It’s summertime, and the living is easy. But nothing is easier than kicking back in a tube and whiling away the hours with sunshine, calm waters, and a cooler full of something cold. It just so happens that this is one of Western North Carolina’s outdoor specialties.
Whether you’ve got the tools—or rather, tubes—of the trade and are looking for somewhere new to set sail or need help preparing for your virgin tube trip, this guide will help you get out on the water.
Tubing Tours & Companies Around Asheville
Smoky Mountain Tube & Raft | Cherokee
Since 1999, Smoky Mountain Tube & Raft has been helping locals and tourists alike tube the Oconoluftee River. These outfitters have more than 200 tubes in stock and will drop off and pick up tubers after their two to three hour float. Cherokeetubeandraft.com
Green River Cove Tubing | Saluda
Green River Cove has been floating tubes for more than 30 years. During peak season, you can catch a ride seven days a week on a three-mile or six-mile trip for just $10 or $15, respectively.
Beer City Tubing | Arden
Relative newcomers to the scene, Beer City Tubing operates on a section of the French Broad River that is six to eight feet deep (no bum grazing here). Revelers will relax in a deluxe inflatable tube with a headrest, cup holders, and mesh bottom. Beercitytubing.com
Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks & Tubes | Jefferson
Up north, Zaloo’s sends tubers down the South Fork of the New River for two to four hours. If there are more active outdoorsmen in your group, they could choose a different vessel instead. Floats are currently BOGO Monday–Thursday.
Loafers Glory Rafting & Tubing | Bakersville
Float through the scenic Toe River Valley with Loafers Glory. Check their Facebook page for weekly updates and river conditions, though the float time is usually about two hours.
Tube Your Own Way in Asheville & WNC
Have tube, will float? Choose one of the region’s many rivers and get to it.
Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Park at a campground or parking area in the national park and hike your way to Deep Creek. If you’re looking for adventure, the upper section near Indian Creek Falls has larger rapids. Try a little lower near Tom Branch Falls for something more relaxing.
French Broad River, Asheville
Locals may hesitate to float the French Broad, but you can’t beat it for an experiential trip. Drop in at Carrier or Jean Webb Parks, and you’ll float past—or stop at—hot spots like Wedge Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, and Getaway River Bar.
Toe River, Spruce Pine
The Toe River Valley Canoe Trail runs for 37 miles from Riverside Park in Spruce Pine down to Poplar. Check out the free map here and plan your own trip, which could travel through Class I, II or III rapids, wild forests, and scenic farmland.
Watauga River, Bethel
Up in the High Country, the Watauga River offers plenty of opportunities for tubing (just avoid areas that are too “whitewater”). The river mellows out between Valle Crucis and Sugar Grove and it’s a choose-your-own-adventure for tubers. A new parking lot at Guy Ford Road near Bethel grants access to the Watauga Gorge.