What better way to spend a hot summer day than floating or tubing down a beautiful river? River users can float down the beautiful Deerfield River in Massachusetts in rafts, kayaks, canoes, tubes and on stand-up paddle boards (SUP).

Tubing is great fun in deeper flowing waters that keep you safe from shallow rocks and moving along at a comfortable pace without having to propel yourself with your hands and feet. Rivers often get quite low in the summertime, so be sure to check on conditions before planning a trip. Some rivers, such as the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts, are controlled by hydroelectric dams and have schedules for high water on certain days of the week. Dam release schedules guarantee that the river will be high enough for float trips and tubing – but you must have knowledge of the river. This is important for choosing a drop in and drop out location and the optimal time to start your trip. If you do not time your trip properly, you may well be walking down the Deerfield River instead of floating on it.

River tubing is safe when proper precautions are taken:

  1. Wear a lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD)! Some river tubers think that they are good swimmers and do not need a lifejacket because their tube will float them. But what happens if the tube flips over and gets separated from you? Or what if the tube loses air during the trip? Swimming in swift and/or deep rivers far from shore can be challenging for any level swimmer. 
  1. Only take people on the river that are comfortable in the water. Be ready for the unexpected – how will someone react if a tube loses air or flips over. Think carefully about kids before taking them on the river – can they be self-sufficient for a short time if you get separated or if their tube has a problem. 
  1. Do not tie tubes together! Ropes can get tangled around exposed rocks in the river, tree branches and people if they are off of their tube. Tying tubes together also makes maneuvering around obstacles very difficult.
  1. Alcohol, drugs and the river do not mix. Impaired river users can quickly find themselves in dangerous situations on the river. Bring water, lots of water on hot, sunny river floats. Snacks are great too, but make sure you keep the river clean and have a container to keep your trash together and out of the river.

These are the things to think about when river tubing: 

  • How high is the water? 
  • Where do we start? 
  • Are there bathrooms close by? 
  • How do I get back to my car at the end of the trip? 
  • Do we have life jackets for everyone? 
  • Is everyone a good swimmer and comfortable in the water? 

If you are not sure of the answers to all of these questions – consider contacting an adventure outfitter on a nearby river that can help you with tubing. Or maybe – look into a trip in rafts with an outfitter such as Crab Apple Whitewater who will take care of all of the details for you.

Rafting through an established outfitter has many advantages. Outfitters will have commercial grade rafts that are always safe. They will likely offer Guided trips where  seasoned river Guides make the trip safe and enjoyable because they know the river so well and will regale their crew with the history and other cool stories about the river. Outfitters know exactly when to raft, where to start/end and will provide transportation. Many outfits also provide meals during and after a river trip. Outfitters take a lot of the worry out of a trip down an unknown river and make it safe and fun. 

On the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts, Crab Apple Whitewater Rafting was the first company to offer rafting trips in 1989. Family owned and operated since 1983, Crab Apple has a riverside base camp that is easy for parking, changing clothes before and after trips, offers delicious meals after rafting. Crab Apple river trips are guided by fun experts who know their home river and know how to make a day full of memories. Check out Crab Apple adventure at crabapplewhitewater.com or call 800-553-7238.


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