The state of Tennessee is pretty mind-blowing as a whole. From the mountains, to the lakes, rivers, and everything in-between, it’s one of the most vibrant states around. Just seeing pictures of the place literally makes you feel freshness. The world of floating allows you to navigate, and see the state from a natural angle unlike any other. Here are some of the best rivers to float in Tennessee, and some options to get any rentals you may need.
Ocoee River – Map
If you are looking for more of an Adventure, the Ocoee River has got you covered. Boasting its class III and IV rapids, it’s one of the most notable rivers for rafting throughout the southeastern U.S. Located throughout the Cherokee National Forest, the river offers over 20 continued rapids.
It’s also worthy to note that its the only natural river to ever be used in an Olympic games kayak/canoe event (1996 Atlanta, GA). For your raft rentals, check out Raft One, a premier rafting service that will make your time on the famous Ocoee unforgettable. The reviews on this place cannot be beat, and they offer multiple different trips as well as a full Ocoee River trip.
Duck River – Map
At 284 miles, the Duck River is the longest river located completely in the state of Tennessee. It hosts some impressive scenery offering rock bluffs, crisp gravel bars, and seclusion.
Being in the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area and the Duck River State Natural Area, you will not see many houses or roads. For canoe, paddleboard, or kayak rentals have a look at Normandy Kayak Rentals. Their outfitter is perfectly nestled right at the beginning of the Duck River at the tailwaters of Normandy lake.
This means that you can also float the lake if you wanted to. Oh yeah, it would also be worth noting that there is a food truck on premise. You and I both know you will probably be starving when you get off the river.
Clinch River – Map
A day out on the Clinch River makes for an amazingly scenic float with its relaxing low level class l/ll rapids. The river begins over in Virginia, flowing right through the Great Appalachian Valley. It continues for a staggering 300 miles through out Tennessee eventually flowing into the Tennessee River.
Not only is the river a great family or leisurely float, but the free-flowing Upper Clinch is also known for its biological diversity with an abundance of wildlife everywhere you turn. If you are looking to float the Clinch River or stay in the area, give River Place on the Clinch a look. They have raft, canoe, kayak, and tubes for rent and also offer cabin and other camping accommodations. A true ecoconscious business, they are definitely worth the look.
Buffalo River – Map
You gotta love the crystal clear waters of the Buffalo River in Tennessee. With a gravel bed, not only are the waters kept looking clean and refreshing throughout, but you also have numerous options to pull of and hang out on. At over 120 miles long, it’s the longest undammed river in the state of Tennessee, also offering a plethora of small bass fishing.
Being in such a rural area in the heart of the state, you are likely to see deer, otter, eagles, beavers, turkey, and more. For checking out the Buffalo, give Bone’s Canoe and Campground a look. They offer kayak and canoe rentals as well as one of the best positioned primitive campgrounds on the river. Being less than an hour from Nashville and two from Memphis, its a perfect weekend breakaway.
Barren Fork – Map
The Barren Fork River is a short tributary of the Collins River at just over 23 miles long. It’s your ideal lazy float with its smooth yet steady current. It’s located about an hour and 20 minutes southeast of Nashville.
Smooth Rapids Outfitters is the go to for your kayak and tub rentals for the Central Tennessee Barren Fork area. The offer same day trips, overnight camping, and shuttling. Lets also not forget their awesome rope swing set up.
Obey River – Map
Located in North Central Tennessee, the Obey river is a surreal 48 mile stretch of water stemming from the East Fork Obey River and the West Fork Obey River. Its waters are crystal clear and the scenery is lush and vibrant all throughout. Plenty of gravel bars for pulling off and hanging out.
If you are trying to check out the Obey and need to rent a paddleboard or canoe/kayak, definitely check out River’s Edge Outdoors.They also offer you the option of shuttling or driving yourself.
Tennessee River – Map
The Tennessee River Blueway is the one of the most scenic areas in the entire state. A big part of what makes this river so amazing is the Tennessee River Gorge which has been dubbed “The Tennessee Grand Canyon”.
You are literally floating in a forested canyon that revolves around you. Although only 50 miles in length, a lot is packed into that short trip.
For rentals on this river check out Canoe Kayak Chattanooga. They have all your standard rentals including paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks. On top of all this, they are located on a beautiful private and secluded island. Just 15 minutes from Chattanooga.
Lower Ocoee River – Map
Then you have the much calmer waters of the Lower Ocoee River right after Parksville Lake. This area has some insanely awesome scenery and is a true chill lazy river. Its absolutely perfect for paddle boarding.
Relax and just let yourself drift away through the foothills of the Appalachians. If you need to rent a paddle board or kayak (single/tandem) you probably want to look into Ocoee Paddleboarding. You can rent from them and they offer completely free delivery.
Cumberland River – Map
The Cumberland is a giant 688 mile river that begins in Kentucky, and then stretches its way through Tennessee. The river is known for its variety as it offers something for just about everyone.
Most of the river is mild and perfect for relaxed floating, however there is a stretch near the 68 foot Cumberland Falls that offers the more adventurous rapids. The falls are a site to see in themselves, creating “Moonbows” at night (Rainbows made with moonlight).
The river then eventually coils its way right through the heart of the major city of Nashville where its became an integral part of the community. If you find yourself near Nashville and want to check out the Cumberland River firsthand then have a look at Cumberland Kayak Urban Adventure Company. Their rentals are charged by time and you can choose between a single or tandem Kayak rental. Kayak right through downtown Nashville as well as caves, tributaries, and other historical sites speckled about.
Caney Fork River – Map
Known for its scenic beauty and unbelievably good fishing, the Caney Fork River is a classic Tennessee Float destination. Spanning a solid 144 miles, the Caney Fork flows northwest to the Cumberland River and eventually joins the Collins River and the Rocky River at Great Falls Lake.
Water is released by the Center Hill dam into the river keeping it consistently flowing making it a relaxing float in central Tennessee.
Definitely check out Canoe the Caney if you need to rent a Kayak or Canoe, they are located on a secluded part of the river and have trip routes that go through several interesting areas. Their area of the river features everything from an old 1800’s train bridge, to a Bald Eagle’s nest, and cave.
There you have it, several awesome potential canoe and kayak adventures in the state of Tennessee. Make this a memorable year out on the water. Floating allows you to experience the outdoors in a way like no other. Hit up some friends, make some plans, and get ready to on an adventure.
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