About The Ocoee River

Ocoee RiverThe Ocoee River is more than just an amazing whitewater rafting destination. It’s an ancient river with a history that stretches back millions of years. From generating electricity to drawing the attention of the world during the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Ocoee River holds an important part in Tennessee history. 

Located in the Appalachians, the Ocoee descends from northern Georgia to southeastern Tennessee. The river formed as it cut through the granite of the Appalachians, which formed 250 million years ago.

The Cherokee were the first inhabitants of the Ocoee River area, and the name “Ocoee” comes from the Cherokee word for Passiflora incarnata, or passion flower, which is common in the southern United States. During their time along the Ocoee, the Cherokee produced copper, and copper mining continued when white settlers first came to the area.

The Eastern Tennessee Power Company originally owned the river, which was dammed to build hydroelectric plants. Today, the river is controlled by three dams that are operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

Throughout most of the past century, the upper Ocoee riverbed has been dry, making it possible to construct a world class racing course. Since 1977, the Ocoee has been a hot spot for whitewater rafting. Originally one of the best kept secrets in the southeastern US, it didn’t take long for the Ocoee to attract global attention.

In 1996, the river was chosen as the location as the spot for an Olympic race course. Located about 100 miles north of Atlanta, where the games were held, the upper Ocoee became the first natural river Olympic course. With expert engineering and thousands of tons of boulders, a competitive racing channel was created. 

Since gaining worldwide exposure during the Olympic games, the Ocoee River has become a popular destination for rafters looking for the adventure of a lifetime. The Ocoee has the largest continuous stretch of class III and IV rapids in the US, and rafting on this historic river has become a vacation highlight for thousands of visitors each year. 


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