Floating down the Russian River on an inner tube is really fun. The River is mellow enough to give you a pleasant experience, but it's also fast enough that you really do need to think ahead about how you're going to get back up river. That nice current that just gave you a nice ride won't be as much fun when you have to walk back up river against it.
As with all river play, the best plan is to arrange to leave a car at your planned final destination so that you can drive back to your starting point.
If that isn't possible, try your luck with these guys:
Monte Rio Taxi - Monte Rio Taxi is happy to take both you and your inner tubes back to your starting point, depending on how many of you there are. (707) 869-2177
King's Sport - King's rents canoes and kayaks and spends a lot of time shuttling their customers up and down the river. Sometimes, if they can squeeze you in, they will pick you up for a fee. They're really nice people and won't bite you if you ask nicely, so it's worth trying. - Guerneville - (707) 869-2156 - kingsrussianriver.com
getting inner tubes
If you don't have your own inner tube, you can buy one for $25 - 40, depending on the size, from the wonderful staff at River Tires at 15290 River Road in Guerneville - (707) 869-2929, weekdays only. For the less sturdy, decorative types, there are a number of stores downtown who carry them.
You can also rent one at Johnson's Beach in Guerneville - (707) 869-2022.
Here are photos of a day of tubing on my birthday with my friend, Jessica.
We started at Hacienda Bridge in Forestville and got out of the river at the Russian River Pub, also in Forestville. We thought we'd tube all the way down to Guerneville, but, oh, I don't know, four hours later? We'd only made it 4.5 miles down the river - which means we averaged a little over a mile an hour.
For one thing, there were so many pretty spots we just wanted to stop and enjoy. You also have to do a good deal of paddling; next time, I'm bringing a paddle. I bought an inner tube at River Tires and Jessica brought a blow-up tube. We tied an extra raft I had to her float so that we had napping options. We also brought a beach umbrella, which turned out to be a pretty smart move on a sunny day.
I can't wait to do this again and often daydream about The Ultimate River Float. (One time, I saw a great set-up - the group had connected four canoes together in a grid - with a wide space in between the pairs of canoes. The pairs of canoes had platforms for dancing and cut outs for ice chests, and then the space in between the pairs of canoes had a SLIDE! So awesome.)