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Adventure Tubing

​What is Adventure Tubing, and is it for me?

Put simply, Adventure Tubing combines a calm flat-water float on a comfortable inflatable tube with a remote-feeling, road-free natural environment. It's both rugged and relaxing!

The key differences from traditional river tubing are that the water is deeper with more obstacles to avoid, and that you won't be floating along any roads or past any buildings or driveways. Both are advantages in that you'll rarely if ever be bumping along shallow rocks like you may have elsewhere, and the scenery is gorgeous!


At the same time, though, deeper water means that if you do manage to get yourself stuck somewhere, you probably won't be able to just stand up and walk away. And the roadless environment means there's no easy way to walk out from the river or get picked up along the way.


For those reasons, Adventure Tubing should only be undertaken by people who would be comfortable swimming in the river if necessary, and who have sufficient upper body strength to paddle aggressively away from obstacles. This applies to EVERY PERSON on the trip! The minimum age for Adventure Tubing is 13, and we recommend any group including senior citizens call us to make sure the trip is appropriate for all participants.

Lazy Otter Outfitters is ideally located for fun and relaxing Adventure Tubing trips along the French Broad. From our headquarters at the end of the Horse Shoe Bend, it's a quick three-minute shuttle ride to the public access at Cummings Road. From there, float four miles in about two hours (depending on water levels and your effort) through a dedicated conservation easement right back to your car. No waiting for another shuttle to pick you up!

Our tubes are all deluxe commercial-quality tubes with back rests, a cup holder and handles, with a weight limit of 280 pounds. The price of the tubing trip is $25 per person, including a paddle. We also include a spare tube with each group that can be used as a cooler or "luggage" float and as a spare tube if by chance one pops on the way. It's a great deal! 

For the sake of safety and enjoyment, Adventure Tubing is only available at certain water levels. Check our Facebook page or blog for updates on the current status. If you are not able to select tubing as an option on a particular day in our online reservation system, that means tubing is not available or we have not yet made a determination for that day. If you'd like to reserve a trip further in advance, please choose one of our kayak or canoe options.

You can see a photo tour of the Horse Shoe Bend here, and get some tips about our various trip options here

Price: $30/person


Meeting Location: Lazy Otter HQ


No overcrowded tubing on the French Broad with Lazy Otter Outfitters
Google Earth tour of the Adventure Tubing route

Adventure Tubing FAQ:

  • How long will my trip take? Will we be given a deadline? We want you to be able to relax and go at your own pace, so most often we do not set deadlines or set pickup times, and instead use tracking devices to know when to come and pick you up with a minimum of "waiting around" for you. While everyone goes at their own pace, you should expect the Adventure Tubing trip to take about two hours on the water. While most of our scheduled trips are in the morning, when we add trips in the afternoon there is a deadline for completion of all trips of 5 p.m., with a late fee of $3 for every 5 minutes past 5 p.m. that you arrive.

  • Who can participate?  Because of the depth of the river and the need to paddle actively to avoid obstacles, the minimum age for Adventure Tubing is 13 years old. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver for anyone under the age of 18 (not just the adult who brings the minor on the trip). Because there are no roads along the route that allow for leaving the river early, every participant should be comfortable swimming the river if necessary. Groups that include senior citizens or others with limited mobility or upper body strength should contact our office to discuss whether the trip is recommended.

  • Why can't I make a reservation for tubing on a particular day?  For the sake of safety and enjoyment, tubing is only available at certain water levels. Check our Facebook page or blog for updates on the current status. If you are not able to select tubing as an option on a particular day in our online reservation system, that means tubing is not available or we have not yet made a determination for that day. If you'd like to reserve a trip further in advance, please choose one of our kayak or canoe options.

General FAQ:

  • I'm a beginner, or not confident paddling. Will I be able to do it?  We have many novice paddlers who enjoy this section of the river, but keep in mind that there obstacles, primarily downed trees, that you'll need to avoid and that could tip you over and also that if you need help, it may take a couple of hours to get it to you because of the remote nature of the river. Beginners should paddle with a more experienced group, and if you are not confident that you would be able to get yourself back into an overturned kayak or swim to safety, you should wait until you have more experience.

  • How often do trips run?  You can see all the available times and make reservations here.

  • Do I need reservations? Yes, to ensure equipment and shuttle availability for everyone and to keep our shuttles on schedule we require reservations. You can make reservations online, through your mobile device, or by calling our office. Please be sure to be 15 minutes early for your trip - if you're late it may be difficult to accommodate you.

  • What is the cancellation policy?  Trips must be paid for in advance, but cancellations with more than 72 hours (three days) notice will receive a full refund. That will give you a chance to check to make sure you're comfortable with the weather forecast, because trips run rain or shine (unless we cancel a trip for safety or other reasons, in which case you'll also get a refund). We offer Cancellation Protection for an additional fee, which allows you to cancel up to one hour before your trip and receive a refund minus tax, booking fee and the Cancellation Protection fee. If you cancel with less than 72 hours notice and have not purchased Cancellation Protection, we will attempt to reschedule your trip on a space-available basis.

  • Is there a group discount? Yes, groups of eight or more people on a single reservation and paying with a single credit card are eligible for a discount of 10 percent off the total cost of their booking. Please reserve by phone (828-756-1386) to make a group reservation.

  • Do I have to wear a life jacket?  Yes. N.C. law requires the use of a PFD by anyone under the age of 13 on the water. While PFDs are legally optional but highly recommended for all other participants, Lazy Otter requires they be worn and they are included with your rental. By law PFDs must be accessible to everyone in a kayak, canoe or SUP (and worn at all times by anyone under 13).

  • What should I wear?  It's your call, but expect to get wet (even if you're going to try not to!). Quick-dry materials are usually preferable to cotton, and you should wear sandals or water shoes to protect your feet (not flip-flops). A change of clothes for afterwards is nice too.

  • Is alcohol allowed? N.C. law allows for alcohol consumption on public waterways, but public intoxication, underage consumption, boating while impaired and littering are all illegal and unacceptable and the use of alcohol can seriously impair a person's judgement and ability to manage risks. Soft-sided coolers are welcome on the river but no glass containers and no styrofoam. Please be sure all your trash makes it off the river (coolers are a good place to store empties!).

  • What is the river like?  It's great for calm-water paddling and tubing. While conditions will vary based on the weather and river level, our section of the river is deep enough that you will rarely have to "scoot" yourself on your tube or boat or run aground. There are some obstacles such as downed trees in the water, and low water levels will expose more hazards. Beginners should always paddle with someone experienced, and everyone should be comfortable controlling his or her boat! Always be sure to paddle well clear of any obstructions for safety's sake. Please respect all private property rights. You can view our photo tour of the Horse Shoe Bend section of the river to get an idea, and also get some tips about what kind of trip you might most enjoy.

  • Is the trip dangerous? All water-based recreation should be considered hazardous. However, this stretch of the French Broad is slow-moving and flat, so with safety precautions and awareness of your surroundings you should have a safe and fun time.

  • Can I paddle by myself? Yes, PROVIDED you are an experienced paddler and are confident you would be able to self-rescue if you run into trouble. Unless BOTH things are true, you must paddle with other people.

  • Are dogs allowed? Sorry, no pets are allowed on our trips. If you arrive with a pet the pet will not be allowed to join you, and you will not be allowed to leave the pet in your car on our property because of the risk of heat exposure.

  • What should I do if I have a problem on the river?  In case of an emergency, call for help from 9-1-1 as soon as possible. We send a small cell phone/tracking device with each group in case of an emergency, and you may choose to bring your cell phone with you. You can bring your own waterproof case for your phone or buy one from us, but in any case you are always responsible for protecting your personal property. In the event of a non-emergency such as a popped tube, the best thing to do is continue down the river as best you can if it is safe. Our tubes are heavy-duty so you should be able to  avoid any puncture hazards, and we send a spare tube along with every group. The tubes also include a safety chamber and inflated back rest so you should still be able to use them to float and swim your way down the river if necessary. If you are unable to continue down the river safely but are not experiencing an emergency, alert our staff by phone or a message from a fellow floater and we will try to help you as soon as possible.

  • What should I do if a storm hits?  We cancel or postpone trips during lightning storms or when storms are likely, but mountain weather can be unpredictable. If a storm arises while you are tubing, avoid being near the tallest objects where lightning is most likely to strike, which may mean staying on the water. If you are on one of the longer paddling runs and can get to a bridge, that can be a safe place to take shelter. The NOAA has more information about lightening safety.

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