The ABCs of tubing on the Salt River. Tubers can enjoy fun in the sun on the river every day through summer.
Michael Chow/

With temperatures already flirting with the triple digits, Valley residents are looking for ways to cool off.

Luckily, Salt River Tubing & Recreation is kicking off their season May 1. Floating the Salt River offers riders a pleasant reprieve from scorching summer temps, with the water averaging 68 degrees year-round. Salt River Tubing & Recreation makes float trips a breeze, offering tube rentals, shuttle rides and other necessities for floaters.

“We are right on time and are very excited,” said Lynda Breault, vice president of Salt River Tubing & Recreation. “People were already trying to float this past weekend. The weather is heating up and when temperatures soar, and floating the river is the best way to cool off.”

Tubes and shuttles

At check-in, you can rent tubes and buy shuttle passes. A driver’s license is required as a deposit for every five tubes rented. If you have your own tube, you just need to buy a shuttle ticket. Be sure to bring back your rented tube or you’ll have to pay a fine.

Breault stresses that participants must be at least 8 years old and 4 feet tall to rent a tube and ride the shuttle. She also encourages children –  and inexperienced swimmers – to wear a life vest.

“This is a safety thing for them,” she said. “This isn’t a water park or hotel resort.”


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Buses take riders to the launch area, which has a rocky path to the water, just below Stewart Mountain Dam. The last bus pickup is at 6:30 p.m.

Three float options are available:

  • Point 1 to Point 2: Two hours.
  • Point 2 to Point 4: Three hours.
  • Point 1 to Point 4: Five hours.

(There’s no Point 3 stop because that location is a terminal building for tube rentals and shuttles.)

Salt River Tubing & Recreation also hosts themed events throughout the season, encouraging riders to come dressed up in costume. This year there is a new event on July 29 called the Super Heroes Splash Down.

The first themed event is the Rocking Rodeo Round-Up on May 20, offering cowboy bandannas to the first 1,000 riders and an appearance from country music station KNIX-102.5. Holiday weekends are also very popular, and Breault encourages guests to arrive early on Memorial Day weekend, with Salt River Tubing opening at 8 a.m.

What you should bring

• Swimsuit, shorts, hat and water shoes or old tennis shoes. Don’t wear sandals — the river bottom is rocky and it’s easy to lose them while floating.

• An old sheet. The rental tubes are black and heat quickly in the sun. Wet the sheet and drape it over your tube, and you’ll be comfortable for the ride.

• Life vests are recommended for children. Salt River Tubing & Recreation does not have life vests to rent, but they can be purchased for $6 at the snack bar, or you can bring your own.

• Ample water and a sturdy cooler (foam coolers break easily and are environmentally unfriendly). Glass containers are prohibited and will be confiscated.

• Plenty of sunblock. You’ll be basking in the sun all day, and it’s easy to forget to reapply. Stash an extra tube in your cooler.

• Snacks and lunch packed in plastic bags or containers, especially if you’re going on a longer float.

Helpful tips

• Place anything you don’t want to get wet, such as cellphones, food and electronic car keys, in plastic bags and place the bags in plastic containers. Leave other valuables at home.

• Rent a cooler tube, and don’t forget the ice.

• Purchases can be made with cash or credit cards.

• Salt River Tubing does not recommend tying tubes together because when you hit the rapids, it’s easy to flip over or get sucked off course. The rapids are mostly between points 1 and 2. Watch out for your fellow riders, especially children.

• No glass containers are allowed on the river. Bring drinks in plastic bottles or cans only.

• Police officers visit routinely, especially during busy weekends, and are on the lookout for underage drinkers and intoxicated drivers. Appoint a designated driver or arrange for transportation ahead of time.

• Be responsible for your trash. Free trash bags are available at the rental station.

Special events

May 20: Rocking Rodeo Roundup.

June 24: Mega Hawaiian Hula.

July 15: Halloween Spooktacular.

July 29: Super Heroes Splash Down.

Aug. 19: Mardi Gras Magic.

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Salt River Tubing

When: Hours are 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily. Last tube rental is at 1:30 p.m. Last shuttle pickup is at 6:30 p.m. Open at 8 a.m. for Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29. 

Where: 9200 N. Bush Highway, Mesa.

Admission: $17 for tube rental and shuttle; $14 for shuttle only. $30 for lost or stolen tube.

Details: 480-984-3387,


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