What do I need to Bring When I Go Tubing?

When you drive into the National Park from Townsend during the warm weather months, you are going to see people trudging along the side of the road carrying tubes.  People of every shape form and fashion will line the roads from the main traffic light in Townsend to the Wye just inside the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If this is your first time going to tubing, here are a few things you are going to want to remember and some things that you might want to bring with you.

Find a Good Tubing Company
– Tubing can be a very inexpensive day out in the open while you are visiting the Smokies.  There are several tubing companies in the town of Townsend alone.  The larger ones like the River Rat will offer all day tubing and shuttle service for one low price.  If you are not familiar with the concept of the shuttle service, they take you, your tube and the rest of your traveling companions to the river and drop you off upstream, near the Wye.  You then float downstream, get out of the river at one of their designated take-outs and they pick you up to take you back upstream for another run down the river.  They will do this as many times as you would like throughout the day until you have had your fill of tubing on the Little River.

Water Shoes – You can of course tube down the river barefoot but it will be a lot easier on your feet if you grab a pair of water shoes before you get in the river.  As you float you are going to hit spots that are shallow, you are going to find yourself climbing around on rocks and over tree branches.  This is a natural environment and every single trip down the river is going to be different.  Add to that the fact that you will have to climb out of the river and walk along the bank and then to the shuttle to get ready for your next trip down and you will find that water shoes are your best friend.  Plus, the extra purchase that water shoes give you on the slippery stones in the river is a huge benefit if you are trying to choral your children as they frolic in the water as well.

Sunscreen – Always remember the sunscreen.  Even though you will be in the river all day and there is plenty of tree cover along the river, it is very easy to get burned when you are outside in the majesty of the Smoky Mountains all day playing in the river and having a good time.  Apply the sunscreen and realize that as you get into and out of the water and into and out of your tube that you are going to rub your suncreen off.  REAPPLY, frequently!

Water Proof Bag – You can pick these up at big box stores, campground stores or try a good outfitters so that you have a better selection.  These bags are designed to hold whatever valuables you need while you are on the river.  Most of these bags seal with a set of rubber gaskets that fold against each other and they are completely waterproof.  This lets you take your phone, car keys and other items that you don’t want ot get wet with you without having to worry about leaving them in the car all day.

Try tubing.  You will be surprised at how relaxing and wonderful the experience can be when you are prepared, use a good tubing company and bring everything that you need when you start your day of tubing.

Brown Trout Fishing on the Little River

Best Sport fish in the Smokies

If you are looking for a different fishing adventure in the Smokies, look no further then the Little River in Townsend, TN.  The Little River is full of large, brown trout and they are ready to be caught!

The brown trout is not a native fish to the Smoky Mountains.  They were introduced into the area during the 1930s as a game fish to increase fishermen traveling to the area to fly fish.  And though the brown trout has not been good for the brook trout that were native to the area they are still a lot of fun to catch.  Brown in color, aggressive and fun to catch, the brown trout has thrived in the lower elevation waters of the Smoky Mountains.  They tend to grow a little bigger then the rainbow trout and they are just as much fun to catch.  The Little River is a perfect habitat – mildly rocky, quick water, a few rapids and the food is plentiful.

Where to Fish
If you are in Townsend wanting to fish the Little River during the summer, you have to watch for tubers.  Yes, there will be people wading, swimming and tubing in the Little River after the water gets warm.  But – the fish are dodging the tubers as well.  They are looking for more quiet places to spend their time, you need to do the same.  Look for those places that are between the more used waters.  In the case of the Little River , this means going to the spots after the tube take-outs and before the local swimming holes.  You have a good stretch of river that is not as used and ready for you to pull out as many trouts as the fishing regulations allow.  Of course the fact that the fish eat the food that the tubers drop in the water means that getting the brown trout to bite is easy.

If you are fishing the Little River during the spring, fall or winter, you are going to have an easier time finding a spot to fish.  Without the tubing going on, the fish expand their range to cover the whole length and width of the Little River.  Look for those areas directly downstream from the rapids – this is where the brown trout hangout.  If you work your way up stream, taking your time, you are bound to find some good fishing and a lot of fun.

What to Bring
You can either fish for brown trout with a fly rod or a spinning reel, the fish don’t care and they will bite as long as you have the right bait.  Now, if you are a bit of a traditionalist, then you can always find what flies the fish are biting on at a local outfitters but if you want something guaranteed to get a bite, I have another suggestion – corn & bread.  Yes, you read that right – corn & bread.  Get a can of corn and a loaf of bread.  The nibblets of corn fit easily on the hook and once you roll the bread into little balls they will stay on the hook. Brown trout eat corn and bread balls like they were going out of style.  Hook into a brown trout, reel him in and add to your Smoky Mountain story with a great catch and potentially a great meal.

Tubing Townsend

Tubing in Townsend, TN – where to get inner tubes, outfitters for the Little River, and the “Y” in Townsend, Tenn.

If you’re coming through Townsend, Tn during the summer and early fall months, you’re bound to see groups of people floating lazily down the Little River on inner-tubes, lounging the day away. It’s almost as if it’s a recreational sport in this part of country…. And don’t knock it till you try it cause tubing in Townsend is as much a pastime as baseball in this country.

There are a number of outfitters along Highway 321 and Highway 73 in Townsend, as well as close to the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that offer inner tubes for rent, some even kayaks, to float down the Little River. It’s just another way of having fun and staying cool during those hot summer months in the Smokies. Of course, the big draw is getting in at the “Y” – a kind of “water hole” where sunbathers and tubers congregate just outside the National Park. And don’t worry if you don’t have you’re own tube, there are plenty of places to rent from around the river. Here are just a few:

River Rage, 8307 State Highway 73, Townsend, TN 37882 (865) 448-8000 – River Rage offers its own private access to the Little River, custom tubes, as well as go carts and a restaurant. The Rage facilities include outdoor showers and lockers, clean restrooms and changing rooms, and shuttles to transport you to various parts along the river.

River Rat Tubing & Kayak, 205 Wears Valley Rd. Townsend, TN 37882 (865) 448-8888 – River Rat offers tubing expeditions as well as whitewater adventures at its Townsend location. They offer a picnic area as well as amenities like changing rooms for guests.

River Romp, 8203 State Highway 73, Townsend, TN 37882 (865) 448-9743 – The River Romp is a family-owned Townsend attraction specializing in tubing the Little River. River Romp is located on the Little Pigeon River is less than a five mile trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, yet it offers the majestic scenery and peacefulness of a secluded Smoky Mountain river.

Smoky Mountain Adventures Inc., 338 Old Cades Cove Road, Townsend, TN 37882 (865) 448-9914 – If it’s white water rafting in Tennessee you’re after, then Smoky Mountain Adventures will be your guide as you navigate through class 3 to 4 rapids.

Tube Junction, 8215 State Highway 73, Townsend, Tennessee (865)567-7647 Tube Junction in Townsend, TN is a second generation tubing and kayaking outfitter that offers heavy guage, multi-colored tubes with handles for its river-goers. Though not mandatory, life vests are available to those who need them at no additional charge.

*It is prohibited to consume alcohol while tubing on the Little River according to the city of Townsend, Tn. If caught, you can be fined and/or placed under arrest. It is also unlawful to consume alcohol inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park unless you are at a campsite.

Little River Railroad Company

Townsend’s Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum is one of the Smoky Mountain’s hidden treasures. Smoky Mountain history is on full display at the museum as visitors are privy to the inventive, courageous nature of the American industrial spirit. These lumber pioneers, as well as others who toiled in the region that would eventually become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, had to adapt to their ever-changing surroundings, tool their equipment to the conditions they labored in, therefore indirectly assisting in establishing the roads that we still travel today. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company museum should be on every visitor’s list that comes through Townsend, especially local history buffs and railroad enthusiasts that visit the area.

The artifacts and exhibits that are part of the collection welcome each visitor, even while still on the road. Included among the outdoor exhibits are: a Shay Engine, a caboose, a set of old-time houses, and an early water tower. These early 1900s items were actually used in the area as part of the early logging industry. The museum exhibit’s cornerstone is the Shay engine. Little River used the Shay engine to haul log cars down the mountain to the sawmill and to transport the lumber yard workers up the mountain and back to work. Basically, the Shay engine was the backbone of the Little River Railroad Company. For lack of a better term, this is a must see for train enthusiasts everywhere, as not many of these Shay engines remain in existence. It’s certainly hard to find one as beautifully and meticulously maintained as the one at Little River.

Make your way inside after taking a look at things outdoors and notice the photos and all the information posted about the logging industry in the Smokies at that time. The first exhibits detail the natural history of the area and the Elkmont pioneers. Next, the industry’s rise is detailed as well as the types of tracks and locomotives that people used while logging. One of the most fascinating parts of the museum is the part detailing how inventive and industrious these workers were. Everything from designing new types of rail cars to a swinging bridge for flatcars is noted and highlighted… You’ll be amazed to see what the laborers came up with to make lumber transportation possible.Finally, the exhibit concludes with the introduction of the railroad and lumber industries and its effect on the National Park.

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum is part of our early American history. It blends the excitement of hard work and adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains. The American spirit is displayed in vivid detail here. You’ll see how the land was used before the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take pictures with a piece of history, read about the logging industry, or just soak up the essence of early America. No matter, it’s a great experience for everyone.