8 Great American Tubing Adventures with Fido

Posted by Billy Francis

This article was updated in July 2021.

Tubing⁠ is the delicate art of sitting in a rubber ring and allowing the river’s current to guide you. It’s one of the most relaxing and serene activities you can do on the water, which is why companies all over the country offer tubing trips down picturesque stretches of river. Tubes are so durable nowadays that they can even withstand a dog’s sharp claws. Check out these eight "pawsome" tubing adventures where Fido can float with you.

1. Cool River Tubing

Helen, GA
“You didn’t say anything about rapids!” Photo by Facebook.com/CoolRiverTubing

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, it gets hotter than a poochie tubing. On the outskirts of the Bavarian-themed town of Helen in the northeastern corner of Georgia, you’ll find Cool River Tubing. A featured attraction in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, the outfitter can equip you and your pooch with everything you need for a fun float down the crisp and refreshing waters of the Chattahoochee River. Smaller pups are welcome to sit on your lap, and larger dogs can ride their own tube. Rentals start at $10, and dogs ride for free.

Bear Creek Lodge & Cabins features an assortment of pet-friendly accommodations, including a treehouse next to the river. Depending on where you choose to stay, you can be within walking distance to the action in downtown Helen, enjoy views across the river, or find a pet-friendly trail just beyond your door.

2. Lions Club Tube Rental

San Marcos, TX
"We make tubing look glamorous." Photo by Lucy

The San Marcos River sprouts to life in this historic Texas city. Maintaining an inviting 72 degrees year-round, the water provides relief from the sun’s beating heat. Lions Club Tube Rental operates tube rentals and a shuttle from pet-friendly Rio Vista Park. There’s some excitement to be had before you head off on your hour-long lazy river cruise with your pooch. At the park, the river flows into three chutes known as Rio Vista Falls. Shooting down the falls in a tube is one of the most popular activities during the summer months. After your river adventure, dry Fido off and stop by the Railyard Bar & Grill in San Marcos for a bite on the pet-friendly patio.

After a gentle float together, bring your dog for a budget stay at Red Roof Inn San Marcos.

3. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe

Bend, OR
“What do you mean, relax? I’m walking on water!” Photo by BringFido

Floating down the slow-moving Deschutes River is one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day in Bend. Fortunately for Fido, dogs are welcome to swim in the river and join in the fun, too! Bring your own inner tube, or rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or canoe from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, which also outfits visitors with life jackets and other accessories. Conveniently located on the banks of the river near the Old Mill District, the company offers two-hour rentals starting at $40 for kayaks and paddleboards and $50 for canoes. Dogs are allowed for $15. After your relaxing float, give Fido a chance to stretch his legs during off-leash playtime at Riverbend Beach Dog Park. With separate small and large dog areas, pups of any size can enjoy splashing in the water and playing fetch in this fully fenced riverfront park.

After a day of adventure on the water, relax in a luxuriously appointed room at the Oxford Hotel Bend. Their pet package includes a bed, two pet bowls (one to take home), and organic dog treats. Pet massages, grooming, and walking services can also be arranged.

4. Smoky Mountain River Rat

Townsend, TN
Did somebody order a tUber? Photo by @photodogfun

Pigeon Forge isn’t the only destination in the Smokies that provides fun for the whole family. Smoky Mountain River Rat is just a short drive away, offering two- and four-legged visitors the chance to spend a day on the Little River together. Their shuttle service will take you up the river so you can tube back down on the calm, shaded waters, with a stretch of mini rapids along the way to add a little excitement to the trip. Dogs are welcome to hop in their own tube or float on your lap. The calmer tours that are suitable for dogs depart from Outpost A, taking 1.5-2 hours to complete. Up the road from River Rat is the pet-friendly Apple Valley Mountain Village Mountain Store, which sells everything from quilts to hiking supplies and even treats for canine customers. Refuel at the Dancing Bean Coffee House next door before hopping on the 10-mile trail that winds through Townsend and circles back to the store.

Towel off and take a break at Tremont Lodge & Resort. Treats are provided at check-in, and water bowls are available upon request.

5. S & B Tubing

Albany, WI
"I would like my own tube." Photo by Facebook.com/SBTubing

The Sugar River is as sweet as it sounds. Lined with shady trees and boasting pristine waters, this picturesque tributary has fast become a model tubing destination in rural Wisconsin. S & B Tubing provides an alternative tubing experience for adventurous canines. Your pup can travel by your side atop an upside-down cooler tube! The wooden base gives Fido a flat surface to stand on as you float along the calm waters. If he’s small enough, he can chill out on your lap instead. The shuttle bus can be a squeeze, so only bring your dog if he enjoys being around humans and other furry friends. After exploring the water from the river, enjoy its beauty from the land on the Sugar River State Trail. This National Recreation Trail stretches 24 miles through pretty farmland, woods, rolling hills and over 14 trestle bridges, offering a different perspective of the river from above.

It’s worth the drive to Black River Falls for a stay at this comfortable cottage with views across the water.

6. Palmetto Outdoors

Columbia, SC
Nothing beats tubing with your best friends. Photo by Facebook.com/palmettooutdoors

Located on the Congaree River in Columbia, Palmetto Outdoors offers a deluxe pet-friendly tubing package. The wide river is the perfect destination for big groups, especially if you’re floating on the company’s self-proclaimed “Cadillacs of the River.” These top-shelf tubes are large enough to fit a big pup and are lined with mesh on the bottom, so your dog’s paws will stay firmly on board. Trips take 2.5-3 hours and cover 2 miles, depending on the water levels and weather. After cruising in your Cadillac, enjoy a bite to eat in beautiful wooded surroundings on the patio at Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro.

Top Fido’s Columbia adventure off with a stay at The Graduate Columbia on the grounds of The University of South Carolina.

7. Shanty Tubes

Canyon Lake, TX
Two for the price of fun. Photo by Facebook.com/shantytubes1

Thanks to the ever-changing flow from the Canyon dam turbines, the Guadalupe River in Texas is a hugely popular tubing destination. Shanty Tubes offers two tubing tours along the idyllic and refreshing waters of the Guadalupe. Hop in the shuttle with your pup and get dropped off next to the Horseshoe Loop section. This journey lasts between 1.5-2 hours and takes you down a section of the river lined with a variety of native trees and unusual cliffs formed by erosion. Tubers who aren’t satisfied when they come to the end can go around again for no extra charge. Alternatively, you can continue on to the 4th Crossing Bridge. This extended leg can take up to four hours to reach the pickup point. Afterwards, treat yourself to delicious Italian cuisine from nearby Gennaro’s Trattoria. They love pups and have a number of outdoor tables with views of Texas Hill country.

Spend the night in a cabin, tipi or tent at Mystic Quarry. This unique spot even has its own dog park for off-leash fun in the sun after a day on the river.

8. Montana Whitewater Rafting Co.

Gardiner, MT
“Man, tubing is hard work!” Photo by @mtwhitewater

Montana’s landscape is dominated by vast open prairies, mountain peaks, picturesque ranch towns and huge skies. The area surrounding Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner captures the essence of the state. Explore its natural beauty with your pooch on a tubing trip down Madison River with Montana Whitewater Rafting Co. Despite it being a mountain river, the waters of the Madison are surprisingly warm, often more than 70 degrees in the summer, and the hilly landscape makes it the ideal location for a relaxing 2-4 hour float. Dogs are welcome to sit in a tube with a mesh bottom and a PVC outer cover that allows renters to easily wipe off the dog hair before returning it. From here, head across the river to Cowboy Lodge and Grille, a little eatery with a pet-friendly patio and lovely views of the surrounding mountains.

With Yellowstone National Park at your doorstep, The Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone is a great base for your wild adventures together.

Have you been tubing with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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