As the city heats up this summer, many are looking to escape the confines of their homes and cool down on a relaxing and fun tubing trip at one of the river-recreation centers on the Northshore. While "float trip" season usually kicks off the summer on Memorial Day weekend, this year, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many tubing companies to reopen slowly, with extra safety restrictions and precautions.
"Our customers' health and well-being are our top priority, while also giving them an opportunity to escape reality and enjoy a relaxing day on the river," Haley Bonnette, co-owner of Louisiana River Adventures and Tubing in the Park in Franklinton, said. "We are taking every measure possible to ensure the safety of all persons, while also providing a safe and fun outdoor water activity."
These health and safety measures include cleaning and sanitizing of shuttles and providing social distancing on shuttles by limiting rides to 10 or less people six feet apart and wearing masks. Tubes, life jackets, and all equipment are sanitized after use, and many of the river companies have enough tubes to ensure an un-used, freshly sanitized tube for each person each day. Tony Mizell of Bogue Chitto Tubing Center in Bougalusa said that his company will also employ a deputy on duty to supervise float trips for safety when more crowds come for the weekends.
While the pandemic, which hit Louisiana particularly hard with 47,706 reported cases, has changed some aspects of tubing, it hasn't discouraged many from traveling to the Bogue Chitto River for a short day or weekend tubing trip. Actually, as many families and young people have had both summer plans and school cancelled, companies like Louisiana River Adventures have opened operations even earlier than normal to get more business during the school closures. For many, tubing is a normal summer tradition and outdoor activity that can still be enjoyed with social distancing precautions, allowing people to have some fun and escape the cooped-up feeling of quarantine.
"It is important for people to access outdoor and water recreation during this crisis because they are able to keep distance and remain safe, but also escape quarantine for a day," Bonnette said.
From New Orleans, it's only a little over an hour drive to some of these tubing locations. If you, too, are looking for a safe and short trip for some relaxing floating in the water, here are some places in Washington Parish along the Bogue Chitto River where you can go tubing.
Choose between a two-hour and a four-hour float trip on the Bogue Chitto River. Louisiana River Adventures opens daily, from 9 a.m. to the last float at 4 p.m., but guests who want the full four-hour float must be on the river no later than 2 p.m. Both floats are the same price: $20 per tube.
Self-proclaimed "oldest and cheapest" in the Parish, the family-run Bogue Chitto Tubing offers two or four-hour float trips down the river, stopping along little beaches on the way. They provide newer "blue tubes," with a headrest, cupholder, and inner safety chambers, for $20 a person, and ice chest tubes for coolers at $5 each.
Tubing in the Park is the newest access point for tubing in Washington Parish, having its grand opening in Bogue Chitto State Park during Mother's Day weekend. They offer a scenic float trip or kayaking on the river. Tubing trips are $20.
Previously Rocky Bottom Tubing, Sandy Bottoms Tubing & Kayaking moved to a new location in Franklinton. They, too, offer the two-hour or four-hour trips, with tubes for $15, but they also have kayaks for $30 and canoes for $40. The company said it is looking to upgrade equipment, with additions of trampoline tubes and showers in the bathrooms.
Located in Livingston Parish, Tiki Tubing offers four-hour trips down the Amite River. Tubes are $25 each, with different styles, including a fancier lounge tube and ice chests and cooler floats available to rent. Book online in advance for Fridays through Sundays.