If the day you’ve scheduled for a hike turns a little too warm, you have other options here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. If you still want to be outdoors, you don’t have to resort to shopping trips and air-conditioned stores just because the temperature takes an unexpected jump.
Remember that Asheville sits on the banks of the French Broad River.
A Recreational River
That’s right: water sports. Further upstream, the French Broad offers Class II and Class III rapids, which are manageable for families with young teens. You can find information about whitewater rafting, boat rentals and other water-related activities elsewhere on this website.
By the time the French Broad River reaches Asheville, it settles into a wide, flat body of water with a healthy current — perfect for tubing on a hot day.
Tubing Is Not a Sport
Tubing is one of those activities that on the surface sounds like a lot of work. People who believe that it’s challenging have never been tubing. Consider this: you have a large inflated tube and the river. You put the tube on the river, climb on and let the river do the work.
It’s fun for the whole family, although it may not be appropriate for children under four. If older children aren’t satisfied just drifting down the river, they can spin their tubes or try to paddle more furiously … but they won’t get there any faster. And the river lets you keep everyone within sight at all times.
Meanwhile, the tree-lined banks roll by with the mountains in the distance. The water is cool on a hot day, and you can get as wet as you like — just hold on to your tube!
A river trip by inflatable tube can last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on where you get in and how fast the river is flowing. There are about five river tubing companies in and around Asheville. Check in with the Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds office for details if you want to plan a trip, even at the last moment.
All you need to bring is your swimsuit, waterproof footwear (no flip-flops), sunscreen and maybe a big floppy hat. Hey, you’re floating on a river in a tube; you don’t have to look like a celebrity. In Asheville, where the French Broad flows backward, from south to north, weird is the new normal. So if you don’t own a big floppy hat, buy one just for this adventure.
Tubing is a fun activity that will break up your day and cool you off. Make sure your digital camera is waterproof, and then get some memorable snapshots of the family. When will be the next time you see everyone having fun together while wearing those big floppy hats?