May 17, 2018 06:20PM ● Published by Jake Browne
Snow tubing is gaining in popularity among those who are terrified of breaking their everything on the mountain, but what do you do when that all melts? Ride that same liquid, now in its liquid state, as there are an abundance of creeks and rivers that offer some chill floats in Colorado. Much less expensive than kayaking or rafting, a cheap tube can run you under $10 and give you a full day of entertainment.
For those in the Denver area not looking for a full day excursion, check out Golden’s Clear Creek. Park downtown, grab a quick Uber down the road (or walk) to the end of 10th street. This trip can be one of the more punishing trips when the water is low, known for busting a butt or two on the rocks, so this is a float best saved for higher water levels.
That being said, you’re never in danger of hitting any rapids that are too aggressive, and popping out in the heart of Golden to grab a bite or a brew means it’s a pretty solid day.
This advice also doubles for Boulder Creek, although you’ll stop whenever you feel like it and walk back instead of shuttling. The people watching isn’t half bad, as college kids have a habit of making terrible decisions around there.
Easier still is what the locals call “Freelitch Gardens” or the man-made rapids outside of REI. Built into the Platte River, it’s a quick shot that feels more like a waterslide than a lazy river, but that can be perfect for a day that’s hot enough where a fast dunk feels great. Just make sure to keep your mouth closed, as it’s known for not being the cleanest water around.
If you’re looking to make a day of it, the San Juan River at Pagosa Springs is ideal for those looking for an alternately lazy and adventurous float. The scenic hour-long round trip is recommended for stronger swimmers, but there aren’t any class five rapids involved, so no need to stress. Instead of investing in a tube you’re going to ditch in the garage as soon as you get home, Pagosa Outside Adventures has a day rental for $29 that includes shuttle service to keep you in the water for as long as you can hang.
Other top stops include the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, the Animas River in Durango, and the Cache La Poudre River outside of Fort Collins. No matter what, don’t forget your sunscreen and a group of friends.