Tubing on the Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest

Filed under: Nature, Outside Asheville, Things to Do

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were all sweltering in 90 degree heat.  It barely made it to 70 degrees here at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast yesterday and the rain made it feel like fall.  But I’m pretty sure that’s not going to last and, while it hopefully won’t go up into the 90’s again, I think we can be assured of more summer-like weather to come.  When it does, James and I know just where to send you to cool off!

The past couple of years we have been tubing on the French Broad River at the Asheville Outdoor Center nearby.  It is admittedly a quick ride or, to quote from their own website, “for those looking for shorter, get wet cool off in the afternoon kinda trip”.  But this Sunday we were HOT and looking for a good, long ride with lots of dappled sunlight and shady pools.  Our first choice was Zen Tubing, located just about ten minutes from here.  They take you four miles up river and the ride should last about 3-4 hours.  They even have a special “cooler tube” so you can pack a picnic and drinks to bring along and a little zen was just what we were looking for.  But sadly when we called them they told us that because of headwinds the trip would more likely take 5-6 hours which besides being a very long time on the river would get us back too late in the day.

Renting our tubes

So we did a little research and came up with the Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest.  The downside of this location is the 30 minutes it takes to get there but the upside is that you can decide where you want to get into the river and thus how long your trip will be.  It’s best if you have two cars so you can leave one car at the end of your trip and drive the other car to your starting point.  If you only have one car, you will need to take the rest of your party and the tubes (which you have rented at the entrance to the park) to your starting point, leave them there, drive down to the end and then hitch back to your launch site.  You won’t be alone in doing this and people are friendly. We even had one of those “Oh my goodness! No way!” moments when we gave a lift to a very nice woman.  At the end of the ride, just before she got out of the car, we asked her where she was from and four heads did a fast swivel when she said Singapore. (James and I spent eleven years living in Singapore and our daughters who were with us did most of their schooling there). Yes, she was a teacher at Singapore American School (SAS) and a friend who was with her teaches in Budapest and knew two of our friends who had moved from SAS to teach there! And here we all were at the Davidson River outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

But back to our trip.  I think I mentioned that you can rent your tubes at the entrance to the forest. But did you also know that you can pick up some amazing BBQ at Hawg Wilde North Carolina BBQBar-B-Que just across the street? They have North Carolina Style BBQ, both Eastern (vinegar based) or Western (tomato based) style. You can eat it there or take it with you (in your cooler tube!).

Having rented our tubes, we tied them to the top of our Mountaineer and set off to find our launching spot.  Whereupon it started raining. Now I am fervently against cold water in any form, as my family will tell you, but having come this far I was determined to go tubing and we were going to get wet anyway.  Wasn’t that the point?

Not having had any rain for ten days (until this moment), the river was low and we laughed ourselves sore as we got hung up on rocks and bumped our way over low rapids.  The rain

Our launch site on the Davidson River

soon stopped and we were alone with the water, trees and sky above.  The cool water washed away the heat of the past few days and just when we were starting to get cold the sun came out.  Sheer bliss!

For a little while we continued to have the river to ourselves but the return of sunshine soon brought people back to the river.  A dad tied four tubes together and floated down river with five little girls (screaming, laughing and talking all the way).  A fisherman stood knee deep in the water.  He said he had caught a few good ones and didn’t seem to mind as we bobbed past.  All too soon we found ourselves at our chosen endpoint.

This is probably not going to be first on your list of activities when you visit Asheville but if you have never been tubing on a river, this is a lovely pristine area in which to enjoy the experience. So if you are spending more than a few days at our Bed and Breakfast in Asheville you may want to consider it.  We can outfit you with towels and maps here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast and it will be a special memory for you of the mountains of Western North Carolina!

The Davidson River


3 comments on “Tubing on the Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest

  1. Marc Z on

    Nothing quite like a slow moving low water float with some good friends. I’ve been on some of those trips, and they always end up memorable. How far is the river from your inn?

    This would be a great option for vacationers of all ages to do.

    My name is Marc, and aside from being a fan of tubing, I also work with Bescover. We offer a nationwide directory of bed and breakfasts, as well as provide mobile technology for innkeepers like yourself.

    Please feel free to share pictures, inn information, or links to your awesome blog on our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bescover

    have a great week


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