If you’re not quite ready for the adrenaline-pumping rush of whitewater rafting, but you’ve definitely graduated from the local water park’s lazy river, then tubing a few of the sparkling rivers of Utah might be the cheap thrills you’re seeking this summer.
It only takes a life jacket (required by Utah state law); a large, sturdy float tube; and a drop-off and pick-up ride at the put-in and take-out points along a river that typically has easy, Class I, or II rapids. Anything above that reserve for rafts, kayaks, and some hearty canoes. With lower level rapids, enjoy both smooth sailing and occasional drops, rocks, and rolls that come with Class I/II rapids. Choose an outfitter or go it alone, but always remember to go with a buddy, or two, or twenty!
Northern Utah boasts a few favorite tubing spots among the locals who are known to either set up on their own, rent tubes, or engage expert outfitters who provide the whole shebang.
A family-friendly float, the Provo River claims an easy rating all the way from put-in below Deer Creek Dam to the take-out at Vivian Park. A 4.5-mile stretch between these points offers spectacular views of Bridal Veil Falls and the mountains as you meander along. Note the chilly water temp since it is dam-released water, so hot, summer days are perfect. Road Trip Ryan recommends a tube with a bottom to limit constant exposure. But you’ll see kayaks, two-person rafts, and even duckies on this perfect-for-beginners river.
For the more adventurous, the Weber River reaches Class II+ status on the scale. Plan on a 2.5-hour float trip if you put in at Exit 108 near Henefer along I-84 and take out at Taggart, passing the curious rock formation Devil’s Slide and several bridges. All the access areas are paved. Because you have to navigate around a number of boulders, branches, and logs, this stretch isn’t recommended for children; pretty fit individuals 14 and older is best.
Set against the backdrop of stunning red rock cliffs and spires, Utah’s southern river ways are sought after by people worldwide. Located in the some of the state’s most remote areas, some rivers usually require multi-day trips, whether rafting or tubing. Here are two: one long, one short.
A leisurely expedition, the Stillwater Canyon stretch of the Green River winds its way through Canyonlands National Park, filled with amazing vistas and wildlife. The name “Stillwater” suits the placid, flat water that allows beginners and families a tubing adventure in a setting like no other. Don’t let the 52-mile length from put-in to take-out points below the confluence of the Colorado River intimidate you. This section of the Green can be done in as many as five or six days, allowing for hiking, or in as little as three, with beaches for camping along the way. Michael Lanza of Backpacker.com says conditions are best in spring and fall for tubing, hiking, and swimming. Plenty of outfitters will relieve you of the logistical issues you’ll face, or you can plan it all yourself. Either way, it’s unforgettable.
At the gateway of Zion National Park, you’ll find a 2-mile section of the Virgin River that is family-friendly for physically fit folks ages eight and up. Tube rentals and shuttles are available in Springdale for this 2-hour float trip, depending on river conditions. Tubers often have to walk in some areas of this river because of its shallow depth. But don’t be fooled, you’ll have your fair share of rockiness and rapids!
If you’d like to be hooked up with some of the best outfitters we know or want to get some good deals on adventures in these areas, contact us. We also have deals on lodging in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, deals that are 30% off and up. If you are looking for a relaxing time on the river try renting a paddle board with Silver Star Ski and Sport located in Park City, Utah.