The livin’ is easy in summertime. At least so says George Gershwin/Bradley Nowell. And at no time does said livin’ feel easier than when you’re posted up on a big, inflatable piece of plastic, beer in hand, floating down one of our nation’s glorious recreational waterways. Tubing trips are as much a part of American summer as baseball and unsupervised children, a relaxing way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon enjoying a fine, light-bodied macro brew. While many rivers boast daylong float trips, some just excel. Tubing can be one of the most relaxing ways you can spend a summer day on the water.
So here are 15 classic “party runs,” as well some quiet cold-water floats through scenic forests in America for you to enjoy.
1# Rainbow River Dunnellon, FL
Tubing the Rainbow River is a wonderful experience, but, tubing is not allowed within the day-use or headsprings areas of the park. The pure, spring-fed Rainbow River flows through Ocala/Marion County is a perfect place to try tubing. Its smooth, slow current effortlessly pushes you downstream (at approximately 1 mile per hour), giving you plenty of time to enjoy the area’s breathtaking natural surroundings while viewing Florida’s colorful wildlife in the water and on the shore.
If you’re planning a tubing outing on the Rainbow River, pack towels, swimsuits and even goggles—they’re perfect for spotting fish and turtles hidden in the swaying eelgrass.
For information on hours and fees click here: Guest Services, Inc.
2# Comal River New Braunfels, TX
Every year, thousands of visitors and locals alike flock to our rivers to enjoy tubing in New Braunfels. The two pristine rivers, the Comal and the Guadalupe converge right here, offering opportunities to tube, raft, swim, kayak, and more! Some veteran visitors consider New Braunfels America’s “tubing capital” because everybody in Texas who is not tubing down the above-mentioned Guadalupe River is said to be drinking and tubing here in nearby Comal.
3# Ichetucknee River Fort White, FL
Traveling the pristine waters of the Ichetucknee River is the perfect outing, whether you’re looking for a vigorous adventure or a relaxing day on the water. Although well-known for its warm weather tubing, the 2,669-acre Ichetucknee Springs State Park is also a wildlife haven. Tubes are available for rent within the park or can be rented from vendors outside of the park or visitors can bring their own. Tubes must be smaller than five feet wide to float freely down the natural river.
4# American River Sacramento, CA
The possibilities for running a river on a raft either in Sacramento or in the nearby mountains are wonderfully varied. The American River can put your heart rate in the red zone in places. The Sacramento and American both have some pretty lazy spots too. The Truckee, as it flows out of Lake Tahoe, is a stunner and a very nice float. Choose a river, lather on the sunscreen, and enjoy a bit of time on the water.
5# Apple River Somerset, WI
You know about sucking down brats and cornholing, right? Here’s another tradition. Tie everyone’s tubes together and put the group beer cooler in the center. Bring your plastic beads too as this Mardi Gras-like party involves throwing them and wearing them. The halfway point has a sandbar where you can, eat, play volleyball and, drink some more.
River’s Edge has it all! Whether you’re kicking back and hanging out by the campfire, tubing down the Apple River while enjoying food and drinks, flying down the waterslides, doing cannonballs in the swimming pool, or dancing to late-night tunes.
6# Chipola River Marianna, FL
Enjoy floating down this large, lazy river sucking down some suds alongside lots of cute co-eds from famous Florida State University. This popular tributary of the Apalachicola River is also known for its Spanish moss-draped oak trees and various limestone caves. Pack your dark sunglasses so no one notices you staring at all the beauty.
7# Cahaba River Helena, AL
From roughly mid-May to mid-June, this is one of the most picturesque floats in the U.S. thanks in part to the lilies that bloom on the banks and little islands in the river. It’s the state’s longest free-flowing river. It’s also the home of more different species of fish than in all of California.
8# Yampa River Steamboat Springs, CO
Most tubing routes start upriver of the parking lot so that when you finish tubing and drinking you’re all set to drive home. With this route, you finish in the very middle of Steamboat Springs. There you can shop for souvenirs, eat, or even drink some more if you’re up for it.
9# Shenandoah River Harpers Ferry, WV
Possibly the best deal on this entire list, a business at HF rent you two tubes for under $30.00 a day. (That’s one for you and one for the beer cooler as well.) If tubing isn’t enough to float your boat, you can also go mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and zip-lining too.
10# Guadalupe River New Braunfels, TX
Perhaps the most popular place for tubing in the U.S. People from all over come to this river that runs through Southeast Texas. Drinking while floating is legal and the people who live along the water’s edge sometimes join in by handing out beer or pranking tubers with fake alligators and rubber spiders.
11# Snoqualmie River North Bend, WA
While the Green River is more famous, the Snoqualmie offers great tubing. The water might be a little bit chilly in comparison, nevertheless, you’ll be tubing along through some noteworthy scenery. If you tire of tubing and drinking, this river has plenty of rope swings to stop and enjoy with your friends.
12# Meramec River Meramec State Park, MO
Those sexy Girls Gone Wild-style videos shot on the Lake of the Ozarks is just the start of the summer partying action here. Tubing down the Meramec is an all-day party with a lot of alcohol-inspired nudity because this state does not have many laws about drinking on the river.
13# Truckee River Reno, NV
Despite less whitewater, or perhaps because of it, the Truckee River offers visitors a good time. The comparatively calm water is fine for a relaxing all-day booze cruise where some of the slow boats might invite you on board for a beer and others might shoot you with a squirt gun as you float past.
14# James River Scottsville, VA
Prior to reaching the drop-off point, a tubing company rep will advise you not to jump off the rock in the middle of James River. It’s private property so technically you’d be trespassing. If you do ignore said advice, however, know the spectators on the riverside beach will witness your fun flaunting of the law.
15# San Marcos River San Marcos, TX
The college town of SM is right down the road from Austin. It’s reported to be the hardest partyin’ place in the U.S. When the temperature hits triple digits, the 72-degree San Marcos River is the perfect place to be to kick back and suck down some cold Lone Star.