21 Lazy Rivers to Float This Summer

Beat the heat this summer by floating down these gentle rivers across the U.S. (with a cooler in tow, of course).

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Snake River, Idaho

A little beyond the floating party in Jackson Hole, you'll find stunning waterfalls along the Idaho stretch of the Snake River. You'll want something with a paddle instead of just a tube here, but the view at Shoshone Falls alone will be worth the effort.

Salt River, Arizona

If you want to join in on Arizona's Floating Picnic and tube the Salt River near Phoenix, be prepared to be pegged with marshmallows. Don't ask us why, but it's a longstanding tradition to throw them at fellow tubers. You won't find peace or quiet on the Salt, but you're likely to spy wild horses along the banks of the river. You'll definitely find cacti, too.

Boulder Creek, Colorado

"Tube to Work Day" is a rare sight. It's likely the only time you'll catch Boulderites wearing suits and ties. Every year, hundreds of people in this Colorado city dress up to hitch a ride to work through the rapids of Boulder Creek. Sometimes, onlookers fish for tubers from bridges using doughnuts for bait. If you're in town mid-July, you'll want to suit up and float by for the event's 10th birthday.

Merced River, California

Float the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley for stunning views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls that you can't get on land. Rent a raft in Half Dome Village or bring your own inner tube for a three-mile float, then take a shuttle back to the village.

Chattahoochee River, Georgia

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area runs right through metro Atlanta and is a great way to beat the heat and humidity on sweltering sunny days. Rent a tube from Nantahala Outdoor Center in Sandy Springs, right inside the park borders of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Trinity River, Texas

Forget tubing to work. In Fort Worth, Texas, you can tube straight through the party. Every Saturday in July, tube the Trinity River during the Rockin’ on the River concert series, and you’ll float right by live music staged along the banks. Even better? Every concert ends with fireworks.

James River, Virginia

Go from the river to the vineyard in Virginia, where you can float the James River in the morning and drink local wine in the afternoon. Take a two- to four-hour tube trip from James River Runners in Scottsville, then explore wineries there and in the Charlottesville area, home of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Further into the Blue Ridge Mountains, tube with Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan then hit the Wine Trail to Botetourt County.

Root River, Minnesota

Minnesota is known for its lakes — nearly 12,000 of them — but there are countless rivers to float here, too. In southeast Minnesota, try the Root River. Rent a tube from Cedar Valley Resort in Lanesboro and they'll shuttle you back after your float. If hiking or biking is more your speed, wander the 60-mile trail system that runs through eight towns alongside the Root.

Portneuf River, Idaho

Idahoans aren't afraid of the cold. During the Fire and Ice Winterfest in Lava Hot Springs, floaters brave the frigid Portneuf River to tube in costume and celebrate winter before dashing to the hot springs to warm up. Of course, you can do it in the summer, too — if you're willing to sacrifice the bragging rights.

Arkansas River, Colorado

Some of the country's most popular whitewater rafting is found on the Arkansas River in Colorado. But you can have a lazy day on this river, too, if you time your trip for when the Arkansas calms down in late summer. Hop in the river right from downtown Salida, then finish off the day the Colorado way: with craft beer from one of the many brewpubs in town.

Sinking Creek, Missouri

Echo Bluff State Park has only been open for about a year, but it has all the amenities and recreation you could want in a single state park, and you might not want to leave. Tube, kayak or canoe through the Ozarks on Sinking Creek, then hit the trails for hiking or mountain biking. Pitch a tent on an elevated, Instagram-ready wooden platform, or book a lodge room or cabin right inside the park.

Yakima River, Washington

You might think of Washington as a rainy state, but you're all but guaranteed to have a good day in the Yakima River Canyon, which claims to have 300 days of sunshine a year. If you want to fish while floating, you're likely to have luck here: The Yakima River is home to Washington State's only official Blue Ribbon trout waters.

French Broad River, North Carolina

The French Broad River, in Asheville, N.C., is the third-oldest river in the world, even older than the Blue Ridge Mountains it flows through. If you float the seven-mile section starting at Hominy Creek, you'll wind through the River Arts District, home to dozens of artists' studios. Hop out at the riverfront Bywater Bar to finish off a relaxing day with craft brews.

Portage River, Alaska

There aren't too many places in the U.S. where summer floating trips include glacier sightings, but you can rely on Alaska to bring the ice to the party. Hop in a raft with Chugach Adventures and you'll float by glaciers along the Portage River near Anchorage.

Shenandoah River, Virginia

The Shenandoah River winds back and forth through the Blue Ridge Mountains like a snake. Start in Luray, Va., one of Shenandoah National Park's gateway towns, and take a three- to five-hour float with Shenandoah River Outfitters. Want to make it a weekend? Get up early one morning to hike Old Rag, the park's most famous trail, or dive into the Earth at one of the nearby caverns.

Russian River, California

Float right through the heart of California's wine country on Sonoma's Russian River. Bring an extra tube to carry lunch and local wine — or beer — and take a picnic break in one of the many coves along the river banks. Leap from one of the rock walls or take a turn on one of the rope swings along the river to take a quick dip in style.

Frio River, Texas

Beat the heat in southwest Texas by tubing the clear, blue Frio River, which will take you through chalk bluffs and right under massive cypress trees. Make a weekend out of it by pitching a tent or renting a cabin at Garner State Park, about 90 miles west of San Antonio.

Farmington River, Connecticut

Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area might sound like a daunting place to float, but don't fret: A 14-mile stretch of the Farmington is one of only two Connecticut waterways with National Wild and Scenic River designation, a rare protection intended to preserve rivers with great recreational, cultural or natural value. Rent a tube from Farmington River Tubing to float a 2.5-mile section of the river just two hours outside New York City in New Hartford.

Snake River, Wyoming

The Grand Tetons are some of the country's most distinctive mountains, and you'll get some of the best views of them along the Snake River. You'll likely want something with a paddle for the narrower sections of the Snake through the national park, but tubers abound elsewhere. One of the most popular sections is the nine-mile stretch from South Park Bridge to Astoria Hot Springs.

Kennebec River, Maine

Maine's Kennebec River is well-known for its whitewater rafting, but you'll find fairly gentle rapids here, too, and they'll keep your tube trip interesting. For 6.5 miles of floating with a few Class I and II rapids, grab a tube and a shuttle from Three Rivers Whitewater in West Forks.

Rainbow River, Florida

At Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, Fla., about two hours north of Tampa, crystal-clear water bubbles out of the ground and into Rainbow River. It was a private theme park and tourist attraction for decades until Orlando started taking over as Florida's major tourist destination and the park went out of business in the 1970s. It reopened as a state park in the 1990s and has been a hot spot for tubers ever since. Enter through the special tubing entrance to rent tubes and take a shuttle upstream, then relax and float right back to your car.

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