Tubing the Poudre

Mike Berg


By Shae Sarconi


All winter long we pray for warm summer days. Luckily, those blistering hot days are right around the corner. Beat the heat by grabbing a tube and hitting the Poudre River, located right here in Fort Collins.

Water tubing essentials include a tube, swimwear, and water shoes. Tubes are sold at various locations, such as Target, Walmart, and most sporting goods stores for roughly $20.  Save your breath and money by filling up the tubes at Jax Farm and Ranch for free or use a local gas stations’ air pump along the way. Swimsuits or any clothing meant to be soaked will be ideal for a day on the water. The final essential is water shoes, an old pair of athletic shoes or Chacos do just fine, which are a must to protect your feet from the rocky and slippery river bottom. Avoid flip-flops or other shoes that slip off easily. Remember sunscreen and to stay hydrated. To keep water bottles attached to tubes, use carabiners and/or a short and sturdy rope.

There are two very common starting points for Fort Collins tubing. The farthest and most scenic option is driving up Poudre Canyon Highway (CO-14) and tube from Filter Plant to Picnic Rocks. This section is approximately 2.4 miles long and will provide a full afternoon of tubing. The water tends to be choppier in this area, so it is recommended that inexperienced swimmers wear a personal flotation device. A more local place to begin the tubing journey is just north of Old Town at Legacy Park. Leave vehicles at Legacy Park and walk toward Shields Street the get on the trail. From there, the entry point will be reached. If tubing this route, watch out for low hanging branches and spillways that have previously been stumbled upon. It is advised with any tubing excursion, especially long-distance ones, to take two cars and park one where you enter the river and another at your end spot. This way everyone can avoid a long trek with their tubes and gear.

Although there are always risks when tubing, it is advised to avoid the river in early summer. April-June can be dangerous months due to the runoff creating a fast-pace of the river and possible cooler temperatures. For this summer, with the low runoff I expect the best time to dive in should be June-August, however river flows can always change, so make sure to check with a local shop such as Jax Outdoor Gear before heading out.


Safety precautions issued by City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department:

– The Poudre River upstream from Gateway Natural Area should only be floated in a boat, it is not safe for tubing.
– Everyone should wear a PFD, not just weak swimmers.
– The river is never safe, it seems that each year at least one person looses their life, please take the hazards seriously.
– Alcohol, glass bottles, and marijuana are prohibited.

Here is a recommended article with more details on safely using the river , https://medium.com/…/five-lifesaving-tips-for-tubing…


Poudre River Park Project: An addition coming to Fort Collins is the expansion of the Poudre River. Expected to be complete in summer of 2019, the city’s goal is to provide three miles of sustainable river recreation. Improvements on the watercourse will benefit tubing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and other river activities. According to the Poudre River master plan: “this plan integrates improvements to support many highquality and safe recreational experiences, better protection against flood damage, and restored habitat connectivity for optimal river health and resiliency.” The City of Fort Collins conducted a survey in 2008 that determined over half a million people use the river each year. This finding inspired their goals of strengthening river habitat, better recreations, and improve flood mitigation. For more information on the expansion, visit: https://www.fcgov.com/parkplanning/poudre-river-park.php