We are very glad you have chosen to spend your time in the Smokies tubing the Little River with us! We offer tubing and “Toober Oober” shuttle rides for both the upper section and lower sections of the Little River.
Answers to all of your questions are likely on this page, so read on and expedite your check-in process!
Outpost A (lower section): This is our Main Outpost, which features our family-friendly float with several rapids, scenic views, and even a rock jump! If you have never tubed this river, we highly recommend starting on the lower route first, then move to Outpost B’s route if you’re craving bigger rapids.***
Outpost B (upper section): This route is what we like to call our “adventure float”, featuring a shorter route with steeper, adrenaline-pumping rapids, gorgeous views and refreshing swimming holes. Due to the increased risk of tubers flipping their tube on this route, a higher age restriction of 6 years and older applies here. If you have never tubed this river before, please tube outpost A first.***
***Additional age restriction can apply with high water.
***Transportation between outposts is not provided.
Outpost B also offers Private Riverside Cabana Rentals. See additional rental information on our Tubing Rates & Packages page.
If your question is not answered on this page please feel free to Contact Us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have!
**Before checking in, for your safety and comfort, be sure to read through TUBING SAFETY TIPS section on this page too**
TUBING OUTPOST A (MAIN) – 2 Years Old +
Free parking is provided in our 5 acre lot located behind the main entrance and Toobers retail shop. Plenty of bus parking is available. After parking, gather your wallet and river attire. Proceed to the main building, entering through the back door near the restrooms.
Our Main Outpost building is where you’ll check in, as well as where all changing rooms and restrooms are located. Whether booking online or not, it’s best to send one representative for your group to check in. Our Front Desk Staff will assist you with signing the liability waiver and paying for your wristbands. Wristbands will be given to everyone 6 years and older and must be presented to get your tube and to return in our shuttle. Wristbands are not required for children two to five years of age. Life jackets, tube rental and shuttle service are all provided with a wristband.
We use a car locker system, so after you’ve received your wristbands and changed clothes, lock up all belongings that you don’t want lost or wet in your vehicle and then bring your keys to the front desk, where they will be kept while you tube. Then you’ll walk behind the outpost, where you’ll grab a lifejacket and a tube, listen to brief instructions from our staff, head through our tunnel to the river and then tube the day away!
RIVER JOURNEY (A): WHAT TO EXPECT
Outpost A is for the relaxation-enthusiasts, young ones, and your water-loving pups. You’ll find beautiful views, relaxing rapids, a rock jump, and swimming holes along this route. Note that the Little River is a natural river that is dependent on rainfall causing varying water levels. Your tubing journey down this route will be 2 miles long and will last an average 2 hours. As the river bottom is rocky, especially on low-water days, we highly recommend wearing protective footwear (see Tubing Tips section). Sunscreen and tube tethers for young children (available in our gift shop) are also highly recommended. Please note that there is no lifeguard on duty.
EXITING THE RIVER (A)
You will exit the river at the concrete traffic bridge. This traffic bridge will be visible from far away while you’re tubing, so once you see it, begin using your arms to paddle to the left side of the river. There will be a large River Rat exit sign, a large paved boat ramp, and a conveyor belt for your tubes. This is the only exit for River Rat customers. As all property along this route is private property (aside from our rock jump), please do not get out of the water anywhere else. This is the only place our shuttles can come get you. Please respect the home owners and other businesses by staying in the river. Our “Toober Oober” shuttles will be waiting to take you back to our Main Outpost, where you parked.
TUBING OUTPOST B – 6 Years Old +
Free parking is provided in our lot located behind the main entrance and retail shop, through the gate. Please do not park beside the building or under the tube lift. After parking, gather your wallet and river attire and proceed to the outpost to check-in.
Once inside this outpost, the front desk will assist you with checking in, signing waivers, and informing you of what to expect for your tubing journey. If you have already paid and received a wristband at Outpost A, please still check in inside this outpost as well before proceeding to get a tube and PFD. If you have not checked in at either outpost yet and have paid online, there’s no need to bring proof of payment inside. Our front desk staff can look you up by your reservation’s last name. No reservations are required, but you can save time AND money by booking your tubing passes online before arriving. Each participant will be issued a wristband, which allows you to tube all day until the last trip time of the day. This route is suitable for ages 6 and up, unless additional age restrictions apply. Outpost B is a much smaller outpost, but still offers a gift shop with all your essential tubing tools other great souvenirs.
After checking in, head back to your vehicle to get ready for your trip, and be sure to secure belongings you don’t want lost or wet inside your vehicle. A kiosk is available inside, where our staff will hold your car keys while you float. Restrooms are located between the outpost and the parking lot. You can then proceed back outside of the Outpost to retrieve your tube, life jacket, and then wait under the awning for our “Toober Oober” shuttle to pick you up. You will be driven to the put-in which is located just before the National Park line.
NOTE: The entrance to the river is steep and can be slick. We highly recommend protective footwear and caution when entering the river.
RIVER JOURNEY (B): WHAT TO EXPECT
** The rapids on this end of the river are more intense. If you have never tubed this river, we recommend starting at Outpost A, and then tubing this route.**
For those ready to take on more exciting rapids, this is our “adventure float”! You’ll find gorgeous mountain views and plenty of refreshing swimming holes along this float. After entering the river, you’ll tube for ~1 mile, which will last an average 1 hour. As the rapids on this route are steeper and the river bottom is rocky, protective footwear is also highly recommended for this route (see Tubing Tips section). Note that tethering is not permitted on Outpost B’s float, as it increases your chance of destabilizing the connected tubes. Dogs are also not allowed on this route.
EXITING THE RIVER (B)
The exit that you will float to is located behind Outpost B’s parking lot. When you see our Private Riverside Cabana rentals to your left and our River Rat exit sign soon after, make your way to the left-hand side where a staff member will assist you with exiting the river. Since you’re back at Outpost B, you may retrieve your keys and belongings, have lunch, or begin another trip.
Be sure to return our life jackets and any helmets used back at Outpost B if you do not plan to float this route again. Please note that Outpost A and Outpost B’s routes are separated by a low-flow dam, so it is not an option to continue floating beyond this Outpost’s exit down to outpost A.
All property along this route is also privately-owned, so please do not get out of the water anywhere else. Please respect the home owners and other businesses by staying in the river until you reach our designated exit.
DON’T FORGET – YOU CAN GO AGAIN OR SWITCH TUBING LOCATIONS!
Your wristband allows you access to both tubing outposts A & B all day long until the last trip time of the day. Once you return from tubing one route, you can either tube again or you can return your rental items, retrieve your belongings, and move your vehicle to the other tubing location. Remember, everyone 2 years and older are welcome at the main location A. However, only those tubers 6 years and older can tube the upper section, location B.
BONUS: Loved tubing? Keep the fun going all vacation/ summer long! If you keep your receipt or tubing invoice, before you leave on the day that you tube, you can upgrade your tubing pass to a combo adventure Splash Pass and the price of your day tubing pass will be subtracted from the cost of your new Splash Pass (unless you paid as a discounted group of 10 people or more).
- Dogs tube for FREE at Outpost A (only allowed on this route)
- We provide a tube for the dog.
- Dogs’ parents are encouraged to tether their dog’s tube to their own, even if you plan to hold your dog on your lap. Tethers can be purchased for $5 in our gift shop, and can be returned for a $2 refund if you don’t wish to keep it. This tether will connect the parent’s tube to the dog’s tube.
- It is best if the dog is under 60 lbs due to nails popping the tube.
- It is best if the dog is comfortable with water as they will get wet and they will go through rapids. If the dog is scared, he/she may pop the tube.
- We DO NOT provide dog life jackets.
Please be respectful of property owners along the river. Do not allow your dog out of the water to walk along the property. Also, be respectful of our property by picking up after your dog if they use the potty on our lawn.
LIFE JACKETS (PFDs)
As of 2020, the TWRA and US Coastguard require that life jackets accompany each tuber out on the river. Only children of 12 years and younger are required to wear these Personal Flotation Devices through the entire float, but adults are required to bring it with them on their tube in case it is needed. If you are not an experienced swimmer, we recommend that you wear your PFD at all times, as there are several areas along the route that will be deeper than standing height for an adult. Please do not use the PFD straps to connect tubes or let it drag behind you in the water, as it will quickly create wear and tear on the PFDs.
Life Jackets are provided complimentary to all tubers at the River Rat. We have PFDs available for toddlers, small children, and adults.
PROTECTIVE FOOTWEAR – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The Little River has a very rocky riverbed – especially on days with low water levels! For your safety, wearing secure footwear is highly recommended while tubing down the river. Good options include: water shoes, tennis shoes, or sports sandals (sandals with a heel strap that secure to your feet).
If you forget to bring water shoes, we have affordable options available in our gift shops.
Our tubes do not have a specific weight limit, but those weighing 300lbs+ typically experience more difficulty navigating the river. The heavier the person, the more their tube can be weighed down, causing river navigation to be more challenging. Low water levels can also contribute to this difficulty navigating as you may naturally get slowed down in some rapids, requiring you to stand up and down out of your tube on slippery rocks. Shoes are highly recommended regardless of water levels. An individual’s physical capabilities could also affect their ease or difficulty of participating in the activity.
Be sure to check our website for current water conditions before your visit.
TETHERING TUBES TOGETHER (Outpost A only)
Tethers are used to connect no more than 2 tubes together. We only recommend using a tether when tubing with small children and accompanying dogs. You can find tethers available for purchase in any of our tubing gift shops. Tethers are $5 each and if you don’t want to keep it after your float, you can return it to receive $2 back.
We offer high-quality tubes that are designed to lessen the chance of it popping when making its way along the Little River, which has a rocky riverbed. We have tubes both with bottoms and without bottoms available.
ADULTS: Tubes with an open center are intended for adults, as they are better reinforced & have better center of gravity for adults.
CHILDREN: Tubes with a bottom are best for small children for comfort & size.
HOW TO SIT IN A TUBE PROPERLY
Sit in the tube with your backside in the hole and with your feet hanging over the front near the handles. Use your arms to paddle and help navigate your tube along river. Try to always stay facing down-river while seated in your tube. Floating on your stomach is not recommended!
Forgot something? Our Gift Shop has all the river gear you’ll need and is filled with great souvenirs from your River Rat vacation in the Smokies! We have all of the important/recommended items listed below available in all of our gift shops for you should you forget something or not want to stop elsewhere before your visit.
RECOMMENDED ITEMS TO BRING ON THE RIVER
WATER SHOES/ PROTECTIVE FOOTWEAR
The riverbed of the Little River is very rocky! We highly recommend wearing secure footwear, for your safety, while tubing down the river. Great protective footwear options include: water shoes, tennis shoes, or sports sandals (sandals that secure to your foot with a strap around the heel).
Flip flops are NOT recommended.
Don’t forget to apply sunscreen! It is recommended to apply sunscreen before each run down the river. If you forget to bring sunscreen we have some available in our gift shop.
Push sticks are very helpful for assisting you in pushing your tube away from rocks or from the river embankments to avoid getting slowed down or stopped – especially on low water level days.
You’re welcome to bring non-alcoholic drinks with you on the river, but it must be secured somehow to either you or your tube. Please either use a reusable water bottle, like our River Rat Nalgenes, or a water bottle strap to secure your disposable bottle to the tube. We offer both of these options in our gift shops as well.
ITEMS WE DON’T RECOMMEND ON THE RIVER
As the average duration of the float is only about 2 hours, and there isn’t anywhere along the route that you can get out and picnic, it’s most convenient to enjoy the snacks you’ve brought before and after your float.
Check out our Food Options page to see what we offer at both Tubing Outposts.
We do not recommend bringing your phone loosely with you on the river, whether it is waterproof or not, as even waterproof phones aren’t sink-proof. However, if you would still like to bring it with you to take photos, be sure to use a waterproof phone case with a strap to keep it attached to you. We have quality, affordable waterproof phone cases available in our gift shop should you want to bring your phone.
If you do bring a speaker with you to listen to music, please kindly keep it on a low volume out of respect for our riverside home owners and all those wanting to enjoy this peaceful, natural environment.
ITEMS NOT ALLOWED ON THE RIVER
In order to keep our river clean and free from litter. Please do not bring the following items as we do not allow them on the river. Note: you may leave coolers in your vehicle for after the trip, they are just not allowed in the tubes or river.
- Alcohol (Illegal in Townsend, TN to consume on river)
- Glass Bottles
Our tubes do not have a specific weight limit, but those that weigh 300lbs+ usually experience more difficulty navigating the river. The heavier the person, the more their tube can be weighed down, causing river navigation to be more challenging.
Low water levels can also contribute to difficulty navigating, potentially requiring you to stand up and down out of your tube on slippery rocks when stuck. Shoes are highly recommended regardless of water levels. An individual’s physical capabilities could also affect their ease or difficulty of participating in the activity. Be sure to check our website for current water conditions before your visit.
Family Float/ Outpost A (Main):
Everyone must be at least 2 years of age to tube the river. There may be an age restriction to apply due to high-water levels. Check current water levels and age restrictions on our Weather & Water Levels page.
Adventure Float/ Outpost B:
Everyone must be at least 6 years of age to tube the river. There may be an age restriction to apply due to high-water levels. Check current water levels and age restrictions on our Weather & Water Levels page.
Family Float/ Outpost A (Main):
The average trip time is ~2 hours, however, your trip time will vary depending on the water lever. The levels fluctuate daily, so please check the information board at the front desk or our up-to-date Weather & Water Levels page.
Adventure Float/ Outpost B:
The average trip time is ~1 hour, however, your trip time will vary depending on the water lever. The levels fluctuate daily, so please check the information board at the front desk or our up-to-date Weather & Water Levels page.
After receiving your wristbands and signing the waiver you will take your belongings back to your car. Your car is your locker. Leave your belongings, dry change of clothes and towels in your locked car. Our staff will be happy to keep your keys at the Keyosk, or behind the front desk, while you are on the river. This is not required, only a free service we provide.
NOTE: If you do not wish to leave your keys with our staff, please DO NOT take them on the river. It is very likely you will lose them. We do not recommend taking anything of value on the river.
Quick-drying clothes or a swimsuit are most comfortable to tube in.
Secure footwear is highly recommended- such as tennis shoes, water shoes, or sports sandals with a heel strap. Flip flops are not recommended. Remember to bring a change of clothes and a towel.
REFRESHMENTS, SNACKS, AND LUNCH OPTIONS
We have awesome refreshing and tasty food options available at both Tubing Outposts A & B.
Check out our Food Options page to see what we offer at both outposts.