Our tips for a successful day tubing Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with kids!
Deep Creek Tubing is one of the top activities when we researched things to do in the Bryson City area and came up on every “must do” list. However, we couldn’t find a ton of information on HOW to actually do the tubing, as it’s a little less traditional than other river tubing excursions. This post will hopefully provide all the information and more for a fun day in the Creek with kids of all ages!
Located within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Deep Creek is a popular tubing destination for all ages. Due to national park rules, there are no shuttles allowed in so all tube rentals are done outside of the park entrance. From there, tubers will bring in the tubes, park, and walk and tube back and forth as many times as they’d like.
There are many rental companies but we used JJ’s Deep Creek Tubing, as they had a very helpful website and friendly staff that helped us load our tubes into our ridiculous van. The biggest suggestion when researching is to find a rental company that has decent tubes, as we saw a few rentals on the way that had really junky-looking tubes – especially important to get tubes that have bottoms in them when tubing with kids.
TIPS FOR TUBING:
- Make sure the tubes have bottoms!
- Wear close-toed water sandals – you’ll be doing both tubing and hiking on a trail, so important to have decent footwear. Katie wore these and her feet were in better condition than the others’. You might get stuck on some rocks depending on the water level and have to push yourself off with your feet – those of us wearing open-toed shoes had some pretty busted toenails. We saw a couple flip-flops floating down the river so even if you don’t have closed-toed shoes, its a good plan to have some that will stay on your feet.
- Bring a waterproof phone case and dry bag for any important belongings. We also used these to protect our phones and bring them with so we could take some photos while tubing. Here’s a good option for a clip-on waterproof dry bag, also useful when kayaking or boating.
Plan to arrive early and park in the main parking lot by Deep Creek. Get everything ready to go and carrying your tubes, make the walk to one of the two entrance points into the creek:
Calmer waters: about 1/3 mile walk from the parking lot to the bridge, these waters are calm and suitable for any tubers (the youngest in our group was 2.5 and was fine on his own tube tied to an adult’s tube).
Adventure waters: an additional 1/4 mile from the bridge, there is a sign that says “No Tubing Beyond this Point” near Indian Creek Trail and the water here was choppier with some dips & spins.
We each tied a kid to an adult tube and hiked to the adventure waters entrance for our first tube run – maybe not the smartest introduction, but “go big or go home” 🙂 2 of the 4 kids loved it – there were a few little dips and little drop-offs on the “adventure waters” but the calmer waters were very easy for any age.
The majority of the group had a blast, but a couple of the kids didn’t love it so hiked the Juney Whank Falls trail while the others did more tubing. Afterwards, we got back together at a table along the water, had a picnic lunch, and let the kids splash around in the shallower waters.
Even if you’re not there for the tubing, there are many picnic areas and little swimming holes along the creek. A short distance for the parking lot, near Tom Branch Falls, are several benches to sit back and view the tubers going by. We also spent a rainy evening splashing in the creek and having a squirt gun fight with ice cream from the nearby shop.