Fast Fred Ruddock dropping second ledge of Broken Nose on Middle Ocoee with happy guests

201 - Upper Ocoee Rapids and Routes
by experienced kayaker and river guide Fast Fred Ruddock

Upper Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting Guide

I am developing this 201 Upper Ocoee Rapids and Routes course with the intention to help other boaters and guides. Much like the previous course rapids will be present in the order they are encountered on the river and paired with companion videos. The Upper Ocoee features six Class IV rapids and is five miles in length. But the examination and presentation of material will differ greatly from that of 101 Middle Ocoee Rapids and Routes.

The assumption is those using this material have master Class III whitewater and quite likely are already competent on Class IV whitewater and can read water. Easier rapids below the rafting of Class IV will not be covered as a result. Work on this guide will continue and accelerate during the 2023 Ocoee River rafting season. Stay tuned for updates.

Upper Ocoee Guide Training

Generally speaking outfitters on the Ocoee River waiting until guides have master the Middle Ocoee before training them on the Upper. Bear in mind many first year guides that don't have a background in private boating struggle to read water. More than few outfitters only train exceptional first year guides on the Upper Ocoee. Private boater already competent on Class IV or competent guides from other river are exceptions to the rule.

Upper Ocoee guide training generally begins with ride alongs to learn the river. Learning the rapid names is clearly one of the first tasks. Private boaters often have the advantage of being able to read water and if local likely know the river well already. Local river knowledge is a huge plus. Whitewater rafting guide jobs seldom pay much so guides rely heavily upon tips. That said having the proper personality and attitude is priceless to the guide as well as the outpost.

Upper Ocoee Rapid Names

The names of the rapids of the Upper Ocoee section of the Ocoee River listed in the order they are encountered Put-in, Bush Gardens, Tombstone, Mikey's, Blue Hole, Best Ledge, Smiley Face, Slam Dunk, Callihan's, Godzilla, Humongous, Roach Motel, and Edge of the World. See video of rapids with names and routes below map.

Interactive Upper Ocoee Rapid Map

Upper Ocoee River Rapids Names and Routes Video

The above video features lines and routes suitable for a check out run on the Upper Ocoee. The video has been index so that you may skip to the parts and rapids you want to explore. Please leave feedback in the YouTube comments or message me.


Mikey's is the first Class IV rapid encountered on most Upper Ocoee or Full River commercial rafting trips. The alternative would be Alien Boof. However most outfitters avoid this rapid due to a dangerous cave and sieves present. Alien Boof's cave and sieve has killed an experienced Ocoee River guide and well known Class V private boater and kayaker. Both Mikey's and Alien Boof are rated at Class IV at levels run commercially. Commercial rafting trips have 3,000 cfs cut off. CFS stand for cubic feet per second. If you are interested in the hydrology and hazards at Mikey's and Alien Boof see my video below.

Mikey's was named by my friend Rick Covington during a high water run down the Upper back in day before there was an Olympic Course. If you follow my channel you may have noticed Rick in some of my more zany carnage videos providing commentary and scoring the crashes.

Mikey's Classic Route

Rafts gather above the island splitting the river between Alien Boof on the right and Mikey's on the left. Rafts leave in intervals one at a time with plenty of spacing as the line is very tight and technical. You begin near the river right bank and just before the crux move your right tube is inches from a small boulder on the right bank. The left tube goes over a rooster tail. And immediately upon clearing the rooster tail the raft must pivot left to drop the ledge clean.

It is very wise to call an all get down command to your crew. The riverbed is not friendly to swimmers here. And additionally there is an under cut rock lurking just to your right. Is best to clear this rock before having your crew get up and start paddling. The rest of the run out is read and run. However be sure to hit the middle of each of the two following tongues over the ledges and nasty pin or piton rocks are lurking to the right of each.

Blue Hole

Blue Hole much like Mikey's is rated at Class IV are level commercially rafted. Blue Hole was named long ago be local that used it a swimming hole after it became dewatered by TV. You can swim through the rock and caves on weekdays to see for yourself why or watch my video below to learn more.

Blue Hole's door number two route

I prefer the route Door Number Two because I think it is more fun but I can run Door Number Three and may add video of that line in the future. Watch the rock tip in gate of the first easy ledge on your right. If you hit it you may end up running Screaming Left aka Door Number Three instead of Door Number Two. Try not to touch either rock as you take Door Number Two. Watch out for Black Betty Rock toward the right just after the halfway point.

1996 Olympic Course

Most of the Olympic Course is rated Class IV. Callihans, Godzilla, and Humongous deserve Class IV ratings. TVA designed and constructed the Olympic Course for the whitewater slalom events as part of the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta Georgia. As a result most hazards have been removed or filled with concrete. Additionally features were added to enhance the course. The river bed was significantly narrowed so as to require less water. TVA was concerned about losing water that could be used to generate power. See my video below to see the difference between this part of the river and the previous rapids.

Olympic Course route

The Olympic Course contains the following rapids: Best Ledge, Smiley Face, Slam Dunk, Callihan's, Godzilla, and Humongous. Read the water and follow the current. Learn where the shallow rocks are in Callihan's that you should avoid. There is a rock flake hiding in the first big crashing wave of Callihan's capable of ejecting guests or guide. When you arrive at Godzilla, and Humongous don't be too greedy. It is best to ride the tongue through Humongous.

Roach Motel

Roach Motel is rated Class IV and is located below the Olympic Course. This rapid was also named by Rick Covington on the same run he named Mikey's. Roach Motel is a series of offset holes created by broken ledges. Hit the first one with right angle; if you get greedy you might get push up against the river left bank. I lose my footing in the clip and get driven a bit to the left and miss a couple of good splashes in the video below.

Edge of the World

Edge of the world is easy to run but the feature created by the tailrace is very dangerous to swimmers. Have respect and use caution. There are two routes the first is just to the right of small trees and shrubs as you drop into the tailrace below Powerhouse Number Three. Look for the obvious tongue.

Closing and Feedback

Take a look at the new and developing section about Ocoee River Hydrology. The hydrology section covers hazards and working to remove the mystery of reading water. Comments and feedback are encouraged.

There are many more videos of my runs down the Upper Ocoee on my YouTube channel if you want to see potentially over lines are just different crews. I often tailor my trips for the crews I have to give them the best experience possible. It is all about them I quit hitting the meat every time for me years ago.

A lot of experience, time, and effort went into this Guidebook. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. If this information helps you check out please consider leaving some love in my Tip Jar or buying me a beer when you you see me out in the Ocoee River area. I am often seen at Mexico Loco, El Rio, or Buck Bald in Copperhill Tennessee. See you on the river!

Fast Fred Ruddock in Ecuador overlooking Otavalo

Got Questions About This Ocoee River Rafting Guide?

I am Fast Fred Ruddock and I would be happy to give you honest answers to your questions about rafting or the Ocoee River. You may email me directly with your questions or concerns at fastfredruddock@gmail.com and if you would like to come rafting with me be sure to check out Fast Fred Rafts for the latest details.

When I started this online Ocoee River Rafting Guide in 2016 there were none available online or in print. I'd like to this this is still the best Ocoee River Rafting Guide available. That said feedback is always welcomed and this is a constant work in progress.


I began rafting whitewater when I was young during the early 1970 with my family. We had several of our own rafts between my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. My family loved playing in the water; I grew up rafting, sailing, and surfing. As I grew older and technology improved I began to get serious about kayaking and creek boating as well. I became an ACA certified kayak instructor and have shared the sport with countless others over the years. Living along the banks of the Green River in North Carolina I have access to some of the best world class rapids to hone my skills.

During my long off-season from rafting I primarily travel solo through Latin America. Ecuador is likely my favorite country to visit but I also enjoy Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. Working as a river guide in the southeast during summers in North America I don't earn a lot of money and live close to the federal poverty level. In spite of this I live a rich life on a frugal budget. If you would like to learn more about traveling in Latin America or maybe some frugal travel tips visit Fast Fred Travels.



Curious about how I can travel so light or what I use on the river? Want to know more about the gear I carry abroad on my extend trips in Latin America or while rafting and kayaking? Here's your chance to dig into my Amazon shop for an inside look. If you make purchases via this shop I will get a very small commission but it will not increase your price what so ever.