Ocoee River Gorge
Kayakers and rafters flock to the Ocoee to take on an authentic Olympic course. But the river has much more to offer, including picnicking, scenic views and, yes, calm water.
Looking for a real rush? The Ocoee River Gorge is one of the premier sport destination rivers in the Southeast, ideal for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Site of the 1996 Olympics whitewater competitions, the Ocoee boasts the mile-long Olympic whitewater course, as well as a four-and-a-half mile rafting area.
Believe it or not, when TVA is using the Ocoee River to create electricity, the river channel is a bed of dry rocks, with just enough water to swim in a few places.
But when TVA diverts water for recreation, it brings two famed stretches of river roaring to life: the one-mile Olympic whitewater course, fed by releases of water from Ocoee Dam No. 3, and a four and half mile rafting area, fed by water from Ocoee Dam No. 2.
Though it feels like a wild ride, the water release is actually carefully controlled—for world-class competition the water can’t vary significantly. But for most of us, it certainly feels like a world-class thrill ride.
Get more information on Ocoee release schedules here:
While You’re There Consider These Nearby Attractions:
- Copper Basin Restoration: Until recently, much of Copper Basin, a few miles upstream of the Ocoee Dam No. 3, was barren and bleak—the effect of abysmal copper mining and smelting. The practice of burning the ore to get rid of sulfur produced acid rain, which denuded an area of more than 50 square miles. Astronauts could once see the red scar from outer space. Today, thanks to efforts by TVA and its partners, recovery is nearly complete. Read more about Copper Basin and it’s heritage here.
- Parksville Lake: Also known as Lake Ocoee, it’s located behind Ocoee Dam No.1 and is easily accessible from Interstate 75. Lake levels fluctuate very little during the year, and the lake offers views of Cherokee National Forest. Activities include swimming, picnicking and boating. Visitors can stay at the Forest Service campgrounds, or at a commercially operated inn on the lakeshore.
Boating Safety for Paddlers
Whitewater rafting is fun, but safety is paramount. Here’s some advice that might save a life:
- Wear a helmet and a personal floatation device.
- Paddle water appropriate to your skills.
- Dress to prevent hypothermia.
- Watch for fallen tree limbs, barbed wire, bridge piers and other hazards.
- Don’t paddle alone.
- Don’t paddle in rivers in flood stage after a heavy rain.
- Never fish, wade or paddle too close to the face of a dam.