Tubing, Rafting and Kayaking the Yampa River

One of the crown jewels of Steamboat Springs is the Yampa River that flows through town and provides a wide variety of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy. Once the snow has melted off the mountain tops and the water flows have come down to a safe level, you are bound to see plenty of locals and visitors alike taking advantage of everything this river has to offer.
There are many modes of transportation these days as well, you will see groups in rafts, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards in the early spring when runoff is adequate to ensure a good time. Once the flows drop below 700 cfs, the commercial tubers will begin renting tubes to people and also running shuttles between the put ins and take outs in town.

The Tubing Trip:
If tubing the river, the best put in is at the 5th Street Bridge and the best take out is at the James Brown Bridge or the Transit Center. The upstream areas from Fetcher Park are not to be used for tubing activity to respect the use of the river for fishermen, wildlife and birdwatchers.

Best Season: June – September, when river flows are below 700 cfs
Timeframe: the above section takes about 1 hour (this can vary depending on river flows and your activity during the float)

Tubing Tips:
If you are tubing the river, here are a few tips to make your float more enjoyable.

Wear sunscreen and glasses and make sure to have a strap on our glasses or wear an old pair in case you lose them.
Wear secure shoes that can either be tied or strapped securely to your feet
Leave your car keys in a safe place.
For children 12 years and under, it is highly recommended that they wear a life jacket/PFD
Commercial Outfitters:
Here are a couple of the commercial outfitters that rent inner tubes and provide shuttle service, kayaks, rafting, etc.

Backdoor Sports
Store location: 841 Yampa Street, Downtown Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

The store is conveniently located in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado on the banks of the Yampa River with historic Howelsen Hill Ski Area just a short walk across the river.

Hours of Operation: 10:30am ’till 4pm

Bucking Rainbow Outfitters
(970)879-8747 | (888) 810-8747
Store Location: 730 Lincoln Ave (Downtown Steamboat Springs, between 7th & 8th on Lincoln Ave.)

Offers tube rentals/shuttle, as well as whitewater rafting and fly fishing guide service on area lakes and rivers.

Tubing Rules and General River Etiquette when using the river – Please respect the Yampa!

■ No glass
■ No littering
■ No Styrofoam coolers
■ Respect other river users
■ Respect private property and obey quiet zone signs
■ No dogs
■ No nudity
■ No alcohol
■ Avoid standing or walking on the riverbed
■ No bathing or diapers in the river

The Yampa River is also the last remaining major free flowing river in the Colorado River Basin. There is an extreme amount of pressure from the Denver Front Range to dam this river and pump water back to the Front Range for irrigation and public drinking water. Do you part to help protect this natural resource and express your support by voting to save this 270 mile stretch of river! View nearby areas with this kayaking guide to see other popular Colorado paddle spots.

If you happen to be in Steamboat over Memorial Day Weekend, don’t miss the Yampa River Festival which is sponsored by the Friends of the Yampa. See the video below for some of the kayaking events that take place over this weekend that celebrates the Yampa River.

For all the detail on the 2012 Yampa River Festival on May 26-28th in Steamboat Springs.

Summer Attraction
Steamboat Springs, Colorado