Ocoee River 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!


Since 1978, Cherokee Rafting is the Ocoee River’s #1 family-friendly white water rafting company. We love working with families, youth groups and corporate outings. With 10 incredible miles of continuous class III & IV rapids, we invite you to take the plunge on America’s favorite river. Join us for an exciting rafting adventure on the Ocoee River flowing through a beautiful gorge inside the Cherokee National Forest. Southeast Tennessee is famous for its fantastic scenery and big waves. We take pride in our reputation with a friendly and relaxing atmosphere that keeps folks returning year after year. Because the Ocoee River is dam controlled, the rapids are always guaranteed. There’s a reason we call this place home. We’d love to share the Ocoee experience with you.



Our doors are opened again to guests, and we are following CDC and local government guidelines in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus. This includes frequent sanitation of gear and equipment, office, bath houses and buses.  We also encourage the use of face masks when in the outpost or on the bus.  Additionally, we suggest that you book the entire boat (6 seats) when making reservations to ensure that another group will not be placed with yours.   

Cherokee Rafting Staff will be required to stay home if they have a fever or have had a fever within the past 48 hours, are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or have recently been exposed to the virus. We insist that our guests stay home if you or anyone in your group has a fever or has had a fever within the past 48 hours, are experiencing symptoms or have recently been exposed to Covid-19.  


Whether you have rafted with Cherokee before or are new to the adventure, we will consider it an honor to get you out on the water and to share the experience of whitewater rafting when this crisis is over. Our office is open if  you have any questions or wish to make reservations for later this season.

We hope to see you on the river soon!


Awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence consistently for the past 7 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!



Bio Coming Soon


    Bio Coming Soon


      Bio Coming Soon


        Wendy Torchick

        I fell in love with the Ocoee River at the age of 16 when I went on my first rafting trip with my Memphis area church youth group after a mission trip. I knew instantly that I wanted to move to east Tennessee and become a rafting guide. I was able to guide for 10 years while attending college, working odd jobs and teaching high school in the off season. I thought my rafting days might be over, but with God's help and the support of my husband and 5 children, I began guiding part-time again in 2018. I have been down many other rivers through the years, but the Ocoee is by far my favorite.

          Blake Cherokee Rafting


          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.


            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!



              Trip Leader

              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 Rafting 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 Rafting is one of the best ways to enjoy it. I hope you come rafting with us!


                Trip Leader

                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!


                  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. In my free time I enjoy playing the bass 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!!

                    Josh S


                    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 in 1994 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!

                      Katie S.


                      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



                        I grew up traveling from my hometown in Georgia to the Ocoee and always enjoyed my trips down the river, so when I started University in Chattanooga decided that I needed to find my way to the water and let me tell you it was the right decision. I have loved every second guiding and taking people like you down the river, so come rafting! It would be a pleasure to show you one of my favorite places on Earth!


                          Bio Coming Soon



                            Hi, I’m Amanda and I love adventure and travel. My first missions trip in 2009 was when i fell in love with God’s creation and decided to pursue and graduate with a degree in Intercultural Studies. I have only begun my adventures throughout the world. I grew up on the Tombigbee River in lower Alabama. It is incredible tubing and skiing up and down the river with friends and family but it was and is a totally different experience than rafting down the Ocoee where everyday is a new adventure! I never imagined I would be a raft guide but feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity. I love getting to meet new people and know new people. That’s what life is all about right? Come join me for a rafting adventure!



                              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.



                                Barry FullBarry Burch

                                I grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. My first trip down the Ocoee was a training trip in 1996 and I was hooked. I moved here and built a life in one of the most beautiful places on Earth! The Ocoee is home and where I met my wife. We are blessed with two children, Henry and Ada. I have been a wilderness guide, river guide, climbing guide, mountain bike guide, caving guide and educator in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. I have taught outdoor education for community colleges and commercial outfitters for many years and now teach science and social studies to 5th graders. I love teaching, playing music, and adventuring. I believe in taking people out of their element and showing them that they are capable of more than they realize. I hope to see you on the river!

                                  Jimmy Campbell


                                  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!

                                    Mike C


                                    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.

                                      Mike T


                                      MIKE TMike Trawick

                                      I'm originally from West Virginia, where I guided on the New and Gauley Rivers. 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!


                                        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 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.

                                            Jamison S.


                                            Jamison SJamison Sliger

                                            I have been rafting since 1997 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, 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!



                                              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 Rafting. 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!

                                                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.


                                                © 2020 Cherokee Rafting

                                                869 Highway 64, Ocoee, TN 37361 -- 1.800.451.7238 -- 423.338.5124