Exciting Tennessee Road Trip with White Water Rafting and More

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I have fond memories of family road trips through Tennessee when I was a child. Now as a parent, I wanted to create new memories with my own kids. This year, we embarked on a weekend road trip to Tennessee for outdoor adventures like white water rafting, hiking, and horseback riding.

This post was made possible in partnership with the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association. I received accommodations and some paid attractions/dining to facilitate sharing my experience.

Our Tennessee Road Trip Route – Nashville to Chattanooga to Ocoee

We live in Nashville, so Ocoee, TN is about a 3 hour drive away. It can be done straight through, or with a stopover in Chattanooga for sightseeing. Nashville to Chattanooga is 2 hours, and Chattanooga to Ocoee is 1 hour. I prefer to break up the drive over 2 days, since there’s so much to do in the area.

ocoee white water rafting

Whitewater Rafting on Tennessee’s Ocoee River

Ocoee Whitewater Center

We started with white water rafting on the Ocoee River, a popular rafting destination. The river was home to the 1996 Olympic whitewater slalom course, so it’s one of the best spots for rafting worldwide.

Beginners can tackle the 5 mile, class III rapids, while experts can try the 10 mile trip with continuous class III-IV rapids, including the Olympic course. If you can’t raft, explore the Ocoee Whitewater Center by the course to see the flags of participating Olympic countries.

ocoee river rafting

Cherokee Rafting Experience

Rafting was a blast! I loved the thrills – the splashes, plummeting down rapids, and paddling through rough waters. It was rewarding to watch my kids work together and follow our guide’s instructions. A great teamwork activity!

ocoee whitewater raftingWe booked a half-day 1:30 pm trip with Cherokee Rafting. They were organized, experienced and helpful, especially for my teen first-timers. Our funny guide educated us on rafting and the Ocoee River along the continuous rapids. 10/10 experience!

ocoee raftingImportant: Ocoee rafting is closed Tues/Wed when the TVA diverts river water for hydropower. I found the empty river fascinating to see the day after rafting it!

Cabin Rentals in the Ocoee Area

After rafting, we relaxed at our cabin. For Ocoee cabins, we recommend Welcome Valley Village. Their luxury cabins have nice amenities and river/forest views.

Cabin Rentals Ocoee TnThe spacious log cabins feature porches, full kitchens, fireplaces, jacuzzis and more. It would be great for a family reunion or wedding!

cabins on ocoee river

More Fun Things To Do in Southeast Tennessee

Beyond rafting, the area offers hiking, horseback riding, train rides, and small town charm. Here are some highlights:

Chilhowee Recreation Area

Chilhowee OverlookStop at the scenic overlooks for mountain views. Hike the 3-mile Benton Falls Trail to see the 65-foot waterfall.

Benton FallsEnjoy swimming and fishing at 7-acre McKamy Lake.

Chilhowee Rec area

Horseback Riding

Ride horses for a unique perspective of trails and mountain scenery. Blanche Manor Horseback Riding offers rides with gorgeous tri-state views.

horseback riding ocoee

Small Town Charm

Explore the area’s small towns like Copperhill, with shops, craft breweries and wineries. Tour local artisans like the Appalachian Bee Farm.

copperhill tn riverfront shops

Learn Local History

Visit the Ducktown Basin Museum, a former copper mining hub. See vintage mining equipment on their self-guided walking tour.

ducktown basin museum

Taste the Local Cuisine

Some of the best places we dined at include:

local ocoee food

Bakery on Main (Benton) – Delicious BBQ and muffins

Ocoee dam deli

Ocoee Dam Deli & Diner – Big menu with southern classics

Ggs Diner (Benton) – Friendly service and big biscuits

Apricot Place Cafe Ocoee

Apricot Place Cafe (Ocoee) – Fun sandwich options

Yellowbird Coffee Shop (Copperhill) – Tasty lemonade & popsicles

Riverside Spirits (Benton) – Great local wines

Conclusion: Southeast Tennessee offers adventure and charm just outside Nashville. Experience world-class Ocoee whitewater rafting. Enjoy the outdoors through hiking, horseback riding and more. Don’t miss the small town vibes and tasty local cuisine!

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