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“Nice people, but river was very polluted” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Palmetto Outdoor Center

Palmetto Outdoor Center
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Level Contributor
81 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Nice people, but river was very polluted”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 1, 2014

I went tubing through this company on the Saluda River in Columbia, SC. The staff was nice, the tubes were fine.
The problem was the river was not fit for swimming. It smelled and in slow water had a nasty film floating on the top. I later researched it (wish I had done so before) and there are municipalities that are discharging into the river beyond what it can handle. Possible also industrial discharges.
Once I finally got out of there, couldn't find a shower fast enough.
Thus, even though the company was very nice, and they can't help the quality of the river, I would not swim, tube or set foot in the Saluda.

Visited June 2014
2 Thank possumweaverville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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15 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Columbia, SC
Level Contributor
24 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Safety concerns”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 16, 2013

My husband and I live in the Columbia area and decided to take a friend from out of town kayaking and our dog. Our dog is a lover of water and great swimmer. We looked on a few websites in the area to check out where we should go kayaking. The choice was either Lake Murray or a river. We decided the Saluda River with Palmetto Outdoors since we had previously been on Lake Murray. We are not advanced kayakers but have been kayaking and love the peaceful time with nature. We read through the website and information to ensure what we were getting into. As we have been white water rafting and know the safety concerns with water and know how serious rafting companies take safety!

When we first got there we were being rushed to fill out paperwork (give them a driver's license to hold) so they could get us on a current 1:00pm bus load going out of 2 other kayakers and a lot of tubers. We filled out paperwork quickly and got our life vest then loaded up. Van drivers was a nice young man and they even let our dog ride along which is unusual for most companies. So we were thinking it was going to be a great day. We had two on top tantum kayaks. My friend and I in one and my husband and pooch in the other.

When we got to the unloading area that is a private launch point that is on Riverbanks Zoo property they took the tubers down to the launch point. Us kayakers took a little longer to unload and get down to the launch point. We came prepared with two lunch coolers of water and sunscreen. We noticed the so called safety presentation had already began before the kayakers got to the launch point. I will call it so called because I have been through water safety presentations and nothing was mentioned about safety. The only items that were address is where you can stop to see come sites, keep to the right at the split which is apparently a class 2 rapid per the staff worker (Didn't mention this on the website or we wouldn't have brought the dog), and what bridge to get off at at the end of the 1-2 hour ride. One safety tip was mentioned of being careful of the poison ivy at the launch point! Really!!!

They pushed the tubers away which range from young children to adults with coolers. We got launch and everything seem ok at that point. We decided to take a break and get out about halfway down where everyone else seemed to get off their tubes and hang. We wouldn't have stopped there if we new that it was in a bend that began the class 2 rapids and was the area where 3 rivers connect. We finished out break and decided to head off. The current was so bad around that area we couldn't get pushed back off again and would drift to the left, which if anything in the so called safety presentation if we learned anything it was stay to the right. My husband boat flipped and they lost their kayak. He and the dog swam to a nearby rock in the middle of the river and current. My friend and I went for the kayak but were taken to the left as the kayak was. We retrieved the kayak but was in a heavy current on the wrong side of river with lots of rocks. We hung for awhile on a branch and got both kayaks secure and rested for a bit. We then decided to walk (low scooching with butts on rocks with heavy current to not get feets caught in rocks unwater) the kayak up current to my husband and then we could go back and get other one. That got completed. Then we all sat on the rock in the middle of the river deciding what the safest thing to do was. My husbands kayak had been taken in alot of water and keep having to drain it. We drained it and decided to push off again. This time I would take the pooch and start first. The current took us under as soon as we pushed off. Got back to rock with kayak and decided plan two was needed.

We looked to right and knew we could get boats across with current. While looking for an idea noticed a couple on two tubes going to the left and thought that was odd. Then by time they got down current they were screaming for help in same area my friend and I rescued my husband's kayak. We knew we were exhausted and cut, scraped, and would not be able to help them. Also to mention there were alot of tubers that seen us in distress and didn't help during our whole ordeal, but thought maybe they would tell the staff when they got to the finish point.

We looked to the left and there was a WARNING access point of which we could scoot the kayaks across the rocks and current to get to. At that point we were done and were not finishing the trip. Too mention we lost the coolers of water and all of our shoes.

We get to access point where were some tubers were drinking alcohol and they were no help except to tell us the access point was on the other side of the zoo which is prohibited. At this point we didn't care we needed to get out.

We walked uphill on a long gravel pathway carrying the kayaks. Too mention the pathway was also filled with broken glass and we had no shoes. Very painful!

When we got to the top thankfully there was a zoo security guard there and he took us to the private entrance area where we let in and thankfully the staff was there with the van. The security guard explained to us they are operating an unsafe recreation. No safety concerns and letting people go down river with no guides or lookouts. I thinking Riverbanks Zoo needs to reconsider allowing this on their property as this can be deadly.

At this point it was 4:30pm. The staff did ask if everyone was alright and we explained yes, no broken bones. The next comment shocked me as a staff member said, ya'll are luckly we just put in the last group for the day and were leaving! What you have missing kayakers and you were leaving???

We went back in the van to gather the kayaks and while we were doing that they got a call in for tubers in distress, clinging to rocks. We also notified them of the couple and where we last saw them. One of the staff had to use our kayak and go try to find them while we headed back with second staff. We got back to the booth to retrieve my wallet and another staff member who was cleaning up and getting ready to go again said the same thing, You are lucky we were packing up and getting ready to close for the day! WHAT!!!!

It seems to me if you still have people's driver's licenses attached to paperwork and it is the end of the day, you have UNACCOUNTED kayakers or tubers, you don't just leave them.

Maybe I have been spoiled with white water rafting places I have used as they are very detailed about safety presentations (do not start til everyone is in placed and do it before they even leave to get on buses) explain all safety concerns and how to react, have spotters with ropes, sometimes guides, understand current water conditions, and account for all their customers.

This operation needs some serious safety procedure policies and ensure they are implemented. The staff besides one adult on site are not safety trained and just kids running this operation on site. Someone will get hurt and Riverbanks also needs to rethink their affiliation with them due to the liability.

Visited September 2013
5 Thank Nichole K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Irmo, SC
Level Contributor
170 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“A relaxing afternoon”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 15, 2013

We had originally purchased a Groupon for a kayak trip this Spring with Palmetto Outdoor. Conflicting schedules made us miss the window to use the Groupon. We finally found a time where we could use their tubes on the river. By terms of the Groupon they only had to grant us the value we paid not the total value of the Groupon...but they granted us the full value. Note that paying the full value would have been quite expensive ( close to $100 for upgraded tubes and a one way bus ride for a familiy of 4) but after using the Groupon the cost was much more reasonable. The tube adventure was quite relaxing (I don't relax well but my wife and daughters had a great time) - there was a steady stream of tubers on the river and directions were easy to follow. My only comment is that it would be possible to duplicate this adventure with your own tube and a second car without too much difficulty - which some people were doing.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank seeking_direction
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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