Blue Hole -- The Scenic Route from Atlanta
I moved these directions to a separate file for brevity. If you travel to or from Blue Hole on US64 from Cleveland, Tennessee or other points west, you'll get to experience the scenic portion of this route along the river.
The Scenic Route to Blue Hole
- Take I-75 North out of Atlanta.
- Just north of Cartersville, take the exit for US Hwy 411. At
the end of the ramp, turn right. You're now heading north on Hwy
- You'll be on this road for about 70 miles, first passing
through Fairmount, then some small places and eventually,
Chatsworth. You'll dance with a railway line,
first to your left, then to your right. For most of the stretch
your speed limit is 55 mph and there are some long open stretches where you
can pass slower traffic. There are also some stretches with passing lanes.
Beware speed-zones in the towns, since ticket revenue is pretty
much how they pay their cops. :)
- After crossing the Tennessee state line it's 10-15 more miles
to US 64. This will be the first highway overpass you see;
railroad tracks will be on your right at this point. Take the
lefthand turn before the bridge (sign says "to Ducktown, TN") and
turn onto US 64 East.
- US 64 is four-lane divided at first, but goes to a well-laid
two-lane road after a few miles. You'll pass a few touristy
places: an ultralight rental place, several whitewater
outfitters, Mrs. B's Purple Bus, etc.
- You'll enter the Cherokee National Forest and come to TVA's
Ocoee #1 dam on your right. It's worth a stop at the overlook to
gaze down upon the dam. This marks the beginning of the scenic drive,
and the road curves sharply to the left. These two photos of Ocoee #1
Dam were taken from the overlook.
- Continuing on US 64 past the dam you'll pass the Lake Ocoee
Inn on your right, and the road will become quite curvy.
Parksville Lake will be on your right and you'll pass several
beaches, boating ramps, etc. Keep going.
- The lake will narrow and so will the road, since it hugs the
shoreline. The road gets really curvy and also somewhat
congested during the summer rafting season, so be extremely careful
and be wary of pedestrians often carrying kayaks, etc. This is a US
highway and is used by 18-wheeler trucks, etc., so stay on your toes.
Everyone seems to drive fast, yet I've never yet actually seen a wreck
on this stretch. Amazing.... It's only a matter of time, though.
- You'll pass Ocoee #2 Powerhouse, a large brick TVA structure across
the gorge. This is where
the water falls down three green pipes from the wooden water flume and
surge tanks on the ridge above. If you can snag a spot to
park, this is also a great place to pull off and watch the rafters
and kayakers in the river, on days when the water's running high in the Middle Ocoee (typically
every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays). This is pretty much the end of the
Middle Ocoee rafting/kayaking segment, which you'll now be driving along
until you get to the next landmark.
- Past the Ocoee #2 powerhouse you'll see the wooden water
flume on the ridge across the gorge for a mile or two, then you'll
come to the diversion dam where the water is routed either down
the riverbed, for whitewater sports, or into the flume, to make power.
It's quite picturesque, looking like a wide waterfall during the
day. Ocoee #2, with its water-flume and diversion dam, is the
last remaining power-generating structure like this in the world. (!)
There's even a trolley track with a trolley that runs along the top of the flume for maintenance and inspections. For a video showing part of the run, click
This is also where the Great Rockslide of November 2009 took place; the road was reopened in April of the following year.
This is the put-in point for rafts and kayaks on the Lower Ocoee
segment. You're not supposed to raft or kayak over the dam itself; it's
a $500 minimum fine. I spoke to a guy who's done it...twice.
He was fined...once. :)
Here is a look at the put-in ramp downstream from the dam
Here's the dam itself. On the other side of the river is the beginning
of the water flume. On rafting days in the evening the gates to the flume
are opened and the water flows down the flume instead of over
the dam, and then through the power turbines at #2 Powerhouse. Neet!
- You're getting close to Blue Hole and the Ocoee Whitewater Center
now. Continue past the diversion dam
(Ocoee #2 Dam) and about a mile farther you'll see another powerhouse
across the river, with a green pipe and water tower. This is Ocoee #3
Powerhouse, and during most of the summer the Ocoee River is routed
through a 2-mile tunnel bored through the mountain and out via this
single, remarkably narrow pipe. During the summer on weekends, and for
special water events, TVA routes the water through the riverbed itself
to allow kayakers and rafting parties to brave the Upper Ocoee. This
photo of Ocoee Powerhouse #3 showing the pipe was taken from the
driveway, after driving across the river on the bridge to the power station.
There are some informational displays about the generator's
construction, the surge-tank and the tunnel through the mountain,
so check 'em out sometime if you're an engineering geek like me. :)
Also located here is Thunder Rock Campground, along the river near the power-plant.
Not too much farther and you'll see a brown sign saying "Ocoee Whitewater
Center"; beyond this you'll see a parking lot on the right.
Continue up US 64 to the Ocoee Whitewater Center itself and turn right
into the parking lot. You can park in the Center parking lot for up to 30 minutes,
but you'll want to move your vehicle down the hill into the day-use lot and pay the $3 fee there.
There are small pay kiosks with envelopes and stubs (for your dashboard or rearview mirror) located
throughout the day-lot.
|Taken from the parking lot facing downriver
||Facing upriver: OWC is the red building in the distance at left
||OWC itself, taken from the short-term parking lot
- Quick summary: I-75 N. to Ga 411, right on Ga 411 and go c.
70 miles to US 64; right on US 64 (left turn before the overpass)
approx. 20 miles to the Ocoee Whitewater Center. It's only about three turns away!
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