I knew I would love tubing the minute I first zipped up my life jacket and closed my fingers around the tube’s plastic handle. Excited as I was, I also felt a healthy level of fear/hesitation. The water on the Wolf River seemed like it was moving fast. Would I be able to handle my tube in rapids? What would I do if I got stuck on a rock? And if I had to pee? Gulp. I was glad we decided to do it through an outfitter.
We dropped our tubes in the water, walked out and started floating downstream. It was fine, of course, and fun. Tubing is like riding the original lazy river (minus the 50 noisy kids crashing into you) set under luscious foliage and bright blue skies.
I. Loved. It.
Maybe it was because we signed our lives away absolving the outfitters of any responsibility in the event of injury or death that I felt like it was necessary to pay someone to float down a river on an inner tube. It must be dangerous if I have to sign a release and they require my child to wear a helmet, right? So the next few times we went tubing we paid an outfitter to supply the tubes and life jackets and pick us up at the end of our float.
Then last summer my son’s cub scout den leader organized a trip down the Peshtigo River on our own. We all brought our own tubes- snow-tubes, swim tubes, even tubes designed to be pulled behind a boat. My son wore a life jacket, but no helmet this time. We were safe, but still much less restricted by so much safety gear and (in my opinion) excessive rule following. And once again we had so much fun!
We’ve floated the Peshtigo River twice now without an outfitter. You too can do it on your own.
What you need:
- Water shoes, Tevas, old tennis shoes
- Life jacket (recommended)
- Drop in point
- Pick up point
- Car or cars at pick up point
- A plan- make sure you have a plan in place if your tube pops
- Optional- floating cooler
Certainly there are advantages to going through an outfitter. They provide everything you need and pick you up when you’re done. I definitely recommend trying it first with an outfitter to see how you like it. Or you might not be comfortable doing it on your own at all.
If you are thinking about tubing without using an outfitter, check out Marinette County’s The Real North for more information about floating the Peshtigo River. Choose a mild part of the river and make sure you’ve done your research before jumping in. For more tubing opportunities in Wisconsin check out this article by Travel Wisconsin.
Either way, I love the tranquility of floating down the river on a hot summer day– when we’re not trying to get dislodged from rocks and avoiding branches, that is.