We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Tons of fun”

Smoky Mountain River Rat
Ranked #3 of 34 things to do in Townsend
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Smoky Mountain River Rat has offered guests tubing adventures on the Little River for 20 years! River Rat is located 15 miles south of Pigeon Forge in Townsend, TN, the Peaceful Side of The Smokies. Tubing trips offer plenty of rapids to satisfy your craving for excitement, but the Little River is mellow enough for even the youngest thrill seeker. This adventure is fun for ages 2 and older. Open 7 days, May - Labor Day. Want something with more PADDLE, SPLASH & PLAY? The River Rat also offers white water rafting with their "sister company". USA Raft Smoky Mountains offers guests white water rafting adventures on the Pigeon River in Hartford, TN. We are conveniently located right off I-40 at the Tennessee, North Carolina border. USA Raft is the closest white water adventure rafting to Gatlinburg, Knoxville and Pigeon Forge. Your next adventure is waiting for you in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you are planning a quick weekend getaway or a fun family vacation, USA Raft the premier outfitter for rafting in the Smoky Mountains has an adventure that is just right for you! Our experienced guides combine safety with the rush of an outdoor adventure to give you and your family the thrill of a lifetime! From rafting to ThrillKats to fishing and more, the most fun you will ever have in the water awaits you on the Pigeon River. At USA Raft we believe it is our job to make rafting in the Smoky Mountains your first choice for vacation fun!
Reviewed July 11, 2013

The river had been closed for days due to ran and finally opened our last vacation day. We made a last minute decision to tube at 3:30. The service and organization of this establishment was tops! Getting signed in and started was stresses and extremely organized. They have efficiency down. They even watch your keys for you so they don't get wet. You can rent a tether to leash your tubes together and get the rental money back when you return it. I suggest you do this. I had a slow tube : )
The pickup service was no wait. If you go after 4, you get the next full day included so you can take as many trips as you want. The water was still up so we had some small rapids and it was super fun. I would totally do this again!
We had children from 6 to 12. So much fun! Another suggestion, where a long sleeve swim shirt. 2 in our group get a friction rash from paddling and hitting their arms on the rafts.

Thank Rennie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (697)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year

550 - 554 of 697 reviews

Reviewed July 10, 2013 via mobile

My husband and I were looking for something to do that wasn't too expensive and was low-key; this was perfect! We paid $13 for each of us to ride the river all day. You get in the river right beside the place where you park. You ride the yellow tube down the river for about an hour. Then, there are people waiting beside a cement bridge to help you get out of the water. You then get on the bus to head back to where you parked. The staff of the facility will load your tube; all you must do is get on the bus for a short 5 minute ride back to where you parked.

The ride down the river was relaxing and exciting at the same time. There were a few small rapids we went over with ease. The sun was out and it felt amazing. The water temperature was soooo cold. If it had been a dreary day with no sun or tons of wind it would have not been a fun time.

If you are not physically fit, it could potentially hold some dangers for you. It requires a bit of finesse to stay on the tube and to get back on the tube if you get off, especially in rapidly flowing water. My husband and I have navigated ourselves in many different types of water transport as well so that also helped. Knowing how to keep yourself turned in the right direction, how to steer the tube away from the side of the bank where there was brush/trees overhanging the bank, etc.. If you have small children, you need to get the tether to hold the tubes together because it is too hard to hold onto the tubes when the current is strong and you are going over rapids.

The water level was high when we went down the river but I did not need a life jacket in the least. I went down the river once with the jacket just because I didn't know what to expect. The second time we went down the river, I did not use a life jacket.

If we make a trip back to the mountains, I would definitely use this company again. Great fun!!

1  Thank Kimberly D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

I have been to almost every tubing place in Townsend. However; River Rat is the most pleasant, and helpful of all. They check you in make sure you read all the rules and sign, the make sure your kids have the proper fitting life vests and offer a tube joiner so the little ones cannot get away from you. They are always well informed about the river, ie, temp, flow, high spots, and low spots. The facility is very large and clean and well organized!

Thank SmokinJoes96
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

I've tubed with this company in the past and always had a great time, so I headed back again this year. The friendly staff explained to us that there has been a LOT of rain lately and the river was moving fast and no younger children were allowed the day we were here. Our children were older and were able to participate. Everyone was required to wear life jackets, so that was a first for us. Usually, when water levels are normal, adults are not required, so I complied and went on our way. I felt this was a safety measure that was appropriate and was glad they cared enough about our safety that they turned away other families and their money out of everyone's best interest. I did eventually see the family that was turned away by River Rat, apparently found another company that allowed them into the water. The children were overwhelmed and a bit scared. The family got out of the river and walked back, certainly regretting not listening to the warning.

Our older kids and adults in our group had a great time. The water was much faster than normal,so it felt more like an adventuresome outdoor adventure versus the typical leisurely float down the river that we have had in years past. We tubed twice down the river that day and then grabbed a snack from the snackbar "Hangout". The barbeque nachos were great and my kids raved about the "tubing taco". I did notice quite a few new changing rooms and also new bathrooms since last summer. Also noticed a new parking area that had gravel, so that was nice that it wasn't muddy due to recent rain. Car keys were kept in a secure location behind the desk. Everything was clean and well-maintained. It was great fun and I would recommend this company. Wear shoes, flip flops will be washed down the river.

Thank Susan A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2013

This was a fun time for our family. It was $13 for the tube rental all day rafting and shuttle. I liked that you entered the river at the main location and only had to take a short 5-10 minute shuttle back once you exited the river. Make sure to call ahead as they may not be operating on a given day or have age restrictions based on the level and current of the river. I took my 6 and 8 year old and they loved it. I would recommend getting a tether as the kids can float in a different direction than you and it is hard to get to them.

1  Thank Richelle U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Smoky Mountain River Rat also viewed


Been to Smoky Mountain River Rat? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing