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River Tubing near Boulder, Colorado

Here are some recommendations of rivers for tubing near Boulder, Colorado.

General Recommendations

Be aware that river flows vary wildly based on snowpack, weather and time of year. Most area creeks are a whitewater experience and not a lazy river. River flows in the area typically peak in mid-June and trails off quickly through July and into August. What may be an easy float in a shallow river in August can be a wild ride in early June, so always check river flows, respect closures, and be prepared. BNS Outdoor recommends life jackets, helmets and solid river shoes for all river tubing in the area, and PFD's are mandatory for all children under the age of 13. Good shoes are always highly recommended - they protect your feet from rocks and help you get grip in strong currents.

High Flow - May/June

Typically May and June are the highest flow months and most of the rivers and creeks are flowing fast and high. During these months, tubers need to be prepared for fast, powerful currents. PFD's, helmets and protective footwear are vital during high river flows. Children should be strong swimmers and be closely supervised by adults. Practice entering and exiting the river quickly before committing to floating. The challenges typically faced with high flow conditions are flipping in rapids, branches at the edges of the water, low water temps and being able to stop and exit the creek when you want. Be sure to be prepared: check river flows and observe any closures.

Medium flow - early May, July

We typically see medium-flow conditions in early May and late June through mid-July. These flow conditions are much mellower than the high-flow conditions, but still provide lots of excitement. Begin to watch for obstacles and shallow water. Enjoy the fast-moving water and excitement of rapids and you will start to get nice float sections as well. Water will still be cold, but much warmer than in peak flow.

Low Flow

Low Flow usually arrives in mid- to late-August. Slower, shallower rivers will require careful selection of appropriate river sections to avoid bottoming out. Focus changes from technical challenges to avoiding obstacles and staying in the deep channel.

Where to Float

Boulder Creek

Check current Boulder Creek Flow

Boulder Creek runs West-East through downtown Boulder and is a popular destination for tubing from Eben Fine park at the mouth of Boulder Canyon all the way to 55th St as well as below 75th St. There is a bike path adjacent to the creek from the mouth of Boulder Canyon to 55th St allowing easy access and making running laps/hiking a great option. Parking is available at Eben Fine Park (crowded during peak times), Boulder High (15th and Arapahoe) and Scott Carpenter Park (30th & Arapahoe). You can park at Eben Fine and run the entire creek to BNS Outdoor, then uber back up to your car, or run laps on sections and walk back up the bike path. Check out this Roots Rated article for some tips.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Department closes the creek for safety reasons at 700cfs. Please observe these closures as they are for your safety. Flows above 300cfs are strong and fast and make for an exciting experience for strong swimmers with advanced skills. 150-300cfs is medium flow/difficulty and below 100-150cfs is easy.

Water Park above Eben Fine Park

The water park above Eben Fine Park is highly technical and generally not recommended for tubing except at flows below 125cfs. Be prepared to be flipped and tossed around at higher flows.

Eben Fine Park to Boulder High

Eben Fine (3rd St) to Boulder High (15th St) is a popular section and has technical drops and rapids. This is a great section during medium (150-200cfs) and low (< 150) flow, and very exciting at higher flows.

Boulder High to Scott Carpenter Park

The section from Boulder High (15th St) to Scott Carpenter Park is also very popular and is a great choice at all flow levels. Some longer sections of mellower water combine with some big drops. There are lots of pools to hang out in at 28th St and easy access for parking at Boulder High or Scott Carpenter. BNS Outdoor is located at 3600 Arapahoe on the left side of the creek about 1/4 mile below 30th Street.

Scott Carpenter Park to 55th St

The Scott Carpenter Park (30th St) to 55th St section provides a mellower section during flows above 300cfs. At low flows less than 100cfs, this section can start to be a bit shallow.

Historical Average Flow Boulder Creek (gray line)

St Vrain Creek Lyons:

Check current St Vrain flow at Lyons

St Vrain Creek Longmont:

Check current St Vrain flow at Longmont Hwy 119

Clear Creek Golden:

Clear Creek flow at Golden
Clear Creek in Golden offers another great option for a whitewater tubing experience. Put in as high as the first tunnel in Clear Creek Canyon (US Highway 6) and float all the way down to the whitewater park in town.
Check out the info for the Golden Whitewater Park.
Flow rates:
under 100 CFS - good for playing in the water park in town.
100-200 CFS - easy to moderate float from the river to the water park
200-500 CFS - higher, faster flow making the river exciting and challenging.
Above 500CFS - Extremely high flow