Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ocoee River Dam Whitewater Release



Blairsville, GA (high 78, low 59)


I had forgotten how nice the weather is in September here in Blairsville.  I wish September would last longer.  :)   October will bring much colder temps and with it our desire to head south.

I am trying to get caught up on my blogs now that my laptop is running well again.

The Saturday before last, we decided to head to Tennessee to see the last dam release of the season from the Ocoee II Whitewater Center.  It’s about scenic 50 mile drive, and we made a day of it. There are three different white water release areas  (Ocoee I, II and III). We had never seen it from Ocoee II,and since that was the location of the whitewater events in the 1996 Summer Olympics, we wanted to see it with water flowing.   And flow it did!

We had previously seen this portion of the river “dry.”

There are two bridges crossing the river.  This is the main one.


You can see how rocky it is.  It’s naturally made gorge and no rocks had to be excavated.  They did add some rocks for some of the courses for the Olympics.


The dam release didn’t happen until 10:30am, so we got there early enough to take photos of the before, during and after the water release.

Here is a before picture,  looking upriver.



Looking down river.

Ocoee River III Olympic Center before water release, looking downriver from main bridge


If you look at the top middle of this next picture you can see the water starting to come down.  It started out with a little rise and in minutes the flow began in earnest.


Still looking upriver.  It’s coming.


and coming



A lot of trees are now underwater.


The beginning of the flow looking downriver.


Still coming.



The water no sooner covered the rocks than the whitewater rafts started coming, and coming, and coming.





Then, for some reason, they had to all stop by the bridge and wait.  Maybe they needed to make sure there was enough water downstream?


Finally, they started to go.  One at a time.


There are several different whitewater centers. Each had different color boats.  The blue team started first.


There were no spills, initially.




Notice the waterfall behind the raft in the following picture?


I think the next picture shows the same spot before the water came.



There was an area downriver a little that apparently was the spot where they expected people to tumble out of their boats.

There were 3 guys standing onshore, with helmets, wearing life preservers and with rescue ropes in hand.


This area drew the biggest crowds of watchers, so we knew there would be a lot of spills.


Most got dumped from this raft.


There were people under that whitewater.  We held our breath waiting for them to pop back up.


The guys on shore sprung into action to rescue them.  Despite the rafters wearing life preservers and helmets, they could easily die.  Last year two women died one week-end in separate accidents.  A friend of ours who was a tri-athlete and is a strong swimmer, got thrown out of one of these rafts and very nearly drowned a few months ago.  We’re glad you’re still with us Stephanie! 

The rescuer almost went into the water himself.  The lady there grabbed his foot, as he was trying to grab a guy struggling in the water.


You can see the top of a helmet in the water. The poor guy nearly drowned I think.  I think there was another guy underwater towards the left of the photo.


It took him a few minutes to catch his breath.


There were some serious rapids.



Note to self.  If you decide to go white water river rafting, DO NOT go with the company in the RED boats.  They seemed to like to spill their folks.


Other boats had trouble, but not as many ended up in the water as the red boats.


I watched one boat leader have the group stop paddling right in a dip that I would have been paddling like crazy.  They ended up caught in the swirling water and capsized, throwing everyone but the “captain” out and into the water.

This next picture shows something that nearly gave me heart failure.  Why in the hell was this young mother letting her baby get so close to the water?

We assumed this “rescuer” was maybe her husband?



She let that baby crawl all over on those sharp rocks and she did  not always have her eye on that baby.  I would have had that baby on a leash.


At one point the baby crawled right down to the side walk where bicycles were flying by all the time.  Yikes.  What is wrong with people?


After watching for awhile, we took a drive down to Ocoee III, which wasn’t nearly as exciting and everybody stayed in their boats.   :)


Nice rock walls along the highway.



Tandem kayakers getting ready to hit the rapids.


There is another drop off point at Ocoee III. 


The water becomes like a lake, flat calm and with no apparent current.


On the other side of the bridge in the photo above, there is a spillway.  It doesn’t look as high or steep in the picture as it really is.  No rafts or kayakers go off the spillway.




There is a path that you walk down to the water to launch your rafts or kayaks just past the spillway.


Or you can walk down even further to launch in an area with less rapids.


There is a nice little kayak launch here, but somebody decided to stand right in front of the photographer, so you can’t see it very well.   :)


It’s a beautiful area and a wonderful place to spend the day…even if you choose not to go whitewater rafting.


There are mountain biking trails, hiking trails and of course white water rafting and kayaking.

nice trails





It was a lovely day with a high temperature of 70 degrees or less.  Sure beats Florida in the summer!  The ride home was beautiful with gorgeous scenery all the way home.




  1. I guess I'm a chicken. That seems nuts to me.

  2. What a fun day, looks like too much fun !

  3. Did most of my rafting out west where the water comes on its own. I loved the Colorado River, big volume water, not so many rocks, at least in the part where I did it. The Salmon was scarier. Lots of rocks. Those days are over for me for sure. Give me a nice flat water paddle any day. Nice to see your photos once again.

  4. I've had enough of rough water to last me several lifetimes. I'll stick to land, thank you very much! :c)

  5. We did that run, with the Red Boat company, over 20 years ago. Had a great "driver". She flowed us over all the Class IV and none of us got dumped. But we were all water rats to begin with. Fun time!


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