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 


Hunters Encouraged To Take Deer To Checking Stations For Data Collection And CWD Surveillance

Volkswagen Chattanooga Hosts Inaugural BIODiversity Expo, Free Screening Of “Hidden Rivers Of Southern Appalachia”

Veterans Day Program Features Role Of Civil War Veterans In Preserving Chickamauga As The 1st National Military Park


The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be collecting deer biological data on opening days of the muzzleloader and rifle seasons at various locations across east Tennessee. Data to ... (click for more)

Volkswagen Chattanooga will host its inaugural BIODiversity Expo on Saturday from noon-7:30 p.m. at the Volkswagen Conference Center, 8001 Volkswagen Dr. "This event brings the community together ... (click for more)

This Veterans Day, learn how the Blue and Gray Barbecue near Chickamauga created a movement of reconciliation and battlefield preservation across the country. Dr. Timothy B. Smith, author and ... (click for more)


Outdoors

Hunters Encouraged To Take Deer To Checking Stations For Data Collection And CWD Surveillance

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be collecting deer biological data on opening days of the muzzleloader and rifle seasons at various locations across east Tennessee. Data to be collected includes deer age estimates, antler measurements and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance samples. Hunters in east Tennessee are encouraged to submit samples for testing ... (click for more)

Volkswagen Chattanooga Hosts Inaugural BIODiversity Expo, Free Screening Of “Hidden Rivers Of Southern Appalachia”

Volkswagen Chattanooga will host its inaugural BIODiversity Expo on Saturday from noon-7:30 p.m. at the Volkswagen Conference Center, 8001 Volkswagen Dr. "This event brings the community together with more than a dozen regional organizations to learn about preservation and celebrate the unique environment of the region," officials said. Family-friendly activities will be offered ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Snow Showers, Very Cold In Chattanooga Forecast

Chattanoogans may see some snow flakes early Tuesday morning. However, snow lovers should not get too excited since little to no accumulation is expected. Temperatures will drop well below freezing on Tuesday night - going as low as 21. Amy Maxwell, of Hamilton County Emergency Services, said, "The 'teeth-chattering' cold temperatures expected to arrive late tonight in ... (click for more)

Driver Killed When Vehicle Runs Off Middle Valley Road On Sunday Night

One person was killed when a vehicle ran off Middle Valley Road on Sunday night. At approximately 9:36 p.m., the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office responded to a single-vehicle crash in the 6500 block of Middle Valley Road. Preliminary investigation determined that a 2003 Chevy pick-up was southbound, left the west side of the roadway going down an embankment, struck a utility ... (click for more)

Opinion

A Tribute To Ron Loving

Chattanooga lost a valuable community member and leader this week. I had the privilege of serving with Ron on the Erlanger Board of Trustees. In addition to being a very competent, strong, and thoughtful leader of the Board, I found him to be the ultimate gentleman. He always conducted himself in a quiet and dignified manner, even during a tumultuous time of change. He was a gentle ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Veterans Day 2019

There is a lot of water than has gone down-stream since this day nine years ago, now just two days shy of Nov. 13, 2010, when Marine Corps General John Kelly gave what is arguably one of the greatest talks in our nation’s history. The speech, which captures what our veterans mean to our nation as today we stand once again in awe and gratitude today, was given at the Hyatt Hotel ... (click for more)