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Canoe Kids gave Cool River's lazy river ride a two-thumbs up

Cool River
Floating away an afternoon on the river is a delightful way to end the summer.

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
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Photos by Melissa Lowrie
Can you hear it? The collective sigh of relief echoing off the mountains as all the Canoe Kids are back in school — we love the lazy days of summer, but all good things must come to an end.

Cool River Tubing in Helen is a perfect way to enjoy one last bit of summer fun. Just grab your bathing suit, water shoes, a picnic and point the car north.

cool river
The testing group for Cool River ranged from a third-grader to a handful of freshmen.

Alpine Helen is about an hour from Big Canoe in White County. If you’ve never been, it’s a cutesy-faux Bavarian Village — even the fast-food restaurants and the banks have to follow the German-inspired architectural guidelines. The Chattahoochee River runs through the town, providing an obvious spot for restaurants and homes with a view.

Cool River provides two options for tubing: the long trip or the short trip. We opted for the short trip with another $5 per kid to try out the water slide. Long or short trips are both $5 per person, so my total for one adult and two kids was $25.

The short trip takes from an hour to an hour and a half, and the longer trip is two to two and a half hours. We were told by a couple of people that opted for the long trip that the river was quite low at their drop point, making for a difficult journey.

cool river
Don’t get too close to the gum tree. ‘Some of that gum is really fresh,’ said Gavin Burris, center, with Harrison Meyer and Jack Eubanks.

We had no such trouble. Our group (four moms and eight kids that day) picked a tube, boarded the bus and were floating peacefully down the river in record time.

About 30 minutes downriver from where we started our float, Cool River has a pair of water slides on the right bank of the river. We docked, and the kids enjoyed racing each other down the tall, twisting slides.

After the water sliding, we got back on the river for another hour of floating. Other than getting hung up on the rocks a few times, our float was quite enjoyable. Don’t go expecting rapids; this is more of a lazy river ride.

Cool River provides life jackets of all sizes (if needed; but there were really no deep spots) as well as tubes and ties if you want to hook your tube to your friend or child. Some used the ties to hook their flip-flops to the tube handle.

Once you near the end of the journey, a photographer is perched on the bank to get your souvenir picture — bringing your personal camera while tubing is not advised. There will be an attendant to get your tube from the water and help you up the steps if needed.

There are changing rooms and a very nice picnic facility right at the water’s edge. If you’re so inclined, pack a cooler full of snacks and drinks and watch the people float by. There is no charge for the people-watching.

We went on a weekday, so the crowds were light. I’ve not ventured up on a weekend, but, with school back in session, it probably won’t be bad. Cool River Tubing is open seven days a week until Sept. 3; then on the weekends, weather permitting. Call ahead or check the website

My group gave tubing at Cool River a two-thumbs up and would recommend the outing as a great way to end your summer on a high note. If you can’t make it to Cool River, take your kids on a different end-of-season adventure. Wherever you end up, have a great time.



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