Feel the cool mountain water rush over your feet as you jump into a giant tube and ride down the Green River, tubing your worries away. Enjoying the small rapids is relaxing and fun, and an awesome way to spend a hot summer day with your family or friends.
Because my kids and I love tubing and are determined to try as many places as possible in our region, here’s what happened during our fun trip on the Green River, tubing on a hot summer day, and what you need to know if you want to go!
The Green River
I mistakenly thought I’d be tubing down the Saluda River since the town where the Green River tubing companies are is in Saluda, North Carolina. But I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
One of the best parts about tubing the Green River is that it’s only an hour from Greenville, a straight shot up I-85 to 26 North. The exit is just before Hendersonville. Once you get off the exit, you’ll have to slowly maneuver a few miles down the mountain on a switchback road. It’s a tight squeeze in some parts and watch out for bikers – but you’ll be rewarded with lots of places to go tubing down at the river.
The Green River runs through the Green River Game Lands, a vast and beautiful forest with hiking trails, waterfalls, and swimming holes. Green River Adventures would be happy to book your waterfall rappelling trip, kayak trip, or whitewater adventure.
We also saw tons of fishermen in the river and along its banks catching trout. You can learn more here about NC fishing licenses.
Green River: Tubing Companies and What to Expect
Once you get down to the river on Green River Cove Road (which is a very curvy road so go slow), you have several options for choosing a tubing company. I’ve tubed this river twice: once with Green River Cove Tubing and the other with Living Waters Tubing. They are literally across the street from each other and take cash or credit cards and thankfully will hold your keys for you so you don’t lose them in the river.
At both places, we were warned us there would be some Class I & II rapids and that life jackets were recommended. Class I & II are pretty small (Class V are the most dangerous – or fun – rapids for reference) but could be a little scary for little kids. I brought our own life jackets and we used those but both tubing places had life jackets available and tethers for no additional costs.
There are a couple options for your tubing trip: a three mile or a six mile run. The three mile run is about two hours long depending on river conditions and the six mile run is double that. We found that the three mile float was a good amount of time on the river.
Rules on the Green River
Every tubing place that I saw on the Green River required kids to be at least 42″ tall. Our first time out, my kids were 5 and 7 years old and my youngest was 45″ to give you an idea of the age of a kid that tall. But if you’re thinking of going, be sure to measure your kids ahead of time so you aren’t turned away when you get there.
No alcohol is allowed at all on the river but you can rent a cooler to tie to your tube if you want to bring drinks or food. Also, wear some kind of shoes that aren’t flip-flops. You may need to get out to get a tube off a rock or swim over to a sandbank and you just don’t know what’s on the bottom that could potentially hurt your feet. And we saw a lot of people using sticks as paddles, which I did try with varying success.
Fast and Fun Rapids on the Green River
The Green River is not a lazy river. The employees at the tubing places were correct: there are rapids and lots of rocks, which really made this river a lot of fun because my kids and I love that kind of stuff. For people expecting a calm river, this isn’t it. We were warned of the possibility of our tubes flipping on the last rapid due to a large rock in the middle but we just paddled to the side and missed the rock entirely so didn’t have any issues.
I made sure to ask for the tethers so I could connect my tubes to my kids’ tubes so we could all stay together and if one of us flipped, I could easily jump out and get them without losing all the tubes. I usually do this when we tube any river and it works great. Plus, for the most part, the river was pretty shallow and we could all stand up if needed.
There was a place in the river where you could jump from a rope swing, which was really close to the end of the run if you chose the three-mile float. Lots of people did this and we watched it, which was fun. Some guys jumped into the river from very, very high up in the tree, which we really don’t recommend. You want to have a fun day, not a trip to the ER.
Green River Tubing Tips
- When tubing with smaller kids, it’s a good idea to tether them to your tube since the current can take them a good distance away from you. We saw some adults flip their tubes on the rapids and we got bumped around a bit so it’s better to keep your smaller kids close to you and within arm’s reach.
- The water was chilly but it felt great on a hot day. There are plenty of spots to pull over and swim around but again, wear water shoes or old sneakers.
- Watch for fishermen while you are floating down the river during your trip. Since tubes are basically impossible to steer, yell out if you’re behind a fisherman so they can get out of the way.
- You’re outside in a wild area so you’re going to encounter some kind of wildlife. We saw some turtles and heard of someone seeing a snake.
- Watch the branches of low-hanging trees over the river and try to use your arms to steer away from them as snakes like those places or the sunny logs on the banks of the river. Most will probably leave you alone but it’s good to know your surroundings.
- Wear bug spray, sunscreen, and a hat. Some parts of the river are shadier than others and getting burned and bitten is not fun. Also, bring towels and a change of clothes.
- Don’t bring stuff you could lose like jewelry, cell phones not in a waterproof case, and keys. Most tubing places will hold onto your keys for you.
- Check the hours of your preferred tubing place and be sure to get there early on holiday weekends – it’s crowded!
And lastly, check the website of your preferred tubing place or call them before you go to make sure they are open, especially if it has been raining for a few days. Rivers generally aren’t safe for tubing when the waters rise too much.
Cost of Tubing
Most of the places we saw are $10/person for around two hours of tubing. If you want to go longer, expect to pay around $15/person.
At Living Waters Tubing, they had a small little beach area with hammocks and a fire pit for relaxing after your trip. You could also purchase BBQ, hot dogs, and ice cream (the cotton candy ice cream was delicious).
Here are the places we found to tube along the Green River:
5153 Green River Cove Road, Saluda
Children must be 42 inches tall to tube.
$10/pp for 1.5-3 hours and includes transportation. Life jackets are available.
5200 Green River Cove Road, Saluda
Children must be 42 inches tall to tube.
$10/pp for three miles, $15/pp for six miles and includes transportation. Some life jackets are available.
3772 Green River Cove Road, Saluda
Trips start at $20-25/person and include tube, shuttle, and life jacket.
Kids must be 42” tall to tube.
5373 Green River Cove Road, Saluda
$12/person; reservations are suggested for groups of 10+ people
For other places to go tubing in SC, NC, GA, and TN, see our big list here.
Check out our Guide to Hendersonville, NC, which is only 20 minutes from the Green River tubing launch points!
Have you been tubing on the Green River?