June is usually when tubers start prepping for excursions on calmer sections of Colorado waterways, but this year’s record snowpack may make early season trips risky. (Visit usgs.gov to check rivers’ cubic feet per second, or CFS.) As summer progresses, though, these locations will offer unique types of tubing bliss.
Clear Creek, Golden
Route: Lions Park to Parfet Park (30 minutes)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 500
Pre-Float: Stow your car for free on the west end of 10th Street. You can bring your own tube or spring for a double-seated model ($37 per day) from Golden River Sports.
Experience: Clear Creek Whitewater Park, 30 minutes from Denver, is ideal for those looking for a quick getaway. Enjoy tiny eddies dimpling the river’s surface until you reach the route’s endpoint, just upstream from Coors Brewery. From there, take a 15-minute stroll upriver to float again.
Yampa River, Steamboat Springs
Route: Fetcher Park to West Lincoln Park (1.5 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 400
Pre-Float: After renting a tube from Steamboat’s Backdoor Sports ($20 per trip), park a car at West Lincoln Park and another at the put-in by Fetcher Park.
Experience: Let yourself relax during this 3.2-mile trip, but don’t allow the serene Yampa to lull you to sleep. You’ll want to be wide awake to enjoy a cocktail on the deck of one of Steamboat’s riverside bars, such as Aurum Food & Wine.
Upper Colorado River, Dotsero
Route: Dotsero Landing to Bair Ranch (3 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 1,000 to 2,500 (thanks to its size)
Pre-Float: Book a guided tour with Turtle Tubing (starting at $59) and the outfitter will shuttle you to Dotsero Landing.
Experience: To best enjoy the state’s wildest river soiree, be sure to pack a waterproof speaker and bungee cords. You’ll need the former to drown out your neighbor’s Toby Keith playlist and the latter to construct a flotilla with friends.
Cache La Poudre River, Fort Collins
Route: Gateway Natural Area to Picnic Rock (1.5 to 2 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 200 to 700
Pre-Float: Bring your own tube and two cars. Park one at Picnic Rock and the second at Gateway Natural Area.
Experience: It’s no wonder this waterway is protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (the only river in Colorado with that designation). During the three-mile journey, swirl around small eddies as you admire Poudre Canyon’s breathtaking granite cliffs and craggy rock formations.
San Juan River, Pagosa Springs
Route: Riff Raff on the Rio brewpub to the Springs Resort & Spa (1 hour)
Prime Tubing CFS: 30 to 400
Pre-Float: Rent a tube from Pagosa Outside ($29 a day); a shuttle will ferry you between the shop downtown and Riff Raff.
Experience: Get two aquatic experiences for the price of one at this locale. After drifting along the San Juan, disembark by the Springs Resort & Spa. Once there, hop in the free Hippy Dip Hot Springs next to the river or catch the shuttle (the stop is across Main Street from the take-out) for another float.
Take the Tube
On July 12, don your best business-casual swimsuit to commute to the office via Boulder Creek during the city’s annual Tube to Work Day celebration.