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Totally tubular: Beat the heat by rafting rivers

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Totally tubular: Beat the heat by rafting rivers

Floating on the Stanislaus River is a popular way to cool off during the summer months. Caswell Memorial State Park is often the end point for groups that put in upstream and make their way down on...

HIME ROMERO/209 file photo


POSTED June 20, 2014 7:35 p.m.



RIPON – Water parks do a great job of copying it. 

The lazy, serene experience of sitting in a flotation tube and careening down a meandering river on a hot summer day. 

But chlorinated water and high prices take away some of the ambiance of what makes that entire experience great – like fishing out of an aquarium or hunting animals that have already been corralled into a pen. 

Experiencing the real thing is always better than the imitation, and fortunately there really isn’t much required to get the true experience right here at home with a group of friends as one of the best ways to cool off when the mercury starts to creep up into triple digits. 

For decades – that’s the standard length of time that people will tell you regardless of their age – local kids have been getting anything that floats, putting in on the Stanislaus River, and spending summer afternoons floating peacefully down as the sun beats down. 

The experience is wild and can be unforgiving – people that don’t take the proper precautions sometimes drown and the Ripon Consolidated Fire District ends up pulling people from precarious situations every year – but it can also be as close as you can get to serenity and still be in the same ZIP code you were in when you started your day.

Here are a few options that you can look for when trying to enjoy recreation on the Stanislaus without having to break the bank:

• Floating the Stanislaus River – The meandering route can be peaceful and serene given the right conditions, but those who try it are urged to use caution and common sense. Life jackets are recommended for all, and excessive alcohol consumption is discouraged. Low river flows can also expose unseen obstacles, and bring floaters closer to flotation-piercing branches and scrub brush that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible. Common routes include putting in at Stouffer Park and floating to behind the Jack Tone Golf Course or – and this takes much more time – continuing on to Caswell State Park. 

• McHenry Recreation Area – Located on River Road less than a mile from where it intersects from McHenry Avenue, this US Army Corps of Engineering Park offers plenty of places for picnicking and shade and offers several exceptional swimming beaches built to give recreation seekers a place to enjoy themselves. Teenagers have been known to put rope swings in at certain sections of the park, and caution is urged if such an activity is attempted – portions of the river bottom are rocky and shallow and can be dangerous to jump into. 

• Sunshine Rafting – Those searching for a more intense experience on the Stanislaus can try the Knights Ferry based Sunshine Rafting. Professional guides navigate groups through Class I and Class II rapids, depending on the flow of the river. The length of the trip is roughly 8-miles and is popular with families, friends and social groups looking for adventure. For more information visit www.raftadventure.com or call 209.848.4800

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