Salt River Tubing

Salt River Tubing in Phoenix
Judy Hedding

Tubing down the Salt River is an Arizona tradition. Salt River Tubing (Salt River Recreation) is the company that most people use to tube on the Lower Salt River. Here's the short version: You park your vehicle, take a bus to a higher elevation of the river, rent inner tubes, and float down the river. Families, adventure groups, college students — all kinds of people from all walks of life join this floating party.

When to Go Salt River Tubing

In 2019, the season opens in May. Salt River Tubing will be open seven days per week through Labor Day. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. After Labor Day, tubing is usually offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through the end of September.

There isn't always enough water in the Salt River to go tubing. The Lower Salt River, where most people go tubing in the Phoenix area, does not have much whitewater (and sometimes not much water at all) except during periods of dam release. River flow is controlled by releases from Saguaro Lake. Most people go tubing on the Salt River between May and September. It can take anywhere from two to six hours to tube the Salt River, depending on where you launch, where you stop, and how the water's flowing. Here are directions to Salt River Tubing.

Salt River Tubing Price

Salt River Tubing and Recreation runs shuttle buses from various parking points that are downriver to several launching points. There's a charge for using the bus. The company also rents inner tubes, and has snacks and supplies available for purchase. Tube rentals are available seven days per week starting at 9 a.m. Bring one valid driver license that must be left as a deposit for each five tubes rented. The price for one tube rental with bus ride is $17 which includes tax. There is a discount if you bring your own tubes. Salt River Tubing accepts major credit cards, valid driver license required for ID. 

Salt River Tubing does not own the Salt River Recreation Area, so if you buy your own tubes (try Walmart or Costco), and have two cars such that you can park one down river, and then drive everyone up to the point at which you want to start (and then drive back to get the car later) you don't have to utilize Salt River Tubing's services. Note: Salt River Tubing will not inflate your tube for you if it isn't one of theirs.

If you're looking to get a discount, keep your eye on Taco Bell restaurants in the summertime. They will sometimes do promotions with Salt River Tubing.

More Things to Know

Children must be at least eight years old and at least four feet tall to utilize the services of Salt River Tubing. If you've never gone before, there are plenty of things to know first to ensure that you'll have a good time. For more information, contact the Salt River Tubing at 480-984-3305 or visit Salt River Tubing online .

If you have never been tubing on the Salt River before, there are some things you need to know that might not seem immediately obvious. Following these tips will hopefully help you to have a relaxing and fun day, with no mishaps or misadventures!

  • List of items to bring: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, several bottles of water, snacks, towel, sheet, shorts, shirt, water, shoes, cash.
  • Make sure everything you bring is dispensable. Items may become stained or torn, or lost. Leave the designer sunglasses home, and bring the $10 ones you got at Walmart.
  • Make sure your butt is protected, meaning I don't recommend wearing a thong. If the water level is low, you could be scraping bottom.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally several times throughout the day.
  • You can tie a plastic cooler with beverages and food to an inner tube. Styrofoam coolers won't make it very far.
  • The inner tubes will get very hot. Sheets draped over the tubes will make them more comfortable. It will also help to keep smaller people from falling through the middle of the tube.
  • If you are taking the shuttle, or renting tubes, or buying supplies from Salt River Recreation you can charge to a credit card. There are no ATMs.
  • Leave jewelry and other valuables at home. Bring your driver license and money.
  • Don't leave valuables in the car. Didn't I just say you should leave them home? There is no security at the parking areas. Lock your car doors.
  • Wear old sneakers or water shoes in the river. There are rough parts where you could hurt your feet.
  • If you tie your tubes together, it is possible that you will all get stuck or entangled. Despite all the recommendations about not tying the tubes together, many people will do it anyway.
  • People do get hurt while tubing, and occasionally people will drown. It can happen in any body of water. Be smart. If you can't swim well, bring a life preserver or rent one.
  • Do not litter. Bring a plastic trash bag. There's nothing worse than floating through other people's trash.
  • Everyone who tubes on the Salt River is amazingly tired after a long day of lounging around. Drinking alcohol while tubing will make you drowsier, and could be risky.
  • Tubes will not be rented to children under 8 or under 48" tall.
  • No glass. Coolers will be checked.
  • Make sure you have a way to attach your keys to your clothing such that they won't get lost.

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Next page >> Salt River Tubing FAQ

All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.

Now that I've told you how to prepare for tubing, in the sense of what to bring and what not to bring, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about tubing on the Salt River.

  • Which are the best stops for tubing on the Salt River?
    There are four stops. 1 and 2 are relatively calm, and then, depending on water flows, it gets a bit more exciting from 2 through 4.
  • Where do I rent the tubes and pick up supplies?
    The Salt River Tubing and Recreation facilities are at point #3. The buses will stop there. Then you can load up your tubes and coolers on the bus again and head up to stop #1, if you'd like to do the long trip.
  • Are there bathrooms?
    Yes, there is a designated rest area and picnic area by the bridge at stop #2. There are also restroom facilities at the end at #4.
  • Where do I park?
    There are parking lots at each of the 4 stops. You should park at the one where you think your journey will end.
  • Do I have to pay to park?
    If you use Salt River Recreation's parking facility, it is free but you have to pay for the bus trip. If you park in the public lot, the state charges a fee.
  • Can I bring a kayak?
    You can bring any non-motorized apparatus, but if you use Salt River Recreation buses they won't let you on unless it's a rubber or vinyl floating apparatus, like a tube or a small raft.
  • Does the river ever close?
    Well, the river doesn't close, but the roads do. On busy days, like Memorial Day weekend and 4th of July weekend especially, the road gets pretty packed and the authorities will close it. Get there early!
  • Is it possible to get lost on the river?
    No, not on the river. All floating leads to the same place. Now if you get off the river and wander off in a drunken stupor...
  • Can I go tubing on the Salt River if I am handicapped?
    It is important to recognize that people who tube on the Salt must be able to get in and out of the water by themselves, and be able to extricate themselves if they get caught on something or someone.
  • Is tubing the Salt River a good activity for families?
    Honestly, it would be best on a Monday through Thursday, when all the rowdy, profane, liquored up people are doing something else.
  • Do people ever get hurt?
    Yes. Drownings happen occasionally, but more often than not people get hurt because they don't realize how much they have had to drink, floating out in the sun for hours.

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All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.