Everything You Need to Know About Saco River Tubing
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
Many things that folks like to do in North Conway require you to be physically fit. Not everyone is buff enough to climb a mountain or jog a few miles. I dare to say that even the couchiest of couch potatoes can climb into a canoe or kayak and float down a lazy, perfectly clear, refreshing river and go Saco River Tubing!
Back in my teens we used to head to North Conway, NH to go tubing on the Saco River. Those were the days before you could go to a big box store and purchase a tube for a few bucks.
We had the pleasure and pain of watching my Dad procuring several tractor trailer tire tubes, but we had to patch the holes, fill them up with air, tie them onto the roof of our car with rope, and head north for a day of Saco River tubing.
For those that do not know the horrors of using used tractor trailer tire tubes, let me enlighten you. Trust me, I feel compelled to warn you!
First, they are heavy. I was young and weak and had to tote my tube from the car to the river which was a huge deal.
Second, they were filthy. I remember baby-sitting for weeks to buy a new, beautiful bathing suit to wear on our weekend vacation. Everyone laughed at me all weekend because my butt was solid black.
You see, back then I was not a lay down and float kinda gal. I used to sit on it like a swing so I looked like I was sitting on a donut. I never wore that bathing suit again but I still remember feeling like I was all that and a bag of chips until cloth met rubber.
Third, the fill stem was child torture. Anyone over 55 knows the pain and probably has a scar or two from them slicing their arm or leg on one of those bad boys.
I still own a tire tube or two but I have not used them in years. Head down to the local store and buy one or rent one from the great companies in town that will drop you off with your rented tube, kayak or canoe and then cart your soggy, dripping self back to your car at day's end.
Now-a-days, we have all sorts of options when it comes to enjoying a day in the water. Forget about going to a water park and floating down one of their chlorine filled "lazy rivers". Come tubing on the Saco River in North Conway, New Hampshire and enjoy the real thing!
The Saco River is a 136 mile river that begins flowing up in the Crawford Notch, New Hampshire and it heads straight through New Hampshire to Western Maine before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is a beautiful river that is one of the largest attractions in North Conway! Saco River tubing is a dream come true on a hot summer day, but don't forget to check out my other blog called 8 Perfect Summer Days in North Conway, NH.
Saco River tubing is great fun but I know from experience, there's a lot more to do and see while tubing down the river. Keep your eye out for the horses of Four Seasons Lodge! We often go to the river to cool off!
You'll also see lots of wildlife, meet some new friends and see gorgeous scenery too!
The Saco River is a beautiful river that has very quiet spots, mostly clear water, small sets of rapids and sandbars. There are a few rough spots and falls along the river so it's good to study where you're going before just jumping in!
It's a great place to kayak, canoe, tube, or even swim while current carries you gracefully to the east.
The water is typically a little cold but it feels great on a hot day, and the river is a little wide which doesn't allow for much shade so bring a hat and lots of strong sunscreen so by hour five you're not cooked straight through to your bone!
Local Tip Alert: Buy sunglasses at the Dollar Tree and leave your Ray-Ban's at home. You're welcome.
One of the best parts of the Saco River is all of the sandy spots that allow you to stop and picnic/enjoy the beach. Not to mention the fresh New England air and green trees provide ample opportunities for family photos.
One of the best options for renting equipment (if you don't have your own), is at Saco Canoe Rental Company right off the White Mountain Highway in Conway, New Hampshire. It's only a thirteen minute drive from the Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch!
They offer a 1.5 mile float which takes 1-3 hours and is great for all ages!
If you want a longer day of tubing the Saco River and to hit some baby rapids, take their 3 mile Redstone Rapids trip and enjoy a little more excitement on your float. This one is great for kids 8 and up and will take 3-5 hours so plan on getting there a little bit on the early side.
They also offer a 6 mile tubing trip that provides sandy beach areas and rope swings along the river. This is a great option if you want to spend the entire day floating at your leisure!
You can also rent a tube for your cooler, paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Every landing location provides a shuttle back to your car so there is no walking or alternative transportation back up river!
If you want to head a little further up the river there is another great rental place called Saco Bound. Saco Bound's location is an 19 minute drive from Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch and their launch sight is right near the New Hampshire/Maine state line.
They offer canoe, kayak, tubing, and white water rafting on the Saco River.
They also offer a few different length trips depending on what you're looking for.
Their first Saco River tubing trip is from their location to Weston's Bridge, which is a 3 mile trip on calm clear waters. This is a great options for first timers who are just looking to spend 1-2 hours on the water.
Their second tubing trip is from their location to Pig's Farm which is a 6.4 mile excursion that provides plenty of beaches for picnicking and swimming. This is a great option for the entire family.
One other tubing option is go from Redstone to Saco Bound, where you park your car at Saco Bound and are shuttled to the launch site so you can just make your way peacefully back to your car.
The last option is for a full day on the water at a whopping 10.2 miles that ends at a beautiful private campground which is great for families and large groups.
They also offer overnight canoe/camping and every ride provides a shuttle ride to your car (or to your launch site if you're going from Redstone to Saco Bound)!
No matter where you launch from your are set up to have a relaxing day by doing one of the top things to do in North Conway!
So you think that tubing down the Saco River sounds boring? Think again! There are so many reasons why your excuses are lazy and futile.
First thing’s first: family time. A Saco River adventure is a family friendly thing to do! It requires very little work for the people who want to relax, or a lot if your kids want to swim in the refreshing water or go to one of the many rope swings to jump off. Even if you kayak or canoe there are very rare occasions you need to paddle--except to steer.
Don’t forget the kids because Saco River tubing is one of most fun things to do in North Conway! You can always get a two person kayak or a canoe so that your children can join and enjoy the beautiful day with you.
Number two is that you get to go outside. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy some cold water on your feet and get some of that vitamin D we all need.
Typically on hot days you are busy trying to cool off. Spending the day tubing down a cold river is a great activity and it provides a free place to cool off whenever you need it—the water! Float to your hearts content in the hot sun (with a wide brimmed hat and a lot of sunscreen of course. You must protect yourself!) and whenever you get too hot, just jump in the water. It will cool you right off!
Just make sure you google the weather in North Conway before you head out--a little rain is one thing but a thunderstorm is another! A little set of clouds wouldn't hurt either!
Last but not least tubing down a real river is not something you get to do everyday, unless you are a professional white water rafter, in which case you may be bored--but you need to relax too!
It’s fun and different and will change up the hum-drum routine of day to day life (plus no Wifi and unless you have one of those super water proof phones possibly no phone as well).
You get to enjoy the outdoors without distractions from work or the outside world. What beats that?
That’s right. Nothing. Take a break, you deserve one. Go tubing on the beautiful Saco River!