HARTFORD—Cocke County’s flourishing rafting industry continues to bring much-needed dollars into the county coffers and thus far the 2021 season looks good.

Rafting company owners, county officials and Tennessee Highway Patrol Officers recently gathered for inspections of the rafting companies’ equipment and facilities. The inspections this year began at Big Creek Expeditions with owner Jon Felderman.

At the end of the day, all rafting companies’s inspections were completed and licenses were officially renewed.

Local rafting companies include Rapid Expeditions, LLC, Five Rivers Adventures, Big Creek Expeditions, Inc.. Rafting in the Smokies, Big Bear Rafting, Rip Roaring Whitewater Adventures, Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited, Nantahala Outdoor Center, USA Raft/River Rat, Outdoor Adventures, and Wildwater LTD.

2020 was another banner year for the industry, despite the pandemic, as more than 238,000 rafters paid to enjoy the local streams, which brought in a total of $398,770 to the county coffers. Last year was the second best year on record for the rafting industry in Cocke County.

In total, $404,270 was brought into the county during the 2020 rafting season.

Due to the overwhelming success of 2020, more water release days have been added to the Duke Energy schedule to accommodate the increased number of rafters.

Trips down the river started in earnest in early May and will continue throughout the summer months into early September.

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