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Nestled in a narrow, twisting, rocky river gorge, the Ocoee Whitewater Center on the Cherokee National Forest offers something for everyone. Chose to relax in a rocking chair, hike, stroll the walkways, picnic, watch whitewater rafters drift by, learn about history and nature, play in the water, or test your mountain biking skills.
Relive Olympian dreams
What Will I See?
- Native garden honoring Olympic athletes.
- 750-million-year-old rock formations.
- An interpretive fire lookout tower.
- Kayakers and canoers enjoying the roiling rapids of the Ocoee River Gorge.
- The Ocoee Scenic Byway, the first national forest byway in the nation, winds through the Cherokee National Forest, passing Parksville Lake and traveling through the scenic bluffs of the Ocoee River Gorge. One section of the byway climbs to the top of the Chilhowee Mountains in Tennessee.
About This Destination
The Cherokee National Forest covers 650,000 acres in 10 eastern Tennessee counties from Chattanooga to Bristol. It lies in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains with elevations ranging from approximately 1,000 to 5,000 feet. The Cherokee offers an array of outdoor recreation opportunities and is home to nearly 600 miles of trails, including 150 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail; 500 miles of coldwater streams; 30 developed campgrounds and 45 day use areas; 11 designated wilderness areas; and scenery second to none in the southeast.
What Should I Know?
Whitewater activity generally runs from June to September when releases from Lake Blue Ridge dam increase the flow of the water on the Toccoa/Ocoee River.
Interpretive hikes on the Old Copper Road Trail are offered.
Conservation Education programs can be scheduled for students.
Amenities: Restrooms, potable water, picnic area, and gift shop offering a selection of local crafts, souvenirs and outdoor wear. Fuel, food, shopping and sleeping accommodations are available in Ducktown, Copperhill, Benton and Cleveland, Tenn., reachable in under an hour.
Hours of operation: The center is open from 9 a.m-5 p.m. daily from mid-March to mid-November and from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from mid-November to mid-March; closed Christmas and New Year’s weekends. The outdoor areas are open year-round.
Fees: $3 for the lower main parking area. The administration building parking lot is free but is limited to 30 minutes.