There’s no better way to spend a warm, summer day than floating down a river in good company. Across the United States, there are hundreds of river locations that are home to relaxing tubing excursions, and we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots.
From the most interesting, to the most beautiful, here’s our list.
Ausable Chasm – Adirondacks, New York
Possibly one of the coolest spots to tube in the country can be found in upstate New York at Ausable Chasm. The ancient canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of the East Coast. There are plenty of adventures to choose from at Ausable Chasm like rock climbing, river walking, hiking and rafting, but tubing is one of the location’s most popular bookings.
Also, because of the variety in outdoor activities you can find at Ausable Chasm, it’s a great destination for groups.
Plan your float adventure at https://www.ausablechasm.com/.
Oconoluftee River – Cherokee, North Carolina
For those near or traveling to North Carolina, Cherokee Rapids offers a hassle-free river float experience complete with a rope swing and amazing swimming holes. Your guides will take you two miles up the Oconaluftee River and you float back to their office and your car, keeping it simple and allowing you to not have to worry about your stuff getting wet or lost in the current.
And better yet, “Cherokee Rapids is one of the best and least expensive family activities in Cherokee and the Smoky Mountains,” according to their website. $14 ensures you a tube rental, transportation up the river and life jacket (upon request).
Chattahoochee River – Georgia
It’s hot in the south. Really hot. So it is no wonder that tubing has become a popular and welcome part of summertime culture everywhere a river allows. There are several points along the Chattahoochee River where you can begin a float, but one popular place to rent a tube is at Cool River Tubing in Helen, which offers two float options and even some water slides halfway through your trip. They welcome all adventurers to “Shoot the ‘Hooch!” https://www.coolrivertubing.com/
Deschutes River – Bend, Oregon
Bend is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful cities. There is a thriving culture of outdoor adventure with its many mountains, rivers, lakes and wildlife, plus amazing breweries and gastronomy to get your fill after a day on the river.
The VisitBend.com official tourism site teasingly states that, “There’s a law in Bend that says no one shall visit our fair city in the summer months without floating the Deschutes River at least once.” On hot days you will see lots of people out on that river, so get ready to make some friends and enjoy the party.
For all the details on where to get your tubes and enter the water, go to VisitBend: https://www.visitbend.com/things-to-do/activities/river-lake-water/deschutes-river-floating-tubing/
Comal River – New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas has been called the tubing capital of America. The Comal River is fed by a cool spring, so it stays refreshing and clear even when the southeast Texas sun is scorching. With the exception of some occasional crowds and party floats, expect a relaxed two-mile trip with a couple of exciting chutes. After the first chute, you may get lucky and find the Float In – a riverside eatery – open for business.
Rent and plan your float with Texas Tubes: https://www.texastubes.com/
Yampa River – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Steamboat Springs is a popular ski destination during the cooler months, but when it warms up and the snow melts down, the locals’ favorite activity is the Yampa river float. Rent a tube from one of the many local outfitters like Bucking Rainbow, and hop in the river for your adventure. Small but exciting rapids, standing waves and rock features will carry you down the river on a family-friendly ride, and there are some great riverside stops like parks, restaurants and bars along the way.
Depending on the river’s flow (ask your outfitters for a day-of forecast), you can expect to spend as little as 1-3 hours on the river, or stretch it out to be a full day’s adventure.
Russian River – Sonoma County, California
Looking for an epic way to spend a summer day in the Bay Area? Tube the Russian River. This river offers more of a plan-it-yourself float experience than some of the others on this list, with many options of locations to enter and exit.
The Russian is a slow-moving, shallow body of water, so it’s safe and easy to guide yourself along. Steelhead Beach to Mother’s Beach is a good half-day float. You can purchase an inner-tube online, and don’t forget to pack the other essentials: snacks, drinks, trash bag and sunscreen.
*This list is not comprehensive as there are hundreds of places to tube all over the country! Be sure to do a Google search wherever you go this summer, in case an epic tubing adventure is nearby.
Your tube rental company will provide you with more specific rules and details, but as a general guide for tubing safety and etiquette:
- Have any kind of water shoes that stay on your feet (flip flops are risky, as they can slip off easily).
- Never litter! If you bring beverages or snacks (which is usually a good idea… sometimes you can even get a tube just for the ice chest) do not dump bottles and wrappers in the river. Hold onto it and take it out with you.
- Bring a waterproof pouch to wear around your neck for any essentials like car keys or phone. Some float tour companies will give you a ride back to your car and will hold your things for you, so this may not be necessary. Consider having your sunglasses on a strap as well, and always wear/bring sunscreen, even if you’ve got that good melanin.
Brianne Langstaff-Guerrero is fascinated by soul, depth, connection, nature — things that matter. A professional traveler in more ways than one: she’s a flight attendant based out of LAX, as well as a travel content creator. She’s always looking for the sunny side of an adventure and will be the first to befriend a stranger in a new city