Do you all remember a little over 2 years ago when I swore I would never go back to Harpers Ferry after what turned out to be the worst trip, like, ever? WELL. Today I’m totally eating my words because after being invited to Harpers Ferry thanks to River Riders this past weekend, I experienced a whole different FUN side of Harpers Ferry- and it *actually* involved the outdoors, imagine that!
This past weekend I hit the road with the hubs, and Catherine of Dreamy Realist and her beau, to River Riders Family Adventure Resort in Harpers Ferry, WV. From DC, River Riders is a short 1.25 hour drive, easily accessed via I-270. River Riders is a full on one stop shop for outdoor and water adventures, complete with a hotel and camping onsite to make logistics super easy if you wish to make a weekend out of it, like we did. Included in the River Riders adventures is flat water tubing, white water tubing, white water rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, ziplining, and aerial courses. We opted for the flat water tubing, as it sounded the most relaxing and fun for our group.
When we arrived at the River Riders Resort, we were able to check into our hotel room a little early and get settled before going tubing. The hotel, The Clarion, was outfitted with exactly what we needed for a quick weekend getaway- comfortable rooms with all the typical amenities <including a fridge- a personal must for any hotel room according to my husband>, an onsite restaurant/bar- White Horse Tavern, free parking, a complimentary shuttle with service to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town and downtown Harpers Ferry, tennis and basketball courts, indoor pool, gym, complimentary breakfast, and a quick (less than 5 min) walking trail that leads you right to the River Riders Adventure park!
Before tubing, we had a quick lunch at White Horse Tavern onsite to get a base in us. We opted for appetizers and drinks which were all delish. I had the loaded cheese fries <one of my fave guilty pleasures!> and an orange crush which were both so amazing. After lunch, we loaded up our cooler, got on our swimsuits and water shoes and walked down to the River Riders park.
Checking in for our adventure was super easy and the staff was very friendly and helpful. For flat water tubing you can choose from three different tubes, which you select at check in. We all opted for the Deluxe Vinyl Tubes, as they have drink holders and backrests. Once we were all checked in, we were taken to the security briefing which was detailed and informative. One of the staff sat with us and gave us some pointers directly, which actually was a huge help once we got on the river. I hadn't been tubing in over 10+ years, so I appreciated the refresher as I was a bit nervous!
Once security prepped and ready to cruise the river, we were outfitted with life jackets and loaded a bus that drove us to our entry location on the Shenandoah River. At the entry point, we picked up our tubes and got situated before entering the water. Since I wanted to carry my phone with me so we could play music and take some pics, I bought a waterproof phone case and plastic fanny pack to carry while on the tube that I secured over my life vest, worn cross body. I also brought bungee cords that we were able to tie from our tubes to the cooler tube, so our group could stay together and most importantly- stay within arms reach of the drinks, lol.
Our tubing adventure was seriously SO MUCH fun. We had classic 70's jams playing, we talked and laughed about life, and enjoyed our 2 hours of river float time while relaxing. The tubing was super chill and we literally just kicked back without a care in the world. Other than David, none of us fell into the water <it was his own fault trying to lean too far over his tube, lol> and it was truly an enjoyable and fun time.
A special shoutout to SWISH beverages, for the Babe Rosé Bubbly- it was perfect for our tubing trip!
For the most part, the tubing was pretty hands off and we were able to lounge in our tubes letting the river move us along. At the very beginning of the trip, there is some minor work involved to paddle around some large tree branches that stick out from the shore into the river, and there was one area we had to kick off a rock coming up from the water, but that is all part of the experience. If you stay alert and look forward you will be totally fine! The security briefly was really helpful during the beginning, as they informed you how to deal with instances that you may encounter while tubing. Trust me- if this city girl could get through navigating small obstacles and still have a blast, so will you!
As the end of our tubing trip came up, we were alerted to signals that our exit point was coming up. River Riders marks the shore with signals so you know when to start looking out for the exit. The exit point is marked with a large River Riders sign and when we arrived, staff was there to assist with exits, collect your tubes, and drive you back to the River Riders park entrance.
I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect going into this given my history with Harpers Ferry. River Riders completely changed my perspective on Harpers Ferry and made me want to come back again and again for more fun! I urge you all to check out the River Rivers Family Adventure Park to experience the fun for a weekend or even just a day trip! Added bonus- use the code "TUBEULAR" for 5% off any River Riders adventure! ALSO! For those who haven't been tubing before, I'm including a list of must-have's below, to make your experience even better!
What to Bring Tubing!
1. A Cooler
We brought our drinks with us, however River Riders does sell beer and sports drinks, sodas, and water onsite. They also have cooler tubes that can carry drinks if you don't have a cooler. Since we had a zip cooler bag, we rented a cooler raft and it came in super handy to keep other items, like our coverups and empty cans, in addition to our cooler.
2. Water Shoes
Water shoes are required for the water activities, and you really do need something attached to your feet in case you have to get off your raft and walk through the river- flip flops definitely wouldn't cut it and are too easy to lose. I scored some really cute inexpensive water shoes from Amazon which were perfect for our tubing trip.
3. A comfortable swimsuit
I didn't actually wear the flamingo suit pictured above on the tubing trip, as it was wasn't lined and actually very see-through when wet <yes- that suit is for looks, only, lol>. I wore a one piece that had a secure top with straps, just to be as comfortable as possible on the water!
4. Waterproof Phone carrier
If you want to bring your phone on the water, securing it in a waterproof carrier is key. I bought a 2 pack inexpensively on Amazon for my husband and I, and they came in so handy. The cases also allow you to use the phone through the plastic, so you don't have to take it out of the carrier at all.
5. Waterproof bluetooth speaker
I *wish* I had bought one of these for our trip! We ended up using our phones, which was fine, but a waterproof bluetooth speaker would have been even better to avoid having your phone out a lot.
6. Plastic fanny pack
I totally wasn't even expecting to bring this, but after getting it last minute on Amazon, it was the perfect accessory to bring on the river. Since its plastic, it helped keep my things dry and I used it to carry my phone for an extra layer of protection. I also brought my ID just in case, and stored chapstick in the fanny pack.
7. A hat
Another item I wish I'd brought, there are parts at the beginning of the river trail when you are totally covered by trees and may have to duck around tree branches. I wish I'd had a hat on to protect my hair from any debris or bugs from the trees! Also, on super sunny days a hat would be great to provide shade.
This one needs no explanation, lol. I've been using Coola sunscreen this summer and I'm obsessed.
9. Bungee cords with clips
These came in so handy! Thanks to these cords, our group was able to stay close together on the river.
10. A paddle
The last item I wish I'd had- a mini paddle! This would have been really helpful to navigate the water at the beginning and end of the trip! Note: You can also rent a tube at River Riders that comes with a paddle, as well!
Thank you River Riders, for the wonderful stay, and thank you for opening my eyes to Harpers Ferry, again!
Blonde in the District