River Tubing In North Carolina on the Dan River

River Tubing Down The Dan River In North Carolina
The Triad is not really known for adventure. There are days I long for the far off places on Pinterest, but I know that I live in a state where nature sometimes comes secondary to our commercial and industrial needs. However there's one place, right in our backyard, that rivals the rivers of far off places like Jamaica, Belize, or Hawaii.  Where you can go river tubing through the forests, get out and hike local caves, and enjoy a 2.5 hour trip down the most tranquil and beautiful North Carolina countryside. The best part it cost only about $7 per person on the weekdays ($10 on weekends), and is less than an hour from Greensboro.

We went to the Danbury General Store, who offers complete tubing trips which include a tube and shuttle to a private launch pad. While the water isn't sparkling clean (it is a river after all), the area used for tubing is above the Duke Power ash spill, and is completely untainted. Unfortunately a lot of people are confused about the issue and it has really hurt their business we were advised. The good news for you is that you'll be tubing with less people, so your experience will be more authentic and real. There were periods of time where we were isolated and alone, floating down tranquil sections of the Dan River (this is not a white water adventure). 

It's best to check river levels before you go. USGS posts real time water height at the head of the river.  The day we went, gauge height  was about 1.82 feet. While perfectly acceptable, there were a few shallow spots. We also arrived around 2 PM (the latest disembark time allowed), and according to the USGS, high discharge appears to be earlier in the morning, tapering off by the end of day. Arriving earlier in the day may increase your fun, though expect to get out of the tube a few times to get over the rocks. Because of this, it's important to have a good pair of hiking sandals with suitable grip. Flip flops will simply fly off within five minutes of beginning, and the rocks are sharp and slippery. Also be aware there are periods where the river is over ten feet deep and weak swimmers may need swimming aids.

While there are periods that require a certain level of physical capability, it is overall a very relaxing ride. You can purchase an addition tube for a cooler and fill it with food and beer (for $5). Personally I wouldn't recommend this unless water levels are particular high. However if you do, don't forget something to tether the additional tube. Bug spray, and sun screen prior to arriving is absolutely necessary. 

Your tubing adventure begins right at the General Store. Go to the bathroom inside the gas-station (there are no toilets on the river), bring a driver's license and cash or credit-card to the tubing shack outside. You'll sign a disclaimer then you'll want to go lock all your personal items up in the car except for the door key, and then leave it with the with them at the tubing shack. I used a wrist wallet to carry my key, but ripped it on the rocks (but didn't lose the key). From here you'll take a shuttle that goes on a ten minute drive up the river where you're released from their private launch pad (that includes about twenty steps down into the river).

The ride is just under three hours, and you will actually arrive back at your car when you're finished. It's absolutely fabulous fun, and a great adventure.


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