Madison River in Bozeman, Montana
Expect stellar mountain vistas and big sky views while floating the Madison River, a river with delightfully warm water (it runs through one of the country’s most thermally active regions) that flows for 180-plus miles from Yellowstone National Park to the Missouri River. Tubers prefer the river’s lower section between Ennis Dam and the Missouri headwaters in Three Forks, Montana, specifically the 6.5 mile float from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford. Along with access points every few miles, this section of the river is both calm and wide, running among forested slopes and rugged cliff sides where wildlife like moose and eagles make regular appearances.
There are several places in Bozeman to rent or buy tubes, including Big Boys Toys and Round House. Another option: Embark on a tubing adventure with Montana Whitewater, which provides shuttle services and also rents out extras, including ice, floats for coolers, and waterproof speakers.
Provo River in Provo, Utah
It takes between 1.5 and 2 hours for a lazy float along the Provo River from just below Deer Creek Reservoir to Vivian Park, 11 miles north of Provo. Whether you’ll encounter rapids or low-lying rocks is dependent on water levels, though stellar views of Provo Canyon and 11,753-foot-tall Mt. Timpanogos, the second highest mountain in Utah’s Wasatch Range, are guaranteed either way. Keep an eye out for the Heber Valley Railroad’s steam-engine passenger trains, which run alongside the river multiple times daily.
Local outfitters High Country Adventure rents out heavy-duty river tubes, as well as double tubes—ideal for couples and/or adults with children—and wetsuits for the river’s chilly waters, which hover between 52 and 55 degrees year-round.
A note to BYO tubers: Be sure and get out of the water before the wooden Heber Creeper bridge. It tends to collect hazardous debris around its support structures. Walk on land to relaunch on the other side.