Are you planning a white water rafting adventure on the Ocoee River? Your trip is sure to be complete with fun, adrenaline and excitement, but the first step to planning your trip is choosing the best time to meet the rapids.
When Is Rafting Season?
The rafting season has a wide range of best days and times depending on your preferences. Any time the river runs you’ll have fun, but there are better times than others. The best time to go rafting is summer weekdays in June, July and August, or on weekends in the spring and fall.
Naturally, Saturdays are sometimes more convenient for many, but are also the busiest days of the summer season and on most of these days, it is very crowded on the river.
Being crowded doesn’t mean that you won’t have a good trip, it just means you will probably have a longer wait to enter the river and the guides may not get to play on the rapids as much due to heavy traffic of other rafts.
If possible, schedule your excursion on days that are not the busiest days of the season. Unless you’re a rapids watcher. On these busy days, pitch a spot on an overlook above some of the big rapids and watch the other adventurers try to make their way through from the vantage point of the shore.
The Ocoee is a dammed river. No, it’s not evil. It is the host to Tennessee Valley Authority hydroelectric dams and reservoirs. There will usually be a higher level of water upstream from a dam, compared to downstream, and sometimes this water starts to move thanks to the turbines inside the plant, or due to the opening of a lock. In short, think of a dam as a place where a lot of water can suddenly do a lot of dangerous things.
- Sluice Gates run at the upstream side of a dam. They can open without warning, moving tons of water with them.
- The Powerhouse Intake. Does that sound like something you want to get near? This is the place water goes inside the dam and so is on the upriver side of the dam. When it’s activated the surface of the river will be surging. Underwater will be sucking.
- Turbine Discharge is where the water exits the dam, having done it’s electricity producing work by pushing huge turbines activate a power generator. Horns announce a discharge, at which time both the areas upstream and downstream from the dam will need to be evacuated.
- Spillway Gates let water pass through the dam next to the turbine housing. When they open, you just don’t want to be there. Horns will sound when they’re about to open.
- Lock Gates open when a boater is trying to pass from one side of the dam to the other. As the lock opens on one side, the boat will enter a long chamber and the gate will close behind the craft. Once inside the lock, the water level will be raised, or lowered equivalent to the side of the river to which the boat is heading. When the lock gate opens, all of its water will surge out, making it another place not to loiter.
For more information, check out the Tennessee Valley Authority Recreation Release Site.