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Floating season: This breathtaking lazy river in B.C. is over four miles long

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

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 a full three-to-four 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.

The best time to visit the 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.

However, the iconic float will offer an unconventional floating experience this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, tubers can still expect to have fun in the sun, but they'll have to keep a few things in mind to stay safe. 

For one, the opening later than usual, on June 27.  Coyote Cruises hours of operation are from 11 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!"

The company will have the following protocol in place to offer a safe tubing experience: 

  • All staff will be wearing masks, gloves and when required face shields
  • Plexiglas separation installed at all customer contact points
  • Covid-19 safety signage installed at entry and both exit points
  • New online booking software allowing for guests to book in advance
  • Drybags (5L) and waterproof iphone/key bags will be available for purchase as lockers will not be available
  • Guest lines will adhere to social distancing
  • Following all health protocols based on public health guidelines

For transportation, the company says that buses will fill at two-thirds capacity and some seats will be removed to allow for appropriate distancing. Further, the bus driver will not be on the bus when guests are entering.

In addition, bus seats and equipment will be sanitized after each use and all guests boarding will use hand sanitizer. They add that additional buses in service to account for less capacity.

Each tube will be sanitized before use (which has been their company policy since 2019), and staff will not be helping guests out of the water to adhere to social distancing.

Tubers may opt to bring their own floatie, or they may rent one from the launch site. Coyote Cruises operates daily from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. through the summertime and rents a number of floaties including: solo inner-tubes, double tubes, quad tubes, and ten person party floats. 

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 safe for public use. Further, visitors should never consume alcohol before going tubing.

Penticton River Channel Float