Since Florida is theflattest state in the nation, whitewater rafting is obviously not one of its major attractions. However, just because whitewater rafting in Florida is scarce, that doesn’t mean there isn’t good whitewater raftingnearFlorida. Just a few hours north of the border, Floridians can raft on Tennessee’s famous Ocoee River, the most popular rafting destination in the entire country.
Read on to find out why so many rafters choose the Ocoee River, the many rafting deals offered and the incredible array of other activities you can enjoy during your stay.
Reasons to Choose the Ocoee for Group Rafting Trips Near Florida
One of the reasons Florida residents love the Ocoee is its proximity, being only a six-hour drive from Tallahassee, a seven-hour drive from Jacksonville and an eight-hour drive from Orlando. But this river attracts Florida residents for many other reasons as well, including the following.
1. Breathtaking Scenery
Whitewater rafting on the Ocoee doesn’t only offer excitement — it also offers stunning natural beauty and landscapes very different from those found in Florida. While on the river, you’ll pass through the Cherokee National Forest, where you can admire the lush canopy and majestic peaks in the distance.
2. A River Fit for Olympians
We mean this literally, as the Ocoee River was the site of the whitewater, canoe and kayak competitions for the 1996 Olympic Games. Typically, the Olympic Games have to create a purpose-built area for these types of contests, but the Ocoee River was so perfect for these sports that it is the only natural river to ever host Olympic kayak and canoe events.
3. No Experience Necessary
If you live in Florida, there’s a good chance you’ve never been whitewater rafting before, and you may wonder whether you can handle a river that once played a role in the Olympic Games. However, the Ocoee has sections that range from Class I—easy—to IV—highly challenging—so whether you’re a first-timer or a longtime rafting fanatic, there is a section of the Ocoee that’s perfect for your skill level. The only requirement for the best Florida river rafting experience is that you’re at least 12 years old.
4. Reliable Water Flow
Many rivers around the world, including ones ideal for whitewater rafting, run dry during droughts or less rainy seasons. However, with the Ocoee, this is never a concern — in 1983, the U.S. government agreed to release water from the dams along the Ocoee for the sake of whitewater recreation on the river.
That means you can always rely on the middle section of the Ocoee for the more challenging Class III and IV rapids and the Upper Ocoee for over 20 Class IV rapids. During the summer, the dam releases 1,250 cubic feet of water per second, which makes for a thrilling rafting experience.
The Ocoee doesn’t just attract visitors from Florida, but from all over. The Ocoee’s middle section draws over a quarter of a million visitors every year. Come and see for yourself why so many rafters choose the Ocoee for their rafting adventure.
Unlike many other top tourist destinations, you won’t have to break the bank for a trip on the Ocoee. Raft1 offers affordable Florida group rafting trip costs, including ones forcorporate teambuilding, family vacations and solo adventures.
7. Access to Amenities
Because the Ocoee attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, there are many amenities available in the area, all of which exist without compromising the scenic beauty. Whether it’s a hotel, restaurant, campground, or another type of lodging, you can easily find anything you need.
8. Proximity to Other Fun Activities
The Ocoee River and surrounding Cherokee National Forest offer a variety of outdoor adventures, some of which you cannot experience in Florida.
- Canoeing, kayaking and tubing: Gentler sections of the Ocoee are great for canoeing, kayaking, boating and other activities. When the Ocoee crosses over into nearby Georgia, where it changes names to the Toccoa River, the waters are perfect for tubing.
- Hiking: The Appalachians have no shortage of natural beauty, and there are countless hiking trails you can take to experience its beauty up close.
- Mountain biking: Raft1 offers visitors the opportunity to go mountain biking on the hundreds of miles of trails in the nearby national forest.
- Zip line canopy tours: If you’d like to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, you can join one of Raft1’s zip line canopy tours, which feature zip lines, suspension bridges, treetop sky towers and a cargo net at the peak of Southern Pine Forest.
- Horseback riding: Explore the beautiful Tennessee and Georgia mountains in an equestrian fashion by taking one of Raft1’s horseback riding adventures.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the country’s most visited national park, and its eastern entrance is just a two-hour drive from the Ocoee.
Although beautiful natural scenery surrounds the Ocoee River, that doesn’t mean it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s just over an hour’s drive from the city of Chattanooga, where you can check out the following attractions.
- Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park: Chattanooga is well-known for the battles that took place here during the Civil War, and is home to the country’s oldest and largest Civil War park.
- Tennessee Aquarium: As one of the largest freshwater aquariums in the world, this famous attraction features a vast array of animals that live both above and below the ocean.
- The Creative Discovery Museum: If you’re traveling with kids, you can’t miss out on this fascinating children’s museum, which features exhibits and activities for all ages.
Ocoee River Florida Rafting Trip Prices
Rafting on the Ocoee is thrilling no matter how large your party is. However, we believe there’s something special about paddling down rapids with your family, friends and teammates from work, which is why we’ve made it easy for groups to raft together by offering discounted rates.
The price for a rafting trip on the Ocoee depends on thesize of your party and the day of the week. For instance, if you travel with a group of 11 people or fewer and go on a Saturday, the per-person rate is $43. If you visit with a group of 40+ people on a weekday, however, the per-person cost drops to $32.
Rafting, Zip Line and Mountain Biking Combos
As we mentioned before, there’s a lot more to do on the Ocoee, including zip lining canopy tours. If you’re interested in both rafting and zip lining, we offer the followingcombo packages.
- Zip Line + Half Ocoee River Rafting Trip ($95): With this package, you can raft either the Upper or Middle Ocoee and then take our Ocoee Zip Line and Canopy Tour.
- Zip Line + Full Ocoee River Rafting Trip ($165): As the most popular combo we offer, this package is like the one above, except you get to raft the entire river and enjoy a lunch break between the two sections.
- Raft1 Mini-Ironman: Zip Line + Middle Ocoee River Trip + Three-Hour Mountain Biking ($120): This package is an introduction to our full Ironman trip that allows you to enjoy the excitement and beauty of the Ocoee River gorge, but is not as long as the full Ironman.
- Raft1 Ironman: Full River Rafting + Zip Line + Mountain Biking ($195): This package truly separates the hobbyists from the dedicated athletes. On this trip, we start by guiding you down the rapids on both sections of the river, with a lunch break between. You will then zip line along a mile of cable while taking in views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Cherokee Forest. Finally, you’ll go mountain biking along the trails of the national forest.
Rafting, Zip Line and Horseback Riding Combos
Raft1 also offers packages that combine rafting, zip lining and horseback riding. If you choose this package, you will start the day by rafting, then enjoy a two-hour zip line canopy tour and end the day with a horseback ride through the mountains of Tennessee and Georgia. You canbook this adventure here.
Are you looking for overnight whitewater rafting trips near Florida? Raft1 also offers greatlodging rates for large groups, which include the following.
1. The Big Lodge
This two-story, log cabin-style bunkhouse has 44 single-person beds divided among four rooms. Mattresses come included, but you will need to bring along a sleeping bag, pillow and towels. There is also a kitchen with a microwave and refrigerator.
If you’re coming during the summertime, you won’t have to worry about getting hot, as the Big Lodge is air-conditioned. There are also two small bathrooms, and you can shower in the main bathhouse located just down the hill.
There is also a large deck and common room that are great for hanging out, meeting up or playing games. The deck also includes grills and picnic tables, and in the woods nearby, there is also a fire ring.
The rate for the Big Lodge is $15 per person per night. We require a minimum of $250 for a reservation.
2. The Small Lodge
This smaller, rustic lodge has 16 single-person beds divided among two bunk-style rooms. As is the case with Big Lodge, we provide mattresses, but you will need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and towels. There is a small kitchen in the lodge equipped with a sink, refrigerator and microwave.
The Small Lodge also has air conditioning, which makes the lodge a welcome refuge during the hottest days of summer. There are also two small bathrooms, and showers just down the hill in the main bathhouse. The lodge also features a spacious screened-in porch on the side, which is great for playing games and hanging out.
The rate for the Small Lodge is $15 per person per night, and you must pay a minimum of $75 to reserve it.
3. Ocoee Camping on the Raft1 Outpost
If you and your group are interested in a more adventurous lodging arrangement, consider roughing it one of our campsites. We have two sites, each of which can accommodate three or four small tents.
If you choose to stay in our campground, remember to bring along some firewood, which you can buy locally, as well as garbage bags, water containers, grills, flashlights, matches, ground cloths, towels, sleeping bags, tents and chairs. For grilling, we recommend portable propane grills.
If your party needs more room than is available at our campground, you can stay at the nearbyThunder Rock Campground, only a five-minute drive away. The sites there are spacious and include a fire pit and picnic table. The rate is $12 per site per night.
For an Even Wilder Experience, Check out Rafting on the Chattooga River
If you’re interested in delving deeper into nature and experiencing an even wilder river, you can look intorafting tours on the nearby Chattooga River. This river, which features breathtaking waterfalls and abundant wildlife, is in South Carolina and Northeast Georgia and is an excellent rafting destination for those seeking adventure and thrills. Southeastern Expeditions, the river’s premier outfitter, offers rafting, canoeing and kayaking tours. The Chattooga features rapids ranging from Class II up to Class V, making it a great choice for both timid first-timers and experienced risk-takers.
Consider Joining an Outdoor Social Club
If you would like to take advantage of Raft1’s group rates for Florida whitewater rafting trips, but cannot find enough people to join your party, think about joining an outdoor social club in your area that plans whitewater rafting tours for Florida residents to experience the Ocoee.
The Adventure Club of Gainesvillearranges some of the best whitewater rafting trips for Floridians, taking care of all the logistics of planning whitewater rafting for groups from Florida. To become a member, you must pay the minimal monthly fees, which cover the costs of administration. This Florida adventure club has planned rafting trips to both the Ocoee and Chattooga rivers.
Raft1 Offers the Best River Rafting Near Florida
Choosing Ocoee River rafting for Florida residents and Raft1 to guide you down it is, we believe, the perfect combination for an unforgettable rafting experience. After all, the Ocoee River is the most popular rafting destination in the country, and Raft1 is the highest independently rated rafting tour company on the Ocoee River.
Our expert guides are passionate about providing the safest, most memorable experience for all rafters aged 12 or older. Book a tour with us today and find out why Raft1 has received morefive-star TripAdvisor ratingsthan any other rafting company on the Ocoee River.
When you’re looking for whitewater rafting near Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee or anywhere else in Florida, feel free to call us at 423-799-2354 and we’ll be glad to help you plan your trip, including when to raft, where to stay and the best places to eat. After all, we like to think of ourselves as not just raft guides — but tour guides!
No, the Ocoee does not have any Class 5 rapids. The typical water levels rafted are between 1,200 to 1,600 cfs.How much does it cost to go white water rafting on the Ocoee River? ›
|Number of People||1-11||12-23|
|April 1 - May 20||$49||$45|
|May 27 - Sept 2||$54||$49|
|Sept 9 - Oct 28||$49||$45|
No, the Ocoee does not have any Class 5 rapids. The typical water levels rafted are between 1,200 to 1,600 cfs.What is the difference between the Upper and Middle Ocoee? ›
The Upper Ocoee includes the Class IV Olympic course, and should only be attempted by the most experienced paddlers or with a commercial rafting outfitter. The Middle Ocoee is the most popular section of the river and run of choice for thousands of rafters and kayakers each year.What is the difference between middle and upper Ocoee rafting? ›
The Middle Ocoee is the “traditional” Ocoee and has more rapids than the Upper has though none quite as large as the biggest ones on the Upper section. As opposed to starting off gentler like the Upper, the Middle has a major class four rapid immediately after you put your raft in the river.How many Class 4 rapids are there in Ocoee River? ›
For example the Ocoee River is considered a Class IV river but only 3 of its 30+ rapids are class IV rapids.What is the best age for white water rafting? ›
Size matters when it comes to paddling and staying in the raft. Generally speaking, kids under 12 are best suited for trips up to Class III. Twelve year olds and a little older up may be able to handle a Class IV challenge depending on the amount of paddling help that the guide may need in the rapids.What does Class 3 rapids look like? ›
Class III Whitewater
Rapids with moderate, irregular waves. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided.
Class IV – Very Difficult: Long rapids, waves powerful and irregular; dangerous rocks, boiling eddies; powerful and precise maneuvering required.Where is the best part of the Ocoee to raft? ›
The Upper Ocoee which starts upstream of the Middle is in a remote and beautiful canyon. The first mile of the Upper is considerable “tamer” than the remainder of the Ocoee and allows you to acclimate to rafting at a slower pace.
The Ocoee is a quick-moving, fun and splashy river that contains mostly Class III and IV rapids. It consists of two sections: the Upper Ocoee, which has Class II-IV rapids and includes the 1996 Olympic slalom course, and the Middle Ocoee, which has four miles of Class III and IV rapids.What is the biggest rapid on the Ocoee River? ›
You'll navigate the rapids known as “Mikey's” and the “Blue Hole” before arriving at a large pool, which signals the start of the Ocoee's Olympic Course. Stretching around 1/3 mile, it has the fastest water, strongest currents, and largest rapids you'll experience on the Ocoee River.Is the Ocoee River cold? ›
The Ocoee River water temperature is in the 50s and the air temperature is usually cool 50s to 70s. We provide complimentary wetsuits and spray pants and jackets to help you stay warm.What is the most difficult white water rafting in the United States? ›
West Virginia's Gauley River is one not to miss if you're an experienced whitewater rafter. Its stretch of Class V+ rapids is one of the most difficult in the country. Gauley River is the heart of East Coast rafting culture and a destination for rafters from around the world.What do you wear to rafting Ocoee? ›
What to wear rafting? For the summer shorts or a bathing suit or swim trunks and a T-shirt are best. Shoes that will stay on your feet are required, which can be river sandals, old tennis shoes, or nylon topped water shoes. No Flip Flops or other shoes that won't stay on your feet for rafting the Ocoee River!What is the hardest river rafting? ›
Terminator – Futaleufú River, Chile
"It is an exhilarating whitewater power storm of turquoise champagne like water." The Class 4/5 Terminator section, which some experienced kayakers call the most difficult commercially run rapid in the world, is 6 miles and it takes about 3 hours.
Six people have died on the Middle Ocoee since 1993, according to American Whitewater, a national nonprofit organization focused on preserving rivers and whitewater. McGruder and Luna bump that up to eight.What does a Class 4 rapids look like? ›
Class IV: WILD
Rapids are long and unpredictable with large waves and narrow passages.
Class VI: Extreme and Exploratory Rapids
If a river is classified as Class VI it is extremely dangerous. These runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible.
While rafting is enjoyable almost any time of year, you will likely have the best experience during summer guaranteed water release days. Your best bet is to plan a trip between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Clothing made from leather or other restrictive materials is not advised. Heavy layers could make it difficult for you to raft and could weigh you down if you end up in the water. While you will be in a raft for your adventure, you are not going to stay dry throughout your entire journey.What not to do when white water rafting? ›
DON'T – Jump Out of the Boat
Unless instructed by your guide, haphazardly jumping out of the boat is dangerous. Guides know the layout of the river better than anyone else. They will know when the water is clear of rocks and rapids. Trust what they say, they are the experts.
Class V Rapids: Expert Class
Without previous river experience, you won't be able to to take on these rapids. They require a well-coordinated team effort to maneuver safely.
Class III Whitewater
Due to moderate difficulty, younger children shouldn't be riding the class III rapids. With many irregular waves (4-5 feet high) and tumultuous water, strong adventurous older kids and teens will love these! Water will definitely crash over the boat and everyone will get wet.
Class V: Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly congested routes, which should be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are difficult, and there is a significant hazard to life in the event of a mishap. The upper limit of what is possible in a commercial raft.Are there Class 7 rapids? ›
Class VII and VIII Rapids
There are plenty of narrow passages, long and quite difficult rapids, and very turbulent water in a Classes 7-8. This for the advanced rafting enthusiast as it requires precision maneuvering.
Class I rapids are defined by moving water with small waves that tug at the boat in a downstream flow - it's a relaxing way to spend the day. Rafting trips on class I whitewater are generally labeled as "scenic float trips".What time of year is best to raft? ›
Late May to late June, springtime runoff from snowmelt makes for the most exciting time of rafting season for whitewater, with cooler river temperatures and smaller crowds.What is Ocoee Florida known for? ›
Besides the convenience of shopping, health care, and a great transportation network, Ocoee also offers many leisure activities. There are several golf courses in the area and the nationally-recognized West Orange Trail provides more than 14 miles of trail for bicyclists, rollerbladers, runners, and others to enjoy.Can you swim in the Ocoee River? ›
Yes, you can swim in the Ocoee River. Especially at Blue Hole and the Olympic Course near the former Ocoee Whitewater Center during weekdays. Always check the level and conditions first. The Ocoee River is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking, but it's also suitable for swimming.
The Yellowstone River is classified as Class II-III rapids from Yellowstone National Park to Paradise Valley (the first 18 miles of legally navigable whitewater on the Yellowstone River).What is the water temperature in the Ocoee River? ›
Today's Details. Parksville Lake (Lake Ocoee)'s current water temperature is 79°F Todays forecast is, Clear With a high around 84°F and the low around 56°F.What class rapids is Niagara Falls? ›
Feel the thrill of being at the river's edge! White Water Walk offers a first-hand lesson in the raw power and peril of the Niagara River's Class 6 whitewater rapids, some of the wildest in North America.What happened on the Ocoee River? ›
The incident happened Saturday, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. POLK COUNTY, Tenn. — A person died Saturday during a "rafting incident" Saturday on the Ocoee River, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.How long does it take to go down the Ocoee? ›
The Full Ocoee River Rafting Trip Length is approximately six hours long with four and half hours on the river. Lunch is included with Full Ocoee River trips. The half features some fun play spots along the Upper Ocoee River. We stop along a scenic lake for lunch roughly dividing the river in two even parts.How long is the Ocoee white water rafting? ›
The Middle Ocoee is “America's most popular river trip” with five miles of exciting rapids and whitewater action. This half day guided trip is perfect for anyone looking for adventure in Tennessee.Is Ocoee River rafting safe? ›
We adhere to a strict training program that exceeds what the USFS and TN State Park requires on the Ocoee River. Through all my experience and research, I have found that whitewater rafting today is a very safe sport when done within your limits and with a commercial outfitter.What does the word Ocoee mean? ›
Ocoee means "apricot vine" in the Cherokee language - what we now call the passion flower. The city logo is inspired by this flower. The Town of Ocoee was recognized as a municipality by the Florida legislature in 1923 and became the City of Ocoee in May 1925.What is the promo code for Ocoee rafting? ›
Use Promo Code: CHEERS23 at check out to take advantage of discounted Ocoee River Rafting on individual ticket purchases.What is the fatality rate of whitewater rafting? ›
Fortunately, fatalities are uncommon in these activities, with rafting and kayaking fatalities occurring at a rate of 0.55 and 2.9 per 100000 user days, respectively. Injury rates for kayaking and rafting are 3 to 6 and 0.26 to 2.1 per 100000 boating days, respectively.
The ride can get bumpy, so make sure you are properly seated. The best point for balance is to sit on the outer rim of the raft.What is the best whitewater rafting company? ›
Northwest Rafting Company named Best White Water Rafting Company. The rivers of North America offer some of the world's best white water rafting opportunities, with thrills for experienced rafters and newbies alike.Can you wear jeans white water rafting? ›
What to Avoid When Heading to the River. Most white water rafting veterans avoid wearing the following clothes or bringing the following items: Flip-flops, Crocs, high heels, and cowboy boots. Heavy clothing like jeans, leather, or cotton sweaters.Can you wear sneakers white water rafting? ›
Footwear: The best shoes for rafting are ones that stay on your feet and can get wet. Choose water shoes, water sandals with a heel strap or an old pair of sneakers you don't mind getting soaked. If it's chilly, you can wear wool socks under your shoes or sandals. Headwear: Bring a paddling hat or a baseball cap.Can I wear jeans rafting? ›
One of the most important considerations is what to wear. When it comes to the question of whether or not to wear jeans while white water rafting, the answer is a resounding no. Cotton is a poor material choice for any activity near or in water.Where is the number one white water rafting in the US? ›
1. Colorado River, Arizona. Colorado River, located in Arizona, is the best destination for whitewater rafting. This beautiful river flows between the Grand Canyon, which is so huge that it amazes you.What is the most famous rafting in the world? ›
- Zambezi River, Zimbabwe. ...
- Colorado River, Arizona/Utah, USA. ...
- Magpie River, Canada. ...
- Noce River, Italy. ...
- Río Pacuaré, Costa Rica. ...
- Kali Gandaki, Nepal. ...
- Futalefú River, Chile. ...
- North Johnstone River, Australia.
|Day||Pricing||Group Pricing (M-Th)|
|*Prices are per person & don't include tax.|
Requirements to raft
The state of Tennessee requires commercial rafting participants on the Ocoee River to be at least 12 years of age. Easier rivers like the Pigeon and Nolichucky have lower age requirements of 8 and 10 years of age.
What happens if you fall our while white water rafting? If you fall out of the raft, don't panic! Your PFD (personal flotation device) will keep you on the surface, make eye contact with your guide and try to swim back to the nearest raft! Most importantly, make sure you do not stand up in the river.
The best point for balance is to sit on the outer rim of the raft. Your guide will tell you if the conditions require you to adjust your seat.Can beginners do white water rafting? ›
Practically anyone can have a good time white water rafting as long as they choose a stretch that matches their skill level and come equipped with all the right information. Read our tips below to prepare for your first white water experience.What class is the Ocoee River rafting? ›
The Ocoee River has mostly Class III rapids. Only three sections are designated as Class IV. There are many Class I and Class II rapids in between that can be enjoyed by groups of beginners whether family, friends or teams.How cold is the Ocoee River right now? ›
Parksville Lake (Lake Ocoee)'s current water temperature is 70°F Todays forecast is, Clear With a high around 87°F and the low around 57°F.How much is the River Maze in Ocoee? ›
The River Maze is located 3 miles east of Ocoee, TN on US Hwy 64. Admission prices are $11.85+ tax = $13 for ages 3 and up and includes all small mazes, all activities (except for those named below), the hayride, and either the corn maze or sunflower fields.