Smoky Mountain River Rat is set to celebrate its 25th year of providing recreational tubing services for customers taking wet rides floating and paddling down Little River in Townsend.
River Rat Tubing kicks off the new tubing season at its Main Tubing Outpost A, 205 Wears Valley Road, on Saturday, May 4, weather and water levels permitting.
The Townsend-based company, which bills its operations as a chance to splash and play in “mother nature’s water parks,” first began offering tubing in the Smokies in 1995. Shannon Skidmore and his soon-to-be-wife Shannan had just graduated from East Tennessee State University. They opened with just six weeks left in the summer in a 20-by-20 building, an old ‘76 Chevy Van and 50 tubes, the company said in a news release.
Today, River Rat’s tubing business has grown to include two outposts in Townsend and a whitewater rafting outpost, Smoky Mountain River Rat Whitewater, on the Pigeon River in Hartford. The business has more than 100 seasonal employees and has become a seasonal tradition for customers that includes locals and visitors to the Smoky Mountains.
Whitewater Rafting is available in Hartford on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during the summer season with an abbreviated spring season. Tubing is available seven days a week, May through Labor Day.