When summer temperatures rise, hitting the local river with a tube and some cold drinks is a classic American pastime. Some of the best known places that attract flotillas of partiers include the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas and the American River in Sacramento, California. However, there are more unusual places in the U.S. to enjoy some rapids or a lazy paddle. These include freshwater springs filled with manatees, urban rivers where you can pop into a restaurant after your tubing session or even an underground cave.
Urban Tube Fun
Several cities in the U.S. have river tubing options right in the middle of downtown. The city of Boise, Idaho not only rents tubes and rafts in conjunction with Boise River Raft & Tube from various parks, but they also provide a float map of the six mile area on the Boise River that is safe for floating. Along the way are bathroom stops and picnic areas. Reno, Nevada also has the Truckee River running right through downtown that includes the Truckee River Whitewater Park. Tubers can start at various locations upriver (including Mayberry Park or Chrissy Caughlin Park) and tube all day down to the Whitewater Park.
Tube in the Heart of Cowboy Country
Missoula, Montana is the original “And a River Runs Through It” city and its outdoorsy vibe also includes tubing on the Clark Fork River. This river has enough rapids and waves to also attempt stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and even river boarding. Blackfoot River Rentals in Missoula rents tubes for $15 for the day with free shuttles up or down the river.
Manatees Spring Eternal
Imagine tubing in crystal blue water above large underwater mammals. Actually, stop dreaming and head to Ichetucknee Springs State Park near Fort White, Florida. The river is a National Natural Landmark, but river tubing and other outdoor activities are still popular here. You might even catch a glance of one of the park’s famous residents: the 1,500 pound endangered Florida Manatee.
Don’t Fight the Virgin Current
Many hikers who brave The Narrows in Zion Canyon of Zion National Park in Utah do so both up and down the current of the Virgin River. Don’t wear yourself out by hiking back out of the canyon. Bring a small blow up tube and float comfortably out of The Narrows while gazing up at the thousand feet cliffs above you.
Tube into a California Cave
Tucked into the hills of Calaveras County in California is the Natural Bridge Trail. This short, but steep trail leads down to a creek and a series of caves hollowed out by the water. Most people splash around in front of the caves, but if you bring your own tube, you can explore the dripping depths of these natural caverns. The water is very cold and deep, but if you also bring a flashlight, you can see the ceiling of the cave and various stalactites.