Bring your bathing suits, strap the kids in life jackets and plop in the cool waters of Smoky Mountain streams for a lazy couple of hours. The Great Smoky Mountains is known for its waterfalls and streams. In the summertime when air temperatures are in the high 80s and 90s with 90% humidity, the cool 65-degree mountain waters are a refreshing relief.
If you plan to tube, kayak, canoe or raft, it's a good idea to call a tubing outfitter before you go to make sure the water flow on the river is good. Although there may not be a drought, these rivers are stream-fed and so you can’t guarantee a steady flow.
Tubing down the river in the Smoky Mountains is fun for all family members and one of the best ways to beat the summer heat. Tubing is a great alternative to canoeing or kayaking. It’s inexpensive, requires no skill, everyone gets their own tube and everyone stays cool and happy. Plus tubing is suitable for children who may be too young for rafting. The average trip time is 2 hours; however, your trip time will vary depending on the water level.
Crashing water from some of the park’s waterfalls have created inviting pools. Popular splashing spots on the Tennessee side of the park include Laurel Falls off Laurel Creek Road and Abrams Falls in Cades Cove. Each requires a short hike. Abrams Falls has a large swimming area, but stay away from the falls itself as it creates a strong undertow. The swimming holes on the Little River is a popular place to swim because of its accessibility from the road, but watch out for tubers, kayakers and canoers who share the area.
From the beautiful setting in the Great Smoky Mountains, rafting, kayaking and canoeing provide the exhilarating experience of whitewater adventures. The upper section of the Little River offers some Class II rapids along with some great swimming holes. The lower section is more family friendly and features relaxing rapids, scenic views and a rock jump.