Tubing in Boulder
Tubing down Boulder Creek under a canopy of cottonwoods is a rite of summer in Boulder. Flowing year-round with icy Colorado snowmelt, the stream is bracingly cold even in summer — but feels great on a hot day. Depending on the month, it can be a raucous ride or a peaceful float.
Of course, careening down a waterway in an inner tube is not without its risks, so it’s important to use caution, choose a day when the water levels are right, and bring the appropriate gear. Here’s a guide to help.
Where to Tube Boulder Creek
Put in at Eben G. Fine Park (map it) and let the creek carry you as far as 55th Street. Just don’t expect a super-gentle float — this ride includes chutes and rapids! For an easier trip, hop on at 6th Street or a few blocks east near Boulder Public Library.
What to Wear
- A helmet and life jacket are recommended regardless of where you put in.
- Water shoes are also needed, as the creek floor is rocky and unkind to bare feet.
- A generous application of sunscreen is a must here at 5,430 feet above sea level.
- Of course, you’ll want to wear a bathing suit (or in spring and fall, a wet suit), although those who participate in the annual Tube to Work Day have been known to tube in three-piece suits or dresses — so suit yourself!
Check Water Levels
Tubing usually runs from May to September, depending on the weather. Before you go, make sure to check the water levels on the American Whitewater website (look at the sixth row under “Flow Rate”).
Here are some basic guidelines, though always use your own best judgment when it comes to your comfort level and safety.
- The ideal level for tubing the creek is 40–200cfs (cubic feet per second).
- Between 200 and 300cfs and you're in for a wild ride.
- We don't recommend tubing when water levels are above 300cfs.
- The Boulder County Sheriff usually closes the creek for a week or two in May (closures announced here), if it's flowing too fast.
Waterways are powerful and always changing. Always check current conditions before heading out on your water adventures.
Where to Get a Tube
The cozy Foot of the Mountain Motel is located near a popular put-in spot for tubing the creek, near Eben G. Fine Park. They begin renting tubes (to motel guests and non-guests alike) around mid-May.
- $25 for purchase of River Run Tubes
- Parking available for $10/vehicle
- Snacks, refreshments, and sunscreen for sale in the office
- Purchases only (no rentals)
- Sizes and prices vary, starting at $12.99 for a single-seater
- Purchases only (no rentals)
- $14.95 for a traditional black inner tube and can fill with air on site
- Rentals and purchases
- $19 one-day rental for 48-inch Pro Tube
- $30 one-day rental for Double Tube
- $20 one-day rental for 54-inch Super Tube
Tube to Work Day
Tube to Work Day is a cherished annual tradition that sees Boulderites don their best business attire and splash into Boulder Creek to tube right through downtown. The event starts at Eben G. Fine Park, but you can catch the view of the hilarious action (e.g. spectators dangling breakfast from atop bridges for tubers to grab) anywhere along the creek near downtown. It happens in mid-July, and you’re welcome to join in (but register first).