Have tubes, will travel: Tube for FREE just 15 minutes outside Greenville, SC

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There’s a short track of the Saluda River that you can take your own tubes on for free via Dolly Cooper Park, not 15 minutes outside downtown Greenville, SC. We tried it out and have all the details for you!

When I heard about the new docks at Dolly Cooper Park in Greenville that opened up last year allowing guests to kayak or tube for free, I had to try it. It wasn’t until this heat wave though that I got over there with my kids and let me tell you, it was the perfect remedy for the 100-degree day we went. 

Also, the big draws for this place are that it’s free, it involves water on hot days, and it’s easy on the gas tank being so close to Greenville.

Tubing at Dolly Cooper Park

Dolly Cooper Park

The park, while having a Greenville address, is actually in Anderson County and just off I-85 near Easley. It has baseball fields, a disc golf course, and there is currently a ton of construction going on. It also has an ADA-accessible paved walkway along the Saluda River. 

The park, while small, is the perfect launch point for some time on the Saluda River. The docks were unveiled in the summer of 2021 with the help of a $50,000 grant from Duke Energy.

Tubing the Saluda River

There are two identical kayak launches in Dolly Cooper Park a quarter mile apart. When you park, drive past the construction on the gravel road and past the baseball field down to a paved parking lot. You’ll see the wooden walkway to the northern dock. That’s where you will want to put in your tubes.

Dolly Cooper Park, filling tubes

Once you get in the river, you’ll tube for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how fast the current is and water level, down to the southern dock. Be sure to go to the right of the small rapids near the dock so you can grab a hold of the dock and get out of the water with your tube (see below for more tips on this maneuver!). Once out of the water, carry your tube back to the northern dock on a quarter-mile paved trail and do it again! It only took us maybe five minutes to walk back to the dock and we got in about three runs on the river before I decided I had to get home and make dinner!

The river is nice and wide and it was really calm when we went. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. And we saw some cute turtles.

It’s free. There is no cost to tube, park, or enter the park. And it’s just 15 minutes from Greenville.

Tips on Tubing at Dolly Cooper Park

There are a few things I think you should consider when tubing this stretch of the Saluda. 

Dolly Cooper Park

  • Bring and wear lifejackets. The river isn’t deep, maybe five or six feet when we went, but the current is deceptive and after a rain, the water level can rise fast. Be prepared with lifejackets. 
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat. There is no shade on the wide river so you’ll be roasting in the summer sun. 
  • Wear water shoes or sandals just because it’s safer if you get in the river and need to put your feet down. Debris that you can’t see can be down there that may hurt your feet. 
  • Bring a small rope to tie your tubes together if you have smaller kids. My kids are 7 and 11 but I always do this when I tube with them just so we can stay together and I can help them if need be. This came in handy when we got to the second dock and tried to exit the river. 
  • Stay in the middle of the river while tubing and then go to the right of the river when you turn the corner and see the second dock. Be sure to get really close to that second dock, grab a hold of it, and don’t let your tube be taken by the current. Having all our tubes tied together helped with this because one of my kids held onto one tube and rope with my other kid and I got out of the tubes and I just pulled everything onto the dock. It wasn’t graceful but it worked. 
  • Check the water levels of the river before you go. A swift and flooding river isn’t a good one to tube on. 

Need some tubes?

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to find tubes in our area at places like Academy Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and WalMart. I was using a cheap WalMart Ozark Trail tube while my kids used bigger river tubes that we had bought a couple years ago. Lifejackets can be picked at the same stores or try Facebook Marketplace – I’ve found some great deals on water sporting goods there.

Here are a few links to help you:

If you’d rather pay for tubing and a shuttle service, we’ve got a big list of places to go!

Dolly Cooper Park
170 Spearman Circle, Greenville, SC

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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