Gateway to the Smokies

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Facebook Live Video from 2021/02/23 - White Water Rafting in the Smokies

Facebook Live Video from 2021/02/23 - White Water Rafting in the Smokies


2021/02/23 - White Water Rafting in the Smokies

[NEW EPISODE] White Water Rafting in the Smokies

Today's guest is Olwen Claiborne - Marketing Director of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting, With over 30 years in the tourism marketplace, Olwen is living her first passion and represents the leading river outfitter in the Smoky Mountains Region. She knows all about whitewater Rafting in the Smokies.

Tune in for this fun conversation at or watch the Facebook Livestream by clicking here.

Show Notes

Segment 1

Today’s episode will be all about water. Today’s guest Olwen Claiborne comes to us from Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting. Before discussing rafting, Joseph and Olwen discuss headwaters. The headwaters of the Smokies start in the mountains and Haywood County. In the past 20 years, Maggie Valley has started bottling the water that flows through it. Jonathan Creek flows through the back of the Meadowlark Motel property, which Joseph owns. There are many waterfalls and streams throughout the mountains, with great places to swim. Sliding Rock, about 20 miles south of Maggie Valley, is essentially a natural waterslide, with tons of water pushing you down a rock. Joseph goes on to discuss a variety of other places to swim in the Smokies. Olwen discusses her first experience with whitewater rafting. From her first experience rafting, Olwen fell in love with rivers, from tubing to rafting, becoming a river guide back in ‘92.

Segment 2

Smoky Mountains Outdoors Rafting rafts on the Big Pigeon River. Years ago, pollutants from a paper processing plant flowed downstream in the pigeon river. This went on into the 70’s, when a grassroots organization started a movement to lobby for cleaner water downstream. Around that time, there was a whitewater rafting team in the olympics and recreational rafting was getting started. As the clean water act was published, Tennessee sued North Carolina as the water from the paper plant was going downstream into Tennessee from North Carolina. The paper processing plant found another way to process their paper, and the water has improved greatly as a result. With the growth of commercial rafting came regulation. The pigeon river is primarily a class 3 to 4 rapid river. Smoky Mountain Outdoor Rafting is the largest rafting company on the Pigeon River.

Segment 3

Olwen discusses her time as a rafting guide, noting that the Pigeon River is warmer than a river she used to guide on. Rafting is truly authentic to the mountain experience, being one of the most up close and personal perspectives you can get. In the spring, you can see the wildflowers blooming in the mountains while rafting. The water is unpredictable in the spring, with some days not having whitewater. From memorial day to labor day, the water levels are regulated and the trips are scheduled as such. As with before memorial day, after labor day the water levels are unregulated, but the scenery is beautiful as the colors are changing. The upper pigeon river trip was named a top ten experience in the United States. The extreme version is a smaller boat, seating a maximum of 4 guests, compared to the usual 7. The smaller boats have larger impacts. On the lower pigeon river, trips are provided for families with younger children as the rapids are smaller, and might not be whitewater. Instead of rafting, groups can also rent kayaks. There is also a full river trip that stops for lunch in the middle.

Segment 4

Olwen discusses Smoky Mountain Outdoor Rafting’s partners, such as a company that offers ziplining. Olwen talks about other things to do in the park and her relationships with her guides. Surprisingly, during the days of COVID, outdoor adventures have been incredibly popular.


00:00:27.480 --> 00:00:28.140 Joseph McElroy: howdy.

00:00:28.440 --> 00:00:40.530 Joseph McElroy: Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of gateway to the smokies this podcast is about america's most visited National Park, the great smoky mountains national park and surrounding towns.

00:00:41.190 --> 00:00:49.920 Joseph McElroy: These areas filled with ancient natural beauty a deep storied history and a rich mountain culture that we've explored with weekly episodes.

00:00:50.490 --> 00:01:02.790 Joseph McElroy: I am Joseph Franklin mcilroy man of the world, but also with deep roots in those mountains my family is living the great smokies for over 200 years my business is travel, but my heart is in culture.

00:01:03.570 --> 00:01:09.480 Joseph McElroy: So today we're going to talk about water and i'm going to talk about headwaters and swimming holes.

00:01:09.870 --> 00:01:21.630 Joseph McElroy: And my guess oh and claiborne the marketing director smoky mountain outdoors REP rafting one of the premier rafting providers in the smoky mountains, is going to talk about whitewater rafting I own how you doing.

00:01:22.140 --> 00:01:23.670 Olwen Claiborne: hi JESSICA thanks for having me.

00:01:24.000 --> 00:01:30.300 Joseph McElroy: As a pleasure so um before we get into whitewater rafting i'm gonna hit the smaller things.

00:01:31.980 --> 00:01:31.980 Joseph McElroy: I.

00:01:33.360 --> 00:01:39.540 Joseph McElroy: mentioned that we do have a lot of waterfall culture to talk about, but we don't do a whole show on waterfall through that sort of a special thing.

00:01:40.770 --> 00:01:44.040 Joseph McElroy: So i'm talking about headwaters I don't know.

00:01:45.330 --> 00:01:52.380 Joseph McElroy: it's a common saying that everyone lives downstream and haywood county where I where where I grew up.

00:01:53.730 --> 00:01:55.800 Joseph McElroy: But we also live upstream is.

00:01:56.880 --> 00:02:00.150 Joseph McElroy: Because the basically the the headwaters.

00:02:02.880 --> 00:02:17.460 Joseph McElroy: Because we live amongst the headwaters of the lands meandering streams creeks and rivers headwaters is where water starts it's where the River start stream starts when it comes out of the ground is not, if not from rainfall this comes right out of the mountain sides.

00:02:18.840 --> 00:02:27.810 Joseph McElroy: So, and what happens is the rainfall permeates down through the soil becomes naturally filtered and cleaned is gravity pushes it back in the cracks.

00:02:28.530 --> 00:02:45.000 Joseph McElroy: From the practice in the rock below and then it moves laterally and downhill to spouts out of the side of a mountain as headwaters and then where flows, down to the other other waters to the ocean wherever its destination is.

00:02:46.320 --> 00:02:56.940 Joseph McElroy: And so every waterfall way in and haywood county and and also in much of the smoky mountains begins as headwaters originating right here, right in the mountains.

00:02:57.810 --> 00:03:09.750 Joseph McElroy: haywood county has West and East for pigeon river the Richmond creek Johnson creek crabtree creek pines creek and then a lot of little strings and everything else so and.

00:03:10.800 --> 00:03:28.530 Joseph McElroy: So that means everything used to nurse crops brush teeth Bay the hydrate flows originally from haywood counties headwaters from the mountains in the upside so we have an incredibly clean water, when it comes out and it comes out clean it makes it a lot easier to keep it clean.

00:03:29.610 --> 00:03:32.670 Joseph McElroy: there's ways that it's got dirty and we're going to talk about that later.

00:03:34.110 --> 00:03:44.130 Joseph McElroy: haha most of the water goes to Tennessee through the pigeon river basin and then spit some of the flows over to to the asheville area mumbling county.

00:03:45.990 --> 00:04:01.350 Joseph McElroy: And you know I when the last I don't know 20 years Maggie valley my little town and haywood county and started bottling water believer and and you know that a bottle the from the headwaters and they've been selling it as both as a tourist thing and.

00:04:01.890 --> 00:04:06.330 Joseph McElroy: Various places that carrie carrie about really great.

00:04:08.670 --> 00:04:16.500 Joseph McElroy: waters and that's that's from the headquarters of Jonathan creek now we're talking about swimming holes and the first thing i'm talking about is Jonathan creek now.

00:04:17.640 --> 00:04:30.180 Joseph McElroy: I have somebody you know, I have a motel them and in Maggie bell called the middle art motel sort of a motel chic resort, and we have Jonathan creek, which is a mountain heritage.

00:04:30.990 --> 00:04:36.150 Joseph McElroy: trap stream going right through the back of that of that property.

00:04:36.750 --> 00:04:40.920 Joseph McElroy: Where our guests can fish can swim they can do all sorts of thing, and when I was growing up.

00:04:41.250 --> 00:04:50.160 Joseph McElroy: there's a little bridge at the end, where a bunch of water rushes into right into the bridge and right when it comes, on the other side of the bridge it's dug a hole about six eight feet.

00:04:50.430 --> 00:05:02.820 Joseph McElroy: And for me that it wasn't swimming hole, we have, we have a swimming pool at the motel but I love this secret little swimming hole at this in this clean fresh water during the summer, and I would just go jump into.

00:05:03.720 --> 00:05:13.740 Joseph McElroy: It was sort of mysterious you know it's it's outdoors it's wild and it's right there on the property and I really I really appreciate the experience of.

00:05:14.760 --> 00:05:20.400 Joseph McElroy: swimming in the mountain waters now because it was you know, in the town you couldn't do the skinny dipping part of it, but.

00:05:23.280 --> 00:05:24.990 Joseph McElroy: It was still a great fun for kids.

00:05:26.610 --> 00:05:34.200 Joseph McElroy: I will mention a few other places are great to go to doing some swimming holes and Mounds have lots of great waterfalls and streams and.

00:05:34.500 --> 00:05:42.720 Joseph McElroy: And things like that, and there are perfect places to go get your swim and experience in swimming hold on I mean there's just so many that.

00:05:43.350 --> 00:05:54.540 Joseph McElroy: You can go to that people really enjoy there's one called beneath the falls and it's a it's been it's there's a sparkling waterfall that.

00:05:55.350 --> 00:06:09.660 Joseph McElroy: goes along the graveyard fields trails about 25 miles southeast of Maggie valley and it's it's it's just about a third of a mile from the blue Ridge parkway at mile points for 118.

00:06:10.200 --> 00:06:21.750 Joseph McElroy: And you're going to go through a tunnel tunnel of rhododendrons and cross of wooden bridge and then you come to this word semi area that has an observation deck and large boulders for some something so.

00:06:22.170 --> 00:06:34.380 Joseph McElroy: there's also a lot of blackberries and grow there during the summer, so you can bring a bucket and pick blackberries and also blueberries in August and the National Park service allows you the monitors it and.

00:06:35.490 --> 00:06:48.450 Joseph McElroy: If it allows you to take a whole bucket out so it's a good way to go, have a full mountain experience you get this you get to go hiking you get to go swimming and you get to pick blackberries I can't think of anything more smoky mountain than that.

00:06:50.730 --> 00:06:58.500 Joseph McElroy: there's also some longer trails there also sliding rock that's about 30 miles miles south of Maggie valley and since long.

00:06:59.160 --> 00:07:08.880 Joseph McElroy: Smooth rock you can slide down to the slides so you go lay out sort of it's not a waterfall it's not a steep as a waterfall but it's not flat either and it's a long.

00:07:09.180 --> 00:07:12.960 Joseph McElroy: thing it's really fun in the water, just pushes you down it's like 11,000.

00:07:13.320 --> 00:07:19.080 Joseph McElroy: gallons of water wash addresses down that rock every minute so you're going into a pretty good pace pace.

00:07:19.320 --> 00:07:29.610 Joseph McElroy: And there but there's it's a it's a park there's bathrooms there and it's a great it's a great adventure for people to go go along and it's a long road that goes through the a lot of different.

00:07:30.060 --> 00:07:38.220 Joseph McElroy: it's a real nice one of those winding mountain roads, because over mountain goes on to the other side of the hendersonville area and things like that so it's a great.

00:07:38.730 --> 00:07:49.140 Joseph McElroy: drive, as well as a getting to a nice swimming goal there's the there's a in cherokee there's the acoma left the islands park all right, which is on the.

00:07:49.740 --> 00:08:07.050 Joseph McElroy: left the river and there's a couple small islands that are Jason to downtown cherokee and are accessible by footbridge and so you can spread of blank it out on the grass in Barbecue, then you can float on the top of the islands downstream with with a tuber just swing.

00:08:08.910 --> 00:08:16.740 Joseph McElroy: Other points is a bust your butt falls, it gives you that that has a really deep pool from the cliffs and there's a.

00:08:17.910 --> 00:08:31.440 Joseph McElroy: Right, there is a little more adventurous because there's a rope tied off on a on a on a tree that helps you climb up the rock face but it's got some ideal boulders for signing and you can fish above and below the halls.

00:08:32.820 --> 00:08:41.520 Joseph McElroy: and other one is the on the on the near gatlinburg a little rigid pigeon for there's something called the greenbrier swimming hole, so this is getting into Tennessee.

00:08:42.000 --> 00:08:58.290 Joseph McElroy: And it's sensible from route 322 it's in a deep part of the River so it's great for swimming is not widely known, while we've known widely known by terrorists so it's peaceful and quiet and it's great for sunbathing there's also Townsend why that's.

00:08:59.010 --> 00:09:14.610 Joseph McElroy: That it's got a lot it's good it's good it's a feud swimming pool a whole but it's also some small rapids for tubes as a jump off wrong rock it has several large pools with enough there's enough space to spread out in the water.

00:09:16.200 --> 00:09:27.390 Joseph McElroy: And it's near the near the National Park entrance and Townsend one that opened in wyoming dimension because it's become so popular is midnight hole all right and.

00:09:27.960 --> 00:09:44.220 Joseph McElroy: it's part of big creek and it's got large bottle boulders and it's got a small waterfall and it has some nearby other attractions to like the mouse friend follows and it's it's so deep that it has got a beautiful dark shimmering light into the water.

00:09:45.270 --> 00:10:00.420 Joseph McElroy: there's April and falls it's located in cage code, one of the most popular places to go visit in the smoky smoky mountain National Park, and it is it's about it takes about 2.5 mile hike to get there.

00:10:02.160 --> 00:10:13.950 Joseph McElroy: But it's got a very large swimming hole it's about 100 feet wide in all directions so, but there is a there is a pretty turbulent waterfall is you want to do don't don't assume that close to.

00:10:15.480 --> 00:10:20.670 Joseph McElroy: And then finally there's a metcalf bottom, so I mean there's a lot more I just picked out some of the highlights.

00:10:22.110 --> 00:10:33.060 Joseph McElroy: there in fact this is giving me a great idea we're going to do a blog post on one of our blogs, and really and directory listing of all these great swimming holes I think it's a it's a it's a great resource.

00:10:33.810 --> 00:10:41.910 Joseph McElroy: To have, I have a I have a directory site for things like this called smokies adventure COM, where we have directories of all sorts of stuff.

00:10:43.110 --> 00:10:55.470 Joseph McElroy: And it's a, and so there is a picnic area located between counseling gatlinburg and offers access to the little girl little green by a river and there's there several more shallow swimming holes that are just scattered around.

00:10:55.800 --> 00:11:03.180 Joseph McElroy: And it's a place to really throw in a tube and just float and relaxing the sunshine So those are the swimming holes that.

00:11:03.840 --> 00:11:16.170 Joseph McElroy: And the headwaters and now we're going to talk a little bit of white white white water rafting so Oh, it has over 30 years in the tourism marketplace and she spent a little time in Mexico and New York.

00:11:16.830 --> 00:11:35.910 Joseph McElroy: She is living her first passion and represents the leading river outfitter and the smoky mountains region and that and she knows a lot about whitewater rafting in the smoky so Oh, and tell me about your passion for whitewater rafting I think you were talking about Mexico right.

00:11:37.380 --> 00:11:42.240 Olwen Claiborne: Well, first i'll tell you i'm going to query and that's the zodiac sign for water bear.

00:11:42.390 --> 00:11:47.700 Olwen Claiborne: There you go, so I think there's some h2o in my blood and you know.

00:11:48.150 --> 00:12:02.220 Olwen Claiborne: I grew up in the 70s and that's when deliverance came out and my parents loved deliverance So when I was a kid they used to talk about whitewater rafting a lot when I got to be about 14 or 15 years old.

00:12:02.670 --> 00:12:13.380 Olwen Claiborne: The family went on our first rafting trip on the man, a halo river and that black and white photo nobody's wearing helmets is still hanging on my mom's well today.

00:12:14.790 --> 00:12:20.940 Olwen Claiborne: We actually took a debt interest exchange kid on that river she freaked out because you know the Netherlands of flat.

00:12:21.240 --> 00:12:33.510 Olwen Claiborne: So that was that was quite an adventure, for her and every ever since every chance I get I go to the River there's one particular place you mentioned Mexico 19.

00:12:34.440 --> 00:12:44.310 Olwen Claiborne: Excuse me in 1991 my good friend Keith Barnes and I went to Mexico on extended road trip and one place that we went was a place, so I was.

00:12:44.970 --> 00:12:53.670 Olwen Claiborne: I was all is a very blue pristine beautiful river it's got a lot of mineral built up on it, which makes the water light blue.

00:12:54.000 --> 00:13:08.100 Olwen Claiborne: And we found our way to a place called a local area, which is the eye of the river and it was the most spectacular place I don't know if you can get there now it's kind of a treacherous trip very, very narrow path next to a massive.

00:13:08.490 --> 00:13:20.790 Olwen Claiborne: river and when you get to the mouth of the river, there is a huge cave very, very far up on the cliff side and watch the water gushing out, that is, the headwaters of all was.

00:13:21.600 --> 00:13:30.750 Olwen Claiborne: And that did it I already had gotten my toe and that just completely filled my soul, with the River ever since then.

00:13:31.410 --> 00:13:39.150 Olwen Claiborne: It was tubing as a teenager driving up from knoxville to go to the same sense of the y at several of those other places that you've mentioned.

00:13:39.690 --> 00:13:51.870 Olwen Claiborne: And then Lo and behold on that river trip I fell in love with commercial rafting and came back and checked out as a river guide on the Nana hey we're it was 92 years a long time ago.

00:13:52.200 --> 00:13:58.980 Joseph McElroy: I talked a little bit about that history when we come back there's some interesting history about these rivers and mountains, that we want to explore.

00:14:00.360 --> 00:14:08.460 Olwen Claiborne: All right, radio nyc at WW did you talk radio dot nyc broadcasting when.

00:16:58.170 --> 00:17:09.000 Joseph McElroy: hi oh it's just a Franklin mcilroy back with the gateway to the smokies podcast with my guess old and kept kept flavor hey oh i'm glad to be back right.

00:17:09.480 --> 00:17:11.040 Olwen Claiborne: yeah nice break.

00:17:11.400 --> 00:17:18.540 Joseph McElroy: So i'm your company and smoky mountain outdoors is located on the pigeon room right.

00:17:18.600 --> 00:17:36.510 Joseph McElroy: that's right, so you did you did I read a little article you wrote about history raft and and smokies and I thought was really interesting so at first and even you know how the pigeon river god's name they want to go into that.

00:17:37.470 --> 00:17:44.610 Olwen Claiborne: I think it's kind of ironic that there's a lot of places around the severe county did have the name pigeon in that.

00:17:45.120 --> 00:17:52.500 Olwen Claiborne: there's the middle on the West palm, and these are the little pigeon river there's pigeon forge and there is the big page and river, which is where we wrath.

00:17:53.070 --> 00:18:00.180 Olwen Claiborne: they're all named after the extinct passenger pigeon, which was a beautiful very large and very colorful pigeon.

00:18:00.930 --> 00:18:16.140 Olwen Claiborne: That was so prolific then when flocks would fly over the sky would darken but people loved their feathers and feathers and fashion, where all the praise and the passenger pigeon was basically hunted into extinction.

00:18:17.160 --> 00:18:31.290 Olwen Claiborne: Well, once upon a time, as you know, being from Western North Carolina the pigeon river was also the recipient of discharge from a paper processing plant in came.

00:18:31.890 --> 00:18:48.990 Olwen Claiborne: And the discharge read downstream now when I did research for this article, I learned that at the turn of the century, when lumbering the mountain sides was the thing, this is why the park was establishes the Save the mountains, because they were being completely denuded.

00:18:50.100 --> 00:18:59.880 Olwen Claiborne: Western Carolina saw an opportunity to attract jobs and create some economic growth, the senators of North Carolina made it legal.

00:19:00.420 --> 00:19:07.290 Olwen Claiborne: For anyone who invested over $100,000 into a paper processing plant to waive.

00:19:08.010 --> 00:19:14.340 Olwen Claiborne: Environmental protection laws and discharge their bluetooth into the river, it was an incentive.

00:19:14.700 --> 00:19:28.140 Olwen Claiborne: And it did, create a tremendous amount of jobs can went from being basically a repressed area to a boom town, there was a lot of money and people were very happy, but, as you said earlier in the show.

00:19:29.190 --> 00:19:31.500 Olwen Claiborne: i'll water flows down hill.

00:19:31.560 --> 00:19:33.420 Joseph McElroy: yeah i'm here for.

00:19:33.840 --> 00:19:48.930 Olwen Claiborne: North Carolina pigeon section was beautiful water, but the first recipient of that water downstream was caught county, which is where we now raft and it was so heavily polluted that.

00:19:49.620 --> 00:20:00.600 Olwen Claiborne: The local school had to close, because the groundwater for the will was contaminated people lost jobs there was a very high incidence of cancer, the mountains.

00:20:01.050 --> 00:20:10.230 Olwen Claiborne: The River had really big waves really big waves and the early rafters on that side of the River will tell you the rapids were awesome.

00:20:10.740 --> 00:20:30.360 Olwen Claiborne: But they were also brown smelling and covered with this towering towering build up a phone, which was actually from the chemicals that were discharged from him now, this was all you know at the turn of the 20th century, so we're talking well over 100.

00:20:30.390 --> 00:20:41.370 Joseph McElroy: Years ago, but it was it was that way, I remember I grew up there, and I remember you know the I remember when I was growing up the smell was so bad, we were in the way as well.

00:20:42.450 --> 00:20:54.240 Joseph McElroy: We were downstream, there was a there was a part of haywood county is downstream, we were below can, and you know they we've complained about that smell and people can't just say well that's just the smell of money right and.

00:20:54.720 --> 00:20:56.100 Olwen Claiborne: He must have some people that.

00:20:56.730 --> 00:21:02.790 Joseph McElroy: know it was it was often I remember that phone and we have a farm right on that page and river below so.

00:21:03.900 --> 00:21:06.210 Joseph McElroy: I went on into the 70s didn't.

00:21:06.810 --> 00:21:11.520 Olwen Claiborne: It went well and once it once the 70s rolled around and.

00:21:12.870 --> 00:21:17.910 Olwen Claiborne: You know, it was it was kind of a granola movement, a lot of people were getting back to nature and what happy.

00:21:18.210 --> 00:21:34.950 Olwen Claiborne: There was a grassroots organization called friends the dead pigeon river society, a lot of knoxville elegance and some people from Newport and surrounding areas started, creating a grassroots movement to lobby for cleaner water downstream.

00:21:36.360 --> 00:21:44.100 Olwen Claiborne: There was a guy named Gary webb who was an environmentalist and he was sort of a spearhead of the dead pigeon river society.

00:21:44.550 --> 00:21:55.950 Olwen Claiborne: And I got to interview him for that article, and when he was trying to convince the EPA local governments, the Federal Government that something had to be done on the pitching river.

00:21:56.250 --> 00:22:10.650 Olwen Claiborne: He actually retake jars of water that was coffee colored to DC to testify and at one time once I started going okay we'll send somebody to take fish samples, or what have you they found the three is fish.

00:22:11.100 --> 00:22:12.270 Joseph McElroy: huh yeah well.

00:22:12.900 --> 00:22:21.570 Olwen Claiborne: The guy says he got a lot of a lot of mileage out of that got fish well about that time in 1982.

00:22:23.250 --> 00:22:45.150 Olwen Claiborne: In late 70s and early 80s, there was a whitewater rafting team in the Olympics and deliverance came out the stunt man from deliverance bought all the rafting equipment, all of the whitewater equipment and started the first commercial whitewater rafting outfit on the river and.

00:22:48.240 --> 00:22:52.020 Olwen Claiborne: Okay i'm having a little brain wreck there so we'll just get the proper nouns.

00:22:53.100 --> 00:23:02.190 Olwen Claiborne: But that's when whitewater rafting started, but on the page in the water was still not commercially viable, there were several different things, it is a.

00:23:03.450 --> 00:23:09.180 Olwen Claiborne: The reservoir that feeds a pigeon river is the source of hydro electric power for a power plant.

00:23:09.510 --> 00:23:18.180 Olwen Claiborne: And there was no arrangement between the power plant and anybody to regulate their discharge of the River also the water stunk and it was really nasty.

00:23:18.510 --> 00:23:26.730 Olwen Claiborne: But there were a couple of interpreted adventures adventures he saw opportunity there one of them's name was at McKinnon.

00:23:27.300 --> 00:23:36.030 Olwen Claiborne: And he came to gatlinburg from his years of rafting on the kelley and tried to run whitewater rafting trips through the Center gatlinburg.

00:23:36.480 --> 00:23:41.820 Olwen Claiborne: Well, that didn't work the waters not deep enough and it just didn't work so then he was like okay we're going to go to the pigeon river.

00:23:42.300 --> 00:23:56.010 Olwen Claiborne: But it was polluted at that time, he would have people meet him at the river and they would take a look at the river and see if conditions were favorable and if they weren't just give them their money back, and they go back home again well.

00:23:56.820 --> 00:24:06.450 Olwen Claiborne: All of these people were coming to the area, because the rabbits were so big and made it and care river, people are freedom loving people, and it was kind of the wild Wild West of whitewater rafting.

00:24:06.900 --> 00:24:18.180 Olwen Claiborne: And our area and, over time, the founding fathers of the area started to recognize that there was a potential for money to be had if they could develop the commercial aspects of this.

00:24:18.690 --> 00:24:36.540 Olwen Claiborne: about the same time, the clean water Protection Act was legislated at the national level and enabled states to to regulate their own pollutants in the waters and less there was a dispute between the States and then the EPA would step in and that's what happened.

00:24:38.220 --> 00:24:38.910 Olwen Claiborne: So so.

00:24:40.530 --> 00:24:40.950 Joseph McElroy: So the.

00:24:41.850 --> 00:24:42.780 Olwen Claiborne: North Carolina.

00:24:43.200 --> 00:24:50.250 Joseph McElroy: Well that's what I was wondering, I remember, I remember the little bit of this or Tennessee soon North Carolina that was right yeah.

00:24:50.610 --> 00:24:55.020 Joseph McElroy: And then North Carolina North Carolina did not want to have to do anything.

00:24:55.320 --> 00:25:00.630 Olwen Claiborne: At the paper plant, because it was going to affect people's jobs, the EPA stepped in they had.

00:25:01.230 --> 00:25:11.130 Olwen Claiborne: hearings in both asheville and in knoxville and they were the most attended hearings and passions were running high, mind you, they were death threats Molotov cocktails.

00:25:11.580 --> 00:25:24.690 Olwen Claiborne: You know, under the table buyouts there was a lot of pressure on both sides to keep things the same way, they always were except the River downstream was polluted and people's lives are being destroyed well.

00:25:26.310 --> 00:25:27.390 Olwen Claiborne: The EPA.

00:25:30.630 --> 00:25:47.910 Olwen Claiborne: After they started paying attention to all of this, it just turned out that the paper processing plant which I won't name, people can look it up, if they want discovered a less expensive way to process their paper, so they cleaned up the they claim that themselves.

00:25:48.360 --> 00:25:51.510 Olwen Claiborne: The river is so much improved.

00:25:52.230 --> 00:26:01.440 Joseph McElroy: it's really do not you know by my farm the farm that's yeah there's no it's it's it's it's clear yeah it's it's a really beautiful say.

00:26:02.010 --> 00:26:08.970 Olwen Claiborne: Clear there's a there's a bald eagles missing on the River i've seen otters of course bald eagles feed on the fish.

00:26:09.060 --> 00:26:10.350 Olwen Claiborne: And you can eat on the.

00:26:10.410 --> 00:26:10.920 Joseph McElroy: issue.

00:26:11.250 --> 00:26:21.900 Olwen Claiborne: Now right, yes, a blue herons everyday the wildlife is abundant and, as you know, Those are some of the steepest slopes of the smoky mountains, that the River runs right through.

00:26:22.200 --> 00:26:26.100 Olwen Claiborne: So now, the water is healthy to raft in.

00:26:26.400 --> 00:26:39.240 Olwen Claiborne: And about the same time, the founding fathers of water got cleaned up and the founding fathers started getting together and have making agreements to regulate the rafting companies and establish some safety standards because.

00:26:39.510 --> 00:26:43.710 Olwen Claiborne: They were inviting people to come to their county draft they're responsible for their safety.

00:26:44.220 --> 00:26:55.260 Olwen Claiborne: So they tapped Daniel to matt, who is the owner of smoky mountain outdoors and you had been a guide for Andy McKinnon who we could arguably call the father rafting on the pigeon river.

00:26:55.740 --> 00:27:06.270 Olwen Claiborne: There are others who would also there were there at the same time, and I don't want to take away from their work on this behalf, but these are folks I know personally they tapped them to.

00:27:07.770 --> 00:27:28.080 Olwen Claiborne: lobby with their fellow river men to start complying with the regulations and, ultimately, those that didn't we're not allowed to have permits so that's the way that the the structure for the commercial rafting community in hartford began, and that was oh gosh late 80s.

00:27:29.370 --> 00:27:45.180 Olwen Claiborne: Since that day, because the pigeon river is located in such a beautiful area and so close to so much to do between gatlinburg at Maggie Valley, it has become one of the top three rafting most popular rafting rivers in the United States.

00:27:45.450 --> 00:27:45.990 Joseph McElroy: yeah.

00:27:46.080 --> 00:27:50.850 Olwen Claiborne: that's a man, I heard a rumor that it has been the most popular river in the United States.

00:27:50.880 --> 00:28:05.760 Olwen Claiborne: on multiple occasions I do know from the American outdoors association that the O co a river in chattanooga area and the pigeon river in the need port knoxville Maggie valley area are two of the top three at any given time.

00:28:06.270 --> 00:28:11.490 Joseph McElroy: And then you have the French broad to add another river that people also raft on.

00:28:12.120 --> 00:28:24.030 Olwen Claiborne: it's a very popular river direct on these these these designations are based on on commercial volume yeah so the the French broad river is a fantastic river, I personally love it.

00:28:24.840 --> 00:28:31.710 Olwen Claiborne: it's not really in the same category in terms of the number of outfitters and the ease of access to the river.

00:28:32.280 --> 00:28:45.180 Olwen Claiborne: So the pigeon river is a very moderate lots of fun reverts on a scale of one to five, with one big flat water and five being expert only recommended, there are no fives on the page and that we run.

00:28:45.570 --> 00:28:53.610 Olwen Claiborne: It is primarily a Class three four remember smoky mountain outdoors is the largest rafting company on the pigeon river.

00:28:53.940 --> 00:29:02.400 Olwen Claiborne: And it is the only one that has been continuously owned and operated by the guy, who was a former river guide went on to start his own company and.

00:29:02.970 --> 00:29:11.400 Olwen Claiborne: This week is currently building picnic tables and hanging out at the outpost making sure, everything is ready for opening on march six.

00:29:11.610 --> 00:29:27.000 Olwen Claiborne: And there's some real be driving the bus is he has two children have grown up there, his daughter spends her summers away from vanderbilt guiding for us and his son aiden is about to be the first 16 year old river guide on the page and remember so it's a real family.

00:29:27.780 --> 00:29:33.270 Joseph McElroy: Tradition a family owned recreation lodging all that sort of thing, so we come back.

00:29:33.720 --> 00:29:34.530 Olwen Claiborne: To have a campground.

00:29:35.370 --> 00:29:42.240 Joseph McElroy: When we come back we'll talk more about the tourism and opportunities for fun and great smokies and rafting.

00:29:44.970 --> 00:29:47.130 Listening to talk radio.

00:32:32.190 --> 00:32:44.640 Joseph McElroy: howdy this is Joseph Franklin mcilroy back with the gateway to the smokies podcast and I guess oh and claiborne um so we're talking about whitewater rafting you know.

00:32:45.330 --> 00:32:52.140 Joseph McElroy: When I was growing up, you know, I was growing up on the North Carolina side, so the place, we often into isn't that a handler.

00:32:52.620 --> 00:33:03.540 Joseph McElroy: Right and the Navajo outdoor Center How does that How does that, how do you guys that complement each other in terms of tourism or compete or you know, are those rivers compare yeah.

00:33:04.080 --> 00:33:15.930 Olwen Claiborne: You know rivers are all different and there's a great respect among the outfitters on the on the page and for the outfitters on the name of ALA no see of course for a long time has been the mothership of.

00:33:16.350 --> 00:33:26.520 Olwen Claiborne: whitewater tourism in the area and they're very different rivers, though the nano haleigh is so beautiful, it is cold that water comes from.

00:33:26.790 --> 00:33:37.860 Olwen Claiborne: Far far beneath it comes from its pipe down from the bottom of the lake So when I was a guide on the mahela in the late afternoon on July, you could see like.

00:33:38.310 --> 00:33:49.320 Olwen Claiborne: condensation rising up from the River on a hot hot day as the River was so cold my patent my crew used to complain that their feet were dumb and I used to say so.

00:33:50.430 --> 00:33:52.590 Olwen Claiborne: they're not me can't feel them what's the problem.

00:33:53.010 --> 00:34:08.760 Olwen Claiborne: Right that's not true, the pigeon pigeon is much warmer and at the largest rapid on the Nana haleigh is a Class three, which is lesser lesser it's the last one it's kind of the big grand finale on the day look for the commercial rafting.

00:34:09.510 --> 00:34:22.200 Olwen Claiborne: On the page and river almost most of the rapids or class threes with a couple of class fours thrown in so it's warmer it's broader and it's got bigger rapids.

00:34:22.530 --> 00:34:28.770 Joseph McElroy: got bigger rapids is a section of the net of hail is not allowed to the public right really that's.

00:34:28.980 --> 00:34:37.380 Olwen Claiborne: greater or lesser I you know the guys used to always talk about midnight runs on greater or lesser don't tell anybody don't try this at home.

00:34:37.830 --> 00:34:38.550 Olwen Claiborne: I don't want it.

00:34:38.760 --> 00:34:42.060 Olwen Claiborne: I don't see how they could have because they turn the water off at night.

00:34:43.410 --> 00:34:44.010 Olwen Claiborne: and cold.

00:34:46.800 --> 00:34:47.580 Olwen Claiborne: I challenged.

00:34:47.640 --> 00:34:54.210 Olwen Claiborne: The owner of my company Daniela say here's the way you did this midnight run say turn the water off and he said uh we did it.

00:34:55.980 --> 00:34:58.530 Joseph McElroy: i'll never know you know how to turn it off yeah.

00:34:59.250 --> 00:35:03.180 Olwen Claiborne: yeah the greater West or it's a spectacular rapid you can actually see it.

00:35:03.510 --> 00:35:16.650 Olwen Claiborne: When he walked across the foothill it in a seat belt footbridge it and i'll see to the farm to river left walk down stream on the railroad tracks, you can see it, and if you just look at it marvel that anybody could ever run it that's classified.

00:35:16.980 --> 00:35:17.730 Joseph McElroy: I know I.

00:35:19.740 --> 00:35:22.950 Joseph McElroy: hear that the marines try to train on it yeah.

00:35:23.400 --> 00:35:23.820 Really.

00:35:25.080 --> 00:35:34.290 Joseph McElroy: yeah well when I was I don't know if they do now, but back then, I actually saw some guys looking like soldiers on it so yeah who knows who knows yeah.

00:35:34.590 --> 00:35:37.800 Olwen Claiborne: it's a commercial takeout is upstream.

00:35:39.360 --> 00:35:52.230 Joseph McElroy: Now you know I wouldn't you know I I I almost I flipped off too many times i'm and that a hill class for but you know I knew that it wasn't I was a Class three I was not ready for Class by.

00:35:53.400 --> 00:35:55.260 Joseph McElroy: There was no way yeah so.

00:35:56.550 --> 00:36:03.240 Joseph McElroy: But you know, it was a good time, so how big is the tourism industry for whitewater rafting in the area.

00:36:04.890 --> 00:36:10.050 Olwen Claiborne: Well, as you know, the great smoky mountain National Park, is the most visited National Park in the country.

00:36:10.530 --> 00:36:28.320 Olwen Claiborne: So anything that has been offer something good to do when you're visiting the smoky mountains area is part of it, so we we add to all the world class activities there are to do in the mountainous region, and I feel really.

00:36:29.670 --> 00:36:35.370 Olwen Claiborne: proud about the fact that when people come to our area to vacation.

00:36:36.450 --> 00:36:45.030 Olwen Claiborne: Just like with how he just like with the sylvan hills, who were talking about earlier whitewater rafting is truly authentic to the mountains experience.

00:36:45.450 --> 00:36:50.310 Olwen Claiborne: You know, there are some fantastic wax museum, since a fantastic putt putt.

00:36:50.730 --> 00:36:57.180 Olwen Claiborne: places, and there are a lot of great brick and mortar attractions in our area for those who just want to go away and have some fun.

00:36:57.510 --> 00:37:04.380 Olwen Claiborne: But if you're like me and when you're traveling you want to get really up close and personal with the landscape that you're visiting.

00:37:04.770 --> 00:37:16.980 Olwen Claiborne: whitewater rafting is the perfect way to do it, you can't see the mountains from the kind of perspective that you can see from the surface of the rhythm I love spring rapid rafting because, in the spring.

00:37:17.370 --> 00:37:23.340 Olwen Claiborne: We recommend that you dress accordingly don't wear a Bikini lets you know 60 degrees out, but we do raft and spray.

00:37:23.790 --> 00:37:40.380 Olwen Claiborne: You can see all the wild flowers blooming at the slopes of the mountains and you can see the progression of green from the River surface to the high tops of the mountains and you can see, like the Princess trees, I believe it's a black locust we call of princess trees.

00:37:40.650 --> 00:37:41.880 Olwen Claiborne: They blue and purple.

00:37:42.060 --> 00:37:48.180 Olwen Claiborne: In the spring and you're floating along it's like we're no man, you know no car can go.

00:37:48.750 --> 00:37:53.880 Olwen Claiborne: They can see the mountains from places where only the boats can go as far as i'm concerned.

00:37:54.420 --> 00:38:02.820 Olwen Claiborne: Well, it is a very big aspect of the tourism business, and I believe the fact that the tourism business is so strong here in our mountains area.

00:38:03.450 --> 00:38:14.760 Olwen Claiborne: I believe that that contributes to the popularity of our river, it is one of those things you can do to get off the beaten path and have a truly authentic smoky mountains experience and i'm real proud of that.

00:38:15.210 --> 00:38:22.800 Joseph McElroy: So besides spring what are, what are the other seasons what's the value of the one of their uniqueness for wrath.

00:38:22.830 --> 00:38:34.680 Olwen Claiborne: Well i'll tell you just like that we actually offer two trips on the pigeon river which i'll tell you about later there's a whitewater trip and a scenic float trip there's three seasons to rafting on the pigeon river.

00:38:35.580 --> 00:38:41.730 Olwen Claiborne: there's the spring season and during the spring season, the hydro electric power plant that would work cooperatively with.

00:38:42.060 --> 00:38:54.960 Olwen Claiborne: Does not is not required to publish their water release schedule so we're operating on unpredictable water levels we don't promise whitewater in the spring, we do promise a river trip.

00:38:55.380 --> 00:39:06.780 Olwen Claiborne: That said, it is usually very rainy around here in the spring time, so I think it's safe to say that this spring water levels will be really higher than they are in the middle of the summer.

00:39:07.230 --> 00:39:16.680 Olwen Claiborne: Now for Memorial Day weekend to Labor day weekend the hydro electric power plant has a cooperative agreement with the rafting community to release water.

00:39:16.980 --> 00:39:26.100 Olwen Claiborne: on Tuesdays Wednesdays Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 o'clock to five o'clock we know it's going to happen, we can schedule trips accordingly and the water levels are regulated.

00:39:26.700 --> 00:39:37.560 Olwen Claiborne: So that isn't really good time, if you want to you want you want predictable resorts results when you're planning and nature outing that's the most predictable time.

00:39:37.920 --> 00:39:43.200 Olwen Claiborne: For rafting on the pigeon river and then we do continue to raft after Labor day that.

00:39:43.500 --> 00:39:59.580 Olwen Claiborne: Published water release schedule agreement is no longer so we are again on unpredictable water levels and, very often, as we know, living around here September can be somewhat dry, but the scenery is awesome it's a great way to see the colors change.

00:39:59.610 --> 00:40:09.450 Joseph McElroy: All the colors in the going through the forest and then was that all those colors in the mountains, is going to depend, as well as much as the spring, with a bit yeah.

00:40:10.050 --> 00:40:15.390 Olwen Claiborne: yeah and also, I will say that September and October around to your tend to be very warm yeah.

00:40:15.990 --> 00:40:21.990 Joseph McElroy: And if the doctor in October starts being wet again so you started getting seeing coming get some rain levels going yeah.

00:40:22.050 --> 00:40:28.410 Olwen Claiborne: yeah and master that most of the outfit outfitters ourselves also shut down about mid to end of October.

00:40:28.710 --> 00:40:38.100 Olwen Claiborne: yeah and that's true for a campground to so if anybody wants to just spend all of their state on the pigeon river, we do have a campground right next door.

00:40:38.460 --> 00:40:49.950 Olwen Claiborne: it's got rustic cabins tent sites are besides a swimming pool and some really pretty bathrooms and it's right on the bank of the pigeon it's right next door to our rafting company right.

00:40:50.310 --> 00:40:59.130 Joseph McElroy: So what you have you have different kinds of TRIPS, I was reading on your on your plate now once you go tell me about these different trips, if you guys provide.

00:40:59.670 --> 00:41:11.550 Olwen Claiborne: Okay, well, so our most popular upper pigeon river trip is the traditional three Fort ref and seat seven people we take ages eight and up.

00:41:12.030 --> 00:41:26.820 Olwen Claiborne: And that is what we call the upper pigeon river trip and i'm happy to tell you that Tripadvisor named the smoky mountain outdoors whitewater rafting upper river trip a top tier and experience in the United States.

00:41:26.880 --> 00:41:36.630 Olwen Claiborne: All right, this last year, I mean that ranks right up there with like a helicopter picnic on the grand Canyon rim, and was one of the other top 10 experiences so yes well.

00:41:37.290 --> 00:41:50.310 Olwen Claiborne: We call ourselves smoke it stands for smoky mountain outdoors we also offer the extreme wrap up or pigeon river rafting trip we call it smoke, for it, it is a much smaller boat.

00:41:50.820 --> 00:42:03.990 Olwen Claiborne: There are two ports in the boat minimum of three people maximum of four So the idea is that smaller boats make bigger hit so you're going through the same rapid at a smaller boat it looks bigger to you.

00:42:04.620 --> 00:42:11.970 Olwen Claiborne: And the requirements for that are aged 12 minimum minimum age of 12 and the ability to swell because you could swim.

00:42:13.410 --> 00:42:20.220 Olwen Claiborne: that's it for our upper pictured river trips is the smell for it and the traditional upper pigeon river trip.

00:42:20.670 --> 00:42:28.530 Olwen Claiborne: The lower pitching is an option for families and very young children or people who want to get on the River but they're not so sure about whitewater.

00:42:29.310 --> 00:42:38.580 Olwen Claiborne: It offers basically class one and two rapids class one is basically flat water with a current running through it to have some way of trains, there is one Class three get the end.

00:42:39.420 --> 00:42:53.370 Olwen Claiborne: would take ages three and up on that one, and it is beautiful relaxing it's a great way to see the scenery wildlife nature talk with your guides have splashed by the little kids love it.

00:42:53.910 --> 00:43:01.410 Olwen Claiborne: And for those who want to try hand it paddling their own boats, we do have some super stable inflatable kayaks we will.

00:43:03.000 --> 00:43:15.420 Olwen Claiborne: Let people take kayaks out instead of rafting they go in a group with a guide so they're not just let loose on the lower pigeon river and so that's another option so.

00:43:15.990 --> 00:43:29.340 Olwen Claiborne: Ever pigeon extreme lower pigeon kayaks and then, if you just want some more the full river, so you can wrap the upper river get out and have lunch and then raptor kayak the lower river.

00:43:29.760 --> 00:43:37.470 Joseph McElroy: That sounds fabulous okay so we're gonna take a break down we'll come back we'll finish up with some insights to help make experiences better.

00:43:38.010 --> 00:43:39.060 Olwen Claiborne: Okay fantastic.

00:43:40.980 --> 00:43:41.850 and listening to.

00:43:46.110 --> 00:43:46.590 ke.

00:45:57.390 --> 00:46:10.830 Joseph McElroy: howdy this is Joseph rifle mcilroy back with the gateway to the smokies podcast and we're talking whitewater rafting with olin playboy smoky mountain outdoors so oh willing.

00:46:12.060 --> 00:46:20.280 Joseph McElroy: If people are coming to go rafting as part of their experience in the smoky mountains What else do you recommend they experience.

00:46:20.940 --> 00:46:34.050 Olwen Claiborne: Thank you for asking we actually work with partners our partners plying works smoky mountains climbing works is a leader in zip lining they are worldwide later they.

00:46:34.500 --> 00:46:37.770 Olwen Claiborne: Have a counterpart climb works in Hawaii.

00:46:38.310 --> 00:46:51.300 Olwen Claiborne: climb work smoky mountains is about a 20 minute drive from our riverside outpost and we do offer a package if anybody wants to book both a zip line trip and rafting trip, at the same time, they get a special price.

00:46:52.170 --> 00:46:57.990 Olwen Claiborne: I love climb works zip lining your feet never touched the ground, you are up in the mountain tops.

00:46:58.740 --> 00:47:10.890 Olwen Claiborne: Their guides are fantastic and it's about a two and a half hour to hour, depending on the trip that you take so for what we recommend to people is, if you are saying in the smoky mountains region.

00:47:12.000 --> 00:47:18.960 Olwen Claiborne: You might go zip lining in the morning and go rafting in the afternoon or zip lining one day and rafting the next day, or vice versa.

00:47:19.350 --> 00:47:29.730 Olwen Claiborne: So that's a really good combination, we have a lot of friends that offer other adventure trips i'll put in a quick plug for my friend bestival colonists and a walk in the woods if.

00:47:30.060 --> 00:47:42.660 Olwen Claiborne: People who are nature minded want to come and spend all their time in the mountains, they can take a guided hike with a walk in the woods i'll be happy to provide you with business contact information if you'd like to speak with your for your podcast.

00:47:43.620 --> 00:47:45.210 Joseph McElroy: I would, I would definitely love that.

00:47:46.320 --> 00:47:51.330 Joseph McElroy: Town what what what would be a good thing for people to do in the town.

00:47:52.140 --> 00:47:58.650 Olwen Claiborne: Oh gosh gatlinburg is so full of worldwide attractions, I would get in trouble if I started.

00:48:00.360 --> 00:48:18.750 Olwen Claiborne: I didn't mention them all yeah I will say, though, that the one of the the to the three newest premier destinations in gatlinburg and you're not going to find this in the other municipalities in the smoky mountain region are an akita.

00:48:19.680 --> 00:48:29.610 Olwen Claiborne: So is the gatlinburg sky park and over gatlinburg all three of those destinations provide mountain top views of the surrounding area.

00:48:31.410 --> 00:48:31.860 Joseph McElroy: ski.

00:48:32.400 --> 00:48:33.360 Joseph McElroy: ski slope right.

00:48:33.420 --> 00:48:34.260 Olwen Claiborne: Yes, the only.

00:48:35.610 --> 00:48:37.980 Olwen Claiborne: that's the only one in East Tennessee.

00:48:38.280 --> 00:48:40.740 Olwen Claiborne: So, have a good day I had a good year this.

00:48:41.310 --> 00:48:46.380 Joseph McElroy: Cat the cat lucci isn't one and Maggie valley and they're like yeah for this falco and I think.

00:48:47.610 --> 00:48:54.990 Joseph McElroy: In the in the nation right something like that there, they are the most southern ski resorts I think they're there there.

00:48:55.050 --> 00:49:01.620 Olwen Claiborne: I believe 10 lucci and over gatlinburg have have claims to fame I would be remiss if I tried to say what they weren't.

00:49:05.730 --> 00:49:13.740 Joseph McElroy: we'd have to make sure we do the research on that, but they give us some interesting things about, and they have a pretty long season from November until March.

00:49:14.250 --> 00:49:27.990 Joseph McElroy: And when when it's snowing like it's been now and it's not only the main snow they have they have this natural snow cover that goes for these mountains that are just glorious but anyway that so when you can't wrapped it wrapped in the winter you come here you go ski it.

00:49:29.280 --> 00:49:30.420 Olwen Claiborne: had all year round.

00:49:30.660 --> 00:49:31.350 Exactly.

00:49:33.150 --> 00:49:35.760 Olwen Claiborne: And I will say to about the guided heights.

00:49:36.600 --> 00:49:42.300 Olwen Claiborne: I know quite a few people who are fantastic I can guides I believe you're going to be speaking with one maybe next week.

00:49:44.250 --> 00:49:52.080 Olwen Claiborne: There is more to the forest than what meets the eye so taking a guided hike does enhance your experience.

00:49:52.320 --> 00:50:03.390 Olwen Claiborne: I used to be like, why would anybody want to guide when they can just go walk the trail which you absolutely can, but when you go with a hiking guide you've got someone that can tell you about the history of what you're seeing.

00:50:03.630 --> 00:50:04.350 Olwen Claiborne: And all these.

00:50:04.440 --> 00:50:12.510 Olwen Claiborne: All these trails were originally trade routes so there's a lot of history there, and there are a lot of stone fences and things that there's great stories behind.

00:50:12.750 --> 00:50:24.930 Olwen Claiborne: They can also name a lot of them can name the birds and the plants tell you may maybe some of the medicinal or edible components of some of the plants, so it does really enhance the experience that have a guide.

00:50:25.200 --> 00:50:27.810 Joseph McElroy: and your guide on the water doesn't same sort of thing right.

00:50:28.110 --> 00:50:29.730 Olwen Claiborne: talks about a store do.

00:50:30.090 --> 00:50:41.850 Olwen Claiborne: And our guides are my favorite part of my job they are such fascinating people they're superheroes for one I was only a rough guide for a little while it is a very, very challenging job.

00:50:42.210 --> 00:50:52.290 Olwen Claiborne: Is physical, you have to be a great people person you deal with a lot of jittery families you deal with you know scared moms you deal with a lot of sort of emotional.

00:50:53.520 --> 00:51:00.540 Olwen Claiborne: input and you've got to keep everybody calm and help them have a great time sometimes you have to deal with with them.

00:51:01.350 --> 00:51:07.560 Olwen Claiborne: things that happen people fall in occasionally we do offer some pre rafting.

00:51:08.130 --> 00:51:23.910 Olwen Claiborne: instruction as to what to do and what to expect doesn't happen very often, but it does happen and they're the ones that are ultimately responsible for the safety of our guests, and they have the best stories, a lot of them are adventure travel professionals and they.

00:51:25.530 --> 00:51:29.100 Joseph McElroy: can't get much into that, but you are known as an incubator for adventure travel.

00:51:30.630 --> 00:51:32.310 Olwen Claiborne: Training is really, really good.

00:51:32.460 --> 00:51:48.270 Joseph McElroy: I really speaks speaks greatly to your your guys professionalism as an organization, so that impresses me so um what any future plans for smoky mountain or Doris what is our what is what's going to happen rapping in general and the smokies over the next few years.

00:51:49.080 --> 00:51:52.560 Olwen Claiborne: yeah that's a really good question I wish I could easily answer it.

00:51:53.640 --> 00:52:01.230 Olwen Claiborne: We don't have something that's broke that needs to be fixed you know the old saying if it ain't broke don't make to fix it.

00:52:02.130 --> 00:52:12.750 Olwen Claiborne: What we want to do is continue offering award winning world class rafting trips and continue to enhance the experience with the great stories and suggestions that our guides offer.

00:52:13.050 --> 00:52:25.080 Olwen Claiborne: We do have a campground right next door, we are expanding on the capacity of that game ramp you know, during the days of covered outdoor adventures have been incredibly popular so.

00:52:26.250 --> 00:52:31.980 Olwen Claiborne: What we wanted, what we want to do in the future is keep being as good as we are right now, and never let up.

00:52:32.610 --> 00:52:35.250 Joseph McElroy: Well, thank you all for being on our podcast.

00:52:36.630 --> 00:52:40.920 Joseph McElroy: How if somebody wants to contact you to give me more information, how would they do that.

00:52:41.520 --> 00:52:46.590 Olwen Claiborne: Oh thanks for asking you can find our website is smoky mountain rafting calm.

00:52:47.520 --> 00:53:07.140 Olwen Claiborne: And through that website all kinds of contact information there's contact us there's a chat capability, you can book your trips directly through smoky mountain rafting COM, or you can call our reservations office at one 800 771 raft 107 717238.

00:53:08.280 --> 00:53:13.500 Olwen Claiborne: If you'd like to email us, you can email trips at smoky mountain

00:53:13.890 --> 00:53:15.570 Olwen Claiborne: There you go i'll say.

00:53:15.840 --> 00:53:25.950 Olwen Claiborne: I would be remiss if I didn't put in a plug for large groups rafting is a fantastic group activity family reunions wedding trips it's a fantastic group.

00:53:25.950 --> 00:53:27.840 Joseph McElroy: Actually training that we got.

00:53:27.870 --> 00:53:30.210 Joseph McElroy: To get more corporate training in the mountains and that's.

00:53:31.230 --> 00:53:44.490 Joseph McElroy: yeah so that's it's also a great adventure for people like that, so thank you i'm going to finish up with a little shout outs, we are part of the gateway to smoke these podcasts originated where traveler magazine network.

00:53:45.870 --> 00:53:57.450 Joseph McElroy: We developed a destination, have called the great smoky mountains on where traveler America, where traveler is an 80 year old magazine that you find in many hotels around the world.

00:53:58.080 --> 00:54:08.100 Joseph McElroy: specializing things to do where to go and expert advice on what to do in town well now they're doing regions in the smoky mountain great smoky mountains National Park area is the first region.

00:54:08.640 --> 00:54:21.810 Joseph McElroy: And we will find lots of listings about things to do, as well as in depth articles from experts and locals about what to do in the mountains, and of course we will be putting these podcasts up there.

00:54:22.800 --> 00:54:31.680 Joseph McElroy: as well, I also own the middle art motel in Maggie valley North Carolina, which is a motel chic roadside.

00:54:32.190 --> 00:54:39.600 Joseph McElroy: Experience but with a large recreation area, a couple streams on the property debilitation it's close to all the things that we talked about.

00:54:39.870 --> 00:54:48.030 Joseph McElroy: it's very close to getting more probably about an hour an hour and a half drive you know you can go do everything and all the different places that we talked about.

00:54:48.930 --> 00:54:57.330 Joseph McElroy: So if you're not looking for a campground experience try a roadside motel it's also covered friendly because you drive right up the door, we have contactless.

00:54:58.680 --> 00:54:59.250 Joseph McElroy: check in.

00:55:00.330 --> 00:55:06.930 Joseph McElroy: So we'd like to say the smoky mountains smoky mountain adventure starts with where you stay.

00:55:08.460 --> 00:55:13.890 Joseph McElroy: And it gives you the base from which to go and we are a great base to travel everywhere.

00:55:14.400 --> 00:55:33.690 Joseph McElroy: um I also own a directory site that includes not only commercial but also natural wonders, and you know and places to go that have no commercial interests and it's called smokies it also talks about the history, the smokies and you can also get trail maps and.

00:55:35.160 --> 00:55:45.660 Joseph McElroy: books and things that will help your adventures in the smokies there, we also feature things where you have really outdoor weddings and rustic adventures and stuff.

00:55:46.320 --> 00:56:00.360 Joseph McElroy: But not necessarily dramatically commercial for the large scale endeavors are not going to do it, but it's for those things that people would love to investigate and find to complement their experiences and smoking now.

00:56:02.490 --> 00:56:03.210 Joseph McElroy: and

00:56:06.210 --> 00:56:22.260 Joseph McElroy: let's see you can find more about this podcast at gateway to the smokies fun all right, where we will feature our guests, so we will feature podcast, we will also be publishing schedules of.

00:56:23.280 --> 00:56:30.870 Joseph McElroy: Water or upcoming guests and there's A newsletter that we've started that you can subscribe to, and know about upcoming.

00:56:32.700 --> 00:56:43.110 Joseph McElroy: Events as well as the upcoming podcasts and will also be providing links to resources to help you, with your smoky mountain adventure and then finally.

00:56:43.800 --> 00:56:50.940 Joseph McElroy: This podcast is originated on the talk and talk radio dot nyc network and it's.

00:56:51.600 --> 00:57:02.850 Joseph McElroy: it's a wonderful network of podcasts related to many different evers and you should stick around for the one after this, which is about exploring nyc, which is a really great podcasts if you're.

00:57:03.360 --> 00:57:09.480 Joseph McElroy: If you're listening to this live okay again thank everybody for joining us thank my guests all and clay born.

00:57:09.750 --> 00:57:20.310 Joseph McElroy: And we will see you next week, but we're gonna be talking to keep gardens and his partner Craig and Keith name has come up a couple times a day about hiking in the smokies see you there.

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