enjoying a nice float down the river on an inner tube

7 of The Best River Tubing in MN for a Summer of Fun

Last updated on August 23rd, 2019

A Minnesota summer is not complete until you’ve spent a day floating on a river in an inner tube. But with so many rivers and the logistics, how do you decide which is right for your adventure? Thankful, I’ve compiled the best river tubing in MN is only an hour in each direction from the Twin Cities.

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Why Float Down a River?

There is something about spending a lazy afternoon floating down a river. Families take their kids, teenagers bring their dates, and the 21+ crowd brings the beverages. Just about every direction in MN, you’ll find a great river to enjoy. Tubing takes no athletic ability. There is nothing better than spending a Minnesota Weekend bobbing in the water.

Tubing River

The Ideal Floating River?

The number one factor in any tubing river is the current.  You want to find a river that has a nice flowing current at a meandering pace. If it goes too fast, you might be in for a wild ride. If you go too slow, you may kick the whole time wearing yourself out, defeating the purpose of the trip. While the river conditions can change, depending on the year, the list below has a perfect balance.

Some of the popular rivers become a mecca for loud music, partying and other things. When I float, I like to have the river to myself. This also extends out to the non-floating traffic like the canoers, kayakers, and motorboats. In most cases, if you stay in the designated tubing routes that the outfitters provide, you will have a smooth ride, but you might have a few extra floaters nearby. Just go with it.

The biggest factor when selecting the location is the location. Some have designated entry and exit points while others might be a little more primitive. Some of the best I’ve experienced are those that pull right into your campsite. Instead of having to get back into the car, drop the tube and go back to camp. Nothing beat it. Just about every popular tubing rivers in MN have a campground option to choose from.

Do you need an Outfitter even if you have your own tube?

No, you technically don’t need to go with a commercial organization. In most cases, the amount of money to purchase your own tube would be similar to if you rent one. You just have to figure out the entry points and have transportation to get back to your vehicle. You also have to fill up and transport your tubes. For those reasons, it’s easier to go with a company. They handle all the extras. They also have scouted out the best routes on the river that doesn’t go through dams or rapids. The tour companies have designated parking location to make sure your vehicle stays safe. In popular tubing locations, there will be no parking signs all over the roads. That’s why I go with an outfitter.

River Tubing Tips

You don’t need a lot of things to have a successful trip. Chances are most of these are things you have lying around the house. Make sure to pack them so you have an enjoyable experience.

  • Water shoes or Tevas or other sports sandals are a must. There is a good chance you will touch the bottom, getting in, getting out and at some point during your float. Having proper footwear will ensure that you don’t cut your foot on anything. Don’t bring flip-flops. They can fall off.
  • Drinks. When I say drinks, I’m talking water to stay hydrated on the water. When river tubing, it’s nice to bring a Nalgene with. First, it’s indestructible and chances are, they have some air trapped in so it won’t sink if it gets dropped. But it also can hook onto your tube with a carabineer.
  • Sun Protection and Waterproof sunscreen. Another NO briner on the water. But don’t forget this one. Something as simple as a Hat can keep you cooler.
  • A length of rope or two. It’s so much more fun floating down the river when attached to a couple of friends. Yes, you can spend the whole time hanging on to each other but rope makes it a little easier.
  • Small Dry Bag depending on the outfitter. You may or may not need to manage your possessions and a dry bag is the best way to do this. It will keep valuables like ID, Wallet, and Keys safe. If possible, I would leave these behind just because if the unthinkable happens, it would be a total bummer.

The Best River Tubing in MN

Cannon River Tubing

in Cannon Falls Minnesota

The Cannon River best place to get in is at Cannon Falls, just downstream of the waterfalls. From there, wind your way on a meandering river and keep an eye out for the birds that love the area.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Welch Mill
Where you float: Cannon Falls MN
Length of ride: Short to Long Rides
Average Costs: $12

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike
Where you float: Cannon Falls MN
Length of ride: 3-5hrs
Average Costs: $15-20

the best river tubing in mn
Flickr photo by Sean Loyless shared under a Creative Commons license

Otter Tail River

in Detroit Lakes Minnesota

In North West MN, the Otter Tail River has a few areas that are popular to tube, most are near Detroit Lakes. The slow-moving river makes for an enjoyable adventure.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Charlie’s Ottertail Tubing
Where you float: Detroit Lake MN
Length of ride: 2hrs
Average Costs: $10

K & K Tubing
Where you float: Detroit Lake MN
Length of ride: 2hrs
Average Costs: $7

Enoying tubing down a river
Flickr photo by Eli Duke shared under a Creative Commons license

Platte River

in Royalton Minnesota

The Platte River meanders through the farmland in this part of town. It is also home to bald eagles, short-eared owls and herons.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Two Rivers Campground
Where you float: Royalton MN
Length of ride: 2hrs
Average Costs: $12

Floating down a wooded river
Flickr photo by Virginia State Park shared under a Creative Commons license

Root River

in Preston Minnesota

The Root River is a fun lazy river going through some of the most amazing parts of Southern Minnesota. There are multiple entry points to float down the river in this area.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Eagle-Cliff Campground
Where you float: Lanesboro MN
Length of ride: 2hrs
Average Costs: $12

Root River Outfitters
Where you float: Lanesboro Minnesota
Length of ride: 30 mins–3hrs
Average Costs: $11-$17

Genevas Hideaway
Where you float: Lanesboro Minnesota
Length of ride: Not listed
Average Costs: $10

The best tubing rivers in mn
Flickr photo by Don Hankins shared under a Creative Commons license

Rum River

in Onamia/Isanti MN

The Rum River is a lazy river of the best sense. The river moves slow and caters to those that love to float. Mostly a bunch of people out for a good time. In the designated tubing routes that the outfitters have guest on, it’s nothing but smooth sailing. But some parts of this river has rapids.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Country Camping Rum River Outfitters
Where you float: Isanti MN
Length of ride: 1.5-3hrs
Average Costs: $14

Rum River Campground
Where you float: Onamia Minnesota
Length of ride: 1.5-5.5hrs
Average Costs: $10-$12

The perfect Tubing River
Flickr photo by ScubaBear68 shared under a Creative Commons license

Zumbro River

in Hammond Minnesota

The Zumbro River is about 18 minutes north of Rochester and is popular for canoes, kayakers and Tubers. Keep your eyes out for bald eagles that like to next in that area.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Zumbro Valley Canoe Rentals
Where you float: Zumbro Falls to Hammond
Length of ride: 3hrs
Average Costs: $20

Zumbro River Ratz
Where you float: Hammond to Millville
Length of ride: 2-3hrs
Average Costs: $15

Group Floating down the river
Flickr photo by chumlee10 shared under a Creative Commons license

Honorable Mention

While the Apple River is technically in Wisconsin, its proximity to the Twins Cities makes it a favorite for Minnesotan’s.

Apple River

in Somerset Wisconsin

River Notes: The Apple River is controlled by a dam, so the water stays consistently at 3-4 feet deep in most locations. But there are pockets of 6ft deep sections. There are also a few sandbars mid-river people like to stop at.

Top Places to Rent Tubes and Shuttles

Float Rite Park
Where you float: Somerset Wisconsin
Length of ride: averages 3 Hrs
Average Costs: $15 a Tube

Apple River Family Campground
Where you float: Somerset Wisconsin
Length of ride: 3 Hrs
Average Costs: $15 a Tube

Rivers Edge
Where you float: Somerset Wisconsin
Length of ride: 3 Hrs
Average Cost: $15 a Tube

Pin It For Later

The Best Tubing Rivers in MN. The families favorite summer time activity is floating down the river. Minnesota has so many great one to choose from. #Summertime #Water #Floating #River

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