TUBING can be one of the most relaxing ways you can spend a summer day on the water. Here are a few classic “party runs,” as well some quiet cold-water floats through scenic forests.
1. Guadalupe River — New Braunfels, TX
Floating the Guadalupe River outside of Austin is a summertime rite of passage. Floats go anywhere from 2-4-hours, depending on how fast the water is flowing. The Guadalupe is a party river, packed with beer coolers, waterproof stereos, and students from UT-Austin, Texas State, and UTSA. The best place to start is near the Horseshoe Loop close to Canyon Lake. Rent tubes from Andy’s or Tube Haus for $15-20 a day. After floating, swing by the town of Gruene for chicken fried steak at the Gristmill; and work off the meal next door at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.
2. Frio River — Concan, TX
The Guadalupe and Frio Rivers are very different, though only a couple hours apart, The Guadalupe is party-focused while the Frio is for relaxing in a tranquil setting with huge cypress trees shading you from the shore. The water is crystal clear and slow-moving as you float for a few hours from start to finish. It’s an hour and a half west of San Antonio, and only an hour from Bandera, the cowboy capital of the world. After your float, drop by House Pasture Cattle Company in Concan for a Texas country concert. It gets rowdy at night so be prepared.
3. Green River — Saluda, NC
The Green River is 45 minutes outside of Asheville near Saluda. Before it narrows to a world-famous hardcore whitewater section, the lower Green is a mellow class II stream with a few small rapids and beautiful clear water. While you can bring a cooler, note that alcohol is not allowed. Fortunately, when you get back to Asheville you’ll plenty of breweries like Wedge Brewing or .
4. Snoqualmie River — Fall City, WA
The Snoqualmie River is a beautiful yet chilly river to float 30 minutes west of Seattle. The best float goes from Snoqualmie Falls to Fall City and should take about four hours. The scenery is spectacular, with tall pines and rocky outcroppings dotting the shoreline. For a little more excitement, take your chances on of the many rope swings lining the river’s edge. Check Fall City Floating for rentals, at about $20-25 for a tube, with shuttle service for another $5.
5. Truckee River — Tahoe City, CA
Carve out some time while visiting Lake Tahoe in the summer to float the Truckee River. The river remains chilly with snow-melt waters running down from the mountains. Go to the hippie town of Truckee and get breakfast at Marty’s Cafe before your float. Then pick up a six-pack of California beer and head to Tahoe City where you can rent tubes for the 1-2-hour float. If you’re looking for some post-float beers, head back to Truckee and stop at FiftyFifty Brewing. They brew their Spring Fever beer with honey, lemongrass, and orange peel — it’s amazing after a hot day on the river. For a later night out, head to jazz-focused Moody’s Bistro Bar and Beats next to the Truckee Hotel.
6. Shenandoah River — Harper’s Ferry, WV
The best section to float on the Shenandoah is near Harper’s Ferry. Once on the water, the float should take 1-2-hours to enjoy, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Rent from River & Trail Outfitters, who also offer whitewater rafting, zip lining, and other activities. Once back in town, do the short hike up to Jefferson Rock right off the Appalachian Trail for a 360 view of the area.
7. Yampa River — Steamboat Springs, CO
The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs is about three hours west of Denver. Start your alcohol-free trip upstream floating with stunning mountains views all around you. There are plenty of stops along the way to relax and take in the beauty. After a few hours, you’ll finish in the middle of Steamboat Springs, where there are many food, drink, and shopping options. Check out Mountain Tap Brewery, for their solid food menu, a large outdoor patio, and IPAs. If you’re looking for further post-float relaxation, drive 20 minutes north to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
8. Chattahoochee River — Atlanta, GA
“Shooting the ‘Hooch” is an Atlanta classic. For a mellow and scenic float, put in at Don White Park and drift down to Azalea Park. It’s about a two-hour, slow and scenic float with few ripples. For a longer (and slightly wilder) day experience, put in at Johnson’s Ferry and float all the way down to Paces Mill. Chattahoochee Outfitters runs a tubing/shuttle service and also rents canoes, kayaks, or SUP boards. You can bring alcohol on the river so pick up a cooler and some Sweetwater before heading out.
What other rivers do you like tubing? Let us know in the comments.