Ocoee River Most Popular Whitewater Rafting River In America According To Recent Study

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ocoee River is officially the most visited whitewater river in the United States with 229,542 visitors in 2012, according to research results announced today by tourism officials in Chattanooga.

After the Ocoee River, the other four most visited whitewater rivers are: the Arkansas River in Colorado (208,329), Pigeon River in Tennessee (169,060), Nantahala River in North Carolina (165,906) and Lehigh River in Pennsylvania (110,422).

The study was led by Steve Morse, an economist and associate professor in the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management and commissioned by the Ocoee River Outfitters Association and the America Outdoors Association.

Mr. Morse said, “This study shows that tourism and visitor spending at the Ocoee River is fueling small businesses, creating jobs, worker paychecks and taxes in rural Tennessee.”

For the study, Mr. Morse and graduate student Eric Beckman examined the impact of visitors to the 60-mile region surrounding the river. It includes 30 counties—14 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia and three in North Carolina. They surveyed the spending patterns of 3,118 visitors rafting the Ocoee River between June and September 2012.

Mr. Morse and Mr. Beckman analyzed the spending of 229,542 visitors who took rafting trips during the year. The number of users was taken from the Tennessee Department of the Environment and Conservation’s report on Ocoee River usage. The study revealed that visitors to the Ocoee Region left a $43.8 million economic impact, supported 622 jobs, helped generate $14.12 million in worker paychecks and contributed $3.57 million in tax revenues for the river’s tri-state area.

“Tennessee’s scenic beauty and outdoor adventure are among the state’s best tourism assets,” said Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “Having the Ocoee now officially the nation’s most popular whitewater river reinforces that Tennessee is a top-tier outdoor destination. Congratulations to all of the outfitters who made this possible.”

The Tennessee counties surrounding the Ocoee River are Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Cumberland, Hamilton, Loudon, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, Roane and Van Buren. The Georgia counties are Catoosa, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Towns, Union, Walker and Whitfield. The North Carolina counties are Cherokee, Clay and Graham.

The Ocoee River is also home to the Ocoee Whitewater Center, American’s only Olympic whitewater venue. Releases on the Ocoee are made possible through a collaborative effort by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the United States Forest Service and the Ocoee River Outfitters Association.

For a copy of the study, contact Steve Morse at smorse@utk.edu

Top 5 Whitewater Rivers in US by Number of Visits   Data Source                         

Ocoee River              TN                   237,402          TN Department of Environment and Conservation

Arkansas                   CO                   208,329         Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area, CO State Parks

Pigeon River             TN                   169,060          Cocke County, TN

Nantahala River       NC                   165,906          USDA Forest Service, NC

Lehigh River             PA                   110,422          Lehigh Gorge State Park, PA and Outfitters

Ocoee River Facts

· The five-mile “Middle Ocoee” is the standard Ocoee River whitewater trip. It features five miles of almost continuous whitewater (except for a brief pause at the “doldrums” half-way through the run.) The Middle Ocoee runs at least 116 days every year

· Just upstream of the Middle Ocoee is the “Upper Ocoee” where the 1996 Olympic Canoe/Kayak competition was held. The Upper Ocoee runs 34 days a year. Paddlers running the Upper Ocoee will most likely combine the trip with a run on the Middle, creating an exceptional full-day, ten-mile river trip

· The Ocoee River actually begins in Georgia as the Toccoa River and flows out of Lake Blue Ridge

· Both sections feature exciting Class III/IV whitewater, which ranks as intermediate/advanced for rafters. This popular level of difficulty features powerful, splashy rapids, but does not demand the expert skills required of Class V riders 


Tennessee's 2014-15 Gun Season For Deer Starts Nov. 22

Tennessee’s gun season for deer an annual opening on the Saturday before Thanksgiving which this year falls on Nov. 22, for 2014-15. For the fourth year, sportsmen will find one continuous season that will continue through Jan. 4, 2015. The continuous season replaced the previously two segmented hunting seasons that were in place prior to 2011. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources ... (click for more)

Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga:  Chattanooga Named Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community The League of American Bicyclists has named Chattanooga a  Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community , a step up from the bronze level that the community has maintained since 2007. The designation comes from improvements in all of our services ... (click for more)

Grote Hall At UTC Campus Closed Due To Sinkhole

A sinkhole has prompted UTC officials to close off access to Grote Hall. Grote Hall employees have been told they do not need to report to work on Monday. Classes that are held in Grote Hall are called off for Monday. All other classes and campus activities are on for Monday. (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The sheriff's office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UVa --Time For Change

The University of Virginia is, by any measure, one of the finest universities in the world. I have long admired it, whether covering dozens of sports events, cavorting with countless friends, or benefitting repeatedly from the surgical skills of the late world-class humanitarian Frank McCue. But today there is a terrible pall over “Mr. Jefferson’s university” – no, make that a ... (click for more)