Guide to innertubing on the James River
The James River is beautiful and the scenery is great, but most people who go tubing are there for the party. First off, check the Westham Gauge before you go. You will want to know that the river levels are safe. Higher than 5 feet, you might not enjoy the ride and you are required […]
The James River is beautiful and the scenery is great, but most people who go tubing are there for the party.
First off, check the Westham Gauge before you go. You will want to know that the river levels are safe. Higher than 5 feet, you might not enjoy the ride and you are required to wear a life jacket. For more, check this guide I wrote for Richmond.com last summer:
What You Need
Inner tube: Securing a quality inner tube might be an obstacle for some people. You want a tube that is sturdy enough to take a beating on the granite boulders and can survive inevitable horseplay. The second worst way to ruin a trip is a tube that goes flat. The worst is drowning. Try an old truck or tractor tube (watch for pointy valves) or consider a rental. A popped inner tube counts as trash, don’t leave them behind.
Sun protection: You’ll likely be exposed to sunlight for hours on the trip. Consider wearing a hat, shirt, sunglasses and bring a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF rating, and reapply it throughout the day.
Fluids: Alcohol is prohibited on the James, but if you brave the authorities, at least do yourself a favor and bring some other fluids to replenish and prevent dehydration. Keep track of your empties, no glass containers and always take out what you bring on the river.
Food: Four hours is a long time without food. There is no shortage of rocks to stop and snack.
Drybag: Someone should pack a cellphone and car keys.
Footwear: Barefoot is a bad choice and flip-flops are no good as they will fall off in the first big rapid you hit and certainly will not provide protection from random surprise rocks. Forget fashion and just go for safety and fun. Try aqua socks, sandals you can strap to your foot or old shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.
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