Tube Down the Saluda River, Only 5 Miles Outside of Greenville, SC

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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!

Child tubing down the Saluda River
Tubing the Saluda River/Kristina Hernandez

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) is pretty new, only opening up in late 2020. It’s at the site of the old Saluda Yacht Club and thanks to the innovative owners, has made a lot happen in a short amount of time.

Located in Easley, just five miles outside of Greenville, and right on the river, they have an entire tubing operation in place with a little camp store, lots of tubes and life jackets, cornhole, and shuttles.

Tubes at the Saluda Outdoor Center
Saluda Outdoor Center/Kristina Hernandez

While the 13 Stripes River Lodge wasn’t open when we went, they did open in late July 2021 and have been hosting fantastic events. They have signature taps and food service. The building is beautiful, with decks that overlook a large grassy area with a stage. It is easy to imagine what a bustling day at the SOC will look like since the setup really invites a community spirit. They are open 4-10 pm on Thursdays, Friday, and Saturday from 12 -12 and on Sunday from 12-8 pm.

The SOC also has several tiny homes called Saluda Tiny, plus river pods that are solar-powered, beautifully constructed and overlook the river. All you need are your sleeping bags. The tiny homes are fully furnished so just bring yourself and a relaxed attitude.

The Tubing Run on the Saluda

My kids and I (ages 10 and 6) did a run on the river, which took about two hours. 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 most part.

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. 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.

Saluda River at the Tube Drop in point
Saluda Dam at the drop in point/Kristina Hernandez

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. And surprisingly, the water was quite warm when we went on Memorial Day Weekend.

Once you exit the river, you can play cornhole or get food and beverages from 13 Stripes. They have indoor changing rooms at the SOC, which is really nice because you’ll be wet after tubing. Be sure to bring a change of clothes and a towel.

Tickets

You can book your tube online or show up. Be prepared for busy days, especially on weekends when the outdoors feels like an oven.

Tickets are $20/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 $15/person. They also offer cooler tubes if you have drinks and food you want to take with you. Children must be six years old to tube.

They open on May 27, 2022 for the 2022 summer season.

Would you tube the Saluda River?

Saluda Outdoor Center
3790 Calhoun Memorial Highway, Easley
864.777.3053

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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