kc to gsm: whitewater rafting & roaring fork motor trail

The only pictures taken of us while whitewater rafting were by the rafting company. They all basically look the same, so I'm only sharing one. 

This activity was so fun for our family. Both Jesse and I had experience rafting in Colorado, separately, with our families growing up. Rafting on the Pigeon River is not the same as Colorado rafting (smaller rapids), but since my children are only 12 and 10, that was fine with me. There were some good rapids (another raft actually got stuck on a rock in some rapids and it was a bit dramatic seeing them get help off that rock), but the trip was mostly mild and a good introduction for the kids to this activity. I actually never paddled growing up, so for them to do that while enjoying the ride was good for them. 

There were many rafting outfitters, but we scheduled ours with Big Creek Expeditions from home just to make sure we would have a spot. Our guide, Wayne, was a great teacher and patient with the children. There were many rafts on the river at the same time and the river runs along a highway. I was accustomed to a bit more solitude while rafting in Colorado, but this was still a very nice ride for  us considering we had never done this before as a family.

These big rapids were on the upper Pigeon River and after a break for lunch we were supposed to raft the lower, calmer portion. However, torrential rain came through, so we opted out of that and received a refund. We drove home, showered and went out for an early dinner and then a drive on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The touristy city of Gatlinburg sits against the The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, literally. The one-way Roaring Fork Motor Trail is just a couple of streets off the main strip. You jump from civilization to forest that quickly. It was good for us to drive this trail to scope out hiking trails for the next morning. During the day the hiking trails are overrun with people, cars almost piled on top of each other crowding the roads. We had no intention of hiking mid-day, rather get up in the morning and hopefully beat a few of the crowd. 

This drive was awesome. Mostly, we were covered in forest, but a couple of times we had a great view of the mountains. On one of these stops a kind lady took our picture. A stream runs through the forest and that was the view from the car most of the ride. Also from the car you can see A Place of a Thousand Drips (the last photo), a waterfall with any small falls or "drips." After researching later that evening we decided to venture on the Trillium Trail to view Grotto Falls the next morning (next post).

Place of a Thousand Drips