Whether you’re looking for a relaxing summer getaway or an exciting adventure with friends and family, tubing in the mountains of North Carolina gives you the best of both worlds. Hidden in the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina is a natural lazy river that’s perfect for tubing on a hot summer day and a favorite pastime for families.
Deep Creek winds through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just outside Bryson City, N.C. The creek has crystal clear water that flows from springs within the park. As you float down the cool creek, you’ll pass through gorgeous mountain scenery and waterfalls, such as Tom Branch Falls. Before you start your journey, you’ll carry your inner tube and hike about a mile upstream to your put-in point along the river.
If you’re looking for a wild ride, the upper section of Deep Creek is your best choice as the whitewater flows from Indian Creek through the narrow Deep Creek gorge. It’s a bouncy ride through the rapids section and the water moves swiftly, especially after a rain. After the rapids section, you’ll enter a wide, deep swimming hole perfect for a quick break from an exciting tubing adventure.
If relaxation is what you’re craving, take your tube on the lower section of Deep Creek where the water is easy flowing and the creek is wider. You’ll begin your journey at a swimming hole and float leisurely downstream, ending at the parking lot. It’s perfect for families with smaller children or those who want a more tranquil ride through the mountains.
There are several tubing companies in the area that can be found just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park along Deep Creek Road. These tubing companies generally operate from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Popular choices include Deep Creek Lodge/Creekside Tubing, Smoky Mountain Tubing, Deep Creek Tube Center and B.J.’s Deep Creek Rentals, to name a few.
It’s recommended to wear a bathing suit and secure shoes for the ride, and be sure to pack a towel and dry clothes to change into after your tubing adventure ends. You can also pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic near Deep Creek, as a designated picnic area with tables and grills is available year-round. And if you’re still left wanting more, you can also explore the nearby hiking trails and waterfall trails in the park.