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Watch: Here is what it's like to float down this breathtaking 4-mile long lazy river in B.C.

You'll float alongside ducks with picturesque views in all directions.

Spanning an impressive four miles long, the Penticton River Channel offers one of the best floating experiences in British Columbia.

The man-made waterway cuts across the breathtaking Okanagan Valley and offers tubers hours of relaxing fun with stunning vistas in every direction. Connecting Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake, the pristine passageway is considered a bucket list item for the summer season.

What to know to plan a float along the Penticton River channel

The best time to visit the Penticton River channel is typically between mid-May and September, and preferably on a warm, sunny day. Tubers begin the excursion at Okanagan Lake's launch site at 215 Riverside Drive.

Coyote Cruises typically operates from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with the last floaters in the water at 4 p.m. With this in mind, hours of operation are weather dependent. "If the sun is shining, the tubes are flying!" This season, Coyote Cruises opens on June 22, 2024.

For transportation, there are additional buses in service to account for less capacity. Further, the bus driver will not be on the bus when guests are boarding. Bus seats and equipment were sanitized after each use and all guests sanitized their hands upon entry. 

Tubers may opt to bring their own floatie, or they may rent one from the launch site. There are several floaties to choose from, including solo inner-tubes, double tubes, quad tubes, and 10-person party floats. 

The length of the float depends on the strength of the current, which varies quite a bit through the year. It can be anywhere from an hour and a half long to over three. As such, prospective "floatees" should ensure that they wear sunscreen and bring adequate water with them.

Drinking and ducks: Heads up, floaters

Once you're on the river, you'll notice that the resident waterfowl are not afraid of humans. Multiple ducks swim alongside the floats, as well as some Canada Geese. You may also notice that some people appear to float faster than others and that floating near the edges slows the journey down. That said, it can be dangerous to grab onto anything to slow your float down, so exercise caution. Overall, the float offers a relaxing drift under the hot Okanagan sun, with sweeping mountain views in all directions. 

The downside? The waterway runs between two roads, which means you'll hear and see traffic. It can also be quite busy on the channel, and tubers run into one another once and a while. 

It isn't recommended that you consume alcohol before or after the float. However, Penticton has the highest concentration of wineries in the province and is a wonderful place to enjoy a local vineyard or two after your float. 

Getting from Vancouver to Penticton

For Vancouverites, a trip down this dreamy river involves a four-hour drive to Penticton and there are two different routes to take. Highway 5 ( the Coquihalla) is notoriously dangerous in the winter. The summer months are less treacherous, although there are still several steep inclines. 

For those looking to take a more scenic drive, Highway 3 offers stunning vistas of the lush Cascade Mountains, aquamarine rivers, and a few charming towns along the way. Travellers will also have the opportunity to stop at fresh fruit stands in the Village of Keremeos, which is framed by the breathtaking Similkameen River. While the drive is beautiful, segments of the highway include numerous sharp turns; it also takes longer than the Coquihalla.

There are numerous places to stay once you arrive in Penticton, but many visitors prefer to be near one of the lakes. Skaha is stunning, but it isn't close to the downtown core. If you are hoping to get around by foot, you'll want to stay on Okanagan Lake.

Several accommodations are located a few blocks away from the beach, while others are right on the water. There are also many restaurants along the water, and they all have patios. There's also a place to rent single, two-, four-, and six-person bikes near the beach, which is a great way to get around  (or burn off a hearty dinner!)

Note: Tubing can be extremely dangerous in places where the current is strong. Therefore, it is recommended that tubers only go to places that have been approved as safe for public use. Further, visitors should never consume alcohol before going tubing.

Have a look at a video from the floating experience:

This article was first published in 2022 and has been updated.