Natural beauty, heart-pumping adrenaline and rushing rapids all meet on the Pigeon River with Rafting in the Smokies. 

Rafting in the Smokies in Hartford, Tennessee
[/media-credit] Rafting in the Smokies, Hartford, Tenn.

A pioneer outfitter in East Tennessee since 1978, Rafting in the Smokies offers groups an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip for any experience level. The outfitter is based in Hartford, which is just a short drive from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

Because the river is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian Trail, Cherokee National Forest and Martha Sundquist State Forest, it offers some of the most breathtaking views.

Trips are led by professionally trained river guides and last about 90 minutes. If part of the group would like a relaxing, leisurely float instead, the outfitter can arrange for coinciding whitewater and float trips.

Trips begin at the outpost, where groups can grab their gear and split up into different rafting boats. After putting on helmets and life vests, groups board a bus and are taken through the twists and turns of the mountains to reach the starting point on the river. During the short, 5-mile ride, guides give instructions on paddling and safety tips. 

Rafting in the Smokies outpost in Hartford, Tennessee
[/media-credit] Rafting in the Smokies outpost, Hartford, Tenn.

The 5.5-mile rafting trip on the upper section of the river has 12 Class III rapids and three more-challenging Class IV rapids, all with unique nicknames like After Shave, Too Late, Vegamatic, Razor Blade and Lost Guide.

Rafting season is guaranteed from May to September due to its dam control and scheduled water releases. After a whitewater rafting trip, groups can continue their adventures if they choose — but on land.

In addition to rafting trips, Rafting in the Smokies offers zip lining, a ropes challenge course, an adventure island, and a rock climbing wall at its outpost.

Walk-ins are welcome for rafting; however, reservations are preferred for large groups.

For more information, call 800-776-7238 or visit