Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tubing down the Farmington River in CT

If you're not quite ready for white water rafting but want to spend an afternoon having a river adventure, then the Farmington River Tubing experience just might be right for you!
Located on Main Street, New Hartford, in the Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area the  Farmington River Tubing's 2.5 mile jaunt down a portion of the the Farmington River is a fun way to spend a hot summer day!   Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area also features access to hiking trails and a public launch for canoes and kayaks.  

After parking (free parking) you'll need to go over to the "Waiver" area to sign a consent form.  Children 10-18 years old will also need to sign their consent and also have a parent or guardian sign responsibility for them. 
Be sure you read all the information and cautionary warnings.  
After signing waivers, you'll proceed to the payment trailer where waivers are submitted, and one adult will also need to complete an information paper with name and address; make, model, and license plate of car in their lot; emergency contact information; and, of course, pay the nice folks.
Payment for the tube rentals is $20.00 per person with weekday/non-holiday discounts of $2.00 off.  You must also leave a deposit, and management recommends that you leave your car keys for this deposit. Great idea! - As this ensures that you don't lose your car keys in the river (!!!) and allows you to lock all your personal belongings in your car.  There are also more informational signs that I would highly recommend that you read posted on the trailer that detail water level instructions, etc.
You'll then proceed to the tube and life preserver area.  You must wear a coast guard certified life preserver (you can bring your own if you wish - see details on their website).  
Tubes and life preservers are color coded for weight and height.  Before heading down to the river you will hear a safety talk about what to do if you are ejected from your tube during one of the rapids.  

Listen to them...this is for your safety!

You'll then bring your tube down to the river to begin your afternoon of fun!
You'll launch from their trail
...and float down the 2.5 mile area supported by the Farmington River Tubing 
The water was cold in the refreshing type of way but I can imagine on a cold day it might be uncomfortable.

While most of the trip is floating there are some portions that are rough 

Note:  The picture above is courtesy of Farmington River Tubing.  See more on the Farmington River Tubing Gallery.
However, most of the trip is spent relaxing in the gentle current.  

There are some portions that are quite shallow, especially when the water level is low.
Be sure to look for wildlife along the way.  We saw the cutest little duck.  You can't see it well here...but he had a mullet...or a mohawk.  In any case...s/he was cute!
Again, on one of the days that we went the water was so low that you often times had to get up and walk as we were getting stuck in some of the shallower areas.

Look for the blue tube hanging from the tree that signals the end of your "float" and designates the area where the bus awaits you.
You'll walk up a pretty steep incline to the bus.
Where you'll then board the bus that brings you back to the parking area.

You'll return your tubes and life preservers to their original areas.
And conclude your day of tubing!
Some additional notes... 
  1. Bring cash.  No other form of payment is accepted.
  2. Wear sunscreen!  Remember that the sun's rays over water are often intensified.
  3. Be sure each member of your party knows how to swim. This is important! There are a few areas of the river that will bounce you around and it is possible to be ejected from your tube.  (It happened to me!)  
  4. There is an age requirement of 10 years old but I would also add that your 10 year old must be an adventurous type.  If they don't like to get splashed, or bounced into strangers (on a busy day there are lots of tubers in the water) then this might not be the river trip for you. 
  5. On the other end of the age and health spectrum, I should also add that you must still be spry enough to be able to get in and out of a tube at ground level easily.  On low water level days you may get "stuck" quite often on sometimes slippery rocks, so you must be able to get out of your tube and maintain balance on slippery surfaces as you maneuver yourself to deeper water areas.  
  6. You must also be able to paddle yourself frequently to get to these deeper depth areas. 
  7. Bring a change of clothes for your return trip home. There is an area for changing (see red cabanas below) as well as porta-potties (blue).  If you are traveling a distance like we were (approximately a one hour drive from Branford, CT) then you will welcome the opportunity to return home in dry clothes!
  8. Anything you want to bring on the water with you (like a camera) pack in a water proof plastic bag.  Anything you carry WILL get wet!  Repeat:  It. WILL. Get. Wet.  Your hands are constantly in the water so simply handling my camera (taking it in and out of the plastic bag) meant that it got a little wet.
  9. Do NOT bring your cell phone!  Appreciate nature and the people you are with without bringing a phone with you.  It is likely that even with a protective plastic bag it will get a little wet.  It may even fall into the water. Don't take the risk of damage or loss.  Leave your cellphone in the car!  (your fellow tubers will thank you!)
  10. Wear water shoes or sneakers.  The paths are pebbly and can hurt bare feet.  (yes,  I was barefoot and it hurt!).  But also be careful of slippery rocks if your water shoes are non-grip.
  11. Clear a block of time.  I went twice this year, and the first time the water level was higher (faster current) and it took us 2.5 hours to go down the river.  The second time the water level was very low and it took a full 4 hours to go down the river.  This increase in time was due to the fact the the current was very slow and we got stuck on rocks several times and had to maneuver our way out.
  12. It was my personal observation that on the weekend day that I went (Sunday) there were more young adults and couples with an average age 20 to 35 and the river was packed with tubers.  On the weekday that I went (Friday), there were many more families with adolescents (average age was 12-25) and it was much less crowded.  Both days were over 80 degrees and the water temperature was perfect (cold but not frosty).
  13. Review the website for warnings & rules and information  before you go.
  14. Be smart and safe. Follow the rules and respect your fellow tubers.
Changing areas in red to the right and "facilities" in blue to the left.

I would highly recommend the Farmington River Tubing adventure as a great way to spend a hot afternoon in Connecticut.  

Visit Farmington River Tubing 
and tell them Home Place sent you!

Farmington River Tubing
92 Main Street
New Hartford, CT 06057

For additional pictures visit: Home Place Farmington River

Have you had any fun adventures this summer?  I'd love if you'd share them below!


  1. I am not very adventurous but this actually looks quite fun to me. I love all the extra direction you gave especially about the water shoes (great tip!). But I am wondering---Satan's Kingdom--WTH??

    1. I know!!!! I'm researching how the State of CT ever came up with that name. Haven't found the answer yet...but I'm not giving up!

  2. I love doing this...I have taken the kids a couple of times and it is such fun. Even my father-in-law who cannot swim joined it. Brave of you to take your camera in the water! What a great way to send off summer.

    1. Yes, I was uncertain about the took the one that I figured I could most easily replace or could do without!

  3. We did this years ago with a bunch of friends and had a blast!! The rough parts can be scary depending on the water level. I can't wait until the kids are a little older and we can take them!

    1. I did it many times in my I was a little leery to be returning after all these years (chuckle). But I had so much fun the first time I went this year - that couldn't wait to go back again! Def. a great thing to do with a group or as a family!

  4. Some one has really thought this out well when organizing this business. I can see how this would be a wonderful relaxing fun day.

    1. Yes, they really have! Can't wait to go back again next year!

  5. I have always wanted to do this, but I don't know why I haven't! I guess it's one of those options for things to do in CT that I often forget about. Thanks for posting your review--now I know what to expect & hopefully actually get out there before it gets cold! :)

    1. Katie - Def make sure it is a nice warm day. Pack a lunch and enjoy the area when you're done floating. It's a great area.

  6. Replies
    1. There is Austin F Hawes Campground, 198 W River RdBarkhamsted, CT 06063,
      White Pines Campsite 232 Old North Rd Barkhamsted, CT 06063


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