Top 15 Rivers to Float in United States

Long sunny afternoons of summers invite many visitors to the sparkling rivers, flanked by lush American wilderness. Floating weightlessly, sipping refreshments and camping along the verdant riverbanks, spotting the fascinating wildlife around the river valleys, swimming, fishing, and even star-gazing at nights- rivers in the United States grant endless natural and recreational attractions.

For fans of outdoorsy adventures, paddling sports enthusiasts, lazy tube floating fans with the entire family, or those enjoying the captivating natural elements from an over-the-water perspective.

Here is a guide to the 15 best American rivers for both adventurous visitors and laid-back backpackers.

1. Comal River, Texas

Comal River, Texas

Nicknamed as the longest shortest river in the world, the Comal River meanders along with the urban limits of a small city in Comal County. During each summer, the placid waters of the Comal River transform into the Texan’s play area for paddling and other aquatic recreations.

Tubing especially is popular among the locals, sided by canoe routes, small tent-pitch grounds, and picnic areas. Occasionally, the river’s flow is accompanied by relatively high water levels. In response, the City Tube Chute offers lifeguard supervised routes, that ultimately reach Hinman Island Park- embracing the verdant and tree arched banks of the river.

Due to the lack of boulders and rapids, the entire river offers a laid-back and rather exhilarating tubing experience.

2. Guadalupe River, Texas

Guadalupe River, Texas

Following the calm current of Comal River, the stream joins the Guadalupe River ultimately, where the waters run fiercely around the giant boulders, bedrock drops, and whirlpool rapids. Although located at a short distance, Guadalupe River exhibits a distinct nature from Comal and calls for on-water skills for a smooth tubing and paddling experience.

Starting from the interesting limestone formations and verdant river banks, the river regions transmute into lush marine landscapes. The river joins with the free waters of San Antonio Bay and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The distance between the North Fork and the South Fork marks a stretch of the calmer waters, often used for tubing. Whereas the lower parts- as it gets closer to the bay- are popular among the adventurous recreationists for rafting, canoeing, and rapid water kayaking.

3. Snoqualmie River, Washington State

Snoqualmie River, Washington State

Lounging at the scenic heart of Snoqualmie Valley, the green Snoqualmie river highlights an attractive recreation center, complemented with breathtaking natural vistas. Just before reaching the cascades and trembling rapids in the northern sections, the river moves graciously around the southern and middle forks- a stretch much suitable for laid-back tubing.

Rope swinging over the river from the heights of giant trees, camping at the designated campsites amid the charming nature of Pacific Northwest and innumerable hiking trails walking up to myriads of campgrounds, mountains, and silver waterfalls- the river valley is an ultimate recreation ground each summer.

4. Hudson River, New York

Hudson River, New York

Starting from the state’s highest point at the Lake Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson River runs along with the magnificent waterfront nature- from NYC, all the way to New Jersey.

Named among America’s best lazy rivers, tubing is the characteristic recreation around Hudson river- joined with other aquatic recreation such as paddling. Other notable attractions in the vicinity include; hot-air balloon festivals, national historic landmarks, foraging forests, and recreation facilitated zones.

Most of the shores are protected in the parkland territories, to preserve the region’s peculiar wildlife and topography. As both a sweet and saltwater river, Hudson is home to rare varieties of aquatic and terrestrial fauna and spectacular river banks. Besides tubing, fishing and camping highlight the popular activities along the river.

5. Shenandoah River, Virginia

Shenandoah River, Virginia

Floating over the lazily moving section of Shenandoah River is an all-time favorite by avid tubers- at a short paddling distance from adventurous rapids, canoeing tributaries, and whitewater rafting destinations.

At the vicinity of Harpers Ferry, a section of Shenandoah River highlights a fine tubing location, accompanied by outfitters tubing and rafting tours. In addition to adventurous recreation, backcountry camping is facilitated with charismatic wooden cottages.

Located at the wilderness heart of the river’s verdant waterfronts, visitors can enjoy full-serviced suits and the best of the region’s delicacies and cozy dining experiences.

6. Kaua’i, Hawaii

Kaua’i, Hawaii

Kaua’i river embraces the mesmerizing beauty of the Pacific coast, snaking around the lushly forested hills and Lihue rainforest vegetation. While tubing over this lazy river provides a relaxing water recreation, it paves the way into the unsuspecting beauty of the Hawaiian archipelago, and its wealth of wildlife attraction, especially varieties of tropical and migrating birds.

The river runs along the Waimea Canyon state park- nicknamed Hawaii’s grand canyon for its layered facade and red-hued soil- and covers most of the fascinating landscapes down the canals and fumes, heritage sites, and much of uncontaminated territories that can only be reached by canoes, kayaks or other floating crafts.

7. Salt River, Arizona

Salt River, Arizona

Flat water tubing is a delight over crystalline green rivers, sided by spectacular river banks and basic outfitters facilities accessible to visitors. Amid the barren wonders of Tonto National Forest, Salt River offers it all.

Stretching over 320 kilometers, the river is named after the massive salt deposits on its forks, at the confluence of White and Black Rivers. Most of the river is mapped as a floating trail for laid-back tubers.

However, some sections accommodate rafting and canoeing for the rushing waters around the bedrock’s boulders, innumerable tributary springs, and small rivers that sweep into the river.

Besides tubing, fishing at Roosevelt, Below Saguaro, and Tempe Town Lakes highlights a native and popular activity. The river banks are peppered with scenic campgrounds, roofed accommodations, backcountry tent pitches, and a network of trails to the region’s breathtaking scenery- for further on-land activities.

8. Au Sable River, Michigan

Au Sable River, Michigan

Enlisted as one of the most beautiful flat river destinations, Au Sable River is described as an ultimate fun-in-the-sun location. With an uncontaminated nature brooding over its river banks, outfitters tours at Au Sable offer a comprehensive experience of the nearby highlights- from phenomenon rock formations, spotting the rich and biodiverse wildlife, to unlimited trout and bass fishes and providing recreation gear and routes.

Among tubers, the most popular river section is within the vertical walls of AuSable Chasm, where the natural luxury mingles with leisurely floating, adventurous paddling, and unrivaled vistas. Bobcat Landing pinpoints the shortest tubing route, while Alcona Dam is the longest lazy tubing stretch on the river.

Visitors can take their adventure over a small watercraft, to the scenic camping accommodations on the shoreline bluffs, and even hit the hiking trails to visit the several historic landmarks and panoramic vantage points.

9. Cahaba River, Alabama

Cahaba River, Alabama

Marking the longest free-flowing river in the state, the Cahaba River is famed worldwide for its breathtaking waterfront vistas and the wealth of biodiverse flora and fauna providing many wildlife sighting opportunities while tubing. For over a few decades, the river carries a legacy of lazy tubing in summer, particularly around limestone parkway.

With sun-kissed sand shoals, trees arching over the green body of the river, smoothly flowing streams, and sufficient facilities for paddlers and tubers- thousands of visitors join the annual splashing fun.

Nature’s specialty and most poetic vistas of the river are seen from late spring to the beginning of spring when the shores are riddled with blooming water lilies.

10. Toccoa River, Georgia

Toccoa River, Georgia

The picturesque banks of the Toccoa River are claimed as the most scenic landscapes of Georgia. While flowing over a wide riverbed, the stream moves serenely until reaching the occasional rapids- including an Olympic whitewater rafting section for ardent paddlers- and the mini-lagoon for a swim at the wilderness core of the river.

Noted as a family-friendly destination, kayaking and tubing over this lazy river grant a safe and entertaining outdoor adventure. Other highlights include; zip-lining over the river’s width, joining the horseback rides, cycling and hiking trail, or simply enjoying the backwoods accommodations with panoramic vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

11. Ichetucknee River, Florida

Ichetucknee River, Florida

Ranked among the United State’s top tubing destinations, Ichetucknee River runs through a dreamland of lush forests, emerald-colored streams, and wholesome natural beauty. Whether a landscape photographer, an adventurous outing enthusiast for floating and paddling activities or simply requiring an off-grid destination for your next outdoor excursion- Ichetucknee River is a must-visit destination river.

Long spans of the river banks are safeguarded in the vast Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Marking a home to many biodiverse creatures, the landscapes at the proximity of the eight sparkling spring creeks and the main river tributaries boasts wildlife wonders including turtles, otters, wild turkey, Limpkins, and much more

12. Yampa River, Colorado

Yampa River, Colorado

Sprung from the rugged heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Yampa River carries the essence of its ancient origin and remains as one of the few American free-flowing rivers. Tubing fun here starts at Steamboat Springs, located in the middle parts of Yampa, facilitated with waterfront picnic and camping areas, and outfitters tours and amenities.

In addition to leisurely tubing, river maps lead the way to spectacular river cliffs, lush riparian biomes, and indigenous vestiges from the first inhabitants dating to thousand years ago; all combine to set forth an unforgettable tubbing experience and family adventure.

13. Brandywine River, Delaware

Brandywine River, Delaware

The river is entitled as one of the most scenic streams in northern Delaware and southern Pennsylvania. Walled lushly forested mountain slopes, the river is best known for its vistas, mirroring the reflection of vegetation over its calm surfaces. With lazy waters, floating over the pristine stream is a local favorite, joined with photo-opt worthy vistas and backcountry adventure tours.

Besides tubing, canoeing and kayaking offer a speedier craft alternative, sweeping down to the historic valley of Brandywine and all its natural and historic treasures. The hiking routes to aboriginal heritage sites and museums near the namesake village mark the nearby cultural attractions.

14. Portneuf River, Idaho

Portneuf River, Idaho

The volcanic landscapes of Idaho illustrate peculiar characteristics; scenic lava formations, odd-shaped chasms, creeks and rivers, and hot springs. Located at proximity to fabled thermal playground at Lava Hot springs, Portneuf river is named as America’s best tubing river, veining the volcanic terrain of Yellowstone National Park and all its bewildering beauty.

At a stone’s throw from the scalding thermal pools, the river mingles tubing and small paddling craft recreation with the mineral goodness of the steaming hot spring pools. Luxury comfort hotels within the natural and urban limits, world-class restaurants, stress-busting spa packages and nature’s many alluring attractions- lava hot springs is a multidimensional getaway.

15. Grant River, Wisconsin

Grant River, Wisconsin
Potosi, Wisconsin

Grant River stands in the limelight of America’s lazy river destinations, covering from the lush flora and fauna of Grant County until the verges of Mississippi river. Popular among families, students, solo adventurous recreationists, the Grant River offers something for people of all walks of life.

Whether deciding to camp around the scenic creeks, fish and float in the calm sections, or join the trembling rapids with your whitewater raft- the river accommodates aquatic recreation in many forms- dominating vistas of a terrain described as the God’s Country for its scenic allure.

With countless rivers and calm streams, recreational floating is a sportive legacy across the United States and its rivers. In addition to the list above, here is another two must-float destinations;

San Marcos River, Texas

An ancient sacred ground to the indigenous Americans, San Marcos River is a scenic stream with spans of calm surface for tubing and paddling. Rich in nature, indigenous heritage sites and outfitters facilities in summer, the rivers mark one of our favorite spots for tubing.

Current River, Missouri

Starting from the heights of Ozark Mountains, Current River is ladened with gravel beaches, lush green forests, sheer pale bluffs with spectacular vantage points, campsites and much more- all concealed within the charming terrain of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Tubing, kayaking or canoeing over this flat river is described as a truly rewarding experience.

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