There are few more idyllic summer activities than floating with your toes in the water, sunshine on your face, and a cold refreshment in hand. And in Colorado, summer is the perfect time to hit the water, inflatable unicorn in tow.

Before you shove off, always check a river’s cubic feet per second, or CFS, before jumping in. Target 100 to 200 CFS for max relaxation in most water. Fueled by spring snowmelt, most Centennial State rivers and creeks run fast and high in June before slowing as the summer progresses. So if you prefer a more chill float, it’s best to wait until at least July. When you’re ready to cool off, hit one of our eight favorite tubing spots.

(Read More: 5 Fun Places to Raft in Colorado Right Now)

1. South Platte River, Littleton

People cool off in the water at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in Denver. AP Photo

Route: Blackrock Lake Park to Reynolds Landing (2 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 500
Pre-Float: Snag a tube rental and return shuttle from Adventure West (starting at $36) to make your life easy. Arrive at the Adventure West Tube Trailer (2920 Brewery Lane in Littleton) 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time, and staffers will transport you to the put-in.
Experience: Great for families or beginners, this scenic, 2.5-mile float lazily winds through the Carsen Nature Center, so keep your eyes peeled for rad birds. Large double-crested cormorants and colorful belted kingfishers hang near the banks, while raptors like orange-and-black kestrels and brown-and-white ospreys perch on branches scanning for snacks. You’ll wrap the trip near Breckenridge Brewery’s Farm House restaurant—perfect for replenishing lost stores after all the sunshine.

2. Yampa River, Steamboat Springs

Route: Fetcher Park to James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge (1.5 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 700
Pre-Float: If you’ve got your own tube, park your car at the Stockbridge Transit Center and catch the Red Line bus upstream to Fetcher Park. If you don’t have a floatie, rent one at Bucking Rainbow Outfitters ($25), but note that renters can only launch at the 5th Street bridge, which shortens your trip by a couple of miles.
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 boozy hurricane in the Sunpie’s backyard—a locals’ spot in the Boat.

3. Upper Colorado River, Dotsero

Yellow aspens dot the mountainsides along the dark flatwater on the Upper Colorado River between Cottonwood Island and Dotsero.
Yellow aspens pepper the mountainsides along the Upper Colorado River between Cottonwood Island and Dotsero in September. Photo by Josette Deschambeault

Route: Dotsero Landing to Bair Ranch (3.5 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 1,000 to 2,500 (it’s wide—don’t worry)
Pre-Float: Book a “drive-and-meet” with Turtle Tubing (starting at $82), then park in the designated lot. Meet the team at the put-in, collect instructions, then plan on hooking up again at the take-out at Bair Ranch, where you can nab a ride back to your car at Dotsero Landing.
Experience: Unlike many of the other hot spots near the Front Range, this section of the Colorado is relatively quiet. Bring a soft cooler to attach to your craft and some cordage so you can construct a flotilla with your pals. Sit back and relax—this is some of the state’s finest eye candy.

4. Cache La Poudre River, Fort Collins

Photo by Ken Barber/Alamy Stock Photo.

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 (pull over for some jumping when it’s safe). It tends to be warmer up here, so plan on sharing the water with other enthusiastic paddlers and craft—the stoke is always high on the water.

5. Colorado River, Palisade

Route: Riverbend Park to Corn Lake (2 hours)
Prime Tubing CFS: 1,000 to 2,500 (yes, it’s also very wide)
Pre-Float: While there are plenty of guided kayak and SUP tours here, there aren’t any for tubing. Better bet: Rent a tube or ducky at Paddleboard Adventure Company (starting at $25), then park at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park near Corn Lake and shuttle back to Riverbend Park with a second vehicle. Launch at the boat ramp called Harky’s.
Experience: Score an eyeful of Creamsicle-colored rock plateaus and desert landscapes on this lazy float, which wends through the topsy-turvy Western Slope. When you’re done, clink glasses at a wine tasting at any of Palisade’s 30 wineries (we’re partial to the albariño at Bookcliff Vineyards).

6. Boulder Creek, Boulder

Tubing on the Boulder Creek
Floating the Boulder Creek. Photo by Let Ideas Compete/Flickr

Route: Eben G. Fine Park to Central Park (20 to 40 minutes)
Prime Tubing CFS: 40 to 200
Pre-Float: Rent a tube from Crystal Ski Shop ($16) and park at the Boulder Public Library Main Branch or the Boulder Municipal Building. Be sure to wear your Chacos or other sturdy shoes because you’ll need to stroll the Boulder Creek path back to the put-in if you want to ride again.
Experience: It’s no far-off destination, but if you’re willing to fight for elbowroom with college kids, the Creek is a no-frills tubing hot spot. If you’d rather skip the chutes, put in at 6th Street for a milder float. Also fun: Boulderites don their best business-casual on July 12 and commute to their offices via the Boulder Creek on the city’s annual Tube to Work Day celebration.

7. St. Vrain Creek, Lyons

Route: Lavern M. Johnson Park to Black Bear Bridge (20 minutes)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 250 (tubing is not allowed when CFS exceeds 450)
Pre-Float: If you don’t want to worry about toting around your own craft, head to Ray’s River Rentals in Lavern M. Johnson Park for the hook up. Whether you opt for the single ($23) or double tube ($46), every rental comes with an optional helmet and a not-so-optional life jacket. Since this is a short float, you can easily walk back to the start in about 20 minutes, or you can reserve two spots on Ray’s shuttle for $13 on weekdays ($15 on weekends).
Experience: To make a whole day of this mellow float, swing by Moxie Mercantile on your way to the to creek to grab premade sammies and then set up a basecamp in Lavern M. Johnson Park. From here, you can choose to stick close to your snacks and float the horseshoe that skirts the park or take a tour of Lyons’ sleepy neighborhoods via the stream down to Black Bear Bridge. Whichever you choose, scan the tops of the sandstone cliffs while you drift for a pair of nesting golden eagles (and if you’re extra lucky, their hatchlings in late summer).

8. Clear Creek, Golden

Route: Gateway Trailhead to Vanover Park (30 minutes)
Prime Tubing CFS: 100 to 500
Pre-Float: Floaters who fly by the seat of their pants will want to visit Golden River Sports on Washington Avenue to score a tube sans reservation. Choose from one of four different styles (starting at $15) and put in at any of the six access points along the Clear Creek Corridor. Just be sure to bail at Vanover Park, otherwise you might wind up taking an impromptu tour of the Coors factory.
Experience: This stretch of Clear Creek, which runs through the heart of Golden, is aptly nicknamed “Whitewater Park,” so don’t expect a lazy river. Instead, fun rapids, moderate drops, and a quick current give adrenaline junkies their fix without having to haul it all the way to Buena Vista. Since this is one of the closest tubing spots to Denver, it can get packed on weekends (so much so that the city is toying with the idea of instituting a reservation system in 2025). So go early or, even better, on a weekday.