Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best ways to enjoy summer in the US, but the summer heat can make it difficult to enjoy the views. Thankfully, rivers criss-cross through nearly every stretch of the country, offering the perfect alternative to a strenuous summer hike.
While an afternoon on a river in the US may conjure ideas of paddling through beginner-friendly whitewater rapids or navigating dangerous expert-only turns, a number of America’s best rivers are ideal for a simple afternoon float. With a heavy-duty tube and a life jacket, enjoying the best scenic landscapes in the US may be just down the lazy river.
Each entry includes information about the distance of the lazy river as well as a tube rental price and linked location. The address provided is for the lazy river’s recommended put-in location.
Travelers are always more than welcome to bring their own gear and adjust the length of their float to meet their needs.
10 Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Water flows through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina
Whether tubers are looking for a bumpy thrill ride or a more relaxing float on the water, Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is perfect for every kind of lazy river traveler.
The upper section of the river has more rapids, while the lower section is a calmer, smoother ride. Right in the middle, one of the best swimming holes in North Carolina offers a cool reprieve from the summer sun.
Deep Creek Lazy River
- Deep Creek Distance: 1 mile
- Time to Float: 1.5-2 hours
- Deep Creek Tubing Put-In: 1040 W Deep Creek Rd, Bryson City, NC 28713
Life vests are available at Deep Creek Tubing for a $10 fee. The fee is fully refundable with a cash deposit and 50% refundable with a card deposit.
9 Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon
Deschutes River, Oregon, United States
Bend, Oregon is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a summer adventure. For those looking to enjoy the outdoors without having to break a sweat, the Deschutes River offers a perfect tubing stretch right along Bend.
Put-in for this approximately 2-hour float starts at Riverbend Park and ends at Drake Park. With 12 different rapids to add some thrills to this lazy river float, it’s the perfect afternoon in Bend, Oregon.
- Deschutes River Distance: ~1.5 miles
- Time to Float: 1.5-2 hours
- Deschutes River Put-In: 166 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr, Bend, OR 97702, USA
Those unsure about riding the tube down the rapids can jump out of the river at Mckay Park and walk around the majority of the bumps before hopping back in to resume the lazy ride.
8 Horseshoe Loop, Guadalupe River, Texas
The Guadalupe River, which receives water from Canyon Lake in Texas, near San Antonio
Perfectly situated so that both the put-in and pull-out locations are fairly close to one another, the popular Horseshoe Loop of the Guadalupe River in Texas is an easy afternoon float.
The short distance can be completed in as little as two hours when the water is high, but those hoping to enjoy the views and have fun in the rapids at both turning points can easily stretch it into a two-hour or longer excursion.
With several beach islands along the course, the Horseshoe Loop is one of the best lazy rivers in the US to unwind and find scenic views.
- Horseshoe Loop Distance: 1 mile
- Time to Float: 2–4 hours
- Horseshoe Loop Put-In: 12034 FM306, Canyon Lake, TX 7813
7 Colorado River, Yuma, Arizona
Overlooking view of nature in Yuma, Arizona
Running for over 1,400 miles through seven different states, the Colorado River is perfect for a variety of water activities. While some stretches of the river are more tumultuous, carving deep canyons like Horseshoe Bend, other regions, like the one in Yuma, Arizona, are perfect for a scenic lazy river float.
A calm float for travelers of all ages and their furry friends, this one-mile stretch of the Colorado River is the ideal way to enjoy the Arizona sights without dealing with the extreme heat.
Colorado River, Yuma Stretch:
- Yuma River Distance: ~5 miles
- Time to Float: 3–4 hours
- Colorado River, Yuma Stretch: E 1st St & S Gila St, 250 Prison Hill Rd, Yuma, AZ 85364
6 Delaware River, Pennsylvania/New Jersey
View of the Delaware Water Gap and Delaware River
One of the most relaxing lazy river floats in the US, the Delaware River offers beautiful views of the shores of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Depending on the location, travelers can enjoy either a 4.5-mile stretch or a 6.3-mile stretch of this scenic river.
The Delaware River is popular for a lazy river float not only in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but its namesake Delaware as well, offering a great deal of flexibility for east coast travelers looking for a day on the river.
5 Truckee River, Reno, Nevada
The Bridge over the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada, USA
The city of Truckee is a popular day trip for those traveling to Lake Tahoe, but the Truckee River that runs through the town is an experience all its own. While the Truckee River is best known for its whitewater rafting stretches, one stretch of the river in Nevada is ideal for the more relaxed river adventurer.
Starting in Crissie Caughlin Park in Reno, Nevada, visitors can take a lazy river float down approximately 3 miles of the Truckee River, enjoying a calming combination of the Nevada desert and Sierra Nevada mountains.
Truckee River, Reno Stretch:
- Truckee River, Reno Stretch Distance: 3 miles
- Time to Float: 2-2.5 hours
- Truckee River, Reno Stretch Put-In: 3415 Idlewild Drive, Reno, NV 89509
4 Toccoa River, Georgia
A man and woman float down a river on tubes
Snaking along the Tennessee-Georgia border, the Toccoa River is the perfect lazy river quick trip. Called the Ocoee River on the Tennessee side, the Toccoa River is a nice calm ride through the beauty of the town of McCaysville, including historic bridges and parks, and the surrounding Georgia landscape.
Depending on the water flow, this simple, scenic lazy river ride can last as little as 20 minutes or up to an hour. Fortunately, the sites to be found along the way can be enjoyed no matter the speed of one’s tube.
- Toccoa River Distance: 1.5 miles
- Time to Float: 1 hour
- Toccoa River Put-In: 340 Toccoa Avenue, McCaysville, GA 30555
Participants must be five or older to float down the Toccoa River due to the sometimes extreme fluctuations in water levels, which are controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
3 Ichetucknee River, Florida
Ichetucknee Springs State Park Blue Hole in Florida, USA
Located in the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Ichetucknee River is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the area during the summer. While Ichetucknee Springs is full of hiking trails, facing the Florida heat and humidity can put a damper on outdoor plans.
Instead, locals and visitors alike can rent a tube and take a lazy river float through one of Florida’s most scenic regions. With launch points making it possible to spend anywhere from one to four hours on the water, there is a lazy river day trip for everyone on the Ichetucknee River.
- Ichetucknee River Distance: ~1.3 miles
- Time to Float: 1-1.5 hours (from Midpoint Launch)
- Ichetucknee River Put-In: Fort White, FL 32038 (Midpoint Launch)
2 Grant River, Wisconsin
Trees come alive along the shores of Grant River, Wisconsin
For those looking to make a full afternoon or even day trip out of their scenic lazy river float, the Grant River in Wisconsin may be the perfect fit. With float time running anywhere from three to seven hours, travelers can spend an entire day enjoying the sites as they slowly make their way through “God’s Country” Wisconsin.
With sandbars, moss-covered rock ledges, and gentle rapids, it’s easy to see why one of Wisconsin’s longest lazy river runs is also one of the most scenic lazy rivers in the country.
- Grant River Distance: Dependent on Float
- Time to Float: 4–8 hours
- Grant River Put-In: 9000 Camel Ridge Road, Potosi, WI
Reservations are highly recommended for those tubing through the Grant River Tubin’ Co. Reservation information can be found on their website.
1 Shenandoah River, West Virginia/Virginia
Metal Bridge over the Shenandoah River, Virginia
When visitors head to the Shenandoah River in Virginia and West Virginia, most expect to enjoy the watery views from inside Shenandoah National Park. North of the park, however, on the other end of the Shenandoah Valley, is the perfect place for visitors to hop on a tube and enjoy a ride on the river itself.
Running for three miles, this relaxed stretch of the river is surrounded by the same beautiful natural landscape found in the park, without all the work of hiking through the forest. Visitors can even add to the fun by renting a tube for their drinks and furry friends as well.
- Shenandoah River Distance: 3 miles
- Time to Float: 3–4 hours
- Shenandoah River Put-In: 8567 Stonewall Jackson Hwy, Front Royal, VA 22630
Participants must be six or older to rent a tube for the Shenandoah River.