Mountain Tubing Can Be an Easy Float or a Wild, Whitewater Ride
Western North Carolina has two great tubing runs and both are near Bryson City. Both Deep Creek and the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee have crystal clear water that originates in springs bubbling up and filtering through the ferns and moss in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tubing companies generally operate from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Just outside Bryson City, the Deep Creek ride consists of two sections: 1.) The upper "whitewater" section which flows from Indian Creek through the narrow Deep Creek gorge. This is a wild, bouncy ride that often separates the rider from the tube, especially when the water is swift after a rain. At the end of the rapids section, there's a wide, deep swimming hole that provides a relaxing break before getting back on the tube. (2) The lower section, which is wider, easier going and more appropriate for smaller kids, ends at the parking lot. Put-in for this section is at the swimming hole just above the first bridge.
Tube rental companies are located on West Deep Creek Road, which then takes you into the National Park. From the parking lot at the Deep Creek trailhead, you carry your inner tube upstream about a mile into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Deep Creek trail. You can choose from different types of tubes – with seats and without – which can be rented for the day.
Just 20 minutes from Bryson City, the Oconaluftee River flows through downtown Cherokee. There you'll find one of the purest rivers in the Mountains where you can enjoy a inner-tube ride that's part rushing rapids, and part lazy ripples and swimming holes. The water ranges from ankle deep to chest high and flows over soft sand and flat, time-smoothed river rocks shed from the world's oldest mountains. Tube rental companies in Cherokee transport you and your tube to a put-in spot and pick you up at the end of your ride.
Tube Rental Locations
Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground
1090 West Deep Creek Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Nestled in the Deep Creek valley with view of the mountains and the soothing sounds of Deep Creek. 50 campsites, full hook-ups, 30 or 50 amp and primitive sites. 1 mile from the GSMNP. Tubing, camp store, trout fishing, volleyball, laundry, playground, and 2 clean bathhouses on site. 15 cabin rentals also available. Open April-November.
Deep Creek Lodge/Creekside Tubing
1881 West Deep Creek Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
One or two bedroom efficiency rooms, kitchen/dinette/living room, queen size bed, large sitting porch, beautiful view. Laundromat, ample parking for buses and groups, group rates, public showers, tube rental and game room, hiking, picnicking, trout fishing, horseback riding. Located at entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Open Mid April through Labor Day.
Smoky Mtn. Campground/Deep Creek Store & Tubes
1840 West Deep Creek Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Located on West Deep Creek just outside the national park. Campground has been in operation since 1957. We offer 25 full hookup sites, 12 on the creek and all sites have 30 amp electrical service. Hot showers for our campers and pay showers for the general public. Campground store and tube rental. Campers receive a discount on tube rental. Pets are accepted after a conversation with the owners. WIFI available. Open from April 1 to October 31. Call Bob or Sue Miller at 828-488-3302
Smoky Mountain Tubing
Contact: Todd Lancaster
1847 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
We offer tubing service and rentals on the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee. Transportaion is included. We will drop you off to enjoy to the ride, pick you up and take you back to where you started. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day 7 days a week.
B.J.'s Deep Creek Rentals/J. J. Tubes
1651 Toot Hollow Road
Bryson City, NC 28173
Two bedroom, completely furnished and remodeled, quiet surroundings, washer/dryer, wrap-around porch, cable TV, view, no smoking or pets, near Deep Creek. Tube rentals. Will rent weekly, monthly, or three day minimum. Open May through November.
What to wear
It’s advisable to wear a bathing suit or shorts and tee shirt and secure shoes. Watches and loose jewelry should be left behind. And eyeglasses should be secured with a head strap. Finally, because our mountain streams and rivers are cool, you should bring towels and a change of dry clothes.
Click or tap to download a printable PDF map of Deep Creek's trails and waterfalls.