Cool off and chill out on Tennessee’s waterways
With the heat index on the rise, it’s time to bust out the swimsuits and head to the nearest watering hole for some fun, sun and relaxation. From pontoon-friendly lakes, high-speed rivers and roaring waterfalls, Tennessee’s waterways provide a much needed lull from summer’s heat.
Have some rocking fun along the Ocoee River, the most famous stretch of Class III and Class IV whitewater rapids in the United States. Choose the Upper Ocoee or the Middle Ocoee. The Middle Ocoee River is five miles that leads you through rapids named Broken Nose, Table Saw and Grumpy’s. It’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure for families and groups with no experience necessary. The Upper Ocoee is home to waters of the World Class Olympic Whitewater Course. This section of the Ocoee runs for 54 days out of the year but provides five more miles of challenging rapids. You can even opt for a full river trip which is three to three and a half hours of non-stop excitement.
Feel the river water spray your face as your rafting companions let out whoops and hollers as you ride the waves along the Pigeon River. With 12 Class III and three Class IV rapids, whitewater rafting makes for a bumpy, splashing ride through some of the best scenery in Tennessee. Ride with Rafting in the Smokies for an unforgettable adventure. The river has carved itself through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail, making the scenery something to behold. No experience is necessary and kids as young as 8 years old can hop into the raft for some thrilling fun.
Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls is home to 26,000 acres of rugged Cumberland Plateau. The waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern U.S. measuring at a towering 256 feet. Catch a catfish or two on the 345-acrew Fall Creek Lake either in a boat or on the bank. Wade fishing is a great pastime in any of the creeks located throughout the park. Take a hike along one of the many trails that will lead you to the big waterfall. Sit on a flat-faced rock and enjoy a picnic or sit close enough so the waterfall’s spray cools your face and offers some summer respite.
Want a relaxing day on the water? Check out canoe rental companies like Foggy Bottom Canoe with guided and scenic canoe trips on a Class 1 river. They provide the canoes, paddles and life vests along with transportation to and from the river. The slow-moving rapids of the Harpeth include some mild rapids along the way to get the heart pumping. You may spot beavers, otters, deer, blue herons, bass and catfish as they make their homes along the river.
Pickwick Landing State Park is home to two miles of public swimming beach that welcomes all kinds of water play from swimming to just floating around. It’s also home to excellent fishing, boating and a marina. Stay on the park in cabins, on campsites and in the 119-room Inn that has a Southern style restaurant. After you check-in, take a dip as the indoor and outdoor pools are exclusive for cabin and inn guests.
Cast a line in the 20-mile long, seven mile-wide Reelfoot Lake. With an 18-foot depth and spreading out across 15,000 acres, the lake is known for its cypress trees and bald eagle sightings. The lake was made from a series of earthquakes that happened in 1811. The shock was so powerful the Mississippi River flowed backward for 10-24 hours and was felt as far as Quebec. While fishermen flock to the lake for its great fishing of bass, bluegill and catfish, visitors can kayak, canoe and bird watch along the river, too.
What’s your favorite Tennessee watering hole? Let me know by leaving a comment below!