White Water Rafting is an adventure that was on my bucket list for a while. It’s also an adventure that scared me a little. I like controlled risk and white water rafting can be unpredictable. Even though I was nervous about our adventure, my job was not to show it.
Our trip to Gatlinburg was the perfect time to cross this adventure off my list with my one of my best friends from college and her kids. When kids are joining you on an adventure that scares you a bit, you fake it til you make it.
Rafting in the Smokies was about 40 minutes from our cabin at Gatlinburg Falls Resort and a gorgeous drive on the Scenic Mountain Parkway.
The rafting location offers more than just rafting. There is also a ropes challenge course and ziplining too. The property has a 10-acre island with barbeque grills, picnic tables, beanbag toss games, nature trails and a playground. Younger kids will enjoy the playground and playing in the water if they have to wait for older family members to finish up on one of their adventures. We used this strategy because we had a few kids that were too little to do all of the activities.
This is the type of place that you will spend hours at so I would suggest packing a lunch and/or snacks. A little preparation goes a long way. I would also have everyone bring swimsuits, watershoes, and a change of clothes….even if they are not rafting that day. You know little kids will get messy and wet either way.
We tried the ropes course first, which had a few easy paths and a few obstacles that were REALLY challenging.
This ropes course is for ages 5 and up and offers 12 different activities across 4 different skill levels, including balance beams, climbing nets, and rope bridges. The 4 levels allow everyone who participates to challenge themselves to the level they are comfortable with….but the magic happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. It’s worth at least giving it a try. Succeeding a something that looks impossible or intimidating is an instant confidence booster to try another hard task.
The most difficult level had a section where your feet go inside a circle ring. While trying this section I got to experience the splits in the air….and that was NOT intentional! My friend who is a Crossfit regular was able to complete all of the obstacles on the hard sections of the course. I had to tap out after the splits fiasco because I was out of energy and strength.
White Water Rafting
There are two options to choose from for rafting. You can go on the Upper River (White water rafting) –8 years old or older (or 70+ lbs) that lasts about 1.5 hours or the Lower River (Scenic float trip -for ages 3+) that lasts about 2 hours. The Upper River is more challenging and has more rapids. The Lower River is more relaxed and great for families with younger kids. We opted for the Upper River.
The Upper River has 12 Class III and 3 Class IV thrilling whitewater rapids over a 5 mile stretch! We had a great time on the river! No one fell out of the raft (which was my biggest fear) and the kids had a BLAST!
They loved the big splashes and challenging parts. Our guide Brooks was AMAZING! He made the most difficult rapids seem easy with his incredible navigational skills. Toward the end of the trip, all of us got out (expect Brooks our guide) to float down the river for a bit. It was really relaxing and fun to swim in the area without rapids. I was even more amazed that he was able to get all of us back in the boat!
I would recommend purchasing the photo package because you will want an action shot to remember.
Our final adventure that day was the zipline course that had a great mix of scenic views and bridges.
There are a total of 6 ziplines crossing 2 skybridges.
There are a few ziplines that are by the river on the course where you might see a few kayakers or people rafting.
Junior and Ron were our guides that day. They were the perfect blend of humor and safety.
If you want pictures from your zipline adventure, there is a staff photographer available with pictures for purchase.
We had so much fun trying out all three adventures at Rafting in the Smokies. It was a great way to spend a day outside connecting with nature while pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.
You can find out more about planning your adventure at Rafting in the Smokies from their website.
Rafting in the Smokies is located at 813 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.