1 Inner Tube + 1 Lazy River + You = One Great Day!

I can’t think of a better way to spend a long summer day; than to go grab a couple of inner tubes and a couple of friends and float the river. Hopefully you have access to a river in your part of the world for taking a slow ride down the roadways Mother Nature created for us. For the most part this is a safe event for adults that know how to swim. If there is strong currents or rapids around, the odds go up tremendously for an accident to occur. There are some that like white water adventures and will prefer the faster moving rivers. For those that just want to get outdoors and relax, you just need one good lazy river to help.

Now when you float a river, you will need a vehicle or someone that is going to meet you at your destination spot. We usually cover several miles of water on our floats and a 5 mile float down the river, could be a 20 mile drive by car. It really depends on the bends in the river; which will determine your north to south distances. Since most rivers do start in the north and flow in a southerly direction.

You can’t bring much on your tube, but I have seen those that have tried. I have seen radios, big coolers, fishing rods with tackle box, oars, and other items that tubers try to carry with them on these floats. In most cases, these items do make their way into the water or get lost. Leave the radio and grill at home or at your campsite. Focus on the things you must have. Things like dry cigarettes and drinks for quenching your thirst. No need to bring food (unless your diabetic maybe). For those that live in my state of Georgia and plan to float the Chattahoochee River, Etowah River, Conasauga River, Ellijay River, Little River, Oconee River, Flint River, Yellow River, or any of the other list of Georgia Rivers; just go to the Waffle House and fill-up on a big breakfast before you go. If you don’t have a Waffle House in your area, go to Denny’s, IHOP, Huddle House, or any other place like that; where you can get a lot of food for a good price. You will be hungry and starving after spending 5 or 6 hours floating down the river. This is actually one of the fun things to look forward to as you make that slow journey to your destination point. Drinks are a must on these river trips! I believe all of our trips end with a big thirst, so bring as many drinks as possible and you will still probably run out. Leave your coolers behind and try to find a little fishing line to tie to the drinks and your inner tube and you can slip them in the water to keep cool.

Etowah River in North GA

For those in North Georgia and know where the Etowah River is, will be familiar with where I go to float the river. A good place to put in at is in Ball Ground on East Cherokee Drive. The Etowah River crosses under this road and is right beside the Gold Kist plant that’s located on East Cherokee. Some people refer to the Gold Kist facility as the “gut plant” or “rendering plant“. If you come from Highway 5 and turn in by the old Tyson Feed Mill in Ball Ground, you will go about 2 miles and you can turn down on your left side, before you go over the bridge, to have easy access to the Etowah River. If you go over the bridge (going toward Macedonia), you can make your next left and this will be where the Gold Kist plant is and turn around there. Go back across the bridge and now you can enter on the right side to get down to the waters of the Etowah River in Ball Ground, Georgia. This is also the area known as Gober Beach to the locals living around these parts. I can assure you, this isn’t like any beach you have been on before and the name “Gober Beach” is more of a joke and I think started with a local radio personality from WCHK radio station in Canton. Right across the river is where the gut plant is and they turn the bad parts of chickens into a high protein or very nutritional formula that gets added to various animal feeds. For whatever reasons, this process causes a strong odor and is not pleasant to smell. Often the smell from the Gold Kist chicken plant can be smelled from miles away. Luckily we don’t have to stay here long, we just enter the Etowah River here and will float back to Canton. We usually end our trip or get out of the river at the Harmon Field Ball Park, the Fairgrounds, or Boiling Park in Canton.

There are other ways to float the river. A boat or canoe are the two most common ways people will navigate down a stretch of river. I like the canoe best for speed, due to its slender design, and it can hold supplies for your trip. It’s easy to bring a cooler and the fishing rods along; when you have a canoe or boat. I would still leave the radio behind, so you can enjoy the sounds of nature. Floating down the river is a way to escape the noises and sounds of everyday life. Plus you never know when you might have an accident; that could turn your floating vessel over and you can say good bye to the radio if this happens. Keep it simple on the river and do try to find one that doesn’t have a lot of strong currents. The Etowah River in North Georgia I can highly recommend for floating. At least for the parts of the Etowah River that flow through Cherokee County. Some of the more northern parts of the Etowah do contain some rapids, that are a little more ferocious; than the ones you will face in Ball Ground, Macedonia, Buffington, Keithsburgh, Riverstone, and around Canton.

Overall safety is the key and main point for having a good time. Be sure you have a general knowledge of the rivers you choose to float. It’s impossible for anyone to know every foot of the river they’re about to go down, without first going down it. Checking out multiple down stream areas that are near roads or bridges is one way to prepare. You can try to ask a few people too and see if you can pick up anything important. The only bad things you and your buddies should be experiencing is the hunger and thirst problems at the end of your trip. Not uncommon to have a problem later that night, with a sunburn that you just had to take home with you. A little waterproof sunscreen applied to the skin first, will be like finding river gold on your travels down the long and winding river.

Where Do I Get an Inner Tube?

Check around your local area at the places that service cars and trucks. A place that works on the larger vehicles is the best route to take, if you want an inner tube with a little size to it. Most gas stations that sell tires and have an auto mechanic on duty, will hook you up with a real inner tube and fill it full of air for free or a minimal cost. The rounded floats you buy in stores is not really good or suited for floating down the river. These store-bought floats are usually made with a thin lining of plastic. You want a rubber made float; which is a little tougher to puncture. Completing your journey by walking or swimming is no fun. Get a real inner tube for maximum protection. If you have several people going with you, just take along an extra inner tube for carrying supplies. Each person can take turns towing the supply tube and shouldn’t be that much trouble, if this responsibility gets divided equally with 4 or 5 floaters. This extra tube allows for more goodies to be brought and will be a blessing to the first person that puts a hole in their inner tube.

I would be careful about spending a lot of money on inner tubes. I have known places to give these away for free, so a tire business charging $20 or more would be highway robbery. Prepare to spend 5 bucks for one and if you don’t have a lot of choices, you may have to spend $10; to get your fun tube out of the shop and onto the river’s road. These tubes are normally thrown away or took off to a recycling plant for rubber. Your cost should be for the patch it takes to plug the hole (if there is one). One that is not damaged and only needs air, should be given way for free by these filling stations.

Have fun! Be safe! Don’t forget to come back here and give me details on your river floating trips. If you just want to tell me about a previous trip or one that you’re planning, that’s fine too. It’s always enjoyable to hear stories of people that are planning or survived a trip that took most of the day to complete. Hold on, did he say “survived”? Yep, if you never floating the river before and plan to go miles and miles to your final destination, it does become an act of survival out there. It’s all fun and enjoyable for the first couple of hours, but once a little hunger and thirst sets in, on a hot summer day, with the same old scenery passing you by, it can get a little tough out there. Don’t let me scare you, because everyone needs this experience at least once in their life. Enjoy your river trip and don’t forget the sun tan lotion!