Floating the Cahaba River

Need an adventure? Cahaba River Tubing offers inner tube rentals to float the beautiful Cahaba River.

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(From left to right) Jessica Gee, 20, Olivia Hunte, 22, and Julie Turner, 19, set off to float the Cahaba River for the first time.

By Allison McLaughlin
Contributing Writer

TUSCALOOSA–It’s hot outside and it seems the best way to beat the heat is to stay inside or in a body of water. Tuscaloosa is filled with apartment pools, but if that is getting drab, visit the Cahaba River.

The river offers several options for tubing and kayaking. Open since 1987, Cahaba River Tubing has attracted people from all over to rent floats and spend a day on the river. It is located at 1531 Limestone Parkway in Brierfield, Alabama, about 45 minutes from Tuscaloosa. This option for summer fun is one of Alabama’s hidden treasures.

It is not modern nor does it have a modern feel. It is very simple and consists of a red dirt lot, a small office, and a pile of black rubber inner tubes. A “No Alcoholic Beverage” sign marks entrance to the driveway.  Almost a dozen garbage cans filled with empty Bud Light cans sit by the office. Beer cans also line the riverbanks. Employee Curtis Reach spends close to an hour every morning cleaning them up.

The floats are inexpensive to rent, making this attraction college student friendly. The rental cost is $10 for each personal inner tube and for an additional $5; floaters can rent a “cooler tube.” The workers rent the customers their floats, load them in the back of a truck, and haul them off to the drop-off zone.

The entire experience is not for the faint-hearted. Floaters are required to sign a waiver to release the business from liability. The river includes rocks and rapids that require navigation. At the end of the float lies a rock face furnished with a rickety metal ladder leading to the top of the cliff. Visitors are encouraged to scale the ladder and jump from the highest point they want.

The weekends are the busiest times of operation, but the crowd and meeting new people is half the fun. The float takes about three and a half hours and offers small beaches along the way for those that need to rest.

Olivia Hunte, a student at the University Alabama, floated the river for the first time Saturday.

“It’s a great option to have available,” Hunte said. ” I surely plan on telling my friends at school about it.”

The trees and shrubbery lining the riverbanks create a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. All is calm and relaxing, but then the rapids come. If you are not careful it will all break loose. Coolers and floaters will go tumbling down the cascade.

Jenna Blount who has been floating the river since the age of 17, says this does not discourage her from coming.

“Every time I’ve been here I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Blount said. “I came out here last week and had to go again.”

Tip from the writer: Make sure you wear strap on sandals! Navigating the rapids can be tough on your feet!