The Five Best Rivers in the U.S. for Tubing
RootsRated August 5, 2016

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and let the river do all the work. Tubing is a relaxing way to cool off in the summer heat, enjoy a scenic river view, and spend time with friends in the outdoors. Bring a cooler and some drinks along and it’s a movable party in the water. And you may even get a few thrills along the way shooting through rapids, but they’re usually not fast enough to spill your beer. Tubing is all about enjoying time on the water without worry. Here are five U.S. rivers in best known as tubing destinations to do just that.

The Chattahoochee River offers a scenic escape from Atlanta.

The Chattahoochee River offers a scenic escape from Atlanta.

1. Chattahoochee River, ** Atlanta, Georgia **

In Atlanta, it is a rite of passage to “Shoot the Hooch,” the local term for tubing down the Chattahoochee River. You’ll enjoy gentle currents and scenic views of the Chattahooche’s granite outcroppings and wooded shoreline. Choose from two ways to float it: either go with a reputable tubing company where you can rent a tube and get shuttled to the ‘put-in’ point, or play it fast and loose, bring your own tubes and go on your own time.

The most popular tube rental service is through Chattahoochee Outfitters. They are located at Azalea Park, and have shuttles that take you to the put-in point. A tube and shuttle service is $26 for children or adults. The most popular (and populated) float on the river is from Don White Memorial Park to Azalea Park (a 1.5-mile trip). Island Ford is a 3-mile trip to Azalea Park. For tubing these will give you 2-4 hour floats. An option for a less crowded trip is Johnson Ferry to Paces Mill, but be aware that the river flows slower for the first few miles here.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center rents both duel chambered and closed-bottom tubes for a trip from Johnson Ferry to Powers Island, or from Powers Island to Paces Mill, which includes Class I and II whitewater for those who want a little bit of action.

Tubing on the Salt River.

Tubing on the Salt River.
Jennifer Vandenberg/Running Through This World

2.  Salt River, Mesa, Arizona

There’s lots of whitewater rafting in Northern Arizona, but for a relaxing day on the river, northerners head south to Phoenix and the Salt River. You’ll enjoy the cool mountain stream waters while floating through the desert and the Tonto National Forest near Mesa, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix.

The Salt River Tubing Company offers two, three and five our trips, including float time and the shuttle ride back to the parking lot. It’s open seven days a week and costs $17 per person.

Enjoy long stretches of tranquil water, punctuated by brief, fast-moving sections. Remember to pull up your legs when approaching rapids— sometimes the water is less than a foot deep. After your ride, stop by Red White and Brew for reasonably priced, hearty American food and beer.

Tubing on the French Broad River has become a popular activity in Asheville.

Tubing on the French Broad River has become a popular activity in Asheville.
Melina Coogan

3. The French Broad River, ** Asheville, North Carolina**

Tubing the French Broad River is a quintessential Asheville experience, one that combines outdoor enjoyment with artistic urban charm. You will float through forests, breeze past breweries, and find ample opportunity to shore up for local brews, bonfires, and food trucks. It’s no wonder that tubing has become a time-honored tradition in Asheville.

For an extended day on the river, begin at Hominy Creek River Park in West Asheville, just north of the Biltmore Estate. A second option, Carrier Park, is located approximately 1.5 miles downriver, about an hour and 15-minute float from Hominy Creek. For a shorter day, put in at Jean Webb River Park, 2 miles (about a 45-minute float) from Carrier.

All three parks offer stacked concrete steps for easy entry. In addition, a number of informal pull-offs and sandy shoals offer even more opportunity to get in the water. Always be minded of private property.

Many riverside businesses offer and encourage river access, including Asheville Outdoor Center, Asheville Adventure Rentals, and 12 Bones BBQ.

The Asheville Outdoor Center and Zen Tubing offer rentals and shuttle services for a variety of river sections. Asheville Adventure Rentals offers shuttles, gear, and beta for all things paddle sports. Second Gear, Asheville’s outdoor consignment shop, sells tubes, rafts and air pumps, and will gladly fill up any tube you bring in the door.

Floating on the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Floating on the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
John Serrao

4. ** Yampa River,  ***Steamboat Springs, Colorado*

Tubing on the Yampa River has become one of the signature summertime activities in the mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It offers a unique way to view the town from the vantage point of a tube, with plenty of riverside stops along the way, including parks, restaurants, and bars.

In the tube you’ll get to experience small rapids, standing waves, and rocky features—not to mention those mountain views—on a trip that’s suitable for families. Rides generally last from 1 to 3 hours, depending on the put-in and take-out points and the depth of the river.

Bucking Rainbow Outfitters and Backdoor Sports rents single and double tubes for $18 per person for about two-mile trips from 5th Street to the James Brown Bridge. Unlike some of the other popular tubing spots (we’re looking at you Salt River), there is no alcohol or food permitted on the trips. The tubing season in Steamboat Springs typically begins in June and lasts through September. You can put in your own tube without a guide service and take a city bus back to your car. Steamboat Springs has specific tips on the easiest way to do so.

Dustin Larimer 

5. Guadalupe River, ** Canyon Lake *, Texas*  **

The Guadalupe River is one of the most classic rivers to paddle in all of Texas, with thousands of people floating the river every year by raft, canoe, kayak, and tube during the hot summer months. From deep still water to fast whitewater rapids, this cold, spring-fed river will provide you with an exciting Texas experience.

The signature tubing trip on the Guadalupe River is the horseshoe loop, which, as you can probably guess, resembles a horseshoe. This has the added benefit of having the put-in and take-out points quite close to each other—you can literally float for more than a mile and then walk back to your car in less than five minutes.

Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, and that includes the number of people tubing. The Guadalupe is backed with people on a summer weekend—basically a nonstop party floating down the river. Tubehaus, which has been in business since 1978, rents tubes for $17 each, and features a short float (about 1 to 2 hours), a medium float (about 2 to 3 hours) and a long float (about 4 to 6 hours). River Sports Tubes and Whitewater Sports also offer rentals and trips of various lengths.

Originally written by RootsRated for Kelty.

Featured image provided by Dustin Larimer