9 Must-Visit Colorado River Tubing Destinations
In order to beat the summer heat while enjoying some of the most scenic rivers in the country, check out some Colorado river tubing, which has become one of the state’s most popular activities. It’s a fun, low-key activity that requires very little equipment. Colorado river floating is great for families, groups of friends, you name it! It’s vital to do your research before simply hopping in a tube on a river that looks tame. A good rule of thumb is to check with a local river outfitter for information on water levels and any potential river obstacles before setting out on your float. To help you with your research, we have created this list of the most iconic and user-friendly Colorado river tubing areas. It’s almost guaranteed that you will want to float them all!
1) Colorado River, Grand Junction
For a bit more of a desert view in your Rocky Mountain journey, float the Colorado River in the town of Grand Junction. The newly opened River Park at Las Colonias includes a lazy, lengthy and accessible water channel, two whitewater water features, a beach and wading areas. These amenities are accessible to a wide range of ages, ability and experience levels.
Rent tubes onsite at Grand Junction Adventures.
2) Colorado River, Dotsero
Not far downstream from Vail, at the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado rivers, lies the tiny town of Dotsero. Theory is that the name came from the ”0” starting point on an old railroad map, “dot zero.” Nonetheless it is the epicenter of some epic Colorado River tubing adventures. This section of river doesn’t have many rapids so the river tube of choice is a giant 4+ person tube. Make sure to not bring glass or styrofoam coolers on this leisurely Colorado river float and respect the private property by not stopping on the side of the river during float trips.
Rentals and shuttles available at Turtle Tubing
3) Uncompahgre River, Montrose
Montrose Water Sports Park was completed in 2015 and consists of 1000 feet of river channel with 6 different man-made whitewater features. Walk back up the ADA accessible trails and take as many laps as you can. This whitewater park boasts one of the longest tubing seasons in Colorado due to its location below diversions that bring water for irrigation from the Gunnison river. Check water levels and know where you should get out of the river because this can be some of the rowdiest and best river tubing in Colorado.
All sorts of river rentals available nearby at Montrose Surf and Cycle
4) Clear Creek, Golden
If you’re near Denver and looking for more of an adventurous river float, you will want to head to the Clear Creek Whitewater Park in the outdoorsy town of Golden. This section is especially nice for cooling off on those hot summer days in Colorado’s Front Range. For your Colorado river tubing experience, you’ll get some exciting drops through Colorado’s first man-made whitewater park. Since this section is a bit more exciting than other lazier rivers throughout the state, it is advised that all tubers wear a life jacket and helmet.
Rentals and shuttle available through Adventure West.
5) Boulder Creek, Boulder
Start at Eben G. Fine park for a nice long, exciting Colorado tubing experience on Boulder Creek. The creek starts in a canyon and winds its way downtown under the Boulder Public Library bridge. While you’re there, you may also consider swimming, rope-swinging, and kayaking. The creek is icy cold year round, but feels great on a hot day. If you want to avoid the chutes and splashes of the upper creek, start your Colorado river float at the library. Reasonable folks wait to tube until Boulder Creek is flowing at 300 cfs or lower and the City shuts down all tubing at over 700 cfs.
Rentals available at The Whitewater Tube Co.
6) San Juan River, Pagosa Springs
The headwaters of the San Juan River begin near the beautiful town of Pagosa Springs and continue on through three states and 383 miles. Head downtown to sample just a piece of the river on your Colorado river tubing adventure. Depending on where you start, the trip can be anywhere from very lazy to pretty adventurous if you choose to tackle any of the 6 man made whitewater features! Wait until the river flows are below 400 cfs which normally happens midsummer when the snowmelt subsides. If the water is higher, jump on a guided raft trip. Be sure to wave at people soaking in the free riverside hot springs, or hop in yourself after your float! If you are looking to try something new, try your hand at Pagosa Springs paddleboarding or Pagosa Springs kayaking.
Tube Rentals and shuttled tubing trips available at Pagosa Outside.
7) San Miguel River, Telluride
When the summer heats up in the picturesque Colorado mountain town of Telluride, cool off on the San Miguel river in water that was snow just hours ago. The San Miguel has many entrance and exit points along the river trail that runs the entire length through town. It’s easy to get a birds-eye view of the entire town and river tubing section on the free gondola that connects to Mountain Village. If the San Miguel is too cold or high to tube, check out the raft trips available on the San Miguel River.
8) Poudre River, Fort Collins
Tubing on the Poudre River is a quintessential summer activity in Fort Collins. This is your classic lazy Colorado river floating. Float right through town but don’t miss the mandatory portage around a dam at the bottom of Legacy Park. For the experienced floaters, the Filter Plant Run has plenty of whitewater tubing thrills. Wait until July, when spring runoff is done, to tube the Poudre.
Rentals and information at Rocky Mountain Adventures
9) Yampa River, Steamboat Springs
When the Yampa River, that runs through the resort town of Steamboat Springs, drops below 700 cfs it’s time to tube! This local-favorite must-do activity takes you right through downtown where you can make stops at parks and restaurants. Leave your car downtown or at the Community Center and ride the bus upstream to put-in for a 1-3 hour float.
Rentals and shuttled trips available at Backdoor Sports
River Tubes Matter!
Using the appropriate equipment is important as many of the best river tubing in Colorado stretches feature rapids, drops and boulders. You don’t want to be stranded when your river tube goes flat. Our recommendations for the best quality river tubes are the SOL Water/Snow Tube, RMR’s River Tubes and Star Makara. These might be more expensive than the cheap river tubes you can find at your favorite big box retailer but you’ll know that they will hold up on your river tubing adventure and it won’t end up in the dumpster after a few uses. These high quality river tubes can also do double duty as snow tubes in the winter!
A few basics for safe and fun river tubing in Colorado
-Secure footwear and life jackets are just common sense on most Colorado river tubing trips and in many areas they are required for river tubers 12 and under.
-Check the river section, flow rates, and what they mean. Some rivers in Colorado are never appropriate for tubing and others need to be below certain levels to be floated. Know the put-in and take-out locations and the amount of time your river float trip will take and respect private property which can include the river bottom in some sections.
-Don’t take your car keys, cell phones, and expensive sunglasses, they’ll end up at the bottom of the river. Most tube rental outfitters in Colorado sell floating phone cases, sunglass retainers and have a key holder service.
-Leave your towels and dry clothes in a vehicle for when you’re done tubing.
-Leave no Trace! Be sure to take everything you bring with you and properly dispose of trash. Small dry bags are great for keeping your personal belongings contained.
-Lastly and most importantly, rely on the businesses that tube the rivers in Colorado everyday. These folks have figured out all the details and want to make sure you will have a fun and safe time.
We hope we’ve provided some quality suggestions about where and how to get the most out of your Colorado river tubing adventures! If you have a favorite place to tube in Colorado that deserves recognition, let us know! If you make your way out to Pagosa Springs, be sure to checkout our custom Pagosa Springs tube rentals. Have fun out there!