Tubing is one of Summer’s great little pleasures. Somehow, that sunburn and afternoon hangover feels like a trophy, because if you’re tubing, life is good Well fill up that cooler, grab your floatable boombox and pack your classiest friends into the truck, because we’re breaking down our 12 favorite rivers to drop your tube this weekend.
The Bogue Chitto River – Bogalusa, LA
If the combination of snowboarding and surfing in the same day is the ultimate combination for adventure enthusiast, then combining a daytime float with a night out in New Orleans is the partier’s equivalent paradise. Beyond the Bogue Chitto’s proximity to New Orleans, and it’s appeal in Lousiana’s hot and sticky summer heat, the Bogue Chitto does actually hold it’s own as a premier tubing river. The water is clear, the float is relatively scenic for any standards, and they’ll rent you a tube for your cooler. Located in the Northshore area, within a couple hours from Burbon street, you’ll feel like you’re a world away.
The Guadalupe River – New Braunfels, TX
A short hip skip and a jump away from Austin and San Antonio, you can enjoy one of America’s most popular floats and beat the heat. And that’s a good thing considering it’s 102 degrees in New Braunfels as we write this article, at 6pm Texas time. The Guadelupe is popular for a number of reasons: it’s a party; it’s easy to rent a tube; booze laws are lax; and did we mention it’s hot out?
The American River – Rancho Cordova, CA
The American River is the go-to tubing river for most in the Sacramento area. The mellow float offers the most redneck floating experience we’ve come across, in the best of ways. First, the number of custom tubes is really just unbelievable. If you want to see the latest in DIY waterproof speaker systems, this is the river for you. Second, there’s Duck Sh*t Island, featuring amateur topless mud wrestling. Admission is free if you don’t mind a little river rash and the possibility of getting stabbed (yes the crowd is that hardcore). Third, somehow everyone you meet on the river is professional UFC fighter. If you think we’re over-exaggerating, we’re not. The American River is really this great.
The Shenandoah River – Harpers Ferry, WV
The Shenandoah River offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a mellow 45-minute float to wet your beak, or an all-day adventure combining both white water and flat floats, you’re in luck. The scenic river is good for all, including families. And in case you can’t stop, there are outfitters that offer season passes.
The Cahaba River – Brierfield, AL
Southwest of Birmingham, the Cahaba offers the ultimate combination of scenery, grassy picnic spots, mild floats, and small rapids. The shallow river is lined with limestone shoals, making the float a fun and slightly bumpy ride. So grab a solid tube. While the river’s shallow, there are some great swimming holes to hop in and cool off.
The Comal River – New Braunfels, TX
If you live in Texas, you’ve got another great option in addition to the Guadalupe with the Comal River. The Comal is a slow party through limestone cliffs, scenic trees, and more. This river is muy popular, as you can see from the picture above. Hit a drive through beer barn, grab a 40-rack of Lonestar, and you’re golden.
Rainbow River – Dunnellon, FL
Fed by Rainbow Spring, the Rainbow River holds a consistent temperature of 72 degrees and the water is gin clear. The slow-moving river is chalked full of fish and wildlife. The main put-in spot is at KP Hole County Park, and given that it’s a park, the regulations around food and drinks are a bit more strict than you’ll find at some of the other rivers on our list.
Lihue Plantation – Kauai, HI
The Lihue Plantation offers something a little different and equally as awesome, especially if you’re not feeling as boozy: mountain tubing. After an ATV ride through the scenic plantation, hop onto a tube and cruise down the abandoned irrigation ditches and tunnels running through the property. Trust us, it’s more scenic than it sounds. And then hit the beach in the afternoon and grab a Mai Tai.
Truckee River – Tahoe, CA/NV
Taking it back to our home turf in California, the Truckee River offers a lazy 2-3 hour float that’s a favorite Tahoe summer tradition. Hop onto a multi-person raft or grab a tube and you’re in for a scenic ride. Whether you’re looking to rage with your buddies on the booze-tolerant float, or kick back with the kiddos and enjoy a family-friendly float, the crowd is pretty diverse and friendly.
Merced River, Yosemite National Park, CA
We’d argue that the Merced is the most scenic float in the States, winding it’s way through Yosemite Valley. Rent a multi-person raft and after a short port to the river you’re floating down crystal clear water while you’re passing waterfalls, wildlife and other amazing scenery. The water’s a bit on the colder side, and you’ll need to be a bit more discreet if you want to drink, but the views make up for any shortcomings and more. Unless you’re considering hanging off of Half Dome, this is also the best way to experience Yosemite.
What are your favorite rivers to float? Let us know in the comments below.