A Floater’s Guide to Caring for the Truckee

It seems as though winter is finally behind us and we are ready for a summer of fun along the Truckee River!

For many people, this will mean swimming and floating on the Truckee to cool down on those hot summer days. However, as much fun as it is to make the most of our incredible river, it is essential to consider your safety and the river’s health before you go.

We’ve pulled together a few basic guidelines so you can make the most of your float.

1. Consider a Life Vest

Right now, the Truckee is moving a bit too fast — we’re talking between 2,000 and 3,000 cubic feet per second — to casually float with or without a life vest, or at least without an experienced guide. That being said, even when things are moving slower, it’s never a bad idea to bring one along, especially if you aren’t a strong swimmer.

We recommend waiting until the river is calmer in mid-summer. You can check the flows on the USGS website.

2. Follow Leave No Trace Guidelines

We wrote a whole blog post about the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, so we won’t get too down in the details here.

Here are the basics:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Make sure you have food, water, and sunscreen. It’s gonna get hot out there and you don’t want to risk dehydration or a nasty sunburn.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Okay, this one’s important. If you’re able to bring all your snacks and supplies to the river, you can sure as heck bring all your litter and trash back out with. Keep it secure and throw it away once you’re out of the water.
  • Respect Wildlife: If you are lucky enough to come across some critters, it’s best to let wildlife be wild. This means don’t get close and don’t feed them. Although, we can’t blame you for taking pictures.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Hundreds of people will float the Truckee this summer, not just you, so it’s important we all have the same chance to enjoy our outdoor playground. Following all these rules and being respectful is a great start.

3. The River Is Not a Restroom!

We know the river seems like a logical solution when you need to go to the bathroom, but peeing in the river will pollute it. Urine contains nitrate, which promotes algae growth, similar to the effects of fertilizer pollution, and may have trace amounts of pharmaceuticals, which are incredibly challenging to remove in water treatment processes. Hold off if you need to go #2 as well, our waste can contain dangerous bacteria we don’t want to expose to other people or to wildlife.

Moral of the story is to try and hop out of the river when it’s safe to find a physical restroom or wait until you’re done with your float.

4. Where to Put In and Put Out

Lastly, you need to know where you can start and end your day safely. Our recommendation is to start at Mayberry Park and take out at Crissie Caughlin Park or Wingfield Park. Of course, if you want to float longer, you can also safely take out at Fisherman’s Park.

Have fun out there!