Things To Do in West Virginia: Flat Water Tubing at The Shenandoah River.

I’m not the outdoorsy type of person, as some of you may have noticed by now. My idea of a perfect vacation is to sit by the beach with a cocktail in hand and a harem of cabana boys with washboard abs at my disposal. (Yeah right!) But that’s not to say that I don’t welcome some change and having spent quite a long time in the East Coast of the USA where outdoor activities are abundant, I now think that I have developed such lazy personality plainly because there are not much options of such things to do where I live.

Tubing in Shenandoah River

It’s a beautiful day to go tubing isn’t it?

I do want to try some outdoor activity and form my opinion about it after. I learned that hiking isn’t for me, I don’t understand what sense of fulfillment one gets by walking miles and miles in the middle of the forest. I’m more of a visual person and if there’s no amazing scenery around as I do an activity, then I won’t be able to enjoy it. Also, I realized now that I’m more keen to explore a place with some kind of a water body. Any place becomes more beautiful with water, at least for my eyes.

Tubing in Shenandoah River

Getting on the river was quite a task!

Tubing in Shenandoah River

Took me three attempts to get on that tube successfully.

When my very outdoorsy sister suggested that we go river tubing, it piqued my interest immediately because of the word river. I’ve no idea what tubing is so I researched about it and the more I know, the more I want to fast forward the days to finally do it. One weekend, the three of us drove down to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia to finally do that thing called tubing through River Riders. There are a lot of other operators in the area but we chose River Riders plainly because that was the brochure we saw from the information desk at Luray Caverns. Lol.

They have a lot of options for the tube that you’re going to use and we chose the cheapest one which was the standard PVC vinyl tubes. It was USD28 per person. A more expensive option was a tube without a hole in the middle which I didn’t quite understand why someone would even choose that option since the main point of a river tubing is to get wet. Well, I understood why during our river tubing. Hah!

Tubing in Shenandoah River

Just one of those rare times that we were all enjoying the ride and not panicking about something. Lol.

Before going down to the river, a safety video was played to remind us of the things that we can and cannot do and the things that can happen during our tubing. Watching the video makes you think that you will die if you do the this and that the company won’t be held responsible for it. Of course they’re exaggerating. After the video, we were driven down to the river to start our tubing. It was only the three of us who were going to do this activity since it was a Monday afternoon. So we had the river to ourselves, I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. I probably need to try to do it again during a weekend with lots of people around.

The water was cold but given some time, our body temperature adjusted to it. We did something quite stupid though as we started our tubing at the left-most side of the river where it’s shallow with some scattered trash lying around. It was a clear day and the current of the river wasn’t that strong so we were paddling our tubes with our hands so we could move around otherwise, we’d be stuck in the same place. Hah! There were some parts in the river with grass growing out of it which scared the crap out of us. My imagination’s too active and all I could think about whenever we were in that area were snakes and crocodiles. I think we only calmed down a bit and got the hang of it after about half an hour of lazily gliding by the river.

Our take off point was marked by an orange and blue deflated tubes. As soon as we saw it, we started making our way towards it but then as luck would have it, the once clear and blue sky became a dark cloud hovering over us. Thunderstorm’s about to start. As earlier said, the river was calm and not moving so we started to frantically paddle our way towards the take off point with our hands and feet. It was hilarious! Scary but hilarious.

We were a few meters away from it when we saw a strong current of water gushing out of a canal from our side which only means that if we pass through it, we will be taken to the middle of the river and the take off point which was on our left side would be very far from us. That’s when I decided to get off the tube not knowing how deep that part of the river was. I wasn’t afraid since I was wearing a life jacket anyway. But my sister who stands 4ft and 11in tall was so afraid to get off her tube, I can’t blame her though as there were parts where the bed of the river would be deeper, upto my chest at least. As a result, she was taken by the river current further away from us and I couldn’t swim fast enough to grab her. I can see she was panicking but there was not much that I can do but to slowly tread on the water which I am not very familiar with. The guide who was there to pick us up thought that we were playing around so we could spend a lot more time in the river and she reminded us that there’s a thunderstorm coming and its dangerous to be on open waters if lightning strikes. Yeah right, like we don’t know that – it’s the very reason why my sister’s panicking. Anyway, miraculously – she was able to swim against the current towards us. And we were able to get on shore quickly before the thunderstorm started.

Tubing in Shenandoah River

My sisters paddling our tubes towards the take-off point with their hands. Lol.

Tubing in Shenandoah River

My gopro recorded my sister’s ordeal. Can you see how she’s panicking? :p

It was a very stressful tubing for us but was still enjoyable. I’d definitely do it again but I’d probably try the white water tubing next time as the flat water’s too slow for me. Hah! When we got home and took our wet clothes to the washing machine, it was soooo smelly. I realized then how dirty the water must’ve been in that river for it to harbor such funky smell. Now I know why there’s the option of getting a tube without the hole in the middle. :p

And just like those photos aren’t enough, here’s a video of our flat water tubing adventure. I realized though as I edited it that I wasn’t able to record anything but my face. :p


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  • Mitzie Mee August 2, 2015 at 19:53

    I did white water rafting in Andorra many years ago. We were wearing helmets and it was a lot of fun. We even got one of those pictures, when we were going downhill, with water splashing all over the place. The water wasn’t very deep though, and I’m sure it would take a lot more courage to be sitting in a rubber donut in the middle of a real river with alligator vegetation and all:)

    • Pinay Flying High August 2, 2015 at 20:15

      I wouldn’t go flat water tubing in Australia – I’m quite definite that they would have alligators there. :p
      I’d definitely try the white water tubing next time, it looks more fun.

  • Pinay Flying High July 31, 2015 at 22:43

    Hah! I would definitely recommend for you to do that.
    I haven’t tried white water rafting, I’m not a very good swimmer which explains why I’m a bit scared to try it.
    The white water tubing sounds and looks like a milder version of it, I’d do it next time I’m in the US. 🙂

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    Welcome to my blog! My name is Noemi, a Filipina who caught the travel bug at an early age and has never been cured. I blog about travel, food and my extraordinary mundane life in London with the Greek Mister.

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