Big blue rafts packed with happy people going down the Truckee River from Tahoe to River Ranch are as sure a sign of summer in the area as tourists on the road.
But as the summer winds down, so does the seasonal rafting business.
Family-owned Mountain Air Sports in Tahoe City will shut down operations shortly after Labor Day weekend, and co-owner Jennifer Courcier said she's looking forward to the end of a successful summer season.
Despite record-high gas prices, a few weeks of bad air quality from nearby wildfires and a newly enforced alcohol ban over the Fourth of July weekend, Courcier said business was booming and families were floating the five-mile stretch from Tahoe City to River Ranch daily.
"It was the smoothest Fourth of July we've ever had," Courcier said.
The alcohol ban was in effect on July 4, 5 and 6 this summer and will be in place July 3, 4 and 5 in 2009.
Local law enforcement also said things went smoother without booze on the river.
"The ban really helped significantly reduce calls and fights and things of that nature on the Fourth," said Lt. Allan Carter with the Placer County Sheriff's Department in a previous interview. "On the Fourth we didn't have any arrests all day until that night."
Neighboring raft supplier Truckee River Raft Co. also reported high numbers for the summer season, which will wrap up the weekend following the Labor Day holiday, said manager Kacy McCracken.
"We had a good summer and hopefully Labor Day weekend will be a big ending for us," McCracken said.
Rafting the river during the hazy wildfire days may have been bleak in terms in of weather, but floaters still flocked to the Truckee River Raft Co. for the leisurely trip in spite of smoky skies, McCracken said.