Four Reasons to Try Tubing on the Delaware (or Any River)

How could this not be a really amazing idea?
Whitewater kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and power boating are just a few of many ways to spend hours on the water. But what about distilling the experience down to the bare minimum required to stay afloat and relax on a hot summer day?

River tubing is, at its core, sitting in an inflated tube and floating down a river. It's as simple as summer fun gets. 

We've got a few beautiful waterways to choose from in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but despite having lived in the area for almost eight years, I hadn't tried it until this summer. Why would I want to just sit in a tube when I could be kayaking, rafting, or out for a hike and cooling off under a waterfall?

On a blistering summer weekend, a handful of friends and I drove up to Bucks County for a relaxing afternoon on the water. Our destination? Bucks County River Country, the Delaware Valley's tubing capital, and I couldn't wait to see what all of the tubing fuss was about. We rented dual chamber tubes, boarded a bus, and drove up the western side of the Delaware River. The bus dropped us off, we jumped in the water, and spent the next two hours lazily floating downstream at a speed of approximately two miles per hour.

The river was a refreshing 80ºF, about 15ºF cooler than the air. If I got too hot, I sunk a little further into my tube, or slid off the side for a quick dip. I watched beautiful scenery pass by, and got to enjoy the time with my friends. It was an absolute blast. Though cooling off under a waterfall on a hike still sounds amazing, I'm glad I gave tubing a try, and here's why you should too.

River tubing is unbelievably relaxing.

If you're the type who's always in search of adrenaline, or who can't go home after a day outdoors without having broken a sweat, sitting in a tube might sound...boring. I'm in the latter camp, and normally have trouble sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time. But there's just something so relaxing about being on the water. Lapping waves, the sun on your face, the gentle current of the river, it's all a recipe for a refreshing, relaxing day. And if you find sitting in the tube gets too relaxing, you can always hop off and go for a swim to keep things interesting. Just make sure you have a friend holding on to your tube so it doesn't float down the river without you, and be aware of the depth of the water.

River tubing is a great way to stay cool on an oppressively hot summer day.

We've had a relatively mild summer in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but that still doesn't mean we haven't had our share of 90ºF days. And when it's hot, it's typically also humid, which means you're sweating the second you set foot out the door. Hanging by a pool, finding a beach, or just sitting in the comfort of an air conditioned building are all great ways to stay cool. But being by a pool isn't the same as being in a natural environment, sand gets everywhere when you're on a beach, and well, if you're me, sitting indoors all summer isn't an option. With tubing, you've got the water to cool you off, but you can still enjoy being outdoors.

River tubing is fun for just about everyone. 

When it comes to water sports, finding something a group of people with different interests and appetites for adventure can be a challenge. But no matter the age, skill set, and experience level of the people in your group, river tubing an activity just about everyone can enjoy. We saw families and groups of adults a like having a blast on our float trip down the Delaware River. Plus, it doesn't require much in the way of equipment. Bucks County River Country rented tubes based on weight, which made it easy to figure out what tube to grab. And that's basically all we needed to have a great day on the river.

When else are you going to have a chance to order a hot dog on a floating dock and sit on a picnic table in the water?

After about ten minutes of floating, two members of our group motioned for us to paddle toward the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, despite the fact that Bucks County River Country is Pennsylvania based and we'd need to ferry back over. Why? Because Delaware River Tubing offers a hot dog and barbecue spot on a floating dock tied to a small island, complete with picnic tables in the water ( see above). The "hot dog man" also offers veggie burgers and chicken salads. Though I didn't opt to give the hot dogs a try, given I'd just had lunch, I'm definitely doing it if I go back.

Need a few pro tips before you head out on your own tubing adventure? Make sure you're aware of rules if you're using a professional oufitter, including what you're allowed to bring on your float and if any children in your party need a life jacket. Don't want to worry about rules? Invest in your own tube.  This one comes with a back rest, this one fits two people, and this one holds all of your beverages! Apply sunscreen liberally, and if you flip from sitting on your back to your stomach on the tube, reapply. Trust me. Finally, don't forget to look around. We saw some beautiful rock formations on our float down the Delaware River. 

Have you tried river tubing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or in your area? If you have, what was it like? If you haven't, why not? We'd love to hear from you!