Water Levels and Rafting Schedule

What you need to know to plan your adventure.

When planning a rafting trip, the first question that many ask is "When are rafting trips available"? Here in the Smoky Mountains that question is not always a straight-forward and easy to answer.

The Pigeon River is dam controlled. What does this mean for you and your group? Well, when water is released from the dam, rafting trips are just what you expect in a whitewater adventure – crashing waves and exciting rapids. When water is not released and the river is at "natural flow" the river changes significantly. Rapids decrease in size, and there will be more rocks then you can shake a stick at. Understandably, these low water conditions are not what many guests expect when signing up for a rafting adventure. For this reason, Big Creek Expeditions only runs trips when the water is releasing to ensure our guests get the quality trip they are paying for.


Memorial Day through Labor Day

Fortunately, we have scheduled water release days. For the 2021 rafting season, scheduled water release days begins Tuesday, May 4th* and extends until Sunday, September 5th. Water releases are guaranteed every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday* during this date range. (Saturday guaranteed releases start on Memorial Day and run through Labor Day)

Here's a handy Calendar to help!


March through April/September through October

If you are planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains in the early spring or fall (outside of the scheduled water release days) we still have options available thanks to seasonal rainfall. We want to provide the best rafting experience possible. To do that, we avoid running low-water/natural flow trips. That does not mean we are not open for business, though. We have developed a few strategies to keep things running smoothly. If you're planning to schedule a rafting trip during the fall or early spring, please keep in mind the following:

  • Each trip will have a Call-In time 3 hours before your scheduled check-in time. When you call, we will provide an update on the projected water levels for that day, long before you depart for our outpost.
  • Trips are subject to rescheduling and cancellation based on water levels
  • No fee will be charged for any trips that we have to cancel

Trips are available for reservation both online and by phone at 877.642.7238. If you have any questions, head over to our Contact Us form or call and we would be happy to help.

"Had a blast traveling down the Pigeon River with Big Creek Expeditions. The guides were knowledgeable and very professional. Each trip starts with a safety lecture and all the guides were wearing masks in public. They took care of us as we went down the river with two adults and three kids (Ages 10, 10 and 8). We had so much fun that went down a 2nd time later that day. Fish and Steve were our guides and would recommend them to anyone! Could not of asked for a better experience."

- William A.

Big Creek Expedition brochure

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