River Tubing in Colorado


Colorado’s rivers attract thousands of kayaking and rafting adventurers, but if you’re looking for a more sublime experience, try tubing. No special knowledge is required for this summer diversion. As a river tuber, you don’t want to end up in any severe whitewater.

What You'll Need

  • You’ll need to know how to swim in case your tube flips over. Adults should wear a life vest, but wearing a vest is an absolute necessity for children. Enclosed shoes keep your feet from getting cut up on rocks, but securely attached sandals are fine, too. Quick-drying clothes will keep you warmest on Colorado’s chilly waterways. Sun block and sunglasses are absolute necessities.

When to Go

  • Colorado river water starts to warm and slow down in mid-June, and it will continue to be prime time for tubing through August. Start midday when the water has had a chance to warm up and the sun is high. If your float is more than two hours, start earlier to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, which roll in mid-afternoon on many otherwise beautiful summer days.

Where to Go

  • The Saint Vrain River in Lyons is an easy float with just a few rapids. The Animas River in Durango offers a mix of mild adrenaline and easy floating, as well as a free in-town shuttle to take you back to your car. In Longmont, the Saint Vrain Greenway makes for a completely calm float that's ideal for families with small kids, as does Steamboat Springs’ Yampa River, which runs through downtown. For more excitement, head to Boulder’s Boulder Creek, where you can float through a whitewater park, rapids and ledge drops.


  • The easiest way to tube is to hire an outfitter. Some take you in groups with a guide, others rent you the equipment and shuttle you from the take-out spot. Try Blue Sky West to scout out trips on less-well-known tubing rivers.

    Turtle Tubing
    PO Box 6613
    Avon, CO 81620

    Whitewater Tube Company
    1717 15th St.
    Boulder, CO 80302

    Pagosa Outside
    350 Pagosa St.
    Pagosa Springs, CO

    Blue Sky West
    11th St. between Lincoln and the Yampa River
    Steamboat Springs, CO

Insider Tips

  • An extra tube makes a fine cooler-carrier for snacks and beverages, but don’t take any glass containers and don’t litter. Part of the fun of tubing is seeing the natural beauty of Colorado’s crystal waters.

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  • Photo Credit river image by blaine stiger from Fotolia.com
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