Tubing, Kayaking & Rafting in the Smoky Mountains – My Bear Foot Cabins

Tubing, Kayaking & Rafting in the Smoky Mountains


When looking for 3-season excitement in the Great Smoky Mountains, tubing and white-water rafting are the answer. You can cruise down the river giggling and lazily relaxing with friends and family, or rush through white water, heart racing and laughing to get through – the Smoky Mountains has everything you want.

Here are some of our favorite places to raft, tube, kayak in the Great Smoky Mountains.

White Water Rafting With Smoky Mountain Outdoors

White Water Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors takes place in Hartford, Tennessee – about 26 miles east of Gatlinburg. Choose between rafting Upper or Lower sections of the river. The Upper section features Class III and IV rapids over 6.5 miles; the Lower section features calmer waves and takes you through the scenic Pigeon River gorge over 5.5 miles. The Lower section is good for families with small children – those as young as 3 years old can raft.

An experienced guide accompanies your rafting adventure, so no experience is necessary.

There’s also kayaking – for beginners or the experienced. Take a trip down the river in an inflatable kayak in the Smoky Mountains. Drive yourself, escorted by an expert rafting guide. You’ll learn all types of spins, surfing and sliding techniques too.

Ziplining also is available, and the company offers combo packages for whitewater rafting and ziplining.

When finished, you can shower, change clothes, and get ready for more fun in the Smoky Mountains, whether that’s visiting another attraction or going out to dinner.

White Water Rafting with Smoky Mountain Outdoors is located at 3299 Hartford Road, Hartford, TN 37753, 800-771-7238

Big Creek Expeditions

Also located in Hartford is Big Creek Expeditions.

Here, you can choose a white-water adventure, a calm float on the river, or both for a full day on the Pigeon River.  An expert guide will lead the way.

Rafting trips are available for ages 3 to 103. The minimum age and weight for the Upper Section Whitewater Rafting trip is 8 years old or 70+ pounds. The minimum age for the Lower section scenic trip is 3 years old.

White-water rafting in Gatlinburg is fun, thrilling and a great way to bond with friends and family. Everyone participates at some point, helps the guide and learns about the rapids and the area, and gets wet! And that makes it fun for a rainy day, too – if you are already going to get wet, why not head to the rapids?

Big Creek Expeditions also offers a Paddle & Saddle combo where you see the Smoky Mountains by land and water with a 6-mile horseback trail ride in Sevierville and a whitewater adventure on the Upper Section of the Pigeon River. The horseback tour includes 70 acres of scenic pioneer trails. Ride through mountain streams and take in mountain views.

Located at 3541 Hartford Road, Hartford, TN – 877-642-7238

Rafting in the Smokies

Rafting in the Smokies was a pioneer outfitter on the Pigeon Forge River in 1978 and even helped name some of the rapids, according to the Web site. You can read about the guides there too.

The upper section of the Pigeon River boasts 12 Class III and 3 Class IV thrilling whitewater rapids.

FREE on-site amenities include the 10-acre Family Adventure Island featuring a nature trail, barbeque grills, picnic area, beanbag toss games and a playground at the water’s edge. Professional photo of the adventure, gift shop items, and meals are available for a fee.

Combo packages are available that include Scenic Family Float Rafting, Ziplines, Rock Climbing Wall, Bunk House or High Elements Ropes Challenge Course.

Rafting in the Smokies also has changing facilities, restrooms and hot showers.

Find them at Exit #447 to Hartford, off I-40 near the Tennessee/North Carolina border, 800-776-7238

Nantahala River and Ocoee River Rafting

If you are interested in a more aggressive rafting experience, you can’t do better than the Nantahala River in North Carolina and the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

NOC’s 18,000 square foot flagship store is located just outside of the entrance to the park. NOC Gatlinburg carries everything necessary to enjoy excursions into the Smokies including gear and accessories for camping and hiking and a trip planning area with information, maps, and books. Our expert guides in-store will even help you plan your trip or book a rafting adventure on the Nantahala River or the Ocoee River.

Click here to find out more.

Things to know before white-water rafting:

*Secure footwear is required. Sandals with a heel strap, an old pair of running shoes or water shoes. Flip-flops and bare feet aren’t allowed.

*Be prepared to get wet. On the Upper Section Whitewater Rafting trip, you’ll get fully soaked.

*During summer months, shorts, t-shirts and/or a bathing suit. Rafting during the early spring and fall requires a little more clothing – wool and synthetic materials are best during those months. Long underwear and socks are good ideas. At some locations, wet suit rentals are available. Avoid cotton clothing during the colder months.

*Don’t wear jeans or sweat pants – they will stay wet and cold and get heavy.

*Take a set of dry clothes to change into after the trip.

*Prepare to lock all valuables in your vehicle.

*Bring straps for glasses, sunscreen, towel.


Would you rather just float through the water slowly and easily? Hop in an innertube and float leisurely down the river. It’s a hot day in Tennessee, get to a tube and spend the day in the water without any work.

JJ’s Tubes

JJ’s takes you tubing on Deep Creek in Bryson City, NC – about 45 miles from the Gatlinburg area.

In 1978, Bob was a school teacher and started the tube business to make extra money during the summers, according to the company’s Web site. Bob and Betsy had two sons, Jeff and Josh, and they named the business after them.

The boys followed in their father’s footsteps and became educators and football coaches and took over the family tubing business.

JJ’s Tubes has tubes in all sizes and types.  The staff helps select the appropriate tube for each person and family and then ties the tubes down on your vehicle and answers any questions you have about tubing in the Smoky Mountains on Deep Creek. You’ll get a map of the park to see the different tubing areas, picnic area and trails.

If you choose to spend the entire day in the park, pack a lunch to also enjoy the picnic area and the hiking trails in the incredibly beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.

Find JJ’s Tubes at 1399 West Deep Creek Road, Bryson City, NC, 828-736-3640

River Rat on Little Pigeon

Located in Townsend, Tennessee, River Rat is 15 minutes from
Pigeon Forge and 20 minutes from Gatlinburg.

River Rat offers tubing near the Smokies on both upper and lower sections of the Little River. The lower section and main outpost offers a family-friendly float and “features relaxing rapids, scenic views, and even a rock jump.”

The lower outpost is ideal for ages two and up or those who are first timers to The Rat. The upper section is what River Rat calls the “adventure float.” It features a scenic float with adrenaline-pumping rapids and cool, refreshing swimming holes. The upper outpost is suitable for ages six and older.

Wild Bear Tubing

Wild Bear Tubing is an independent, family-owned outdoor gear retailer based in beautiful Pigeon Forge, TN. They’ve built their reputation by offering the very best gear, from the most respected manufacturers, including several brands that are “Made in the U.S.A.” Wild Bear is your one stop shop for epic tubing trips, and all the equipment and gear you need. They offer products and services you need to enjoy your favorite mountain or water activities in safety, style, and comfort. Theirr shop features a “West Coast Vibe” mixed with a little mountain charm, along with friendly, knowledgeable staff members who are passionate about helping you find the gear and adventure best suited for you.

Bring your friends, family, or an entire group!  They’re only 5 minutes from Dollywood, and 8 minutes from the Pigeon Forge strip in beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee.

Come spend the day tubing on the beautiful Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge, TN, and don’t just see the Smokies, be a part of them. The Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge is a part of the beautiful state that everybody should experience. Because of this, there’s not a better place to bring your tubing group, or plan a church group outing or arrange a scouting retreat for scouts of any age, or gather any type of group who wants a unique take on what makes The Smoky Mountains so great!

1980 Pittman Center Rd
Pigeon Forge, TN  37876
tel: 865.366.2271


Kayaking the French Broad River with Adventure Smoky Mountains

The most popular trip is 3.3 miles long with a combination of flat water and easy shoals. They meet at the boat ramp where you park your vehicle and get on the river.  They also transport back to your vehicle once your trip is over.  It takes most 1.5 to 2 hours to paddle downstream.

There is opportunity to see wildlife.

Join them for your honeymoon, anniversary, family vacation, friends trip or any other occasion for being on the water!

Call Text or Email for Reservations


865-556-775​3 (calls & texting)



Ready to book your adventure in the Smoky Mountains? Give My Bearfoot Cabins a call at
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, owners