Salt River Tubing: What to expect as popular recreation activity is under new ownership

Salt River Tubing is open for the season, and the popular recreation activity in the far east Valley is under new ownership.

Visitors this year can expect several new upgrades.

"I grew up in the area, I always had a passion for the lake and the river and spent a lot of time out there volunteering, and just always had an interest in it, thought it really complimented my other business," said new owner Billy Jinks.

As the new owner, Jinks has a lot of new plans.

"This year we've implemented, we have new buses coming on board – higher capacity," he said.  "We've implemented new technology – we have booking software so you can make a reservation ahead of time – fast passes. Instead of taking your tube up to the top, we're gonna have them already ready at the top, so you just hop on a bus, get your tube and hit the water."

It's $25 for a tube and a bus ride. If you want just a bus ride, that's $18.

"We're kind of hoping to attract and work more with the other people that are out there like the kayakers and the paddleboarders and offer them another option to get up to the top, avoid parking and extra fees like that," Jinks said.

The original owners say they are happy in their retirement and are excited to be moving into a new adventure.

Words of wisdom

On April 29, we met up with some tubers enjoying the hot opening weekend.

"We’re just here to kayak on the river!"

"Just out here floating the river - best thing on earth!"

The river can be a good time - but it can also be dangerous. Something Mesa's Swift Water Rescue teams know all too well.

"This isn’t like going into a lake where there’s no water flow," said Mike Thomas, Special Operations Captain with Mesa Fire and Medical.

The special operations team at Mesa Fire and Medical responds to some of these calls and spends a good deal of time training for them.

"We have upstream technical rescue members, and we have downstream technical rescue members. The upstream ones are to warn us of any debris flow that’s coming in to the rescue operation. The downstream are there to go ahead and provide safety for us," Thomas explained.

With a crowded river on opening weekend and warming temps, the team expects to be busier.

Veteran tubers and kayakers have some words of wisdom - to stay safe while enjoying Arizona's waterways.

"Be aware of the people around just because you never know who’s actually watching."

"Everybody has to drink responsibly. I’m drinking a big old bottle of water."

Area where Salt River tubing is located: