Boulder Creek is the perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day tubing, swimming, playing and relaxing! In May and June, the water can be running high and fast (depending on the amount of snowfall over the winter), but by July and August, the creek is running lower and slower, a great time for a beginner to try it out. To make it simple, here are five steps to taking your first tube ride down Boulder Creek.
#1 Get a Tube
For river tubing, you’ll need a large, heavy duty tube that can withstand bouncing up against rocks and sticks. Boulder Nordic Sport rents out a variety of tubes, so if you just want to try it out, this is a great place to start. They have singles, doubles, and even tubes to hold coolers! They also have high quality tubes to purchase. If you are coming from the suburbs, Dick’s Sporting Goods in Longmont and Broomfield have a good selection of tubes in their swimming section.
#2 Gather Safety and Comfort Supplies
Wearing a life vest and helmet is recommended for tubing down Boulder Creek, and is especially important when the creek is running high and fast. Boulder Nordic Sport offers a free life vest rental with the rental of a tube, and also has helmets that can be rented. Bike helmets are another option! You’ll also want a dry bag to keep your car keys and phone from getting waterlogged (or just leave them with a friend!). Footwear is also a must, the river floor is very slippery and the rocks can be sharp! Water shoes or sandals are recommended.
#3 Inflate Your Tube
If you rent your tube at Boulder Nordic Sport, it will already be inflated. BNS will help you tie the tube to the roof of your vehicle. They can also lend out portable pumps if you don’t have enough room in your car for the tube. Another option is to get a battery-powered or car-lighter adaptor inflation pump to inflate on the fly.
#4 Pick a Spot & Check Water Levels
Boulder Creek is very friendly for hopping in an out where you please, especially once the water is a bit lower. For larger falls and a more adventurous route, hop in west of Eben G. Fine Park, where Arapahoe and Canyon meet at the bottom of the foothills. For a more relaxed ride, try starting near the civic center. Boulder Nordic Sport keeps a map with up-to-date pertinent information like river speed on hand! You can also check the Colorado Division of Water Resources to find out how fast the river is flowing. BNS suggests that the ideal speed is 100 – 300 cfs. Use your own discretion. If the river looks too fast or wild, move a bit further downriver to find a calmer spot. Some people like to float a long way, or you can go a short distance of a few hundred feet, then get out and walk back upstream to take another ride. Extra caution should be taken with children, they can easily step into a fast current or get bumped by another tuber, sending them head over heels!
#5 Hop In!
This is the best part. After all that work prepping, especially for those of you who are not only prepping yourself but your kids, it is finally time to take a joy ride down the creek! Have fun, be safe and enjoy your floating adventures.
Alternatives to Tubing
You can still have a fabulous day at the creek without ever getting on a river tube! My youngest daughter was NOT a fan of the tube, but she adores wading into the creek, playing with rocks, meeting new friends and cooling off. For older kids, there are many swimming holes along the way, especially west of Eben G. Fine Park, where the water is deep enough to swim around and look for fish. Kids also enjoy the rope swing near the intersection of Canyon and Arapahoe, where they can swing and jump into a deep swimming hole. Bring a snack or a picnic and relax in the shade. The creek is lined with giant, old shade trees that make for an extra comfortable setting. The banks of the creek are significantly cooler than the sweltering heat of the city!