Photo courtesy of E+ / AleksandarNakic
Note from 10Best: Because of sporadic closures due to COVID-19, check with individual locations before going.
If you’re looking for a budget- and family-friendly way to cool off during the warm seasons, look no further than North America’s rivers. These 10 locations offer the best river tubing around.
Photo courtesy of iStock / DianeBentleyRaymond
Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon
Travelers to Portland who are looking to commune with nature need only make the short drive to one of the tubing put-ins on the Willamette River, a local favorite during Oregon’s summers.
Photo courtesy of iStock / dszc
Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas
Floating the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels has become a Texas summer pastime – one you can experience for yourself. Float for one to three miles through the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and when you finish, you’ll be only a short drive from Austin or San Antonio.
Photo courtesy of iStock / CurtisC Photoography
Chattahoochee River in Helen, Georgia
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, North Georgia’s Chattahoochee River fills with tubers floating through the alpine town of Helen, just 90 miles northeast of Atlanta. A journey will last from two to four hours, depending on where you put in.
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St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan
Each summer on the third Sunday in August, hundreds of tubers gather to participate in the Port Huron Float Down, a tradition stretching back to 1977. The unofficial, homegrown event is the perfect way to kick back and relax while enjoying the St. Clair River.
Photo courtesy of E+ / Michael Warren
Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Florida
Florida’s Rainbow River is one of the state’s most popular tubing spots. You can rent tubes from Rainbow Springs State Park, and your entrance fee covers the cost of a shuttle back to your car for a stress-free day on the water. The crystal-clear waters are also perfect for canoeing or kayaking.
Photo courtesy of iStock / debibishop
Yakima River in Washington
Floating Washington’s Yakima River feels worlds away from the stresses of real life, thanks to its remote nature and scenic beauty. You can even make a weekend out of it by camping out at the launch site before or after your river trip. Alcohol consumption isn’t allowed, making this a family-friendly floating option.
Photo courtesy of iStock / Arthur Hamling
Esopus Creek in the Catskills, New York
In the middle of the Catskills Mountains of New York lies a stretch of Esopus Creek, known for its superb tubing. Adventure seekers can get their thrills on the rapids-filled upper course, while families or first-time floaters can enjoy the gentle currents of the lower course.
Photo courtesy of iStock / photoquest7
American River in Sacramento, California
You’ll find a few options for tubing the American River near Sacramento, but the best (and most relaxing) is the Coloma Run from Marshall Gold Discovery Park to Greenwood Creek. The other two sections, the Gorge run and Chili Bar run, are better left to the helmet-wearing experts.
Photo courtesy of iStock / Mampfred
Madawaska River in Ontario, Canada
Taking a trip down the Madawaska River takes you past some of Ontario’s most stunning scenery. During the summer months, you’ll find flat waters perfect for a family trip, but if you’re looking for a little more excitement, you can take on the rapids of the nearby Ottawa River instead.
Photo courtesy of E+ / debibishop
Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington
For excellent river tubing near Seattle, drive to Leavenworth and float down the Wenatchee River in July and August. River tubing operators in the area even offer pet tubes, so your four-legged friends can join in the summer fun. Don’t forget the cooler tube!