The temperature is just narrowly missing 100 degrees this week.

Which means it won’t be long before we start turning up the air-conditioning and looking for ways to cool off. 

One of Arizonan’s favorite hot-weather pastimes is tubing in the crisp 68-degree waters of the Salt River. Operations at Salt River Tubing & Recreation in Mesa launch Saturday, April 28. The family-owned company offers tube rentals, shuttle rides and other necessities for floaters, operating seven days a week through the season. 

“Tubing really does keep you cool, as opposed to swimming pools that get very warm in the summer,” said Lynda Breault, vice president of Salt River Tubing & Recreation. “We’re very excited about opening and can’t wait to provide enjoyable and memorable experience out there.” 


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How to tube

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 three main points to all riders:

  1. Participants must be at least 8 years old and 4 feet tall to rent a tube and ride the shuttle.
  2. Children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a life vest
  3. Don’t bring glass containers. Plastic containers and cans are allowed. 

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 in costume. The first themed event is the Rocking Rodeo Round-Up on May 5, offering cowboy bandannas to the first 1,000 riders and an appearance from country music station KNIX-102.5. The best dressed cowboy and cowgirl will receive tubing passes for a future visit. 

What to bring tubing

  • 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.

Do’s and don’ts of tubing

  • 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 5: Rocking Rodeo Roundup. 

June 23: Super Heroes Splash Down. 

July 14: Spooktacular Halloween. 

July 28: Mega Hawaiian Hula. 

Aug. 11: Madcap Mardi Gras Magic. 

Salt River Tubing

When: Opens Saturday, April 28. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Last tube rental is at 1 p.m. Last shuttle pickup is at 6:30 p.m. 

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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