Jenn Baxter is an accomplished author, speaker, and freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been published in numerous print and online publications and appears nationwide at tiny house festivals, healthy living festivals, and private engagements. She is an expert on downsizing, minimalism, clean eating, healthy living, and spiritual health.
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If you haven’t ever been tubing before, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s nothing quite like the serenity and relaxation of floating down a river without a care in the world, and possibly a frosty beverage in your hand. In fact, once you try it, you may just make it an annual summer ritual. Which is good because there are a ton of rivers all over the United States just waiting to be discovered by an inflatable tube. From the east coast all the way to the west, and everywhere in between, check out these rivers that are certified perfect for your next tubing adventure.
Although the Shenandoah River is 55 miles long and stretches through both Virginia and West Virginia, one of the best places to hop in is the small town of Harpers Ferry. With several different outfitters in the area including Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, you can easily rent a tube (and even a cooler to ride alongside you!) and hit the river for either a whitewater adventure or a leisurely flat water ride. The Center also offers packages where you can tack on additional adventures like rafting, a ropes course or a zip-line.
The water of the Ichetucknee River in Fort White is so crystal clear, that you may just mistake it for a really long swimming pool. Besides being beautiful and clear, the water is also a moderate temperature in the mid-70’s and has only a light current, so it makes it perfect for taking a long, lazy ride down the river. There are also plenty of areas along the way for jumping in and wading around.
The Oconoluftee River, which is known to be as one of the clearest and cleaners rivers in the Southeastern United States, is also perfect for tubing because of its pace – mostly relaxing, which just a few areas of rapids for a little excitement. There are many different outfitters to choose from in this area too, like Cherokee Rapids, where they will take you two miles up the river and then launch you in the river where you’ll have a leisurely float back to your car. In addition to a few class I and II rapids, you’ll also pass by a swimming hole and a rope swing.
The James River is a beautiful and peaceful river that runs for nearly 350 miles through the Virginia countryside. Although there are numerous spots along the river for tubing, as well as fishing, kayaking, canoeing and whitewater rafting, one of the best spots to launch your tube adventure is Scottsville, where James River Runners is located. Here, you’ll start a 3-mile relaxing float that lasts about 2-4 hours and takes you through both beautiful scenery and a few novice-level rapids.
The Cahaba River, located outside of Birmingham, is another popular spot for tubers because of its picturesque scenery along the banks, abundance of swimming holes and a few exciting ledge drops along the way. Rental tubes are available near the access point in Brierfield, as well as tubes available for purchase. Just make sure to wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet in the rapids and keep an eye out for low, overhanging trees along the banks.
If you want a slightly different tubing adventure, check out Glidden Canoe Rental in Mullen, where you can rent a stock tank for floating down the river! The large, steel tanks are typically used for watering cattle and horses, but they also make for a relaxing (and unique) way to float down the Middle Loup River. Just pile in with your friends, your towels and your beverages, and you’re ready for an afternoon of fun.
Another one of the most popular tubing spots in the country, the Guadalupe River, provides some of the best river tubing in the state of Texas. There are several tubing outfitters in the New Braunfels area, including River Sports Tubes, which is located right on the river and offers access at the famous Horseshoe Loop. Just choose from a short, medium or long float ride and enjoy a day of fun and relaxation before boarding the shuttle to head back to your car.