“Tubin’ the hooch” or “shootin’ the hooch” is Georgia slang for Chattahoochee River Tubing, and it’s one of the most effective ways to cope with the godforsaken Southern heat. Rental services are more limited between Labor Day and Memorial Day, but you’ll still find tubers year-round.
The 430-mile long river maintains a temperature of 55 to 65 degrees year-round, no matter how muggy it gets above water. Now, since Georgia officially made drinking while tubing legal, you can drift the day away on the Hooch with a case of your own hooch, at certain tubing locations. (Just please—drink and tube responsibly.)
A Guide to Chattahoochee River Tubing
The Chattahoochee’s slow-flowing, long-running waters accent Georgia like a Southern drawl. The river extends from the northeast corner of the state to the west until it traces the border of Alabama, and flows South to meet the Florida state line. Some areas of the river tumble into whitewater rapids and others yawn into wide lakes.
You could see nearly every latitudinal coordinate in Georgia if you rode down the full length of the river. These tubing spots will bring you to every bend of the Chattahoochee River, and they’re in close proximity to camping areas.
Chattahoochee River Tubing Tips
No matter where you’re tubing in the Peach State, there are some safety recommendations and rules to be aware of. First, it’s smart to wear rubber-soled water shoes. These come in handy if you’re thrown from your inner tube in a mini-rapid, and need to get some traction on the slippery river-bottom rocks to get back in the tube.
Second, after Labor Day when the temperature starts to descend, it’s smart to opt for a closed bottom inner tube. Otherwise your frozen rear will be begging you to literally get your butt out of the river at the end of a four-hour float.
Finally, each of the tubing companies will have some variation in regulations, prices, and trip times. Make sure you check the tubing website for details, and to find information on where to store your valuables.
1. Near the Headwaters: Helen
Near the Chattahoochee headwaters, the Bavarian-style town Helen might have you wondering if you’re at the foot hills of the Alps. But inside this quaint mock-German village is one of the most popular Chattahoochee River tubing spots – Cool River Tubing.
For $8, tubers can rent an inner tube, a life jacket, tube connectors, and a shuttle ride to and from the entry and exit points. Chattahoochee waters reach depths that range from calf-level to over-the-head, so personal flotation devices are a must. Helen has a policy that tubers can’t take alcohol on any part of the river within the city limits. But tubers are permitted to take a plastic-container drink with them on their ride down the river.
Lockers are available on site for an additional $2 to store important items like keys and wallets.
2. A Spot for Calm Water: Lake Eufaula (or Walter F. George Lake)
The Chattahoochee widens into a lake that straddles the Alabama and Georgia State line. Alabamans call it Lake Eufaula, and Georgians call that same body of water Walter F. George Lake. Whatever you call it, it’s a great place to stop with your inner tube. The calmer lake waters make it ideal for a more thrilling tube ride—one that’s towed by a motor boat.
The lake stretches 85 miles up the border, and holds several camping areas along the shoreline. The dense hardwoods shade Bluff Creek, a campground with 77 plots, water and electric hookups, and full restrooms and laundry facilities on site.
3. Urban Tubing: Powers Island
This ancient river runs into urban modernity as it flows through the metro Atlanta area. At Nantahala Outdoors Center you can view the granite outcroppings of the Chattahoochee along its banks. Just when the gentle rolling of the Chattahoochee lulls you into serenity, whitewater class I-II rapids will have you spinning away.
Starting at $25, the NOC Chattahoochee River Outpost offers half-day and full-day rentals to fully explore the eight miles of surrounding Chattahoochee River. Tubers have an option of open or closed bottom inner tubes. Tubers floating from the Powers Island outpost will drift adjacent to the popular Powers Island Hiking Trail just off the bank.
Let the river carry you away from city stress, without ever leaving the I-285 perimeter at this Chattahoochee River tubing outpost.
4. Bring Your Dog: Duluth
Before the Chattahoochee River reaches the urban mecca of Atlanta, it winds through suburban areas like Duluth. Here suburbanites and visiting campers can escape the urban sprawl and the cul-de-sac neighborhoods by hopping into the river and being lazily swept southward.
River Tubing offers two trips; a two-hour ride that costs $10 and a four-hour ride that costs $14. Dog companions are welcome to catch a ride on the river in a joined tube as well.
5. BYOTube: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
You can tube on your terms (mostly) at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The waterway stretches for 48 miles, so you’ll have plenty of room for Chattahoochee River tubing, along with other boating activities – though jet skis are strictly prohibited. The waters are open for tubing fun from 30 minutes past sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset.
Because the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area doesn’t have any rental outfitters on the premises, you’ll have to bring your own inner tube.
6. Right on the River: Roswell
Shoot the Hooch in Roswell, Georgia boasts the only Chattahoochee River tubing headquarters that’s actually on the river, so you won’t have to shuttle to and from a drop-off point. From June to August, Shoot the Hooch offers tube rentals until 3 p.m. During the off-season, the rentals are dependent on weather and streamflow.
The scenic drift down this section of the Chattahoochee River runs from Don White Park to Azalea Park, and the estimated trip time is anywhere from two to four hours. Shoot the Hooch abides by the National Park Service rules regarding the Chattahoochee, which prohibits anyone under the age of 5 from being in the river, and anyone under 18 needs written parental consent. Children 13 and younger must wear a life jacket, which is provided at the rental station.