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.