Adventures of Mom Guide to Tubing in the Southeast (Part 2)
Picking Your River:
Part one of the Adventures of Mom Guide to Tubing focused on the basics, part two will issue some words of caution. Not every river is fit for you or your kids. We’ve gone past families happily tubing down a muddy brown river and I was secretly horrified. Having been raised around the pristine waters of Florida, the rivers we swam and still swim in are crystal clear- right down the eel grass and sandy bottoms. During our misadventure on the Withlacoochee River, I only considered jumping into those dark tea-stained waters under duress (luckily I didn’t have to). My husband who grew up splashing in swamps and swimming the Withlacoochee laughs at my fears. They must be unfounded, right? No, in Florida rivers you are never alone, and share the waterways with alligators and snakes. I guess I just like to see them coming ( I actually saw a banded water snake zip through a crowded swimming hole last week!) So check the river out before you commit to your trip, especially any lengthy ones. If you are not comfortable with the way the river looks, it may not be for you.
Another river warning: rivers rise and fall in accordance to the weather, ie rainfall or lack. One fast ride down one river can be another shallow stumble later on the same river. We’ve had too stand and walk parts of the Hooch (Chattahoochee) because it was too shallow, and at other times zipped on through. Outfitters cannot control the rivers, but the good guys will let you know what kind of ride you are in for before you rent their tubes! Don’t be afraid to ask either!
Wildlife encounters and tubing
- Avoid the critters when possible. They are wild.
- Baby gators only mean that there is a giant momma gator somewhere close.
- Otters may look cute, but they bite.
- Watch hanging branches over the river for two reasons: snakes like to hang out on them and wasps build their nests in them. Seen & encountered them both!
- Stay out of the weeds! Gators and snakes. Need I say more?
- If you are near a riverbank and hear a hiss, get away fast- it’s a gator warning you that you are too close.
- In the rockier rivers, don’t go poking under rocks- even in the water. Snakes sometimes hide up in them- don’t ask me how, but I’ve actually seen it (Amicalola Falls) air pockets maybe?
- And for those homo sapiens you may encounter- your river trip may be passing through their backyard. They do not want you to stop on their lawn, hang on their newly refinished dock and no, they will not let you use their toilet. Or their phone.
And now that I’ve totally terrified you: on with the guide!
The Adventures of Mom Guide to Tubing in the Southeast Part 2
Tubing in Georgia
- Chestatee River. Just before the turn up the mountain to Dahlonega, the river runs- and so do the tubers on a 30-45 minute float at Canoe Georgia. Memorial Day to Labor Day 10-4. Walk back to launch point to go again. www.canoegeorgia.com 2084 S. Chestatee/Hwy 60, Dahlonega, GA 30533
- Chattahoochee River. Helen. A family favorite. We’ve been using the pink as when we started our Chattahoochee tradition, our little girl was in her pink princess phase. We’ve kept up the tradition ever since. www.HelenTubing.com (pink tubes) $3 1 trip with shuttle back. $8 all day tubing with shuttle. Water park extra. 9917 HWY 75, North Helen, GA 30545.
- Chattahoochee River, Helen. www.CoolRivertubing.com (green tubes) $8 single trip & $12 all day long all with shuttle. Short & long trips ( 1 hr or 2 hr) available (same price though!) Adventure park extra. 112 Poplar Stump Rd, Helen, GA 30545
- Tocca River. Tube the Tocca in North Georgia with the Rolling Thunder River company. Choose 1.5 or 3 mile floats. River adventure speeds change as per water release days. www.RollingThunderRiverco.com 20 Huges St. McCaysville, GA 30555. Reservations.
- Oconaluftee River. Take a tube trip through the Cherokee Nation with Cherokee Rapids. Memeorial Day to Labour Day. Choose between easy family float (younger kids) and up river rapids. $10 per person, shuttle back. 10.30 to 5.30. www.CherokeeRapids.com 1681 Acquoni Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719
- French Broad River. 2-3 hour float on the French Broad River with the Headwaters Outfitters. 6ft deep+. Life jackets must be worn. $20 per person for tube & shuttle. April, May, Sept & Oct. Reservations required. www.headwatersoutfitters.com 25 Parkway Rd, Rosman, NC 28772
- Downtown Asheville. Float the downtown part of the French Broad River through the Biltmore Estate and River Arts District. The 4 mile float takes 2 hours. $20 per person. www.frenchbroadoutfitters.com 704 Riverside Drive, Asheville, NC
- Valley River, Murphy. Take a float on the Valley River from the KOA Peace Valley Campground. $3.50 per tube. www.peacevalleycampground.com 117 Happy Valley Rd, Marble, NC 28905
- Explore the Green River, Saluda. 1.5 miles, 3 miles or 4.5 mile floats and more (from $9 to $14 as per trip). Must be 42 inches or taller. Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wilderness Cove Tubing & Canoeing outfitters. 3772 Green River Cove Rd, Saluda, NC 28773. Check their website for float times and dates. www.nctubing.com
- Deep Creek. Bryson City. This is tubing in the actual Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Choose from many outfitters to rent a tube- or bring your own and drive up to Deep Creek for the 1 mile adventure. Rapids at the upper river. Lower is wider and calmer. Check out J.J Deep Creek Tubes, 1401 West Deep Creek Road, Bryson City, NC 28713 www.deepcreektubing.com
- Tubing in the Smoky Mountains. Little River. Townsend. May 15th- Labor Day. Upper rapids and swimming hole and lower family friendly river adventures. $15 adults, $12 children ages 6-12, 5 and under free. All day tubing. As many trips as you desire. www.Smokymtnriverrat.com 205 Wears Valley Road, Townsend, TN 37882
- Little River. Townsend. $10 per person for tubing on the Little River all day. Mid May-Mid September. www.Riverragetubing.com 8303 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882 (off of E Lamar Alexander Parkway).
- Pigeon River, Sevierville. From easy 1- 1.5 hour floats to more challenging 3.5 to 4 hour upper river challenges. Prices range from $12 (kids) and $18 (adults) for the shorts floats. www.pigeonrivercanoeing.com. River Run at 472 Rainbow Rd, Sevierville, TN 37862
Disclaimer: The Adventures of Mom is not affiliated with any outfitter links listed in this guide. Be safe. Be smart. Use your PDFs and your common sense when involving yourself and your children on any river adventure. Know your limits and your child’s limits.
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