Want something fun and relaxing to do with your family this spring or summer? I have an idea for you. How about floating a slow-moving, meandering, scenic Nebraska river in a round livestock watering tank?
Originating in the Sandhills area of Nebraska, this unique, river-based float trip activity using a piece of common ranching equipment is referred to as tanking.
The activity, heralded by many as good country entertainment, has become wildly popular with folks of all ages on rivers such as the Middle Loup, Cedar, Calamus, Elkhorn, North Platte, Niobrara and Republican. Though water levels vary and can sometimes affect trips, what these Nebraska water trails have in common is that they are tranquil, relatively shallow waterways with calm currents and mainly sandy bottoms, optimum for a lazy day of drifting on a river.
But, what does a tank look like? Accommodating 4-6 people, each tank has been fabricated or customized by the outfitter. Normally, you will find chairs, benches or small picnic tables that have been provided in the 7-10 foot in-diameter plastic or metal tanks.
If you’re wondering, the stock tank outfitters on rivers in Nebraska generally offer 2-5 hour trips to include shuttle service, trash bags, as well as paddles or poles, life jackets, and other required boating safety gear. Most of the outfitters can arrange for overnight accommodations.
The selling points of a taking livestock tank river float trip are:
– The tanks are fairly roomy and easy to get in and out of (you really don’t even have to get your feet wet entering or leaving one!).
– There is an added bonus of room on board for a cooler.
– Tanking is dry water adventure compared to inner tubing or rafting.
– The tanks are sturdy and quite stable. They are very difficult to tip over and virtually unsinkable.
– Tanking is less taxing than canoeing or kayaking as you are merely flow with the current. You are able to float in shallow water, and roll off of obstacles such as logs. You don’t have to paddle or pole too much, except at times to push off of downed trees, sandbars or weedy banks.
– Another advantage of tanking is that you and your small group are arranged in a circle, more or less, so no one has to stare at the back of someone’s head for hours as you would in a canoe.
– A person floating in a stock tank gets the whole panoramic view or perspective of a river. You’re not facing downstream the majority of the time as you would be in a canoe or kayak. A tank float trip is sort of like taking a leisurely Tilt-O-Whirl ride on the water!
– The tanks also travel much more slowly than canoes and kayaks do. This allows you more time to shoot better quality photos of wildlife and scenery.
– In a tank, there are easy opportunities to eat lunch and snacks, drink cool refreshments, play cards and board games, etc.
– Where possible and landowner permission has been granted, stopping along the way is no problem, especially for kids to hop out and wade or splash each other, or to try to catch grasshoppers and frogs, or even to wet a fishing line for channel catfish.
For tank outfitter contact information, please click here.
Details about Nebraska water trails can be obtained at this link.
Have a terrific time tanking!