Summer is here and one of the best ways to beat the heat is by drifting downstream in an inner tube with friends and a few frothy drinks. So stock the cooler, pack your shades and sunscreen, and head to these 10 rivers to get your float on.
Photo by Daniel Parks
Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake, TX
Just 50 miles from Austin and San Antonio, the Guadalupe River is party central in the summertime. Make sure you have your favorite tunes cued up to your waterproof speakers and your cooler is filled with icy brews (leave the glass bottles at home). The highlight of the 2.5-mile trip? The river’s famous horseshoe bend.
Shenandoah River, WV
Straddling the West Virginia/Maryland/Virginia border, the Shenandoah River is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day. You’ll put in at Harper’s Ferry and drift down the gentle rapids for 1.5 hours or as long as five to seven hours (depending on which route you choose). And if you’re looking for a little more adventure, there’s even an option for white water tubing, where you’ll battle class I to 3 rapids.
Apple River, Somerset, WI
Located less than an hour from Minneapolis, the Apple River flows through Somerset, Wisconsin and is the go-to spot for Midwesterners looking for a no-holds-barred time on the water. Throw a case of craft beer on ice, and connect your tube to your friends to take over the river. Disclaimer: The float parties can get so out of control here that it’s not recommended to take children on the weekends.
Yampa River, CO
Take in the natural beauty of Steamboat Springs and the Rocky Mountains while floating along the chilly Yampa River. Start at Backdoor Sports (located at 841 Yampa Street) and head two miles down the river (it takes about an hour during peak flow). Keep your eyes peeled for big horned sheep, mountain goats and falcons.
Ichetucknee River, FL
For the prettiest scenery near Gainseville, head over to Ichetucknee River State Park. The creek is fed by a natural spring, making the water color rival Mexico’s famous cenotes. Drift by moss-draped cypress trees and dip in when the Florida sun gets too strong. Go from May to September when the water stays a cool 72 degrees, ideal weather for a six-mile float.
Salt River, AZ
There’s no better way to beat the scorching Arizona desert heat than sitting in a tube on the Salt River. Choose from three different family-friendly outings, ranging from two to five hours long. Either way it’s a win-win because each route has unrivaled views of the Tonto National Forest as well as Coon Bluff, a popular hiking area.
Delaware River, NJ/PA
New Yorkers looking to escape the unbearable city heat should head to the Delaware River, where the water is a refreshing 80 degrees all summer long. Halfway through the three-mile journey, refuel with a BBQ (burgers, ‘dogs and more all-american fare) by the riverbank.
Yakima River, WA
In eastern Washington state, the Yakima river cuts through a gorgeous canyon providing the perfect landscape for a tubing trip. The adventure typically lasts three to four hours, and you’ll have the chance to jump off 30-foot cliffs between Umtanum and Roza. On the way, watch out for bighorn sheep, deer, elk and eagles.
Chattahoochee River, GA
You won’t have any problem finding some hooch on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta’s greater metro area. Crack open a cold one and experience this national recreation area by drifting 3.5 miles down the river from Johnson Ferry to Powers Island. You’ll pass granite outcroppings and see more than 240 bird species (including the blue heron).
Truckee River, NV/CA
Pack a picnic (plus alcohol, natch) and dive in the emerald Truckee River for 5.5 miles. The swift current has you finishing the cruise in around three hours, but we recommend stopping along one of the sandy banks for a snack along the way. Bonus: The water temperature hovers between 65 and 70 degrees, and there are plenty of spots to hop off the tube and swim.