The Great Smoky Mountains have long been a popular destination for tourists seeking beautiful views and a renewed connection with nature, although modern adventures in the Smokies often include great dining, outlet shopping, and a host of great attractions offering a broad array of things to do during your Smoky Mountain getaway.
If you’re planning a trip to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Townsend, Tennessee, here are a few hacks to get your Smoky Mountain vacation off on the right foot:
1. Do Some Research
You’re spending your hard-earned money and vacation time for some quality downtime and some memories you’ll cherish for an absolute lifetime. Choose the points on your itinerary wisely. Check with quality scoring websites like Trip Advisor to find the best places to eat, sleep, and play. There are so many fun, family-friendly activities in the Smokies, and with a little good planning, you can pack your vacation with high adventure, great relaxation, and stunning views, all rolled into one.
Thanks to our guests leaving 5-star reviews consistently for our River Rat Whitewater Rafting Outpost in Hartford, we are proud to have maintained a 5-star rating for well over seven years on TripAdvisor, and we’re committed to improving on even the best customer experiences as time goes on. Also thanks to our guests’ reviews, we have received the Certificate of Excellence each year since 2014 and we are also now ranked among the “Top 10% of Attractions Worldwide”!
Since our River Rat Tubing Outpost in Townsend opened its doors in 1995, you could say we’ve become river relaxation pros! There is nothing quite like floating the day away amongst stunning Smoky Mountain scenery, so we continue to passionately share our love of river tubing with the world. Each year, we aim to improve your stay at the River Rat through adding amenities like full-day locker rentals, local food and dessert trucks arriving onsite daily, extra picnic space, and more. We are honored to be ranked among the “Top 10% of Attractions Worldwide” at this outpost as well.
2. Buy the Pass
If you love the water, River Rat Rafting and Tubing are the ultimate attractions and a great place to start planning your vacay. When you purchase a Splash Pass, you’ll also receive a whitewater trip on the beautiful Pigeon River in scenic Hartford, Tennessee. Go ahead and plan to raft, then enjoy some casual tubing whenever you want over the remainder of your stay.
Even better, the splash pass is good for the entire season and comes with a 15% discount on a Private Riverside Cabana Rental and in-store merchandise… so feel free to come back for a long weekend or two later in the summer.
3. Book a Cabana
Our Riverside Cabana Rentals are a perfect spot for some well-earned downtime during your Smoky Mountain vacation. If you’re planning to hike the Smokies to take in a gorgeous waterfall or blaze a trail less traveled, it’s a great idea to wrap up your day by visiting us afterwards and taking some time to sit back and relax by the River—and reserving one of our cabanas is an absolute must for a stress-free afternoon along the water.
4. Stay at the Best Places and Get Awesome Perks
Townsend is home to one of the most unique glamping stays in the Smokies, and we partnered with them to bring you exclusive discounts at the Rat! Book your stay in your RV with luxury RV hookups, stay in a cabin or relax in a tiny home with Little Arrow Outdoor Resort and receive 15% off your River Rat Whitewater Rafting expedition (including the Upper Pigeon, Lower Pigeon, and Daycation adventures).
Looking for a gorgeous cabin rental located a little closer to Pigeon Forge? Book a cabin, cottage, or mountain home with Old Mill Lodging and receive the same River Rat partnership perk!
When you book with either company, simply call the lodging office and they can provide you with instructions on how to receive your discount. You’re also welcome to call our Reservations Staff with questions.
5. Be Seasonally Aware and Conscious of Time
While you can tube all day long on the Little River or enjoy the thrill of a two-hour or full-day whitewater rafting expedition along the Pigeon River, there are other beautiful sights and sounds you won’t want to miss during your time in the Smokies.
The Smokies boast over 150 different hiking trails of all difficulty levels for guests to enjoy, with many located close to both our Tubing and Whitewater Rafting Outposts! You can find info on those trails, along with hiking tips, on the Great Smoky National Park website. If you plan to visit areas like the Cades Cove Loop, it’s best to do so early in the morning before tubing for lighter traffic, or in the evening after you tube with us for a perfect end to your day!
6. Snag Some Discounts Before Departing
River Rat Whitewater and Tubing both offer unique discounts with local restaurants and attractions, so visit our discount page before arriving for additional recommendations and deals. You’ll find spectacular incentives for lodging, food, and things to do in and around Townsend, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Be smart, do your research on the areas and attractions you’d like to visit while you’re in the Smokies, and choose a Splash Pass for one of the best deals available as you stay and play. Then, don’t forget to book a cabana for the perfect way to relax, choose your lodging wisely to enjoy additional perks, plan your days for the ultimate in both adventure and rest, and get to know more about the great discounts available even before you pack up the car and head out to visit.
We’re certain that with a little planning you’ll enjoy all the best our beautiful vacation destination in the Great Smoky Mountains has to offer and we’re also pretty certain you’ll look forward to booking next summer’s vacation almost as soon as you leave our home destined for yours. Don’t worry, we’ll be here then, too, and we’ll have new tips, tricks, and hacks that will make your next vacation another trip to look forward to!