Frequently Asked Questions


Rafting FAQs

Does one need experience to go rafting?

Rafting is a sport that just about anyone can enjoy. Each raft is guided by an expert river guide with thorough knowledge of whitewater, first aid, CPR, etc. They'll be on you raft telling everyone how to paddle and when. It's a team effort while rafting down the river, and your Rapid Expeditions guide will be there every step of the way to show you a great time no matter what your experience level.

When's the best time to go rafting with Rapid Expeditions?

Rapid Expeditions runs scheduled rafting trips down the Pigeon River from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We may also grant special requests to raft outside of the season, so please inquire. Because the Pigeon River is on a scheduled release, we only take trips on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That decision is made by Carolina Power & Light, the entity that controls the dam and waterway.

What is your cancellation policy?

Raft trips go rain or shine. Rafting is a sport where rain does not matter since you will already be getting wet! The only time we would delay or cancel a trip would be due to lightning in the immediate vicinity. Please, no cancellations.

What kind of shoes/sandals should I wear?

You will need sandals with a heel strap or some other type of footwear that can be secured to your feet. The rafting regulations organization will not allow participants to raft down the river in flip flops or sandals with an open heel. Other options are tennis shoes that can get wet, aquasocks/watersocks and any other footwear designed for water use. As long as it can be secured to your feet, you should be fine.

What type of clothing should I wear?

We suggest you arrive in clothes that can get wet,and also bring a change of clothes to change into after the trip. Bathing suits, t-shirts, shorts and even pants are fine, but you will definitely get wet. Synthetic clothing designed to shed water or wick away water are strongly recommended. Cotton is fine, but it will soak in water and stay wet. You may also be more comfortable in a waterproof/resistant jacket or rain suit, but they may be hot on warm, summer days. After the trip, you will want to change into something dry. Rapid Expeditions provides men's and women's changing facilities for your convenience.

What else can I bring on the raft?

Be cautious about bringing along anything that you don't want to lose. First, it is almost guaranteed to get wet, and second, the jostling of the raft may cause your personal property to bounce right out of the boat. A waterproof, disposable camera is a good idea if you are interested in taking photographs, but remember that anything you bring may not make it back to the outpost. We also suggest you leave all valuables in a safe place, like wedding rings, necklaces, cell phones, etc... If it means a lot to you, it's best left at home.

Do I need sunglasses?

Sunglasses can help keep the glare down on the water, but if you want to bring them we suggest using some sort of security device that will keep them attached to your body incase they fly off. Remember, sunglasses don't typically float and rafting is a good way to lose them.

What do you provide on the rafting expedition?

We provide everything you need for your journey, including: safety helmet, safety life jacket and paddle. If the weather is cooler, we'll also provide each paddler with a splash jacket and pants. Our guides are also really neat people and we're sure they'll provide you with a great Smoky Mountain adventure!

How long does it take?

You can expect to spend 2–2.5 hours with us. Upon your arrival, we will gear up and then go over the safety talk. Once everyone has been briefed on safety, we will load up the rafts and take a short bus/van ride to the put-in. This is approximately a 5-10 minute drive. After unloading at the put-in, you will have a recap of safety and paddling technique and then embark on your journey. The ride down the river is approximately 4–5 miles and takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours. Along the way you will be given he opportunity to swim in the river and also jump off some small rocks. If there's anything we can do to make your trip more enjoyable, don't hesitate to ask!

What are the requirements to raft with Rapid Expeditions?

On the Upper Pigeon River, all paddlers must be 8 years of age or older and weigh at least 70 pounds. On the Lower Pigeon River, all paddlers must be at least 3 years of age or older. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

How much does it cost?

We are proud to be the only rafting outfitter, to our knowledge, who offers such fair and straightforward pricing. While others elevate their price and make you hunt for coupons to save money, we have already priced our rafting trips low. Further, other outfitters charge more during holidays and weekends — but not at Rapid Expeditions! It is the same low price every day, no matter what. Upper/Lower Pigeon River trips are $29.95 + tax per person.

What else is around the Rapid Expeditions outpost?

Everything to make your trip enjoyable. We maintain our own shop in the main office where you can purchase last minute items like sunscreeen, t-shirts, beverages and snacks, water shoes and other novelties. There are two restaurants/coffee shops adjacent to our outpost, as well as a gas station and convenience store directly across the street. Rapid Expeditions also has a covered picnic area, men and women's changing areas and gift shop for your convenience. And of course, who could forget the majestic mountain scenery?

What if only some of us want to go rafting?

Bring them all! Our outpost is located on the water and offers great views of the Pigeon River and surrounding Smoky Mountains. You may even want to wade in the water or go fly fishing as the rest of your party enjoys their rafting expedition.

Is rafting safe?

Whitewater rafting is an adventure sport, and as with all sports, there are inherent risks involved. That being said, we make safety our number one priority. All guides are trained and certified in CPR, water rescue and emergency care. Additionally, each raft is equipped with a complete first aid kit for any emergencies. However, to-date we have never had to use them. Close to 250,000 people enjoy rafting down the Pigeon River each year, and rarely is there an instance where emergency care is required. But if it becomes necessary, rest assured that you are in expert hands — Rapid Expeditions guides are the best!

How far in advance should we register?

As soon as possible. Rafting trips fill up fast, especially on weekends and holidays. We suggest at least a few weeks notice, if not more. For reservations with less than 48 hours notice, please call to increase your chances of getting a spot. Don't hesitate to call last minute to see if there have been any cancellations. Remember, the East Tennessee and Smoky Mountain Region is one of the most visited destinations in the world. Because of that, rafting is an in-demand activity and trips sell out far in advance.

What is your cancellation policy?

We are proud to offer a fair and honest cancellation policy. If you cancel your trip with more than 48 hours notice, you are entitled to a full refund. For cancellations with less than 48 hours notice, you will receive a 50% refund. As far as we know, no other outfitter offers this. Book with the best — book with Rapid Expeditions!

What if it's raining?

We raft rain or shine. Only extreme, dangerous weather will result in the delay or cancellation of a rafting expedition. If this happens, you will be given the option of waiting out the storm, rescheduling or receiving a full refund.

What payment forms do you accept?

We accept all major credit cards and cash. Please no personal checks. Reservations can only be guaranteed with a credit card in advance or by reserving online.

Is there paperwork to fill out?

We have everything you need to sign at the office, but some may prefer to download and review/sign our release form ahead of time.

Kayaking FAQs

Are Wednesday roll clinics really free?

Yes. No strings attached—just call to reserve your space! We supply all the gear and there is no experience necessary.

How much experience do I need for the group kayaking class?

Our group kayaking class is intended for beginner kayakers. We cover the basics of kayaking and provide all the equipment and safety gear.

Can I bring my own equipment?

Yes. Most who sign up for our private kayaking lessons bring their own equipment, but we also offer free rental equipment for private kayaking lessons if you prefer (perfect for someone on vacation in the Smokies who wants to hone their kayaking skills).