Wet & Wild


Turtle Tubing offers a novel way to drift down the Upper Colorado.

By Devon O'Neil June 6, 2022 Published in the Summer/Fall 2022 issue of Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine

A Turtle Tubing flotilla on the Eagle River.

Image: Turtle Tubing


A post-float happy hour on the Turtle Tubing bus. 

Image: Turtle Tubing

On a hot summer day, Colorado’s cool river water soothes the skin and the psyche. But we all know not all days are hot, and you don’t always want to be touching the water while floating down a river. Therein lies the inspiration for the Turtle Tube, a modified inner tube with a bottom and a cover to keep its occupants dry. And there’s no better place to test it out than on Turtle Tubing’s exclusive, 4.5-mile float on the Upper Colorado from Dotsero to Bair Ranch ($60, turtletubing.com). “We’re the only commercial outfitter on this section, so there’s nobody else around,” says company founder Shane Ward—that is, other than the bald eagles you pass on your route. The three-hour guided float, which gives kids (2 and older) a chance to stop and skip rocks from sandy beaches, is only half the fun. For an extra $14 per person, you get picked up and dropped off in the company’s signature bright-green Turtle Bus, which has a stocked bar for those inclined; and for another $14, you’ll feast on flatbread from Ward’s wood-fired mobile pizza oven after the float. This trip is ideal for a big group; Ward even hands out bungee cords so guests can tie their tubes together and form a flotilla. 

Alternately, through September Glenwood Adventure (glendwoodadventure.com, $68/guest 13 years and older), Sage (sageoutdooradventures.com, $109/guest 6 years and older) and Timberline (timberlinetours.com, $115/guest 13 and older, $95/guest 5–12) all offer guided half-day Ducky Float Trips on the Upper Colorado—basically an inflatable kayak that is easier to maneuver than a raft and plenty sturdy for one or two people in splashy Class II rapids.


Riverside Dining

After an adventure on the river, no matter how challenging or tame, few things satisfy a heavy mountain appetite like a thick slice of pizza and cold draft beer. Guests at Sage Outdoor Adventures’ headquarters in Dotsero are in luck: the longtime outfitter’s in-house Canyons Restaurant (which opened in 2020, canyonscolorado.com/canyons-restaurant) doesn’t skimp on its pizza toppings or suds selection. They also do a mean chili dog and have plenty of outdoor seating and majestic scenery. 

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