Time to Tube: Tubing the Animas in Durango

Tubing Animas River in Durango

Tubing the Animas River in Durango.

Now that the Fourth of July has gone out with a bang, it’s the perfect time to grab your tube (or find a tube to grab) and get in the Animas River.
For starters, Durango is a river city at heart, and the Animas runs through the heart of the city, so you don’t have to go far. The Animas River runs parallel to Main Avenue, only a couple blocks west of the riverbanks, and it couldn’t be any easier to access for a tubing trip. The Quality Inn Durango is on Main Avenue, only one block west of the river. (We can also provide Durango Quality Inn guests with tubes on a first-come, first-served basis, but there are plenty of places in town to rent them.)

Then there’s the designated river put-in at the Durango Community Recreation Center, where tubers will also find a free pump to inflate their tubes. (The Durango rec center is only two blocks from our hotel, by the way.) The preferred take-out is on Ninth Street at Schneider Park. Don’t forget the city’s trolley transports tubers up and down Main Avenue; tubers can park at the downtown transit center or Schneider Park, ride the trolley along with their deflated tube to the rec center where they can inflate their tube and hop in the river.

Tubers can float down the river about 20 city blocks, get out at the Ninth Street take-out at Schneider Park, then hop on the free downtown trolley to catch a ride back to the Quality Inn or rec center. Then you can either head to your hotel room for a shower or get back on the river to repeat your float. The city’s 7-mile paved Animas River Trail runs alongside the river’s edge, so tubers can easily walk or bike back as well.

Remember: inner tubes are not recommended on Smelter Rapids in Durango’s Whitewater Park, which can be dangerous for inexperienced boaters. Also, tubers shouldn’t go farther south than Dallabetta Park — the last public-access park on the river, about 5 miles south of our hotel — to avoid trespassing on private property. Plus, there’s no free trolley pick-up there.

Still, as easy and fun as tubing on the Animas in Durango can be, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Now is a good time of year to tube because the water levels are lower and the river flow is slower. Always check the river flow before tubing to make sure it’s safe. The higher the flow rate, the riskier your ride will be. Tubing is recommended in lower water — under 800 CFS (cubic feet per second) — on the Animas River in July and August. Even then, the water is very cold.
Also, the city of Durango provides some guidelines for those who are raring to get on the river.
  • Be Safe – River-goers should always wear a life vest. Officials also recommend helmets and secure footwear for individual water crafts.
  • Be Prepared – It’s Colorado, and as they say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” Weather and water conditions can change rapidly in any season, so be prepared. Inappropriate or inadequate clothing and footwear can result in injury, hypothermia, dismemberment or death.
  • Be Careful – Remember, you’re on a wild river — not a water park’s lazy river. Tubers will encounter rocks, logs and strong currents as well as manmade obstacles.

Tubers can access the Animas River at the following points:

  • 33rd Street (limited parking)
  • 29th Street at Memorial Park
  • Recreation Center (tubing put-in)*
  • 9th Street at Schneider Park (tubing take-out)*
  • Santa Rita Park
  • Cundiff Park
  • High Bridge
  • Dallabetta Park

While you’re in town, remember fun stuff can be free stuff. Book your room at the Quality Inn Durango today, and we’ll provide you with free tubes and easy access to the Animas River for your tubing adventure.

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