Ahh, summer. How we love thee — the slower-paced days, perpetual sunshine, backyard cookouts, epic sunsets, spontaneous weekend adventures. Like ice cream cones and flip-flops, certain things are perfectly synonymous with summer. Here in Colorful Colorado, one of those things is lazily floating, or “tubing,” down a river.
Fortunately, we have plenty of sunshine and several gorgeous rivers to choose from. So whether you call it floating, tubing, or something else entirely, here’s a guide to where you can find the best river tubing in Colorado.
Tips for river tubing in Colorado:
While floating a river is pretty straightforward, a few tips and tricks will improve your experience of river tubing in Colorado.
- Whether you have your own inner tube or rent one, always get an extra one to hold your cooler. You’re welcome.
- Tie your tubes together, including the one holding the cooler. This keeps your group close together, even if the water gets rough.
- Store all your stuff in a quality dry bag to keep it safe.
- Don’t forget to put on sunscreen, even if it’s an overcast day.
One more thing: even the calmest, idyllic waters can be unpredictable — especially in Colorado. Snowmelt from high altitudes accelerates in late spring and early summer, causing river levels to fluctuate substantially. Even if it’s not legally required, consider wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). At the very least, bring one along in case the situation gets hairy.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, who’s ready to “dive” into the best river tubing in Colorado?
The best rivers to float in Colorado
Colorado is one of the most geographically diverse states in the country. We have everything from sand dunes and 14ers to steep red rock canyons and even high deserts.
That means no matter where you choose to go river tubing in Colorado, the scenery will be incredible. Here are our picks for the state’s top five float-able rivers.
South Platte River, Denver
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When you have no time (or desire) to get out of the city, good news: you can actually go river tubing in Denver. Starting in Littleton, float north into downtown Denver. You’ll finish at Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek joins the South Platte.
The park has several fun whitewater features, though the water level fluctuates dramatically. Be prepared to get up and walk through especially shallow sections.
Yampa River, Steamboat Springs
As if Steamboat wasn’t already a major destination, here’s another reason to love it. The notoriously gentle Yampa River runs right through downtown, offering safe tubing for all ages.
Fetcher Pond to the Stockbridge Transit Center is a popular stretch, but there are so many riverfront parks, restaurants, and breweries that it’s easy to float as long as you want.
Boulder Creek, Boulder
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River tubing in Boulder is such a big deal that there’s an annual event dedicated to it: Tube to Work Day. Seriously. Every summer, floating Boulder Creek is a favorite pastime of locals and visitors alike.
It’s a wonderful way to experience Boulder’s laid-back culture and natural beauty, and bonus — it’s an easy day-trip from Denver. However, the creek is notorious for its big rapids, so stay close to Eben G. Fine Park and exercise extreme caution.
Clear Creek Whitewater Park, Golden
Aside from being the home of Coors Brewery, Golden is well-known as a hub for outdoor recreation. The city even has a dedicated whitewater park, built in the late 1990s specifically for paddlers.
The quarter-mile-long course features boulders, drops, and waves, and it’s totally free to use if you have your own boat.
Rio Grande, Alamosa
The Rio Grande is known as a mighty, wild river. Near the mountain town of Alamosa, though, the waters are much calmer — perfect for a leisurely float. The stretch from just north of town to just south is especially idyllic.
Put in near the historic Masonic Park (the first one in the US!), but be aware that much of this area is private land. Ask permission before going ashore outside the park.
Who’s ready to get their float on?! We’re all about that river life, so connect with us on social media and tag us in your river tubing adventures this summer!