As you drift with the current and spin in your tube, you scan the wide waterway ahead. There are logs and debris to the left, but off to the right a decent set of rapids lies ahead. Stay straight, keep a low center of gravity, and then … whoosh! Waves, a foot or two high, send you up and over, then back into the calmer waters. You’re among dozens enjoying the same thrilling experience as part of a Town Tinker Tube Rental excursion. It’s summer, the Catskill sun is warm on your shoulders, the cold water sprays you, and, yeah, this really is perfect.
Town Tinker Tube has been floating eager adventurers down the Esopus Creek on inner tubes for 37 years, from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September. It’s the brainchild of Harry Jameson, a Phoenicia native who opened the business in 1980 after moving back to the Catskills and rounding up nearly 200 old inner tubes from Ulster County junkyards.
Since then, the business has evolved with the flow—both of more visitors to the Esopus Creek area and of the waterway itself, which helps guide Jameson’s Zen-like life principle (“go with the flow”). Today, the Town Tinker sends thousands of people down the river for whitewater tubing in mandatory life vests and recommended helmets and wetsuits. Safety is paramount at Town Tinker Tube.
When visitors purchase a tubing experience (one-time packages start at $30 while full-day pricing varies), they’re assured a wild ride down an International Scale of River Difficulty Class II whitewater river where waves can reach up to three feet and travelers can be tossed out of their seats. Thus, tubers receive gear and full safety instructions—including how to get back on if you’re tossed out—before they start the trip.
With full awareness and knowledge of the Esopus, tubers can expect an awesome time among their fellow adventurers.
Town Tinker Tube Rental provides Tube Taxi Transportation (old-school buses painted bright white) that takes folks up Route 28 to the drop-off point. From there, tubers are on their own to safely tackle the rapids. A trip will last at least an hour and a half and ends back at Town Tinker headquarters in Phoenicia. The whole experience lasts up to two and a half hours, and winding and bouncing down the Esopus is totally worth the time.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, visit Town Tinker Tube Rental during the eekends of June 3–4, July 15–16, and September 2–4. Those weekends are designated recreational water release dates, when the Department of Environmental Conservation sends more water from the Schoharie Reservoir into the Esopus as it travels down to the Ashokan Reservoir. That means stronger rapids and bigger waves—definitely for people looking for a real adrenalin rush.
Labor Day weekend, being a three-day water release, is also know as Shandaken Whitewater Weekend (it’ll be busy out on the river).
The Town Tinker Tube Rental
10 Bridge Street, Phoenicia