Looking for a summer river adventure to keep the body cool and the blood pumping? Asheville’s awash in them! Thanks to the city’s proximity to the region’s major rivers, there are plenty of ways to get your water sport on.
Tubing Near Asheville
Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Bryson City, is a popular spot for river tubing. The upper section beginning near Indian Creek Falls has bigger rapids. The lower section is more shallow and easy-going, perfect for all ages. Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground and Deep Creek Lodge & Creekside Tubing are located creekside and are ready with a large supply of tubes and shuttle service.
You can’t get closer or more convenient to Asheville than the French Broad River, where tubers can float right through the middle of town. Tubing the slow-moving waterway can take three hours, and is dependent on water levels of the river, so check for current conditions. For a quieter spot on the river, head south of Asheville, for a relaxed 4-mile float. French Broad Outfitters and Lazy Otter Outfitters can get you set up in no time!
For gentle rapids, contact Wilderness Cove Tubing to ride the Green River through the lush forest of the Green River Gorge near Saluda. The river is dam-released, so tubing times coincide with the best water level.
Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking in WNC
The Asheville area is overflowing with water-sport accolades, thanks to amazing rivers and outfitters galore to provide equipment and guides. From whitewater rafting to inflatable and regular kayak and canoe riding, there’s something for every experience level.
The busiest and most well-known whitewater rafting river is the Nantahala, a dam-controlled river with 20 class II/III rapids and scenic sections of flat water. The 8-mile river ride takes about 2.5 hours. About an hour and a half from Asheville, it's the coldest water, perfect for the hottest days. Wildwater Ltd. Whitewater Rafting and Nantahala Outdoor Center are the most prominent outfitters in the gorge.
The French Broad River offers rapids along with mountain vistas about 45 minutes north of Asheville. Blue Heron Whitewater and French Broad Rafting allow riders to experience a dozen class II and III rapids.
About 50 miles from Asheville near the Tennessee line is the Pigeon River, a dam-controlled river with easy access via I-40. The upper Pigeon River is filled with continuous waves and class III and IV rapids through a scenic gorge. The lower is a more gentle ride. Wildwater Ltd. Whitewater Rafting can equip you to explore the Pigeon River.
The Green River offers the perfect artery for rafting, through a gorge filled with steep ravines and lush coves. Green River Adventures is your go-to outfitter in this gorge.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding: An Asheville Attraction
Picking up more and more fans along the French Broad is stand-up paddle boarding. Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours, Asheville's only outfitter offering guided (and self-guided) stand-up paddle board tours on the French Broad River, supplies stand-up paddle boards with certified instructors and all the gear needed to paddle through the Biltmore Estate and Asheville, ending within walking distance of breweries and shops in the River Arts District.
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