How to River Float

Colette Goh | How To

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How to River Float

How to River Float

Picture a scorching summer’s day - the sun is beating on your neck, streaming through the window and radiating off the sidewalk.  You feel the sudden urge to get out of town. Imagine your feet splashing in cool water, sipping on a refreshing drink, listening to your favorite playlist, and letting nature carry you away. 

When you float or tube down a river, you can enjoy stunning natural views, hang out with friends and family, and all with minimum effort on your part - because the river’s current is doing all the work. 

River floating is the perfect way to see your local rivers. From calm and scenic floats to more adventurous whitewater rafting trips, river floating offers experiences for people of all skill levels and preferences. 

Not only can you soak up the sun and admire the scenic riverbank, but this activity is a highly accessible one for people of all ages and skill sets. It makes a great group activity as you can have as many people as you like to join in on the fun. 

Wondering how to get started? Here at ISLE, we offer 2 types of Floats: Tubes and Docks.

Our Tube-O-Line inner tube is designed to float on rivers or lakes. It’s made of durable 0.9 mm PVC with welded seams, so use it to float down the river, or flip it over and use it as a mini-trampoline. 

We have a 16” Runway Dock is the perfect-sized inflatable dock for fun on the water. Use it as a 2-person lounger by adding Cloud Kayak Seats or connect it to other docks. Our Base Camp Dock is a large 10’ x 6.5’ dock and is the ultimate “home base” on the water. It is easy to inflate and install. Both come with our patent-pending ISLE-LINK system to connect to other inflatable docks to extend your space or create your own custom ISLE Waterpark.

Whether you’re using a tube or dock, all our ISLE floats are perfect for lounging, relaxing on the water, and soaking up the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

If you’re interested in river floating this summer, check out our tips on things to know, what to bring, and where to river float.

Important Things to Know Before Floating

While river floating is a delightful and leisurely way to see nature, there are a few important things you need to know so that you can float safely. 

  1. It is critical to have your get-in and get-out location mapped. Either arrange for a shuttle service or make sure you have a car at the get-in location and a car at the get-out location.
  2. Estimate how long your float will take and ensure you have the proper supplies. We go over the essential items to bring in the next section 
  3. Check for:
    1. Rapids: make sure that you either a) have the right type of float to get down OR b) there is a walking path to get around the rapids
    2. Local river flow rates & current water condition: Why? Often a river is large enough to contain itself within its banks. But if there has been excessive rain and the river is high enough, it can flow over normally dry land
    3. Water quality: strong summer rains can increase the likelihood of bacteria that can cause sickness
  4. Tell someone you trust about your plans and approximately when you will be finished. In an emergency, that person will notify the authorities if you haven’t made contact within a few hours of your finish time.
  5. Leave no trace - be kind to nature and pack out everything you carried into the river (food, cans, etc). Let’s keep our waterways clean!

River Floating Essentials & Accessories

The Boy Scouts said it best with “Be Prepared” - and we recommend packing the following items for your safety and comfort while river floating. 

Essential items:

  • Life jackets: different waterways will have different rules around life jackets, so please research if it is mandatory where you’re floating. However, we will always recommend wearing life jackets, especially for children
  • Sun protection: make sure you wear sunscreen and wear sun hats to prevent any sunburns
  • Water: remember to stay hydrated if you’re spending hours in the sun
  • Food: consider bringing snacks if you’re floating for several hours
  • Dry bag or waterproof phone holder: to hold your phone, car keys, and all the items above 
  • Remember to secure all items to your tube 

Accessories that make your float a lot more fun:

  • Waterproof speakers
  • Coolers
  • Water shoes: for getting out of the floats 
  • Dog Ramp: if you’re planning to float with your pup, try our Dog Ramp so they can easily move from swimming to floating with you 

Best Places to River Float 

Besides floating and tubing in rivers near you, you can also adventure in truly stunning and iconic locations. 

Below are some of the most popular places to float the USA - and for good reason!

  • Guadalupe River, Texas: famously known as a party river and is the most popular river to float in Texas. “The Horseshoe” is a popular tubing section is the river that takes an hour to float. It begins and ends at two different sections of the Horseshoe Bridge as it crosses over the river. You can repeat it by walking back or continue to “The Chute,” a river channel that’s a few hundred yards long and bounces tubers over small whitewater rapids for a fun adventure
  • Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Arizona: The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s preeminent backcountry experiences. More than 20,000 people float through the canyon every year and many more would if they could. Visitors have two options for a river rafting trip, you can travel with a commercial guiding company, or you can apply for a permit for a private trip which can take months
  • Buffalo National River, Arkansas: explore America’s first national river is known for its towering water-stained bluffs, gravel bar campsites, and the highest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians. 
  • Snake River, Wyoming: The Snake River winds through the Grand Teton National Park and offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped Teton mountains. 
  • Deschutes River, Oregon: this popular river is very close to downtown Bend, making the river a sea of bright rubber tubes on a hot summer day. The shallow section of the Deschutes that flows through Tumalo State Park is perfect for tubing or floating. The views include a desert shoreline and small rapids.
  • Merced River, California: there is a lovely 3-mile float of the Merced River that goes through Yosemite National Park. Admire the famously ancient sequoia trees and the stunning granite cliffs at a relaxing, leisurely pace
  • New River Gorge, West Virginia: admire one of the gems of the Appalachians and America’s newest national park. The gorge was named after an ancient river, New River, dating back 300 million years. Enjoy light waves, playful pools, and easy rapids as you admire the spectacular views
  • San Juan River, Utah: floating this river is like drifting through history. Admire archaic stone structures, rock art, and colorful and sweeping rocky faces. While the river is fast, the rapids are gentle so it’s perfect for people of all ages. 
  • Chattooga River, Georgia, and South Carolina: this river flows between Georgia and South Carolina and is a beloved place to float, swim, kayak, and fish. There river contains mild and scenic rafting as well as adrenaline-racing rapid and falls.
  • Salmon River, Idaho: this river is known as the “River of No Return” and flows through beautifully diverse scenes of eastern and central Idaho. Spanning around 425 miles, this northward-flowing river goes by open valleys, serene forests, and deep canyons. The river has three main sections - Lower Salmon, Main Salmon, and Middle Fork. The Middle Fork is home to iconic whitewater rafting. The Lower Salmon features expansive white sand beaches and warm water perfect for swimming. Finally, there is Main Salmon, where you can camp in numerous locations, explore hot springs, and admire the stunning scenery. 

So what are you waiting for? Grab your tube or dock and get on the water!

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