Ocoee River Rafting

WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE CHEROKEE RAFTING.

Cherokee Rafting was founded in 1978 on the Ocoee River and has grown into one of the top preferred and most respected white water rafting companies in the country. Our competitive edge lies in a passion for safety, superior customer service and building long-standing relationships with satisfied guests. We have one of the best groups of hand-selected river guides who share our same passion for the love of our sport and the Ocoee River. They’re friendly, funny, and well-trained professionals who’ll help you at every step of the way. An exciting, wholesome, action-packed white water adventure is waiting for you at Cherokee Rafting. Come experience the exhilarating rush and see what the Ocoee River is all about!

nat-geo

Awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence for the past 5 years! Selected by National Geographic as an official destination for Geo-tourism. If there's any question which rafting company to use for your Ocoee River white water adventure, you've found the right place. Grab a paddle, snap your buckles, let's go! Click the logos to see what they say about Cherokee Rafting!

MEET OUR GUIDES.

Katie S.

KATIE

Trip Leader

Katie SummersKatie S.

Rafting has been a friend of mine for over a decade now and I can honestly say it is one of my favorite things in the whole world! This community and its people are awesome and have taken me on some excellent adventures. I have lived all over the U.S. playing outdoors and learning new things. The beautiful Ocoee has always brought me back home. I now live on a mini-farm in Cleveland, TN. I have horses, dogs, chickens, my garden and my flowers. I recently obtained my AEMT license and am looking forward to an exciting new career in Emergency Services. I am so glad to know that the Ocoee and my river friends and family will always be there to go play with me when I want to. Now jump in and Let’s GO! “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” –Amelia Earhart

    Alycia

    ALYCIA

    Trip Leader

    Alycia LeClaireAlycia L

    During a trip, customers usually ask, "Do you ever get tired of this job?" This year will be my 11th year guiding on the Ocoee River and I can honestly say that I NEVER get tired of it! Every day is new and always exciting! If I'm not on the river, I'm usually working at my massage studio in Cleveland. I also have two children who both occupy any remaining spare time I may have.

      Blake Cherokee Rafting

      BLAKE

      Trip Leader

      BlakeBlake McPherson

      I grew up in nearby Cleveland, TN and spent the vast majority of my younger years playing in or around the Ocoee River and the surrounding forests. My father used to bring me down to the river to collect rocks which I would proudly display in rock gardens I created back at home. My first time down the Ocoee River was actually on a boogie board when I was 16...crazy as that sounds, I'm still here, playing in her waters. I began guiding in 1994 and absolutely love the outdoors, mountain biking, camping and climbing waterfalls. I've ran many rivers in the southeastern U.S. including the Gauley, New, Chattooga, Cheoah, and Russell Fork. In 2009, I completed a 21-day expedition with 15 other river friends and rafted 255 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I graduated from Tennessee Tech University with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration/Marketing. After working in the insurance and music industries for many years in Minnesota, Nashville, and Atlanta, I decided to move back home to the place I love the most. After I dry off from the river, I'm a mortgage loan originator with Platinum Financial Funding. My other hobbies include wearing a kilt and drumming with my bagpipe corp, playing congas with my blues/rock band Blueshammer, or spending time with my lovely wife Alesha and our little boy, Finn.

        Josh S

        JOSH

        Trip Leader

        Josh SJosh Sofield

        How's it going guys? My name is Josh and I'm known as the Bull rider here at Cherokee, got the name from having rode bulls in rodeos for about ten years. I traded in my chaps and spurs for a life vest and a paddle twenty years ago and have been on the water ever since! I live in Birchwood, TN and ride horses with my three growing girls. We're all river rats, with the Ocoee running through our veins. We'd love to have you join us!

          Marcus

          Trip Leader

          Marcus Williams

          I dipped my first paddle in the Ocoee River in 1985 when my parents brought me here on a church trip. At the age of 12, my passion for whitewater ignited. Several years later in 2000, I earned the privilege of becoming an Ocoee River guide. I've climbed high peaks, slithered through caves, scaled many a rock face, snowboarded down epic runs; still today my #1 outdoor passion remains whitewater rafting. My life journey has led me from from Alabama to Maine. Currently, I reside in Chattanooga, TN with my best friend and love of my life, Christen. In my free time I enjoy playing the base guitar, cooking gourmet meals for my family and friends, and relaxing on the Lake. It is an honor to be a part of the Cherokee Rafting family, where it is our goal to provide you and your family with a safe and thrilling adventure of a lifetime. On the River I am a stickler for rules. My #1 rule is... We've gotta have fun! Now, let's go rafting!!

            Ryan B

            RYAN

            Ryan BRyan Baker

            I grew up in nearby Cleveland, TN and was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my family hiking and camping in the Cherokee National Forest surrounding the Ocoee River. Immediately after graduating high school, I knew that working on the Ocoee as a river guide was the perfect fit for me. I’m currently attending college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where I’m majoring in Environmental Science. I’m also active in the ROTC program with the intention of joining the U.S. Army upon graduation. The Ocoee River is my favorite place in the world, and I love showing others what it’s all about! My favorite part about being a river guide is the memories created with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Come rafting with me!

              Jimmy J.

              JIMMY

              Trip Leader

              Jimmy J.Jimmy Johnson

              Although I wasn't born in Appalachia, I was lucky enough to have been raised literally 10 minutes from the beautiful Ocoee. Several years ago, I nervously went rafting for the first time and by the end of the trip I was hooked! I currently work full time as a property manager while also finishing a degree in Electro-mechanics. I'm looking forward to spending another wonderful season with my Cherokee Rafting family.

                Rafting Guide Photo not Available

                CALEB

                Caleb L.Caleb Long

                Hey Y'all! My name is Caleb and I was born and raised right outside of Nashville, TN in a town called Hendersonville. I am currently a student at UTC studying Communications. I really enjoy the outdoors and meeting new people. I was fortunate enough to discover the glory of the Ocoee River when I made it to college in Chattanooga. I love guiding for Cherokee which has become my river family. My favorite part about guiding is meeting new people I guide down the river. Mother Nature is a wonderful thing, and rafting the Ocoee River with Cherokee is one of the best ways to enjoy it. I hope you come rafting with us!

                  AARON

                  Trip Leader

                  AaronAaron Benavides

                  Crossfit? First off, I do REAL sports. I'm a Texan with lots of opinions and pretty hair. My life is about as organized as the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart. I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around. I also enjoy eating my tacos over another tortilla. That way when the stuff falls out...BOOM! Another taco!

                    John MC

                    JOHN

                    John McCormick

                    I’m a native of Greensboro, NC who enjoyed success in management, radio, and swim coaching before discovering whitewater. I began rafting professionally in 2002 and in order to help with U.S. labor statistics, now call myself semi-retired. I enjoy the quiet life in beautiful Polk County and around the Ocoee River, canoeing, hiking, gardening, and swimming Parksville Lake when I have extra time.

                      Rafting Guide Photo not Available

                      HOLLY

                      Holly PHolly Pendergrass

                      I began rafting as a teenager with a friend of my sister who worked for a company on the Ocoee. I remember thinking, "I'm going to do that when I'm old enough!" I trained over a decade ago and haven't been able to stay away for very long. During a short break, I went to school and became an R.N. I worked for a few companies before finding my home at Cherokee. The friends you make here become family. If I'm not on the water or in the hospital, you will likely find me hanging out with my dogs or family. Deep sea fishing, rock climbing, board games, and music also fill the rest of my spare time. I look forward to giving you an experience on the river with nothing but a smile and love the whole way through!

                        Jamison S.

                        JAMISON

                        Jamison SJamison Sliger

                        I have been rafting for 18 years and have enjoyed every bit of it. It started out as just a job while I was in college but it grew to a passion! I have now succumb to the puppet strings of a 'real' job, but while I look out my window all I see is the Ocoee. I have learned to kayak the last couple of summers, but I don't get to go as often as I would like. Some other rivers under my belt are; Gauley, Chattooga, Cheoah, Cartecay, Big South Fork (Shane knows that one!), and then just some piddling in my kayak. Out of the whole experience I have to say the friends that I have accumulated along the way are the best part. Nothing like a whitewater family!

                          Shane S.

                          SHANE

                          Shane S.Shane Snyder

                          I have been working river trips for Cherokee Rafting since 2003, and I have made some great whitewater memories with all of the guides and customers throughout the years. Running rivers and spending time caving and climbing are some of my favorite outdoor activities. I work part-time as a firefighter and full time as a technical rescue instructor, but somehow I always end up back at Cherokee during the rafting season! I have made some lifelong friendships through my adventures at Cherokee Rafting, and can’t wait to continue the journey this summer! See you on the River!!

                            MICHAEL

                            Michael PMichael Powers

                            Hailing originally from the Atlanta area, I've been a river rat most of my life. I've known the folks at Cherokee since I was a kid. I recently got married to my lovely bride Ginny and we just bought our first home in beautiful Polk County and enjoy spending time with our two dogs "Turtle" and "Rabbit." In my downtime I like to grow facial hair and usually get most of my food caught in my beard. Come raft with the "Big Midget!" See you on the water.

                              MACK

                              Mack H.Mack Haynes

                              Originally from Old Fort, TN, I spent most of my youth frog gigging in the mountains, jamming forks into light sockets, and building “American Gladiators” style obstacle courses in my back yard. I went to college and studied snack foods. Lately, I've been working on making the perfect goat cheese. I hope to one day have a sandwich named after me.

                                Mike T

                                MIKE

                                MIKE TMike Trawick

                                I'm originally from West Virginia, where I guided on the New and Gauley Rivers. I came to the Ocoee when my real-world job moved me to Memphis. After being introduced to Cherokee Rafting and the Ocoee River in 1989, it quickly became my whitewater rafting home. I'm able to leave the corporate world behind when I'm at Cherokee Rafting, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!

                                  Jimmy C.

                                  JIMMY

                                  JimmyJimmy Campbell

                                  The river is a great place to relax and meet new interesting people. I’ve been running the Ocoee since 1989 as a river guide and have enjoyed each exhilarating moment. We experience a closeness as friends that make you feel like family. Although, I have a full time job, I ALWAYS look forward to being with my river family and making new friends on the Ocoee!

                                    Nick P

                                    NICK

                                    Nick PNick Peden

                                    I have been a river guide for 7 years now. Outside of guiding you through adventurous whitewater, I am a Financial Advisor for Edward Jones Investments in Sweetwater, TN. I have rafted several rivers around the country, some more beautiful experiences than others, but I love being on the river and showing my crews a great ride. Besides that, I have three dogs (Hammer, LuLu, and Stella). I currently do not have my beard as shown in my profile picture, but give me a couple days on the Ocoee, and I'll have a sweet mustache full of wisdom/manliness. Come see me!

                                      Evan H

                                      EVAN

                                      Evan HEvan Holloway

                                      This season will be my 12th year guiding on the great Ocoee River and I wouldn't trade it in for anything. I was born just up the road, so I was able to enjoy the outdoors quite a bit as I was growing up. There was always a tug to want to guide, but I didn’t get to start my rafting career until I was in college…and I’ve enjoyed it ever since! I’ve had the opportunity to raft several rivers, but I’ve only had time to make it to the Gauley River in WV. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the powers that be and got a full-time job, and plan on taking some time off from that big boy job to finally make it to several rivers. I love to travel and I love the great outdoors, so hopefully this will be the year to do so. It’s a blessing to have such a beautiful place to call home and a greater blessing to have a wonderful river family to share it with. Hope to see ya’ll out there!

                                        Mike C

                                        MICHAEL

                                        Michael Caywood

                                        Hi. I’m Michael Cawood. I've been guiding on the Ocoee since 1986 and have paddled on many rivers throughout the Southeast. I am originally from Cleveland, TN where I also pastor a church. I enjoy spending time with my wife and 3 children, fishing, hiking and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors.

                                          Jake T

                                          JAKE

                                          Jake TJake Trotter

                                          Hey guys, my name is Jake and I have been guiding at Cherokee for 8 years now. I raft and kayak year round, and in the summer I am lucky enough to call it a job. I just graduated from college with a business degree and I plan to turn my love for the water into a career. The Ocoee is one of the best places in the world and I am looking forward to showing you all that it has to offer.

                                            TYLER

                                            Tyler DTyler Davis

                                            I am actually a spy and I can karate chop bad guys. I can make contraptions better than MacGyver that seem like they’re blowing up but they never hurt anyone yet serve to distract the bad guys so all the good guys can run away fast. I love to go camping but never do, love to play golf, but don't actually know how, and love to eat Hot Tamales candy, which I quit doing because I did it too often.

                                              DOUGLAS

                                              Douglas White

                                              Hello, my name is Douglas White. I've lived in Cleveland for most of my life and have a wide range of hobbies. As a young child, I had a wild imagination and spent a lot of time exploring it. My childhood hero was the Crocodile Hunter who I tried to be like by catching reptiles and other critters. I also played hockey for about six years. I stopped playing hockey so that I could focus more on martial arts, which I enjoyed for some time. Currently, I am studying at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and hope to one day do something with mathematics or physics. In my free time, I like to read, make art, enjoy the outdoors, play sports, and spend time with my friends and family. I love adventure and appreciate the excitement that the river has to offer. If you are considering rafting with Cherokee, I would be delighted to take you down the river. We will do our best to ensure that you have a blast!

                                                Cade

                                                Cade Puckett

                                                Hello! My name is Cade. I've lived 30 minutes away from the Ocoee River my whole life. It wasn't until my first day of training that I finally had a chance to raft it. After that first trip, I was hooked. I love this job each and every day. During the school year, I'm currently aerospace engineering at UT Knoxville. I look forward to coming home every summer to raft! Ask for me, we'll have a blast!

                                                  Matt B

                                                  MATT

                                                  Matt BMatt Boyd

                                                  Chef. Musical Enthusiast. Papercut Survivor. Empire Builder. I usually drop my phone on my face when texting lying down. Happiness seeker. Proud husband and father.

                                                    Rafting Guide Photo not Available

                                                    BARRY & SHANNON

                                                    BurchBarry & Shannon Burch

                                                    Together, we have been river guides for over 35 years. We met at the Ocoee River, graduated college and settled near Chattanooga to stay close to the rivers, mountains, and people that we love. After countless river expeditions and assorted adventures we both teach Science in the community and have two children, Henry and Ada. We settled at Cherokee Rafting after working for several outfitters over the years. Cherokee is committed to providing their customers with an amazing experience and we are proud to be a part of it. We chose Cherokee for the same reasons that you should.

                                                      OCOEE RIVER. THE HISTORY.

                                                      The History of the Ocoee River

                                                      In the upper mountain highlands, natural springs release pure water down mountain slopes known as watersheds. These waters gather into streams that find their way to creeks, flowing until they merge with mountain rivers as they journey across the lands and out to sea. In 1911, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to protect these watersheds and therefore authorized the purchase of these public lands, creating The Cherokee National Forest.

                                                      The Ocoee River, has its beginnings in the mountains of Northeast Georgia where it is known as the Toccoa River. Its headwaters descend from the mountains in northern Georgia cutting its way into southeastern Tennessee, weaving its rushing whitewater westward, through the Ocoee Gorge and into Parksville Lake.

                                                      Originally owned by the Eastern Tennessee Power Company, the river was dammed to build hydro-electric plants. The river is now controlled by three dams, operated by the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] power company.

                                                      Dam No.1 is a hydro-electric plant in the community known as Parksville. The dam itself lies where the Ocoee emerges from the Appalachian Mountains. The East Tennessee Power Company began construction in 1910 and completed it in 1911. The lake is 1,930 surface acres with 109 miles of shoreline developed for recreation. The dam is 135 ft high and 840 ft across. Here, the Ocoee flows east & northward for several miles before feeding into the Hiwassee River which in turn feeds into the Tennessee River and thus the Mississippi.

                                                      Dam No.2 was also originally built by the East Tennessee Power Company in 1913. It is 30 ft high and 450 ft across. This structure diverts the water into a wooden flume at the end of which lies the historical Ocoee #2 Hydro-electric Plant. The historic wooden flume still to this day diverts the waters of the Ocoee River into an elevated path, concentrating water pressure for the hydro-electric powerhouse. If you have never seen the Flume it may be hard to imagine. It is a wooden trough measuring 14’ X 10’ stretching 4.7 miles long…yet it falls only 17 feet over that distance. The river itself drops about 250 ft in elevation. The force of the falling water is the secret behind its ability to generate. It was built from yellow pine from the forests of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee…using just over eight million board feet of lumber. Mules,

                                                      wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, dynamite were the tools of the times. Manpower being the most important one of them all.

                                                      TVA purchased the power system in 1939. In September 1976, the wooden flume was shut down for reconstruction and once again the river ran free. Soon, people began showing up to the Ocoee with army surplus rafts to run the whitewater rapids. Rafters struggled with TVA to obtain the right to ride the whitewater. After much resistance, TVA agreed to schedule water releases into the river, and commercial rafting found a home on the Ocoee in 1977.

                                                      In 1978, friends thought they were crazy, but owners John and Judy Thomason had a vision. At a time when the sport of whitewater rafting was in its infancy and only a handful of people even had the nerve to run the Ocoee, someone had to do it…right? Having grown up just minutes from the river, John had a plan. There weren’t any self-bailing rafts, the paddles were short and flimsy, and the life jackets looked quite funny. Cherokee Rafting was born.

                                                      Aside from commercial rafting trips, whitewater racing events have been held on the Ocoee since 1977, bringing the infamous gorge to the attention of the world making it a world class whitewater river. The Upper Ocoee had been a dry riverbed throughout most of this century, which enabled the manipulation and construction of a world class racing course. Being approximately 100 miles north of Atlanta, helped make the Ocoee the ideal place to hold the 1996 Summer Olympics Slalom Canoe/Kayak competition.

                                                      July 1996 brought 14,000 spectators and more than 1,000 volunteers/staff to the banks of the Ocoee River to witness the excitement of approximately 135 world Olympic competitors. The Olympics created a new course and awakened more people to the excitement of whitewater sports.

                                                      In 2012, the Ocoee was name the #1 whitewater destination in America hosting over 230,000 rafting visitors every year. Quite an accomplishment for waters born from such a rugged yet almost pleasantly designed fate.

                                                      HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

                                                      Here are some helpful links and documents you can check out or print to help you prepare for your trip. If you have any questions at all, feel free to email or call us. We’re here to ensure you have the best trip possible.

                                                                

                                                      2016 / Cherokee Rafting

                                                      869 Highway 64, Ocoee, TN 37361 -- 1.800.451.7238