Tubing in the High Country

Tubing down one of the High Country’s scenic rivers on a calm and sunny summer – what beats that? Such a simple adventure for all ages, tubing is a relaxing way to view the mountain countryside in slow motion. While you can grab an inner tube from a local general store and head out on your own, several outfitters in the High Country specialize in offering the complete tubing experience with transportation and guidance on orienting your tube safely downstream. Some of the classic trips include floating through the towns of historic Todd and the quaint Valle Crucis.

Tubing Outfitters
High Mountain Expeditions
RiverCamp USA
Wahoos Outdoor Adventures
RiverGirl Fishing Co.

Watauga River

While there are plenty of places where the Watauga River is “too whitewater” for even experienced tubers to handle the rushing waters, there are stretches of the Watauga River in between Valle Crucis and Sugar Grove that offer a smooth, enjoyable trip for all ages. Below are details on recommended trips along the Watauga River:

Park you car and put into the river at the low-water bridge at Old Ford Trail, off Broadstone Road. From there, tube down to where the Watauga River intersects with Dewwit Barnett Road. This run takes close to 3 hours. You can also put in at Dewwit Barnett Road and tube down the river to the high-water bridge at Watauga River Road. This run takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. For a shorter section, put in at the Valle Crucis Community Park and tube down to the high-water bridge at Watauga River Road, and for a longer trip, start at Old Ford Trail and tube all the way down to the high-water bridge.

New River

The South Fork of the New River is famous in Western North Carolina for tubing. Popular runs include putting in near Castleford Road off of NC 194 and floating to Big Hill Road and from Big Hill Road to Todd General Store, where you can leave a pick-up car in the store’s parking lot and grab a snack or beverage after exiting the river.

As one outfitter stated, “The depth of the New River ranges from 2 to 8 feet, making the New River the perfect river tubing trip for all members of the family.” From West Jefferson to Todd, the New River features numerous put-ins and take-outs with parking. Don’t forget to bring dry clothes, water shoes, life jackets and snacks. Also, another fan favorite of tubing is the floatable cooler.

Listed below are some of the “regular” runs along the New River that local outfitters send customers down:

Runs frequented by outfitters in Todd and Boone
• Pine Run Road Bridge to Todd’s General Store off of Railroad Grade Road
• Castleford Road off of NC 194 to Green Valley Community Park off of Big Hill Road
• Green Valley Community Park off of Big Hill Road to Todd General Store off of Railroad Grade Road

Runs by Jefferson outfitters include:
• NC 88 Bridge to Wagoner Access Road (5 miles)
• Wagoner Access Road to US 221 Access (11 miles)
• Wagoner Access Road to J.E. Gentry Road Bridge (5.5 miles)
• J.E. Gentry Road Bridge to Fulton Reeves Bridge (3 miles)