Tubing down the river in the Smoky Mountains is fun for all family members and there are two great rivers for tubing in the Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge area.
Tubing down the river is one of our favorite ways to beat the summer heat. Tubing is a great alternative to canoeing or kayaking. It’s inexpensive, requires no skill, everyone gets their own tube, and everyone stays cool and happy. Plus tubing is suitable for children who may be too young for rafting.
There are two good areas to go for tubing on the Tennessee side of the Smokies: the Little River near the town Townsend and the Little Pigeon River near Sevierville. Despite their similar names, these aren’t the same river. To make matters worse, the Little Pigeon River isn’t the same as the Pigeon River, which we wrote about in our post on whitewater rafting. Confused? I understand.
Both the Little River and Little Pigeon River have crystal clear water and some nice scenery.
Smoky Mountain River Rat offers tubing on the Little River about 30 minutes from Gatlinburg. They feature two trips on the Little River: the upper section, which has some Class II rapids along with some great swimming holes; and the lower section which is suitable for children ages two and up. Both sections feature great scenery and plenty of places to stop and go swimming.
River Romp offers tubing on the Little Pigeon River, about 5 minutes from Pigeon Forge and 20 minutes from Gatlinburg. They feature a 2.5 mile trip down the river starting from their office.
No matter which river or outfitter you chose, your outfitter will run a shuttle bus. Depending on the float trip you choose, they will either drive you to the put-in point, from which you float a few miles down to their office, or let you put-in at their office and float to a pick-up point.
Both of these outfitters are open daily during the summer months. Call to make sure they are open during the Spring and Fall.
It’s also a good idea to call these outfitters and make sure the water flow on the river is good. While we aren’t having a drought here in the Smokies, these rivers are stream-fed and so you can’t guarantee a steady flow.
River Tubing Outfitters
Smoky Mountain River Rat
205 Wears Valley Rd.
Townsend, TN 37882
Open daily June-August.
$13 per person for groups smaller than 10 people.
1980 Pittman Center Rd.
Open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day
$12 per person for groups smaller than 10 people.