Want to go tubing down a river really close to Greenville, SC? The Saluda Outdoor Center is the spot closest to Greenville for a day of tubing. Kristina took her kids and tells us what to expect. Thank you to the Saluda Outdoor Center for inviting us to review the tubing experience!
Once my kids were old enough, we have gone tubing every summer in our area and have attempted to try as many rivers as possible. Most locations were at least an hour and fifteen minutes away. But not the Saluda Outdoor Center, a new outfitter on the river only 20 minutes (or less) outside Greenville, SC that rents tubes, hosts SUP State for paddleboard tours and rentals, and even has tiny houses and camping cabins for overnight stays.
Saluda Outdoor Center
The Saluda Outdoor Center (SOC), located just five miles outside of Greenville, opened in 2020 and hasn’t stopped growing since. They’ve relocated their check-in area since they first opened to a beautiful new building up the street from their old location where they have their tiny house village and 13 Stripes River Lodge. The address is 1001 Old Easley Highway, Greenville. Use this address and not the one that pulls up on Google.
You’ll check in at this main building and can pick up whatever essentials you may have forgotten like a hat, sunscreen, water, or dry bag. Plus, they have a lot of other cool things for sale like cute t-shirts and snacks, of course. After you check-in, you can leave your keys at the desk (always a good idea), and head to the back to get a life jacket.
If you need to use the restroom or change, you can do that in the hallway behind the store where you check-in. The changing rooms are really nice and useful! Once you are ready to get rolling, you’ll get on the bus and they will take you to the river.
After tubing, you’ll get out at the little tiny house village, Saluda Tiny, where you can play corn hole or grab something to eat or drink at 13 Stripes River Lodge. I would have reviewed the river lodge, which looks gorgeous as it has decks that overlook a large grassy area with a stage and the river, but they ran out of food a couple hours before closing when we went unfortunately. Luckily, the SOC is 10 minutes from downtown Greenville, so we went to Chicora Alley and get their awesome mile high nachos!
Once you’re all done tubing and ready to head back, another bus will take you back to your car where you checked in. There’s a new Snack Shack there if you need some nourishment with nachos, ice cream, and hot dogs. You can change into dry clothes as well if you want.
The Tubing Run on the Saluda
I’ve done tubing on the Saluda River twice and my kids’ ages ranged between 6-12. We loved it both times! The length of time is totally dependent on the water level. If the water is higher and running fast, the trip will take less time, and vice versa if the water is lower and is running slow. Either way, the river is pretty relaxing, wide, and calm for the the majority of the float.
The Saluda River is a good option for many reasons. The river is calm for nearly the full ride. There are rapids at the end that may bump you around a bit but we didn’t ever fall off. And the river is so close to Greenville that you don’t need to plan an entire day trip if you want to go tubing.
Once we got checked in and signed the waiver (you can do it online or when you check in), we picked up our life jackets (everyone needs one) and listened to the crew give us the safety talk. It’s pretty standard – watch out for wildlife (snakes, fish, turtles), tips on how to not flip or what to do if you flip, when to get out of the river at the end, don’t bring valuables on the river, stay off the riverbanks as they are on private property. Then our tubes were loaded in the cute little school bus and off we were shuttled to the drop-in.
A couple things about the drop in point: the path is a bit steep in some parts to the drop in, which is right below the Saluda Dam (I thought this was pretty cool), so watch your footing. You should be wearing shoes that will stay on your feet anyways for the trip. Watch out here for glass. It’s a popular fishing spot and some people don’t clean after themselves. Then once you get in and go under the bridges, try to push yourself off so you don’t float and go nowhere like we did. We got a stick and I just pushed us into the current – it was all good.
Once on the river, just chill. It’s a relaxing journey. My kids compared it to a lazy river at a water park. Try to stay in the middle of the river with the current and not get swept under branches. There are a few small rapids and a slightly larger one near the end. I held onto my kids, who were tethered to my tube, and we bounced around. I’ve tubed on several rivers in our area and the Green River was probably the wildest one (but it was really exciting and fun!) and the Saluda River is nowhere near that experience.
We saw more than 40 turtles when we tubed. They were really cute! My daughter saw a snake and I think we may have seen a beaver, I’m not sure. Wear or bring sunscreen and a hat as there is no shade on the river. We’ve tubed in May and July and both times the water was pretty warm.
Tips on Tubing the Saluda River
To make the most of your time on the river, we have a few tips.
- Apply sunscreen and bring or wear a hat. It’s really hot on the river and there isn’t any shade.
- Bring a change of clothes. I hate sitting in a wet bathing suit and you can change at the building when you get back from the trip.
- Ask for tethers if you want to keep your smaller kids close to you during the tubing trip.
- Kids must be 42″ tall to tube so measure them beforehand.
- Bring water. Again, it’s hot so don’t get dehydrated.
- You are in the great outdoors and there will likely be wildlife, maybe even a snake or two. It happens. Just pay attention and steer away from fallen branches and trees, where they like to hang out.
Booking Your Float
It’s best to book your tube online to secure your spot. Be prepared for busy days, especially on weekends when the outdoors feels like an oven and tubing is one of the best things to do on a hot day.
Tickets are $24/person and includes life jacket, shuttle service, one tube run (additional ones are $10/person) and any tethers. Groups of 10 people or more can get a rate of $20/person. They also offer cooler tubes if you have drinks and food you want to take with you. Children must be 42″ tall to tube. Life jackets sizes start at 50 lbs so if your kid is 42″ tall but under 50 lbs, you need to supply the life jacket.
They open mid-May for the 2023 season.
Would you tube the Saluda River?
Saluda Outdoor Center
1001 Old Easley Highway, Greenville