College Student’s Guide to Salt River Tubing and Recreation
In Arizona, May isn’t just about flowers and Mother’s Day, it is also the month when students can forget about school for a minute and start enjoying one of their favorite outdoor recreational activities. Let’s face it, you’ve all just completely exhausted your minds on finals and need a break, right? Well, there is better way to relax than floating your butt down the river with a nice cold beer in hand. May 2nd (May 11th for weekday riders) officially marks opening day for Salt River Tubing and the beginning of yet another season of letting school time worries float away.
The Salt River is centrally located in NE Mesa off of Power Road. The current cost for this awesome all day outdoor activity is just $15 per person/per tube or $12 per person if you decide to bring your own tube and just pay for the shuttle bus ride. If you are planning on renting tubes, be sure you bring cash and a Driver’s License because credit cards are not accepted and 1 DL per every 5 tubes rented is expected as a deposit. Your trip will last between 2 and 6 hours depending on what “points” you decide to travel to and from and you can start your trip as early as 9:00am (recommended). Although I wouldn’t advise starting your float late, it is important that late arrivers keep in mind that last tube rentals are at 3:30 and closing time is 6:30pm.
Don’t Forget to Bring:
Cans of beer. Glass containers are strictly prohibited on the river and will be confiscated. Coolers will be inspected! Just be careful that you’re moderate with drinking.
Plenty of Water. Bring and consume at least one large bottle per person or a gallon for every three if you want to cut costs. It is very easy to get dehydrated in Arizona’s sun and beer will not help prevent this.
Snacks. Sandwiches, chips, beef jerky and fruit make for some of the best river munchies. No matter how low on cash your troop may be, don’t neglect to pack some ready to eat food in your cooler. Your stomach will thank you!
Cooler. For the above-mentioned snacks, water and most importantly, beer. Styrofoam coolers are not recommended.
Sunscreen. This is very important since you will most likely be in direct sunlight for 4-6 hours. With proper protection the river is a great way to start your summer tan. However, to avoid burning, make sure that you apply a 30+ SPF sunscreen generously before you reach the river and reapply every hour or so while floating. Tip: You can use this time to get close to that hottie in your group.
Sunglasses, Hat, and T-Shirt. To help protect you from the sun when sunscreen just doesn’t seem to be doing enough.
A Towel or Old Sheet. Use this to put over your tube to keep it cool. That black rubber can get very hot out in 100+ degree weather and a sheet can keep you from having to jump in the river and flip your tube every 30 minutes.
Marshmallows. For those of you that are a veteran to the river, this is self explanatory. For those of you that are confused just know this: when marshmallows are wet they become extremely fun to throw and a well natured marshmallow fight is a good way to meet and interact with nearby floaters.
When someone says “butts up” immediately lift your bottom so it is as far out of the river as possible until you are past the current section of rapids. It is not a smart idea to have your butt in the water while passing over potentially sharp rocks.
Make sure to bring zip-lock bags to keep valuables, wallets and cigarettes dry. Note: Cigarettes are really the only previously mentioned item you should have on you unless absolutely necessary.
Use bungee cords to keep tubes together if necessary. They are much easier to undo than ropes (which are not advised) and lead to less frustration when needing or wanting to separate tubes.
Don’t wear the brand new white mini you just bought or bring your favorite pair of expensive brand name sunglasses. Remember that you are floating down an algae filled river in the middle of nowhere. Light colored clothes may get stained and valuables will most likely get lost. However, your adorable new bathing suit or dark jean shorts are good choices since they are not likely to stain. If you don’t have a pair of inexpensive sunglasses, I suggest visiting your local dollar store. They might not provide the most stylish selection but they should have a variety of styles to choose from at least you won’t be too upset if they disappear mid-float.
Wear old sneakers, water shoes or sandals that strap to your feet. If you must wear flip flops, take them off as soon as you start floating and store them in a secure place.
It’s ok to ask another group for beer if you run out. Most people seem to be quite friendly on the river. Also, if you have a full cooler and someone asks you for a spare, don’t be stingy! That’s just not cool!
Plan on renting a separate tube for your cooler. Don’t try and buy one of those nifty floating coolers for the river. They work just lovely in a pool but will tip over the first time you hit a rough patch on the river. Picture this: your entire party scrambling to recover the split cooler full of beer in the middle of rapids. Take it from me, bring a real cooler and pay the extra few bucks to rent a tube to secure it in. Make sure you securely attached this tube to at least two of your party members.
Most importantly, have fun, be safe and don’t drink and drive!