It’s finally warming up here in the Queen City, (not that we’re not thankful for the long spring!) inspiring us look for ways to get out and enjoy some sun and swim. Luckily, we are surrounded by rivers near and far, so make up for time lost with friends and head to a river everyone’s favorite water sport, TUBING!! Here is our list of the best places to go tubing around Charlotte, organized by state to make your search easy!
Nantahala River, Bryson City, NC – Head to Bryson City and visit the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for everything your outdoorsy heart could desire: tubing, rafting, kayaking, flat water activities, ziplining, mountain biking, shopping, food, and music.
Oconoluftee River, Cherokee, NC – A Cherokee area favorite, this river is calm enough for you to really take in the beauty of the Smokies around you. Book your trip through Smoky Mountain Tube and Raft.
Tuckasegee River, Bryson City, NC – climb aboard their British-style double decker bus and let Tuckasegee Outfitters worry about the details of your tube trip. They also offer kayaks, rafts, and extreme tubing- what’s better than that?!
Cape Fear River, Lillington, NC– About 3 hours from Charlotte, book through Cape Fear River Adventures for a 5 hour trip down a calm, deep waterway. Since this is a coastal river rather than a rip-roaring, rapid-ridden mountain river, the water is much slower and lends to a longer, more leisurely float. They also offer kayaking, rafting, SUP-ing, and canoeing trips.
Dan River, Stoneville, NC– North of Greensboro and about 2.5 hours from home, you’ll find this island-rich river calling for you to jump in, take a ride, and enjoy a picnic on your own mini private island. Dan River Adventures can help you with logistics, you just have to pack the sandwiches.
New River, Boone, NC– Said to be North Carolina’s oldest river, the New River is the perfect place for a mountain adventure during your next trip to The High Country. With water depths as shallow as 2 feet in some areas, opt for a hard-bottomed tube for this trip. In just 2.5 hours, you’ll be ready to conquer the New with the help of Zaloo’s Canoes in Jefferson. Also enjoy BOGO half off all summer weekday floats (Mo-Th!) including all tubes, kayaks, and canoe floats.
Green River, Saluda, NC– With excellent hiking at Bradley Falls, biking on the surrounding roads or mountain trails, tubing on the Green River, and a charming (but small!) downtown, Saluda gives you the best bang for your adventurous buck. Green River Cove Tubing and Wilderness Cove Tubing and Camping have a few options for your route with peaceful flat water and mild rapids alternating through your trip, plus a few rope swings along the way. At just 2 hours away and situated right between Greenville and Asheville, you can afford to spend time refueling at one of the excellent restaurants for which both towns are known.
Catawba River, Marion/Fort Mill, NC– 2 hours away and just east of Asheville, this would be a perfect bookend to a trip to our favorite funky mountain oasis for tubing. Catawba River Outdoors even offers fancy “river recliners” for your floating comfort. Luxurious.
French Broad River, Asheville, NC– A very popular river for tubing, you’ll have plenty of options for your floating trip. Plus, it’s in one of our favorites- Asheville- so your post-tubing reward meal is sure to be top-notch. For a one-stop-shop, Asheville Outdoor Center offers trips down the river and libations after in their on-site taproom.
Wilson Creek, outside of Blowing Rock, NC– A great option for all of your leisurely floating dreams comes from Wilson Creek in Pisgah National Forest. Starting at Mortimer Recreation Area, you’ll want to focus more on a leisurely bop around one of the calmer areas rather than an actual float trip. This is a great place to camp out for the day, tie your float to a tree, and bask in the sunlight, not so much if you’re aiming to get your heart pumping over some rapids. Lots of beautiful waterholes, though.
Deep Creek, Bryson City, NC– Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground is 4 hours from Charlotte but it’s worth the trip. The upper river is great for families looking for a truly lazy river while the lower river has a few rapids if you dare. For beautiful scenery (hello, waterfalls!), you can’t get much better than this location. For a weekend full of activities, they have camping, cabins, and a gem mine on-site for when you’re done on the river.
Congaree River, Columbia, SC- Looking for a short weekend activity? Then the Congaree River is the perfect river to go tubing in Columbia, SC. Just 53 miles long, the river makes for an easy float in your own tube or book with Palmetto Outdoors for everything you need.
Saluda River, West Columbia, SC– Make your own adventure by putting in near the Columbia Zoo and floating toward downtown, just two hours away from Charlotte. This will require some planning and strategy (you’ll need 2 cars- one at the start and one at the end or a very understanding Uber) in addition to your own gear. Palmetto Outdoors offers shuttles and gear if self-service isn’t your thing, as well as guided bike, kayak, and walking tours to round out a weekend trip to SC’s capital.
Edisto River, Orangeburg, SC– Grab your gear and head two hours south to Orangeburg to the largest and longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America, Edisto River. There, put in starting at Givhans Ferry State Park and ending at the Edisto River Adventures outpost in Ridgeland, about 35 minutes from Charleston. The total tubing trip takes about two to three hours to complete. Edisto River Adventures also gives you everything you need for tubing, along with secure parking, entrance to the State Park, and food trucks on the weekend.
James River, Scottville/Buchanan, VA– A little over 4 hours from Charlotte, this Charlottesville area river is a popular pre-game before touring the area’s wineries or trekking the VA wine trails. Twin River Outfitters or James River Runners can get you set up and on your way.
Shenandoah River, Luray, VA – Take a mellow 3-5 hour journey on the South Fork of this scenic river. The Shenandoah River Outfitters will take excellent care of you whether you choose to tube, kayak, or canoe. Reservations suggested. Unwind after your trip on their campground or in one of their on-site cabins or cottages.
Little River, Townsend, TN– A 5.5 hour trip to Tennessee will land you to the Little gRiver, perfect for tubinhg. Smoky Mountain River Rat will not only arrange for your every floating need but will also put you on the river section that best suits your tubing goals. There are both lazy trips with swimming and rock jumping as optional stops as well as something a little more exciting… which means rapids.
Toccoa River, McCaysville, GA – In the gorgeous Georgia mountains with trips bookable through Rolling Thunder River Co. The company also offers whitewater trips if you’re looking for more adventure.
Chattahoochee River, Roswell, GA– 5 hours from Charlotte, but just north of Atlanta, you can count on a fun afternoon with Shoot the Hooch.