life vest. There is a reason that guests are asked to sign waivers before they take excursions like this. I for one had the attitude that "nothing will happen to us, we'll be fine." But the reality is, having an experienced guide in the raft certainly cannot prevent accidents from happening. It could have happened to anyone; however, my advice to folks considering doing an upper level excursion, is to make sure you are not asked to be seated on the back of the raft. I can't say for sure, but perhaps being seated in the raft on an actual seat would have been safer. As a result of my injury, I had to undergo knee surgery to replace the ruptured ligament with a donor cadaver ligament, as well as several months of post-surgery physical therapy to rebuild my knee strength. My doctor says that it takes approximately 1 year to fully recover and rehabilitate from the kind of surgery I had to have. On a positive note, everyone else in our group had a great time.
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arnowh
Rock Hill
"What a Blast"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 07, 2018
We visited when we took our granddaughter on her generation skipping trip. This whitewater trip was one of the highlights of our trip. We had chosen the upper portion with Class III and IV rapids - and we experienced a rafting trip worth every penny we paid! Our guide Russ had assigned us to the back of the raft, there where four more people in front of us, and at the very front of the raft was Helena, our 9 year old! She was not really happy, but accepted the authority of our guide Russ, who based his seat assignments on many years of experience, and also on the fact that she had no paddle to help guide our raft. After we had passed the first three rapids, including the photo taking point, we were all wet through and through. At this point Russ guided the raft into calmer waters and got Helena to sit in the back of the raft away from the worst water coming into the raft. And all the time he asked and made sure Helena felt save! At the end of the trip we all agreed what a wonderful experience that was, and what a great guide Russ is.
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Sheila B
Plano, Texas
"The River Wild"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed October 04, 2018
Highly recommend booking your rafting trip with these outfitters, the guides are awesome and the rafting is amazing. There were more 3 and 4 rating rapids than 1-2, so if you are looking for a wild ride down the Pigeon River go with them on the Upper River and you will get the ride you are looking for.
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jenorpat
"Wonderful 1st Time Rafting Experience for my Teens"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed October 02, 2018
We rafted down the Pigeon River on the last day of the season. My husband and I had rafted with Rafting in the Smokies before we had kids and were happy to raft with them again. It was our teenage girls’ first time and they loved it! Celeste, our rafting guide, was very knowledgeable of the river. We were given great instructions prior to the trip on safety and how not to fall out of the boat. Because it was so late in the season, there was not a controlled water flow, just natural. It was a little tricky in spots, but Celeste coached us safely through. We made wonderful family memories and will definitely raft with this company again!
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Frequently Asked Questions about Rafting in the Smokies

Is there a guide in every raft?
Yes, there is a guide in every raft.

Do I have to know how to swim?
No, you will be wearing a life jacket and we don't recommend that you swim in whitewater.

How do I get back to my car?
The Upper Pigeon trip: you will drive to our outpost in Hartford and we will shuttle you upstream to the put-in point at the dam where the trip starts and will raft back down to our outpost where your car is and where we have changing facilities, restrooms and showers. The Lower Pigeon trip will start at our outpost and you will be bussed back after your trip.

How far are you from Gatlinburg?
The reservation office is located 1 mile from downtown Gatlinburg on Hwy 321 N (813 E. Parkway). The Pigeon River Outpost is located approximately 30 minutes from our Gatlinburg office off of I-40 exit 447.

Can I go if I am a bit overweight?
There are some very large life jackets available; the chest measurement is up to approximately 56 inches. If you are not sure, we have a jacket in our reservation office in Gatlinburg.  You are welcome to come by and try it on. We recommend that you make a reservation and if you do not fit in the life jacket, we will cancel the reservation without any charges. But, it would be best to come by two days prior to your trip.

If I am pregnant can I go?
Sorry, anyone pregnant cannot raft, float or zipline.

Do you have a minimum age for children?
The minimum age/weight for the Upper Pigeon trip is 8 years old or 70 pounds. You have to be at least 3 year old to go on the Lower Pigeon Float trip.

What are the times of your trips?
The water level on the Pigeon River is dependent on a hydroelectric power plant. From Memorial Day to Labor Day we raft Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 11 AM and 5 PM. Earlier in the spring (March-April) and later in the fall (September-October) trip availability is based on rainfall as we raft the natural flow of the river. This means no guaranteed water release from the dam. Natural flow water is great fun for team building, nature sightseeing, and playing on the water. Our guides are well trained for natural flow trips and are great at making your adventure on the Big Pigeon memorable.

Ziplines operate from 9 AM to 8 PM every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it is in your best interest to schedule all activities on the same day in order to eliminate unnecessarily travel time. The trip time selected is your rafting trip time. Please call the number on your e-ticket to schedule your zipline time.

What do I wear?
The best thing to wear is shorts and a t-shirt. You must also raft in shoes that will stay on your feet. No flip-flops, loose crocs or bare feet please. If you are rafting during the colder months, wear clothing that will not absorb much water like wool, fleece, polypro, etc. - no jeans, sweats or anything with cotton please. We provide nylon jackets and pants to wear over your clothing at no extra charge and also offer wetsuit rentals.

Can I bring a camera or do you take our picture?
Please do not bring along your camera unless it's waterproof. It will get wet! We do have a professional photographer who will take a photo of your raft trip. You can view and purchase your photos after trip. We usually burn them to a CD and you can print as many as you’d like.

Do I need to bring anything on the trip with me?
No. Our trips range from 1-3 hours so there is no need to bring anything. We recommend that you lock your valuables in your vehicle. We have a safe place for you to store your keys.

What about inclement weather?
We raft rain or shine because you will get wet anyway. If there is lightning in the area our river managers or trip leaders may choose to delay the trip but the trip will not be cancelled.

If I purchase a combo ticket, do I raft and zip on the same day?
Yes, it is best to schedule all the activities on the same day in order to eliminate unnecessary travel time. Usually, we can accommodate your preferred activity schedule. Please note, the time selected in the combos is your Rafting Time. Please call Rafting in the Smokies' number on your e-ticket to schedule zipline times.