Snow tubing usually ends for the season around the end of February in Maggie Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains, as in most places. But Maggie Valley tubing doesn’t come to a stop – you can still enjoy the sport of tubing in the warmer months. River tubing is a time-honored tradition for the young and young-at-heart in almost every country where water may be found. It’s no different in North Carolina. The best time for river tubing in western North Carolina is between June 1st and September 30th when the water is refreshingly cool, but not too cold. Here, we’ve collected a few of our favorite places to go river tubing in the Maggie Valley area during the warmer months.
Explore Maggie Valley Tubing, from Snow Tubing to River Tubing
Maggie Valley Tubing Guide: The Best Places for River Tubing
- Cherokee Rapids – Just a short drive from Maggie Valley, you’ll find the Cherokee Rapids and a fantastic opportunity for river tubing. Tubing down the Oconaluftee River, one of the cleanest and most beautiful rivers in the southeastern U.S., is a treat not to be missed. Cherokee Rapids offers direct access to the river at its Little Princess location. The Oconaluftee River offers both Type I and Type II rapids. For that reason, they do not allow children under four years of age to go river tubing at this location. They are generally open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, weather permitting. The hours are 10:30am through 5:30pm. Cherokee Rapids is located at 1681 Acquoni Road in Cherokee, NC. Phone: 828.736.4231
- Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Enjoy river tubing, swimming, hiking, nature-viewing, camping, horseback riding, trout fishing and viewing waterfalls at the Deep Creek recreation area within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s located just outside of Bryson City at the end of Deep Creek Road. It’s just past the bridge on Deep Creek Road and there is a sign by the roadway letting you know you’ve entered the national park. The eight primitive campsites along the Deep Creek Trail are well maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). Several of them require reservations, so call ahead if you intend to camp. The coordinates for Deep Creek are 35.46976, -83.42945. Deep Creek Trail is 15 miles long and there is another recreation area at the “Lower End”, which is often used for swimming and tubing. There are three waterfalls in this area, including Tom’s Branch Falls, Juney Whank Falls and Indian Creek Falls. While it is not forbidden, please be advised that the NPS does not recommend water recreation anywhere in the national park. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the park and there are no lifeguards available. Read the NPS safety guide here.
- Jonathan Creek right in the heart of Maggie Valley – Meadowlark Motel is a warm, inviting motel with a large recreation area, outdoor furniture, a pavilion and firepit, located right on the banks of Jonathan Creek – a beautiful, bubbly, rushing creek that flows through the center of the town. You can’t enjoy river tubing any closer to Maggie Valley than this. If you’re a guest at the motel, you’re welcome to play in the water at your own risk. There are various other access points to Jonathan Creek within the town of Maggie Valley.
- Oconaluftee River and Oconaluftee River Islands Park – In addition to the Little Princess location mentioned in #1 under Cherokee Rapids, there are public access points to the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee as well. These are well marked along the roadway. A scenic place to spend the day or weekend is the Oconaluftee River Islands Park on the Cherokee Reservation. You can swim, go tubing, have a picnic or fish here in this well-stocked mountain river. It’s a lovely public park with covered and uncovered picnic tables, bathrooms, two scenic bridges and a fishing pier. There is a small fee for a fishing license.
Additional Water Recreation Near Maggie Valley
In addition to river tubing, you can enjoy an array of water recreation in and around Maggie Valley and the adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These include swimming, rafting, whitewater rafting, kayaking, paddle-boating, trout fishing, fly fishing and more. Visit Lake Junaluska in neighboring Waynesville for a great paddleboat or kayaking adventure. Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City offers high-adventure whitewater rafting and more.
Whatever your favorite water recreation (except deep sea fishing or surfing, of course), you can find it near Maggie Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains. Discover everything offered in the Maggie Valley area during your vacation. There’s so much fun to be had in this lovely, scenic setting that you may find you never want to leave.
Photo by RomanticAsheville.com