Asheville NC River Tubing – Best Places For Families

Summer is here! We’ve all been longing to bask in the outdoor sun and float down lazy waters while gazing up at the blue sky. River tubing is an affordable summer activity that is popular with families. This guide will help you find the best Asheville, NC, river tubing locations.

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At Asheville river tubing resorts, you can experience great camping opportunities, hook rare fishes, and see wildlife in their natural habitat. At Cherokee Rapids and Pigeon River Outfitters, for example, your kids won’t just enjoy a refreshing ride, but they can also gaze at what’s beneath crystalline waters in one of the world’s oldest river systems.

Instead of just hanging out on the beach, grab your fishing rods, snorkel, and mask. And schedule a trip towards a river tubing resort near you. There, your kids can explore the waters and enjoy time in the shallows without the risk of getting swept away by the ocean waves.

A Guide to Asheville River Tubing

Asheville, NC, river tubing may sound like a simple experience, but you and your family will treasure it for the rest of your lives. We’ve prepared this short but complete guide to the highest-rated Asheville tubing resorts in the city and its surrounding areas.

There’s also a short section for beginner tubers, which parents may find helpful. We will discuss the best places to go river tubing in Asheville and the surrounding area. Including details about river tubing near Cherokee, NC, and tubing in Bryson City. As well as the best rivers for tubing with kids in the Western North Carolina area.

For the pricing, restrictions, and highlights at the tubing resorts, please don’t hesitate to jump to the last section. To check out the safety tips, please continue to read on. Also, check out our article about River Tubing with Kids: What You Need to Know.

We’ve also included a short checklist for choosing that hassle-free resort for your family’s next getaway.

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Most Popular Asheville NC River Tubing Locations

What Is River Tubing?

River tubing is a popular summer activity in many parts of the country. It involves floating down a river on an inflatable tube. It can be a fun family recreation wherein everyone can enjoy the outdoors, take in the scenery, and get some exercise.

How safe is it for kids? River tubes offer two layers of protection. The first layer is an air-tight sheet of man-made rubber, which is lightweight and durable. The second layer gives shape to the tube and prevents bursting. Reliable tubes must be flexible and robust. The heavier the river tube is, the more durable it is.

When you’re looking into tubing resorts, check out the reviews for their rubber tubes.

River tubing is most commonly done on calm, slow-moving rivers. The inner tube acts as a raft, allowing anyone to relax and enjoy the ride. When you’re finally there, prep your kids for the rapids and that river adventure. Make sure that you and your loved ones take the proper precautions.

There are a few things to keep in mind when river-tubing. First, make sure to choose a river that is safe for tubing. Second, always wear a life jacket. Third, be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards. Finally, always follow the river’s current and never try to swim against it.

When river tubing in Asheville NC reviewing the water safety rules with your kids can help prevent a would-be incident.

Asheville NC river tubing lady on float

Tubing with Kids

While you can implement all safety precautions and use the safest gears, kids will be kids. There is the need to keep a constant watch over them.

Diverting your attention for a short while could lead to sudden accidents. Some children tend to become boisterous when adults aren’t around.

Without instilling the river tubing rules to your children, they might get too playful and fall off. River tubing is considered a safe recreation activity for families and groups. But everyone, without exception, still needs to follow some safety precautions.

Having reliable gear and durable equipment greatly reduces the risks in this water sport. According to the RFD, the life vest is the most important item when river tubing. River sports enthusiasts like Stephen Porter and Jeven Dovey recommend that everyone should also wear a helmet and sturdy shoes in addition to a life vest.

Before Asheville, NC, river tubing, it won’t hurt to double-check that the conditions are safe and equipment is properly in place. Keeping these in mind can help prevent accidents.

What to Bring for River Tubing with Kids?

While river tubing, you can’t wear ordinary backpacks and shoes. They’ll just get wet. If you don’t have anyone to watch over your things, a wearable drybag can secure your car keys and smartphone even if you get submerged underwater. 

These should be on your priority list for river-tubing.

  • Clothes that can get wet (such as a swimsuit / quick-dry shorts and top)
  • Waterproof Footwear that will stay on your feet  (no flip-flops)
  • Swim Vest / Life Jacket
  • Sunglasses or goggles
  • Wearable Dry Bag

You should also bring bungee cords and a tube repair kit. The following items are optional, but you may find them useful:

Never take a child into the water without wearing a life jacket. Some children may complain about this, especially if they’re good swimmers. But, you need to make sure that they comply with the rules.

Even if your child doesn’t know how to swim, he/she can enjoy an Asheville river float experience. The lifejacket will keep your kid above the surface and prevent drowning.

Choosing a Safe River Tubing Destination

Choosing the right destination is an important part of keeping your kids safe on your next vacation. Choose a resort that is near a river where you can be comfortable–a river that is safe for kids and toddlers.

So, what pointers should you look for? The river should have a section where you can let your kids float by themselves. A river section without rapids, or with just class I rapids. This is ideal for ages six and up. If you want your 5-year-old or 4-year-old to enjoy some thrilling rides, carry your child on your tube and float away on seemingly calm waters.

Class I moving water only has a few small waves and few to zero obstructions at all. Class II is considered easy rapids with small waves and clear channels. Some maneuvering may be required, but nothing that a 6-year-old can’t handle. Class III rapids could be too high and irregular for children below nine years old and are better suited for teens. If your child has experience taking on challenging waves, he may be able to handle Class III rapids.

A section without rapids is the safest option when river tubing with toddlers or preschool age children.

For an overnight trip, there should be a lodge or camping area nearby the river tubing site. The spot must be accessible. You must also double-check if you can camp legally in your preferred spot.

campsite by river in Asheville NC

Asheville, NC River Tubing

Some Asheville river tubing companies offer river tubing equipment rentals that you can pick up. Strap the river tubing float(s) to your vehicle, take them to the river yourself, and make your way back to your vehicle.

Other river tubing companies offer a tour where they provide water tubing equipment rentals along with transportation to drop you off at the river and also then pick you up at the end of your river tubing adventure and return you to your vehicle. 

Where to Go River Tubing Near Me

I am thankful to live in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. There are many options for river tubing in Asheville, NC, and the surrounding area. Many readers have asked me when and where to go river tubing near me in the Asheville area.

In early summer, most rivers in North America offer a serene and calm flow. During this time of year, water levels are high, and tubes don’t get dragged to rocky sections. After a day or two of rain is the best time to go river tubing in Asheville, NC.

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Best Places for River Tubing in Asheville, NC Area

Best Places for River Tubing in Asheville, NC Area

If you want to plan a trip to go river tubing in Asheville, NC, then keep reading. Here is a round-up of the best equipment rental companies and locations for river tubing near Asheville, NC.

Nothing beats a summer day spent floating down a river. But, with so many options for Asheville, NC, river tubing, where should you choose?

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List of River Tubing Locations near Asheville NC

Keep reading to learn more about river tubing at these popular locations near Asheville, NC, and the surrounding area.

French Broad Outfitters – Hominy Creek

Address: 704 Riverside Dr., Asheville, NC, 28801
Phone number: (858) 505-731
Email address:

Situated in Asheville, a city surrounded by lush, green forest and seemingly uncharted mountains, French Broad Outfitters offers river tubing and camping from May to September.

Here, you can float through Hominy Creek and the nearby river. You can either bring your own or rent tubes for as low as $5 to $8 from the outfitting shops in the resort.

The float trip takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. When you’re done, it will be about a 5-minute walk back to the starting point. From here, you can enjoy another ride with your kids.

The deepest part is only 5 feet deep. But, if your kids wear a life jacket, they’ll be safe even if they fall off their tube. Hominy Creek only has class I and class II rapids.

In the deepest parts, the water has a very weak flow. Even if your child falls off the tube, you can easily maneuver towards him. Just stay calm. Keep a level head to assess the situation and take appropriate action.

If the child is close to you, try to reach out and grab him with a rope or other floatation device. If they are further away, throw them to your child. This is why it’s very important to make them properly wear a secure life jacket.

Opening days: Open every day
Restriction: All participants must be six years old or older
Pricing: $25 – $65       

Sky Tubing

Address: 284 Lyman St, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone number: (828) 229-2001
Email address:

With their fast check-in process, shuttle rides, and friendly staff, you can enjoy a no-stress and hassle-free day on the French Broad River.

If it’s a weekend getaway you want, you’ll get it here at Sky Tubing. Perhaps, they have the coolest tubes in all of Asheville, NC. Lovely sceneries and comfortable tubes await you here.

Their dedicated staff will assist you and your kids at the starting and finish points. There’s also no more need to walk for another ride. Sky Tubing has a shuttle bus available to transport you to and from the river.

Although I have not been river tubing with Sky Tubing, this company appears most suitable for adult groups that like to have fun. It may not be the most family-friendly choice for river-tubing with children.

Opening days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Restriction: Children under 12 must be accompanied by adults
Pricing: $20 – $30       

Zen River Tubing

Address: 608 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC
Phone number: 828-232-0091
Email address:

Get ready to enjoy “Zen” at Zen River Tubing at the very heart of Asheville. Their two locations, South Asheville and Midtown River Arts District, will captivate you with scenic views and a chilling vibe.

Your family can reunite with nature once again in South Asheville. This river has a lazy flow, suitable for kids ages four and up. The float time takes approximately 2.5 hours. This is just long enough to unplug from the busy world.

The route has many places to go swimming or wading in the water. For events or group outing activities, the Southern part has a riverside picnic area. Just don’t forget to make reservations.

Opening days: Open 7 days a week
Restriction: Children under 12 must be accompanied by adults
Pricing: $25 – $55

Beer City Tubing

Address: 501 Glenn Bridge Rd, Arden, NC 28704
Phone number: 828-774-9892
Email address: No available email address

In Beer City Asheville, you can float in the third oldest river in the world. Located just around Interstate 26, Beer City Tubing offers everything a river tuber would need at rates lower than any tubing resort in town.

Once you park your ride or camper van at 501 Glenn Bridge Road, you will board a bus shuttle for a 10-minute ride up the French Broad River. At the starting point, their professional staff will help you and your kids gear up for a 2 to 3-hour trip downriver.

While floating on the river, you will revel in Asheville’s pristine wilderness. You’ll likely see otters, red-tailed hawks, salamanders, hellbenders, and the elusive eastern spiny softshells. On some occasions, red-tailed hawks would soar above floaters while they search for prey above the calm waters.

Brilliantly colored dragonflies are a sight to see too. Some would hover in groups if your tube floats near the banks.

Beer City River Tubing offers a variety of pricing options to fit your budget. They have daily, weekly, and monthly rates for individuals and groups. They also offer discounts for AAA members and active military personnel.

Their daily rates are as follows:
-Individual: $20
-Group of 4: $70
-Group of 10: $150

This pricing structure is designed to encourage families to come and enjoy the river together. It’s also a great way to support local businesses, as all fees go towards keeping the river clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.

Opening days: Open from June 18 to September 5
Restriction: No one under the age of 4
Pricing: $20 – $150

River Tubing Near Asheville NC

River tubing is a popular activity in North Carolina. Many different companies offer this service, and each has its own set of rules and regulations. Highly-rated tubing resorts are not only found in Asheville. In this section, you’ll be introduced to other river tubing spots and resorts in Western North Carolina.

Lazy Otter Outfitters

Address: 10 Banner Farm Road Mills River, NC 28759
Phone number: 828-756-1386
Email address:

Just a little south of Asheville is Lazy Otter Outfitters. This tubing and camping resort offers perhaps the most beautiful stretch along the French Broad River. Located off the beaten path, it’s a hidden gem that only a few have heard of.

Lazy Otter Outfitters is away from the crowds and away from the streets. But it has everything that your kids would love on your next vacation.

Offering a one-stop holiday getaway, this tubing resort offers a range of watersports and several camping areas. From kayaking to mountain trekking, Lazy Otter Outfitters provides a variety of trips that the whole family can enjoy. Otter watching, wildlife sightseeing, kayaking, fishing, and paddle boarding are just a few.

Floating along the Horseshoe Bend is slow and steady. Rugged terrain surrounds this area, but there are no large boulders or human-sized driftwood along the paddle trail. Since there are no rapids, it’s a very safe option for those desiring to have an adventure with their child.

For parents, a post-paddle visit to a beer and wine brewery would be a much-needed treat.

Opening days: Open 24 hours
Restriction: Only ages three and up and children must be accompanied by parents
Pricing: $25

Pigeon River Outfitters

Address: 13 Penland Street Canton, NC 28716
Phone number: 828-400-1547
Email address: No available email

From river tubing to paddleboarding, Pigeon River Outfitters is said to be one of the best places in the United States for river sports. The water in the Pigeon River is crystal clear. You can see lots of fish, including various types of trout.

Take a break this season and delight yourselves at the Pigeon River Outfitters’ lazy river. Also, don’t forget to grab your favorite beverage before you start your tubing adventure at the BearWaters Brewery & Grill.

Pigeon River Outfitters offers outdoor water recreation, which includes river tubing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and much more in the Canton, NC, area.

Opening days: 7 days a week
Restriction: Only ages three and up and children must be accompanied by parents
Pricing: $25

River Tubing Near Cherokee NC

Naples Daily News readers recently voted River tubing in Cherokee the best family outing experience in North Carolina. The article says that river tubing is a great way to spend time with family and friends, and it’s also a great way to get some exercise.

If you’re looking for a fun and family-friendly activity, river tubing in Cherokee is a great option. In this section, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about river tubing in Cherokee, from where to go and what to bring.

Smoky Mountain Tubing

Address: 1847 Tsali Boulevard, Cherokee, NC 28719
Phone number: 828-497-4545
Email address: No available email

Smoky Mountain Tubing is a great activity for families and groups. It allows you the opportunity to be outdoors, enjoy the scenery, and get some exercise.

Why visit Smoky Mountain Tubing? Well, for starters, it’s an incredibly scenic spot. The Smoky Mountains is a beautiful place to relax and take in nature. Tubing down the river is a great way to see the scenery. The staff in this resort is incredibly friendly and helpful too, and there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have many options for enjoying the park’s rivers. River tubing is one popular option. Tubing generally occurs on calm, slow-moving sections of the Oconaluftee River.

In this location, you can partake in tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and more. You and your loved ones can relax and float down the river while enjoying scenic views on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

Kayaking and canoeing are available for those looking for a more active experience. With kayaking, you can paddle down the river and explore all the nooks and crannies. Canoeing is a great option for groups, as it can accommodate up to 3 people.

When tubing in the Smoky Mountains, there are a few things to remember before heading out. First, always check the weather forecast. If it’s going to be cold, dress warmly. Second, wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in. Third, be aware of your surroundings. Watch for hazardous conditions such as fast-flowing water and slippery rocks. Finally, have fun!

Opening days: Open daily
Restriction: Ages 5 and up
Pricing: $10 – $35

Cherokee Rapids River Tubing

Address: 1681 Acquoni Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719
Phone number: (828) 736-4231
Email address:

Cherokee, NC, is a natural wonder located in the southeastern United States. Visitors to the area can see a stunning display of waterfalls, cliffs, and rock formations. The rapids are also home to various wildlife, including bald eagles and ospreys.

Every year, millions of people visit this place to see the stunning natural scenery, experience the rich culture, and enjoy the many outdoor activities.

Cherokee Rapids River Tubing offers a variety of pricing options to fit every budget. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, we have a pricing option that will fit your needs. Their pricing options include tube rental, life jacket rental, and shuttle service to and from the river.

They will take you two miles up the Oconaluftee River, and then you float back to the starting point where you parked your car. You will enjoy type I/II rapids, a popular rope swing, and amazing swimming holes along the river.

Cherokee is also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. From the towering mountains to the rushing rivers, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.

Opening days: Open daily
Restriction: Ages 5 and up
Pricing: $10 – $50

Tubing in Bryson City

Bryson City is a small town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The Nantahala River and Deep Creek run through Bryson City and are two of the most popular places to go tubing in the state.

There are several reasons why Bryson City is a great place to go river tubing. First, the scenery is beautiful. The mountains and the river provide a stunning backdrop for a day of river tubing near Asheville, NC. Second, the rivers are clean and clear. The water is cool and refreshing. Most importantly, there are no hazardous obstacles in the rivers.

Deep Creek Tube Center and Campground

Address: 1040 West Deep Creek Rd. Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone number: 828-488-6055
Email address: No available email

For those looking for a summertime adventure, river tubing in Deep Creek, Bryson City, could be a great outdoor activity for your family. Located just west of the town, Deep Creek is home to crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery.

River tubing here will make your kids enjoy the beauty and wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains. The national park is considered a mecca for outdoor lovers. Along with the colorful wildflowers growing near the banks and campsites, Great Smoky offers stunning waterfalls, wooded trails, scenic drives, and panning for colorful gems!

Across North Carolina, Deep Creek Tube Center is the largest and widest river tubing resort. It offers 26 rental cabins and 40 campsites. Moreover, your kids can experience panning for rubies, topaz, quartz, and emeralds in the shallower parts of Deep Creek!

Opening days: Spring, Summer, and Fall
Restriction: Children must be accompanied by adults
Pricing: $25 – $65

JJ’s Deep Creek Tubes

Address: 1401 W Deep Creek Rd, Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone number: 828-342-4572
Email address: No available email

If you’re looking for shallow tubing spots with class I rapids for your kids, JJ’s Deep Creek Tubes resort and rentals will ease your mind. This tubing resort is strategically located near Deep Creek’s grotto waterfalls. Adventure seekers may not fancy this relatively new tubing area, but kids can safely have fun in the crystal clear waters of Deep Creek’s shallowest parts.

Despite being fairly new, JJ’s Tubes has already garnered a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. All of their tubes have back paddings for comfort. Deep Creek has two sections. The upper part, locally known as the whitewater section, flows from Indian Creek to Deep Creek.

The lower section is wider. This is where you can find Deep Creek’s turquoise-colored waters. JJ’s tubes are located near each of these sections.

Opening days: Open daily
Restriction: Children must be accompanied by adults
Pricing: $5 – $45

Best Rivers for Tubing with Kids

July is the perfect month to cool off by floating downstream in an inner tube. But with so many rivers to choose from, which one is the best for family-friendly river tubing near me? We’ve put together a list of the best rivers for tubing in North Carolina based on factors like water clarity, level of difficulty, and scenic beauty.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best river for tubing. Some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind include the river’s current, the weather, the time of year, and the level of difficulty. You’ll also want to ensure plenty of places to stop and take a break.

The Chattooga River in North Carolina is one of the most popular Asheville NC River tubing spots in the country. The river has a moderate current and is perfect for families or groups of friends. Tubing is allowed from late May to early September.

The French Broad River is a popular option too. Located in the southeastern United States, the river runs through the Appalachian Mountains and has several rapids and small waterfalls that make it ideal for lazy tubing.

Here, the scenery is beautiful, the water is refreshing, and the experience is exhilarating. The river winds its way through some of the most beautiful and remote wilderness in the country. While the Smoky Mountains are best known for their whitewater rafting and fly fishing, it’s also a great place to canoe, kayak, and hike. Some locations in this area offer all of these water sports.

If you prefer crystal-clear waters, consider river tubing with kids on the Pigeon River near Canton or the Deep Creek near Bryson City.

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Rivers with Kids


North Carolina is home to many rivers and dense forests. The scenic drives towards Asheville, NC, and river tubing locations are enough to wow your kids. The fresh air in the pristine wilderness is a far cry from the busy cities. The top tubing and camping resorts near North Carolina’s lazy rivers are for everyone.

Before you head out on the river with your family, read our guide to What You Need To Know About River Tubing With Kids. In the article, we will discuss what to wear and what to bring for river tubing with kids. We provide reviews of popular tubing gear and river tubing floats. Plus, a guide to tubing safety and what to consider before going to the river with children. 

The river tubing businesses listed above are all registered entities in the state, and they operate following strict regulations and safety protocols. You can now choose that campground and river tubing spot that’s right for your kids, budget, and location. Just follow the rules and restrictions in your preferred destination and double-check everything before you and your kids go with the flow.

Have fun on the river and be safe!

For more about family travel, check out these posts:
What You Need To Know About River Tubing With Kids
Fun Things to do in Asheville NC with Kids
Snow Tubing with Kids in Asheville NC
The Complete Guide To Traveling With Children
Multi-Generational Travel Ideas For Families

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Best Rivers for Families in Western North Carolina
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Ruth Hutchins grew up in England and now lives in North Carolina with her husband, Doug, and their two young daughters. They always loved to travel, but once having children everything changed because family travel is more complicated. Traveling with a baby may feel overwhelming to new parents. Travel with a toddler can really test your patience, and traveling with kids can lead to utter chaos. However, travel with your little ones doesn’t have to be that stressful or exhausting. On the BE Family Travel blog Ruth shares her parenting wins, and even epic failures about traveling with kids. She provides resources to help you feel empowered to plan a family vacation and travel with your children.