This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-IV(V)
Length 1 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 05/20/2003 1:54 pm

River Description

Rock Island is noted for its excellent park and play.

The entire run is probably just a mile in length, and contained between Great Falls Lake and Center Hill Lake.

The powerhouse releases water into the area where the two main playspots are. At the top of the next rapid is a nice series of surf waves with good eddies on the left.

The river left eddy is interesting due to the "waterfall" that drops into it. This falls is actually shooting thru the cliff on river left. This water is coming from the backwaters of Great Falls Lake and the Collins River on the other side of the cliff.

At the bottom of the wavetrain is the infamous Rock Island rodeo hole. The hole is fairly friendly at 2000 cfs, and rather munchy at a full release of 3800 cfs. Most get intimidated around 7500. Beware catching the left eddy, as the left wall is undercut and the eddyline feeds right into it.

Depending on the lower lake levels there may be two or three more small rapids below the rodeo hole. The next rapid contains a wave that is surfable at higher flows, but just above a dangerously undercut wall.

Warning - much of the channel flows into this wall. Get swimmers right.

Walk back up or take out in Rock Island State Park 'boat launch'

After rains: Starting at the base of the dam there is a 20' shelf with 0, one, or several lines dependant on the flow.. Check with the locals for more detailed info. 4200 minimum for 'the spout'; other lines (Mill-side and swing-side) start up around 4800. The rapid below constricts the river and the 3 holes can be violent. The rock is sharp and unstable, watch for seives in the first rapid. At flows above 10,000 the holes wash but the right wall at the bottom becomes a concern. There must be water flowing over the dam for the falls section to be running.
From South Nashville or Chattanooga: Take I-24 South from Nashville or I-24 North from Chattanooga and exit at Hwy 55 in Manchester, the McMinnville/Tullahoma exit. Proceed North on Hwy 55 toward McMinnville. In McMinnville, Hwy 55 will turn into the 70S bypass. Continue on the bypass through McMinnville and go 12 miles North of McMinnville and take a left on hwy 136. Go about 1 mile and take a left on 287 in entrance which will be on the right.

Rock Island State Park.

Rapid Descriptions

Brave Wave Ledge / Undercut

Class - Mile - 0.25
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
If you swim, swim River RIGHT and keep swimming into the eddy below the hole. Brave Wave Ledge recently broke the leg of a swimmer and the rocks here are sharp and grabby. The Undercut below Brave Wave on the Left is especially hazardous because of the sharp limestone shelves that could pose entrapment hazard. Swim right - you can make the eddy every time.


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Charles Walbridge
7 years ago

From Boatertalk: Rock Island Info: Go to this website. Look up Great Falls. 1 generator will provide a level of 1400 to 1800cfs. It's ok. Top wave is sweet, but no eddy service. The 'hole' is more of a small wave. Generally speaking, it's not worth a long drive for this level, but still fun. 2 generators will give you a level of 2900 to 3800. The lower end, the top wave is still good, and the hole is kicking. At the higher end, the top wave starts to flush, but others come in at the falls, and the hole is STOMPIN! Notice the upper lake level. When it reaches 803' or so with more water coming in, they start to spill. Top of the gates is 804'. Look for the message 'Great Falls is Spilling'. Levels around 5000 to 6000 are prime. Several spots to run the falls. I've been out there around 11000, but you gotta watch the back wash. Sieve City is a no joke rapid. It has this name for a reason. Sad to say that Brave Wave is no longer there. There are always unexplored waves and holes in the rapids leading down to the boat ramp in Rock Island State Park.

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Hunter Branstetter
10 years ago

Although this site and boatingbeta list 2000 as the minimum, the main hole is still playable down to at least ~1300 (1 generator); it's not nearly as big or as impressive as at 2 generators, but there's still something there to be had.

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16 years ago

From Boatertalk:
Clay and I paddled Rock Island Dryway at 30,000 cfs today- BIG! New
Forum: BoaterTalk
Date: Mar 08 2004, 0:16 GMT
From: ejrockisland

Super fun high action- Steep drop at 30,000 cfs. Highest it has ever been run and quite intense!
Glad Clay is here!

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Barry Grimes
16 years ago

To help determine levels:

Rock Island is rain dependent after the
lake drops.

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clay wright
17 years ago

When Center Hill Resevoir (TVA page) is
above 650. feet the hole is washed out. They
have recently been holding Center Hill higher
than they used to after periods of rain.

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

The gauge is on the TVA phone reading for Great Falls Dam.
1-800-238-2264, press 4 (Release Schedule), then press 36 (for Great Falls Dam).

TVA River Information by Phone.

TVA Great Falls Dam Release Info.

2000 cfs might be a minimum.
3800 cfs is the usuall full release.
Above 4000 cfs its a REALLY BIG hole.
When Center Hill is low 'Brave Wave" forms below, surfable from 3200 to 15,000.
Waterfalls run between 4200 and 6500 - big holes form higher.
Has been run up to 16,000

TVA Center Hill Reservior Levels. Look for a level of 650 or less.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




clay wright


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191519 05/20/03 clay wright n/a
1207515 05/05/17 clay wright n/a