How to Tube on the Battenkill River, VT without a Tour can help you save some money and enjoy the tour on your own schedule. Battenkill Tubing is a lot of fun for the whole family. It’s pretty simple to do. Affordable Family Travel can help you enjoy more travel by finding fund free activities where ever you go. In fact our first trip was independently. We had a great time and left with some lessons learned for future trips. River tubing is a great summer activity perfect for a Budget Family Vacation.
River Tubing on the Battenkill is ideal because the water levels can be low in areas making it challenging to kayak.
**Tubing independently at your own risk. Please note due to all the rain the Northeast has gotten this summer 2023 the waters have been higher and currents stronger. I have heard there’s been several rescues of tubers on the Battenkill. It’s best to check with local tubing agencies or maybe even local non emergency police line to determine how the river is before venturing out. Also use your own judgement when you arrive and can see how the water looks.
Tips for Tubing the Battenkill Independently
- STAY LEFT of the Island. When you get to the Island stay left because the right sight is covered by a giant tree which is almost impossible to get through. Even if your end point is the midway pull off, the path out is just after the island so stay left and right after the island cut to the right to get off.
- Make sure you don’t miss the midway path if that’s your take out point. it’s not super easy to see if you aren’t looking for it. But it’s directly after the island on the right hand side.
- You will need 2 cars to park at your start and end. The road is not ideal for walking or riding a bike back to your car due to no shoulders in many parts and some blind curves.
- Regular pool floats will work but you bump rocks and tree branches so there’s chances they could pop or get holes so thicker river tubes are recommended.
- An extra float with a bottom is ideal for carry a bag with your essentials: lunch cooler, snacks, water etc.
- Bring ropes or straps to tether tubes or your cooler float. But make sure they are wrapped up when not using.
- Don’t lay on your stomach on the tube (like the photo above) unless you want to make a face plant into the very cold water, and possibly smash your face on some rocks.
- Always face forward because the minute your tube spins and you are going backward your are going to smash right into a giant tree branch or rock.
Where to go Tubing on the Battenkill
The Battenkill flows from Vermont through New York. A popular place to tube the Battenkill is starting in Vermont near the Arlington Covered Bridge. There’s a small parking lot near a church on the right side after you pass through the bridge. This will be your starting point but before you get there you will want to drop the first car off at the end point.
Choose Your Start and End Point
There’s 2 choices for an end point. The most popular end point is the State Park. It’s about 3 hours away from the Arlington Covered Bridge and takes approximately 3 hours to tube from start to end. If you are looking for a shorter trip you can tube to the pull off spot which is approximately 2 miles from the covered bridge and takes approximately 2 hours. Lastly if you really only want to float for an hour, you can tube from the pull off to the park. I don’t really recommend this because I think 2 hours is a good amount of time and it goes by pretty fast. If you are driving from New York you will stop at the State Park or the pull of and drop one car off. I recommend dropping off the smaller car so you can bring the larger vehicle to the starting point. This way you can inflate as many tubes as you can fit ahead of time.
If you are driving traveling with another family and have tons of tubes you can head to the starting point drop off all the tubes kids and an adult or 2 and then have 2 other adults drive down to drop off the one car while the other adults finish inflating the tubes and preparing for the trip.
What to Expect on the Battenkill
There are small rapids on the battenkill that are a lot of fun. There’s areas that are fairly shallow and where it’s calmer you can get out and swim or possible stand up to stretch your legs or get resituated. The scenery is beautiful and the time really does fly by.
The water is very cold even in the middle of summer so. Consider wetsuits especially for kids who may want to get wet. You will also want ropes or straps to attach tubes to each other as needed. we had a rope per tube that could attach to any of the others and that worked out well. just make sure you keep the ropes rolled up when not being used so it doesn’t get stuck around things or even someone’s legs.
What you Need for Tubing on the Battenkill
- Tubes: There’s a variety of options for tubes. The key is to have a tube that is high enough that your butt doesn’t bump every rock you go over but also not so high that your feet and arms can reach the water to paddle/steer. If you use pool floats you already own just be prepared for the possibility of holes. Here’s some great options.
- Double River Float
- Cooler Float
- Dry Bag or Waterproof Backpack
- Plenty of Water
- Ropes or tethers
- Life Jackets: we initially brought these as it’s safest thing. However, the water was never very deep and we were always close together. the life jackets were not very comfortable so they came off almost immediately. The kids did wear theirs as we told them they had to if they wanted to float independently.
Instructions on How to Tube the Battenkill, VT
The Arlington Covered Bridge 43.1041907,-73.2203224
This is the furthest upriver you will go and likely your starting point so make sure you have everything you will need on the trip in the vehicle you plan to park with here, including:
- River Tubes
- Float to carry cooler and backpack
- Life jackets (personal preference)
- Car Keys (both sets before you start tubing)
- Wet Suits
Midway Pull Over
Maps location: 43.1059859, -73.2582179
If this is your end point you will want to make sure you leave a bag of towels in this vehicle, and possibly some extra water incase you finish up what you take with you. If you drop off a car here and start at the Arlington Bridge it will take about 2 hours.
This is the 3 mile mark from the Arlington Bridge. This is a popular spot to end your tubing adventure but be prepared to spend 3 hours on the river. There’s parking available for only a handful of cars.
How to Tube on the Battenkill River, VT without a Tour
How to Tube on the Battenkill River, VT without a Tour is a fun free activity for the whole family. It’s a great way to stay cool in the summer heat. It’s great for multi-generation family adventures too. While there are tubing excursions you can book that include transportation, it’s not difficult to do independently with 2 cars and your own tubes.
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