re-sized kayaking on the ocoee river

Kayaking at Hell Hole on the Ocoee River

These guys make playing with rapids look easy.

Dancing in the rapids on Ocoee River

Located in the Cherokee National Forest, the Ocoee River flows through a beautiful gorge surrounded by scenic wildlife, yet it is within several hours of many major cities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina.

Over millions of years, the Ocoee River has cut a steep, winding channel into a mountainside of hard rock, which makes the ideal playground for kayakers and white water rafting, so good in fact that the Ocoee Whitewater Center in the Cherokee National Forest was the site of the 1996 Olympic Canoe/Kayak Slalom competition.

The water in the river is controlled for hydro-electric power, but has regular releases for both the whitewater course and the rafting area.  When a competition is held on the river, about 1,400 cubic feet per second (628,320 gallons per minute, or 39.6 cubic meters per second). If you consider the amount of turbulence and whitewater that this discharge provides, you might get a sense of the awesome power of this river when in flood. Water levels and speed can change significantly after water is released. At low water, the river is shallower and slower. At high water, the river rises 2 to 3 feet and picks up speed considerably ensuring that the more than twenty continuous rapids are a barrel of fun and providing many play spots for miles.

The rapids on the Middle Ocoee River

Ocoee River Map with rapids for whitewater rafting and kayaking

map courtesy of Ocoee Outdoors

Some say that this is America’s most popular whitewater rafting river with more than 200,000 rafters braving the rapids each year. The Middle Ocoee explodes into five miles of almost continuous whitewater, with over 20 Class III and IV rapids. From the Class IV Grumpy Rapid at the start, to the grand finale Hell’s Hole, the Ocoee guarantees a memorable whitewater adventure for the beginner and experienced whitewater rafter.

A long-time playground for whitewater kayakers, the Ocoee River is more than just a river to paddle – it’s a core part of America’s kayaking culture.  Not only is this an ideal river to learn to kayak on, but it is the ultimate convenient destination to improve your paddling and stretch your whitewater horizons.

Kayaking on the Ocoee

kayaking on the Ocoee River

photos courtesy of Paddler112

Check out one of the most extreme kayak races in America, perhaps the most extreme? – North Carolina’s Green River

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