Posted on 11 Jul 2020

Tubing the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs

Tubing the Yampa in Steamboat

Floating the river is always a Steamboat favorite! Tubing the river is pretty unique to Steamboat. Other Colorado towns may try to emulate the experience, heck, Disney even tries to emulate the experience! Rest assured, you will realize that there is no substitute for the real thing when you’re floating our lazy summer river right through the heart of downtown. 

Tubing Outfitters

We recommend renting tubes from our friends at Backdoor Sports. As their name indicates, you hop in your tube right outside their backdoor. They’ll even rent you a dry bag for belongings you don’t want to get wet. *Pro-tip, put your COVID-19 mask inside of the dry bag as you’ll need it for the shuttle ride back into town.

After you’ve floated the Yampa for a stretch, Backdoor Sports’ private shuttles* whisk you back to their shop where your dry clothes await, trust us, this is much easier than buying and inflating your own tubes, riding a public bus in your bathing suit or shuttling cars to two different locations (with limited parking). *Please note that because of COVID-19 the shuttles have taken additional safety precautions. They will be running at half capacity to allow for social distancing and a mask is required to ride the shuttle. You do not need a mask while tubing the river, so be sure you use the included dry bag with your tube rental, or bring one with you.

While you’re on the float, you can stop off at various downtown riverside restaurants along the way or just soak up the sun on an outdoor deck after your tubing trip is over. 

Tubing season usually begins in June and goes through August, however, conditions are reliant on snow-melt and rainfall. Too high or too low water levels means that the river will be closed to tubers.

As the river flow slows down to safe tubing levels, the age minimum drops, as well. Small rapids, standing waves and rock features will carry you down the river on this exciting, family-friendly ride, which can last from 1 to 3 hours depending on your put-in and take-out points and the river’s flow.

Tubing is a favorite way to cool off during the midday sun but floats before 1 pm are less crowded. An evening float on a warm summer night can also be pretty gorgeous and serene. 

General Information

Put-in Details

If you decide to go on your own rather than through Backdoor Sports, please note the rules of the river.

The river has been separated into zones by the City of Steamboat Springs in conjunction with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to give every user group a share of this wonderful resource. Rental tubing is allowed downstream from the 5th Street bridge, while private tubers are encouraged to float starting at Fetcher Park, leaving the quieter upper stretch of river open for fishing.

If you choose to tube privately it is recommended that you park your car downtown or at the Community Center/ Stockbridge Transit Center and ride the bus to your put in location. Be sure to have your mask handy for the city bus ride.

Free City Bus Info

Parking is extremely limited at all put in locations including Fetcher Pond and Weiss Park. Using the Red Line you can park your car at the Stockbridge Transit Center and start at either Fetcher Pond for the longest ride or Dr. Rich Weiss Park (for some hot springs alongside the river) and float all the way back to your vehicle. Please be aware that bus drivers will not allow wet people or inflated tubes on the bus, so if you opt to ride the bus post-float be sure you have a dry bag for your belongings.

Tubing Tips

  • Check the river flow to see if it is at a safe level for tubing. Water levels above 700 cubic feet per second are not safe for tubing. Water levels under 700 cubic feet per second may still not be safe for those who are not strong swimmers. Be sure to share with the outfitter your comfort level in water.

  • Life jackets are always recommended, especially when the river is at a high water level; small children should wear a life vest at any water level.

  • Wear shoes with straps (not flip-flops) and a swimsuit or clothing. River shoes are available for rental at most tubing outfitters.

  • Be aware of what you bring with you; you may tip over and lose gear.

  • Respect other tubers, people walking along the core trail, and fishermen.

  • Try to tube in small groups (about 5 – 10 people).

  • Leave no garbage behind. Please take everything you bring with you out with you. Help us keep the Yampa River beautiful!

  • NO alcohol, dogs, or glass.

The safest and most reliable way to tube the Yampa is to go through one of our local tubing outfitters such as Backdoor Sports. They’ve been sending happy customers down the river (out their backdoor) and shuttling them back to the shop for over 34 years. Truly, they offer the safest and most enjoyable Steamboat tubing experience.

For more ways to play on the river and Steamboat’s many other waterways, check out our favorite ways to just add water to your summer Steamboat vacation

 And, of course, to guarantee that your Steamboat tubing adventures go swimmingly, pair them with a perfect vacation home from Moving Mountains. Most of our luxurious homes come equipped with private hot tubs, several of the other properties we offer have heated outdoor pools, and all come with our insider knowledge and recommendations from our local staff on the best ways to make the most of your Steamboat family vacation. Start your search for the perfect Steamboat summer vacation rental right here. 

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