Tubing is one of our favorite activities in the dead of summer when it is brutally hot. As always, the Fourth of July was scorching, so we rounded up a group of friends to tube down the Green River. None of us had tubed this river before or used a tubing company, so we decided to spoil ourselves and rent tubes from Wilderness Cove Tubing near Saluda, North Carolina.
There are two main sections to the Green River: the upper Green River and the lower Green River. The upper section includes class IV and class V rapids. It also contains the Green River Narrows which is arguably the best whitewater in the southeast. The lower Green River is primarily flat water with some class I and class II rapids (i.e. it is perfect for tubing). Duke Energy owns the dam that releases water into the river each day. Normally the water is released from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM, which means tubing is available from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, but is always a good idea to confirm the schedule with Wilderness Cove.
After taking the steep, windy road down to the river, we reached Wilderness Cove. We paid for the tubes, $9 for two hours including a shuttle, and started floating our way down the river. It was a little more crowded than usual because it was the 4th of July, but it was still a relaxing experience. The dam released water allowed the river to stay at a refreshing temperature even on a hot summer day. The banks of the river were thickly wooded, almost creating a canopy over the water. There were calm sections that were reminiscent of lazy rivers and sections of class I and II rapids that added some excitement. There were also a couple of rope swings along the river, offering even more thrill and a great way to cool off. It took us a little over two hours to reach the take out, which we thought was the perfect length of time. An old school bus owned by Wilderness Cove met us at the take out and drove us back to the parking lot. The take out for the shuttle is located immediately before the first bridge you encounter. You don’t want to miss it or else you will be tubing for another hour.
Our first paid tubing trip was everything we expected. We enjoyed relaxing on the river with friends without having to worry about shuttle logistics. If you really don’t want to pay the $9, then there are gravel pullouts near the put in and take out bridges where you can park your car. Either way, tubing the Green River is a perfect way to have a care-free day while still enjoying the outdoors.