River tubing is the ultimate summer activity. There is something inside each of us that craves navigating a winding river under the hot sun, acting like we are children again. It is also one of the best ways to experience nature and surrounding wildlife. Whether you are looking for an exhilarating ride or the ultimate lazy river, Canada is the perfect country to find it. Here are 10 rivers to float down, inner tube style, from coast to coast.
10. Kettle River, B.C
One of the favorite ways to spend a sunny day for locals here is to grab an inner tube and float from the Kettle River Provincial Park to Rock Creek. The journey takes about three to four hours and you must ensure you have a car parked on either end as there are no river operators here to shuttle you back. This float experience is full of sandy beaches to stop at and many unique swimming holes. If you do head out late in the season, the water will be at its lowest and you can expect to walk some of the river. There are both rapids, snags and still water along the river and it is recommended you are a good swimmer, or wear a life jacket at all times.
9. The Massawippi River, QB
In the tiny town of Lennoxville, Bishops University students flock to the Massawippi River for “the float”. This tradition of floating down the river on some sort of inflatable device has been a time honored tradition for years. Don’t expect any crazy rapids here, just a leisurely float down the waters. Students come in the hundreds to hit the river on a hot sunny day, with just a bit of a breeze that is needed to push them along. The float takes a couple hours to complete if you head to the drop-off point and float back into town. There is no shortage of inflatable rafts or tubes to buy in this tiny town, just head to one of the stores and have your pick. Or perhaps even stop by one of the frat houses and they may just lend you one. In a town of students, we ensure you that this float will be unforgettable, made more so by the people you will interact with.
8. Similkameen River, B.C
Folks here have been drifting along this river for generations, making it one of the most popular summer activities in the valley. There are no river outfitters here so you will have to bring your own tube or flotation device, as well as arrange pickup at your final destination. There are multiple routes to take here, ranging from two hours to five hours, depending on the water levels. The crystal clear river, ranch lands dotted with cattle and eagles taking flight are just a handful of the beautiful scenery. There are plenty of spots to stop along the way to have a picnic, splash in the shallow waters and meet up with other tubers. Just make sure to slather on the sunscreen and toss away all worries before you head on this relaxing float.
7. The Gaspereau River, NS
Every year hundreds of people flock to Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau River to enjoy a casual float. You don’t need to worry about having your own tube here as there are plenty of places near the entrance of the river that rent them. If you are looking for more of an inflatable boat though, you will have to bring your own. The river winds through a hidden, yet scenic valley that features both vineyards and farmlands and doesn’t take you much more than 30 minutes to complete. Water ranges from tranquil and clear to small rapids and is perfect for the entire family. Make sure you bring two vehicles with you though as the walk back is over 2.5 km. It is important to check out the water conditions before you head to the river though as water levels do fluctuate from day to day and are sometimes too low to tube.
6. Elora River, ON
Tubing down the Elora River in Ontario is a fun and exciting way to see the wonders of the Elora Gorge. It is a two kilometer stretch that is filled with white water rapids, incredible scenery and towering cliffs. The journey takes about an hour and you can either bring your own tube or rent equipment from the park, which offers a tube, life jacket and helmet; the helmet and life jacket are mandatory. You can tube the river as many times as you want as long as you pay once and we guarantee you will want to go a few times. Tubing this river will most likely result in you falling off your tube at some point, or hanging on for dear life as the rapids can toss you around. Therefore this is not recommended for young children and children must be over 42 inches tall. If you want thrills, this is the river for you.
5. Shuswap River, B.C
Generations of people have floated along the Shuswap River, curling its way across the valley between Mabel and Mara Lakes. It is best known for its epic scenery of forested canyons, fields of green and gold and the occasional wandering herd of cattle. There are several distinct tubing routes to choose from along the river depending how much time you want to spend in the river. From one hour rides to seven hour rides, you can spend the whole day here or just your lunch break. Grab your life jacket, inflatable raft, sunscreen and adventurous spirit and head to the river. Keep your eyes peeled for River Ambassadors who are stationed at the hand-launch stations along the river. They will help you plan out your route depending on conditions, direct to you the hand-launches and the put-in and pull-out points along the way.
4. South Thompson River, B.C
One of the most popular ways to spend a hot Kamloops day is to join the hundreds of people who are tubing down the South Thompson River. The Thompson River is the largest tributary of the Fraser River and has two major branches, the South portion flowing approximately 55 km. Park one vehicle at Pioneer Park and head out in the other to the Valleyview boat launch. It is here where you will start your tubing adventure and it is essential you have your own floating devices with you as there is nowhere to rent them. Many floaters on this river even bring along an extra cargo boat in which you can load up your supplies such as snacks and beverages for the four hour float. Along the way you will find a number of sandy beaches, perfect for picnics and swims and plenty of other friendly floaters to chat with.
3. Cowichan River, B.C
It might just be the number one way to spend a hot summer day, tubing down the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. Think of crystal clear waters and stunning scenery, a float that takes you just a few hours to complete. You can either bring your own tube or rent one from The Tube Shack, the same company that will provide you with a ride back to your car for just $5. Depending on the river conditions floaters can expect the first portion of the river to be calm and serene while the second half does pick up and offer a few small rapids. Many tubers recommended bringing a paddle and if you have kids, you will want to tie your tubes to theirs. The locals here have even put floating refuse containers in the middle of the river to help keep the littering to none, make sure you use them!
2. Pembina River, AB
The best way to see this beautiful river is to float down it with the gentle current. Most people choose to use Pembina River Company as they can supply you with an inner tube, life jacket, tube ties to tie a number of tubes together and a shuttle to and from the river. You can also bring your own tube and life jacket and they will charge you just for the shuttle. Floaters should expect breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery, plenty of wildlife and a lot of laughs as they float through small rapids, navigate around rocks and sometimes bump into shore. It is recommended you bring plenty of water to drink and lather up that sunscreen as when the river is low the float can take a total of four hours. This activity isn’t just for adults though; kids are welcome to accompany their adult chaperon’s as long as they are over five years old.
1. Okanagan River Channel, B.C
On hot summer days there is no better way to relax than to lie back on a floating apparatus and let the river carry you away. This 7 km channel is free to float down; all you need is a flotation device, which is available to rent at the launch site. It will take you about three to four hours to drift down the river, so make sure you pack a few snacks and something to sip on. Coyote Cruises is the company that operates the bus and tube rentals and it is important to note that they only offer tube rentals to the halfway point; therefore we suggest bringing your own. Expect to see plenty of kids with snorkels and masks in the water, following the many fish while their parents relax on their tubes. This awesome, family-friendly activity is a favorite among locals and visitors.