Frequently Asked Questions


Where does my group meet Palmetto Outdoors prior to starting our trip?

Unless otherwise specified, all trips begin at the West Columbia Riverwalk and Amphitheater.  The address is:

131 Alexander Road West Columbia SC 29169 

The West Columbia Riverwalk and Amphitheater is located just off of Gervais Street Bridge (Highway 1), on the West Columbia side of the river.

Where should I park?

Parking can be done at the following locations...

  • West Columbia Riverwalk
  • Grass lot/island on Alexander Road
  • 435 Meeting Street, 29169

None of these places will tow but never block driveways or right-a-ways

**Parking conditions will be improving by the Spring of 2018.

Can I park at Stone River?

There are certain days where Stone River, the venue hall next to our booth, allows our customers to park in their parking lot. It is $10 and it is only available on certain days. If your vehicle is at Stone River on a day the parking lot is not available then there is a chance it may be towed.

Will I have to sign up if I have already reserved online?

Yes, once you have arrived at our booth location you must check in and let our booth attendants know that you have arrived, one person from the group must sign a lease agreement, and one set of keys must be left in exchange for the equipment being rented out.

Are there age limits for children?

Yes there are age limits for children for our tubing trips.  Children must be at least 10 years of age to participate, due to the whitewater rapids on this stretch of river.  For children younger than 10, we suggest renting a tube and floating along Riverwalk where there is calm water.

What are the payment options?

You can reserve on our website and pay with a credit car or you can pay in only cash at the booth.

When are shuttle services offered?

Palmetto Outdoors offers regularly scheduled shuttle services from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  During these dates, shuttle times are as follows:

  • Monday- Friday:.......12:00 PM - 4:00 PM, shuttle leaves* at the top of the hour
  • Saturday:....................10:00 AM- 4:00 PM, shuttle leaves* at the top of the hour
  • Sunday:.......................12:00 PM - 4:00 PM, shuttle leaves* at the top of the hour

For shuttle services before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, please call and check on availability.

* Shuttles leave at the top of the hour and cannot be held for late guests.  Guests who have not completed the necessary sign up information before the top of the hour will be asked to wait for the next shuttle.  Unfortunately, there are no exceptions.

How long are the river tubing trips?

Tubing trip lengths are greatly affected by several factors such as river levels and the size of your group.  Generally trips are about 3 hours in duration and 2.5 miles in distance.  Please plan accordingly as this time length is just an estimation and may change along with water conditions.

Is this a guided trip?

No. We give all of our costumers a detailed safety speech prior to each launch, but this is a self guided trip.  Once you have launched you will be responsible to float back to the Exit / West Columbia Riverwalk.  Therefor, it is important for all individuals participating on a river trip to have the capability of self rescue.

Are there any life guards?

There are no life guards on this trip. All water activities will be done at the participants own risk.

What items should I bring for a tubing or kayaking trip with Palmetto Outdoors?

  • We suggest wearing anyting you're comfortable getting wet (bathing suit, shorts, t shirt) as well as protective footwear.  It is important to have some type of foot protection for enterting and exiting the river (sandals, crocs, water shoes, flip flops).
  • Some type of sun protection is also important, such as sunscreen or a hat.
  • Many groups will also bring a cooler with lunch or drinks.  These groups should either bring their own tube to float the cooler down, or rent an extra Deluxe tube to use as a cooler tube.    Palmetto Outdoors does not allow styrofoam coolers or glass bottles on any trips.

What items should not be brought on river trips?

  • Do not bring anything that you are not okay getting wet or possibly lost.  This includes phones, keys, wallets, etc.
  • Styrofoam coolers and glass bottles are also not allowed on any river trips.
  • Palmetto Outdoors is not responsible for lost or damaged items.

How long is the walk to the river? 

There is a brief walk from where the shuttle drops you off to the river. It is a 200 yard gravel pathway mixed with some uneven rocks when approaching the launching area.  Even though we are happy to assist guests with their walk, currently we suggest individuals have the ability to self rescue.

**JULY 2018, Phase I of the Saluda Riverwalk will be completed, improving access upstream and providing a safe launching areas for river users.

Are coolers allowed on river trips?

Yes, coolers are allowed on river trips, with the exception of NO STYROFOAM COOLERS and NO GLASS BOTTLES.  Palmetto Outdoors will not allow any styrofoam coolers on the river due to their fragile nature.  It is recommended to rent an additional Deluxe tube for your cooler to sit in and bring rope to tie it to other tubes.

Where do we end our trip?

The trip will end at the steps under the Gervias St bridge at the West Columbia Riverwalk.  Your group can also exit just upstream of the Gervais St. bridge and follow the riverwalk back to our rental booth.

What happens if it starts raining while I am on the river?

If it starts raining while you are on your trip can continue to float through it. If it starts lighting we recommend getting off and take shelter to wait for the storm to pass. The trip is 2.5 miles and it takes about three hours to complete and there are no guides or get off points along the way.

Heat related storms in South Carolina typically accumulate in the afternoon.  On overcast days, an early start is suggested to avoid the possibility inclement weather joining your trip. 

What if there is bad weather on the day I planned my river trip?

  • With the proper notification given to Palmetto Outdoor prior to your trip, we can provide your group with a refund or reschedule your trip for another day.
  • Just notify us at least 24 to 48 hours prior to your event date to cancel your reservation.
  • If conditions are still safe, Palmetto Outdoors will generally still offer shuttles even if it is raining.
  • If you are unsure of weather conditions, it's always a good idea to call and confirm that shuttles are being offered.

Do I have to wear my life jacked during my river trip?

Palmetto Outdoors suggest that all guests wear a life jacket at all times.  People who are not wearing their life jacket, or do not have a life jacket with them, are subject to a fine issued by DNR.

Which trips include a shuttle service?

Shuttle services are offered on multiple trips.  Standard tube, deluxe tube, Saluda kayak, and Congaree kayak trips all include a shuttle service.  

What types of rapids are on my trip?

  • Lower Saluda River:  has generally calm water, with sections of Class I and Class II rapids.  A Class II rapid consists of waves 1 foot to 1.5 feet tall, with small whitewater crests on top of the waves.
  • Broad River:  has generally calm water with several Class I shoal rapids that merge with the Saluda River to form the Congaree River.  A pristine network of islands carved out by these two mighty rivers is often referred to as The Three Rivers confluence.
  • Congaree River:  has calm water for the entire length of the trip.  We oftentimes run this section of river when the water on the Saluda River is at higher flows.

If you'd like to learn more about the classifications of rapids, click on this link for the American Whitewater Organization https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/safety:class1benchmarkrapids?

What is the average temperature on the Lower Saluda River?

The temperature of the Saluda River varies throughout the year but during the months of May, June, July and August the river will reach its warmest.  During these months the water temperature will average between 65 and 75 degrees which is dependent on the volume of water being released from the Dreher Shoals Dam that supports Lake Murray.  

What is the average temperature on the Broad River?

The temperature of the Broad River varies throughout the year but during the months of April, May, June, July, August and September the river will reach its warmest.  During these months the water temperature will average between 80 and 90 degrees due to miles of unrestricted watershed that has ample time to warm up considerably.

What is the temperature of the Congaree River?

The temperature of the Congaree River varies throughout the year but during the months of May, June, July, August and September when the river will reach its warmest.  During these months the water temperature will average 75 degrees depending on that day's water releases from the Dreher Shoals Dam which supports bothLake Murray and the Lower Saluda River. Inflow from the Saluda River can drastically effect river temperatures due to the strong currents and swift rapids, making it difficult to forecast river conditions downstream on the Congaree.  Typically a river user takes USGS readings from the Broad (02162035) and Saluda (02169000) gage towers, located north and northwest of Columbia, just before meeting at The Three Rivers confluence.  By averaging out the data for both upstream tributaries, a river user will have a much better sense of the temperature in surrounding waterways.

What is the general range for water levels on the Broad, Saluda and Congaree rivers?

Previous Years Streamflow Data for May through August

 USGS Gage   River Name   Lower Level   Higher Level   Average Level   Flood Stage 
02162035

Broad

 200 cfs 

 2,000 cfs  900-1,000 cfs   100k cfs 
02169000

Saluda

 600 cfs   2,000 cfs  800-950 cfs   18k cfs 
02169500

Congaree

 800 cfs   4,000 cfs  1,400 cfs   150k cfs 

* United States Geologic Survey (USGS) real-time streamflow database for South Carolina waterways

Is there storage for my personal belongings during my river trip?

  • Palmetto Outdoors can hold on to car keys, using our key check system.
  • All other personal items should be stored in your vehicle, especially cell phones.
  • Additional personal items brought onboard the shuttle bus upstream will be your responsibility to get back downstream. 

When does equipment need to be returned by?

All equipment (tubes, kayaks, life jackets, paddles, etc) must be returned to Palmetto Outdoors by 7:00 PM the same day as rented.  A late fee will be issued to EACH piece of equipment that is returned after 7:00 PM.  Once you have completed your trip and turned in ALL of the equipment you can collect your keys at the booth where you dropped them off.

After my trip is over where will I go to get my keys back?

Once you have completed your trip and turned in ALL of the equipment you can collect your keys at the booth where you dropped them off.

If we have our own tubes, can we ride the shuttle?

  • Palmetto Outdoors offers shuttle services for guests who have their own tubes or kayaks.  There is a fee per person and per piece of equipment.  For specific prices, check under the "Shuttle" tab.
  • There is no public river access at the Riverbanks Zoo.  All people who want to use the Zoo's river access must do so through an outfitter.

Are military discounts offered?

Palmetto Outdoors offers discounts for active military. 

A service member (valid per military ID) may upgrade their rental equipment from a Standard tube to a Deluxe tube for no extra charge.

- Or -

A service member may receive one free Deluxe cooler tube for their entire group.

Are group rates available?

  • Group rates are not offered on weekends (Saturday/Sunday).
  • The specific date and time affect the availability of our group rates.  Call for additional details.

Can I follow the shuttle with my own tube?

Where the shuttle drops individuals off is private property. Only Palmetto Outdoor volunteers and individuals who are on our shuttle may access it.

If I do a grab and go where can I park up stream?

There is no public parking upstream and where our shuttle parks is private access only. We look forward to conditions improving by 2018.

Can I bring my dog?

Yes, we do allow dogs to go on our shuttle as long as your provide a life jacket for them and they must get a deluxe tube.