Relaxing river run perfect solution
to end the summer
By Robert Stevens
After spending the majority of my summer working in some form or another and missing out on many recreational opportunities, it was important for me to manage some final hurrah of fun as fall approached and it started to get chilly.
So when I made plans to take my girlfriend tubing down the Provo River for her birthday, I was pretty proud of myself that I would be killing two birds with one stone.
The experience turned out to be one of the most enjoyable things I have done in years, and I am already looking forward to going back. I would personally recommend the trip to anyone who is comfortable near water.
It all started when I saw photos of someone else doing it on social media. I made reservations the following day. Since there were two of us, I opted to reserve a double tube, which is basically just two single tubes sewn together. In retrospect, this was definitely the better option because it lends itself to more stability. I later found out you could rent full size rafts as well, and inflatable single-person kayaks.
The drive to disembark upon the Provo River was rich and vibrant with fall color for mid- September. Reds, oranges and yellows were beginning to overpower the greens that dominated the canyon during summer. As we parked in the lot at Vivian Park, the Heber Valley Railroad was stopped on the tracks in front of the park. As it rolled off up the canyon, we climbed out of the car and began stuffing our wallets and random trinkets from our pockets into the car, so we would not risk losing them.
I should mention that we did, in fact, bring our cell phones. As avid photographers both, we desperately wanted some photographic mementos to bring home with us. Let me just say this right now: you will enjoy yourself more if you simply leave everything in the car and focus on the simple fun ahead of you. By bringing along anything of value, you run the risk of being distracted by the thought of losing it or getting it wet (and you will be getting wet).
At the check-in desk, we signed a waiver and put on lifejackets. When we were there, the river was mild enough that I could have done fine without one had I fell off my inner tube, but I wholeheartedly suggest you put it on, and keep it on. What you’re about to enjoy is simply too much fun to be distracted by worries such as “will I drown?”
After fitting your lifejacket and hanging out by the river for a few minutes, employees at High Country Adventure pulled up the shuttle bus that would deposit all the people waiting to float upstream with their tubes, rafts and kayaks. The drive up the canyon felt like 15 minutes or so, but the float back would ultimately last 90-120 minutes depending on how much you dally along the way.
After hopping off the shuttle bus, “river runners” are instructed to grab their watercraft of choice and launch from an area not far from where the bus parked. As novices, we let one group go ahead of us to see how it worked out for them. After watching the group launch, we felt comfortable going next, and we quickly hopped on our double tube, getting our butts wet in the process, and started drifting off with current.
For the next hour and a half, we spent time moving with the river, sliding in and out of currents, and sometimes paddling in one direction or the other in an effort to avoid shallow spots or overhanging branches. This process would have been easier for us if I had noticed there were paddles available to grab and take with you to help navigate the river. Having failed to notice them, we made do with a pair of flip flops gripped tightly in our hands.
Along the river we introduced ourselves to fellow floaters who were also there to enjoy a lazy trip downstream on tubes, rafts and kayaks. We saw everything from families, groups and even a cute couple at least in their 80s enjoying the same warm day on the river as us.
The scenery was wonderful as well, rich with fall colors. The river carried us past dozens of fly fishers who were surprisingly gracious despite the fact we were likely scaring the fish away with our paddling and banter.
Reaching the end was bittersweet. We had worked up a huge appetite, but we also could have enjoyed ourselves for twice the time, had we the option.
After hauling ourselves out of the river, our next stop was food, but for more than an hour our conversation revolved around how fun it was, and how soon we could go back.
For information on how to ride the Provo River, check out http://www.HighCountryAdventure.co