Where to relax on the water this summer

By Natasha Bourlin

Cool water beckons on hot summer days. With many opportunities to drift your days away in the area, let the season float by blissfully at any of these refreshing area waterways.

Truckee River Tubing (Jeramie Lu)
Truckee River Tubing (Jeramie Lu)

Obvious options

Did you know one of the planet’s most beautiful lakes is right in our backyard? Thanks, Captain Obvious. Well, Lake Tahoe has many places to blow up your float, tube or raft and simply push off from shore. Head to Sand Harbor on the east shore, Moon Dunes or King’s Beach on the north shore, Zephyr Cove or Camp Richardson on the south shore, and on the west side, hit D.L. Bliss State Park, or catch concerts and movie nights at Commons Beach from the water.

Nearby, Donner Lake has many ways into its cool alpine waters for a refreshing float. Grab your trendy, fun-shaped inflatable and head in via public boat docks on the lake’s north side, the West End Beach, or Donner Memorial State Park and Museum. parks.ca.gov

Island oasis

Wild Island Adventure Park
Wild Island Adventure Park

In Sparks, grab a tube or simply sink yourself in the refreshing waters of the quarter-mile Bahama Mama River at Wild Island Family Adventure Park. A mild current carries people by many entry and exit points, one of which is to Kokomo’s Island Bar for the 21-and-older crowd. Mushroom-shaped waterfalls cascade cooling water from above as you leisurely float by. Invite your friends or family and book one of the waterpark’s new Island Suites, which provide cabanas, locking trunks, bottled waters, food service, wifi, charging stations, TVs, refrigerators, foosball tables and luxurious furniture for up to 18 people. wildisland.com

Take on the Truckee

Truckee River Rafting Entering Class 3+ Jaws Rapid
Truckee River Rafting, Entering Class 3+ Jaws Rapid

Float for five miles down the Truckee River from Tahoe City thanks to Truckee River Raft. Assuming you’re over the age of two if reading this, you qualify for their self-guided floating adventure down the river past swimming holes and picnic spots, even some lightly frothing rapids. Dogs are also invited, and guests are welcome to bring snacks, lunch and beverages in raft- and earth-friendly, non-breakable containers. After the approximately three-hour journey, rafters exit at the River Ranch Lodge & Restaurant, where they can share their experience over libations and dinner. truckeeriverraft.com; riverranchlodge.com

Truckee River Tubing (Jeramie Lu)
Truckee River Tubing (Jeramie Lu)

Reno-based Sierra Adventures tackles the Truckee River in two other ways: by tube or kayak. Get picked up at any local hotel and whisked upriver by shuttle where you can then float to the downtown whitewater park by tube, and even take on the park’s rapids a few times. Kayaks are rented, and clinics are offered to teach beginners how to navigate the river in the hard-sided vessels with paddles. They also offer standup paddleboard lessons or rentals in Tahoe. wildsierra.com

Warmer waters

Among many other things, quaint Genoa boasts spectacular Sierra views, some of the region’s most deeply rooted history, and a resort where you can float your days away in one of several hot spring mineral pools. 1862 David Walley’s Resort Hot Springs and Spa features lodging, spa services, a restaurant and multiple riparian pools. Purported to have therapeutic effects thanks to the naturally occurring minerals in the pools, they also provide buoyancy for easy floating. davidwalleys-resort.com.

This year, float through the hot summer relaxed and cool, with a beaming smile only rivaled by the sun’s rays.