Looking for a real rush? The Ocoee River Gorge is one of the premier sport destination rivers in America, ideal for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Site of the 1996 Olympics whitewater competitions, the Ocoee boasts the mile-long Olympic whitewater course, as well as a four-and-a-half mile rafting area.
Believe it or not, when TVA is using the Ocoee River to create electricity, the river channel is a bed of dry rocks, with just enough pooled water to swim in a few places.
But when TVA releases water for recreation, it brings two famed stretches of river roaring to life: the one-mile Olympic whitewater course fed by releases of water from Ocoee Dam No. 3, and a four-and-a-half mile padding area fed by water from Ocoee Dam No. 2 when the water is not being diverted by the flume to the downstream powerhouse.
Though it feels like a wild ride, the water releases are actually carefully controlled—for world-class competition the water can’t vary significantly. But for most of us, it certainly feels like a world-class thrill ride.
Ocoee release schedules
While You’re There Consider These Nearby Attractions:
- Copper Basin Restoration: Until recently, much of Copper Basin, a few miles upstream of the Ocoee Dam No. 3, was barren and bleak—the effect of abysmal copper mining and smelting. The practice of burning the ore to get rid of sulfur produced acid rain, which denuded an area of more than 50 square miles. Astronauts could once see the red scar from outer space. Today, thanks to efforts by TVA and its partners, recovery is nearly complete. Read more about Copper Basin and it’s heritage here.
- Parksville Lake: Also known as Lake Ocoee, it’s located upstream of Ocoee Dam No.1 and is accessible from Interstate 75. Lake levels fluctuate very little, and the lake is adjacent to Cherokee National Forest. Activities include swimming, picnicking and boating. Visitors can stay at the Forest Service campgrounds, or at a commercially operated inn on the lakeshore.
It’s always a good time for fun on the Tennessee Valley’s lands and waters. Not sure where to start? We have you covered! Check out some of the best recreational activities on our reservoirs. While you’re enjoying the lakes, trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, share your own stories and photos on Instagram using #TVAfun.
River Neighbors Newsletter
Get the all the latest news and inside information about recreation on TVA public lands and lakes.
Want to get the most out of any rafting, kayaking or canoeing adventure? Be prepared before you go. We make it easy with our 13-part checklist, which covers everything from safety basics to relevant U.S. Coastguard law. Check out our paddle pointers.
The Secret Ocoee
Everyone knows that the Ocoee River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting adventures in America. But a little-known secret is that the southeastern Tennessee destination is also an epicenter for many other forms of world-class recreation. Find out what else you can do before or after your rafting experience.