Ultimate Texas Tubing Guide
The Internet’s Most Comprehensive Resource
This comprehensive guide will focus mainly on the floatable waterways surrounding the Central Texas area with Austin Rivers getting the vast majority of the attention. There are many more rivers and creeks in Texas but only those that have a history of being floatable were chosen to be listed here. We hope that you find this guide interesting and that the answers to your tubing questions are contained within. If you’ve never been tubing or are an extremely experienced tuber, this guide was designed for you! Enjoy and happy floating!
River Tubing Basics
History of Austin Tubing
As of today, there are over 11 thousand officially named rivers and streams in the state of Texas. If you add up the lengths of all of them, you will count roughly 80,000 miles of flowing water which makes Texas the perfect state for tubing right? The rivers weren’t always about recreational tubing though. It was about 1519 when Spanish Conquistadors made their way into Texas and discovered huge populations of Native Indians living along the rivers, lakes, and streams. These indigenous people had been inhabiting the area for thousands and thousands of years before the Spanish even set foot into the area. They had been living near the water sources because they relied heavily on them for drinking, cooking, farming, fishing, hunting, and so much more. After all, irrigation pipelines and running water weren’t a luxury for these first settlers, so living near the water was essential. It’s unknown when residents began to actually tube or raft down these Texas waterways but common sense tells us that it was around the same time the first people established residences along the river. After all, the rivers provided easy and cheap transportation for anyone with a floating device. It was less costly and less cumbersome to get from point A to point B on the river than it was via horse at times. This type of travel obviously led the way for people to discover the joys of floating down the river for more recreational purposes. The actual popularity of tubing or rafting became much more popular with the invention of automobiles and the resulting influx of people to the area. With these automobiles, river goers were able to travel easily from river to river and even come from long distances to enjoy a day of tubing. It was also at about this time that tubing, rafting, and other water activities in Texas started to become more mainstream. Companies renting and supplying tubes began to slowly pop up around the more popular rivers. These companies became known as outfitters and they allowed everyday people an affordable and easy way to enjoy some time in the water. Today, virtually every day of the year, you will find adventurers floating down any number of Texas’ rivers. Millions of people enjoy the sport and these numbers just continue to climb. It’s difficult these days to find a Texan that hasn’t enjoyed tubing at least once in their lives.
The first verifiable recorded history of Austin and the surrounding rivers begins in 1830 when Anglo-American settlers arrived. As with the entire state of Texas, the rivers, creeks, and other bodies of water surrounding the area played a great role in its development. By 1837, these early settlers founded a village and named it Waterloo. Waterloo as with most other early cities in Texas, was founded along the banks of the Colorado River. By 1839, this new bustling city would have its name changed to Austin. Shortly thereafter it became the capitol of the great state of Texas. Since it was now a major city, this brought more and more people into the area and Austin also became known as the greatest tubing city in Texas. It’s so conveniently located near a large number of rivers that this was inevitably the case. Today when you think of tubing in Texas, Austin is undoubtedly on your mind. It’s so centrally located near so many rivers that it’s hard not to call it the city of Texas tubing.
Why Tube or Raft?
So for any outsider, you might be wondering what all this tubing hype is all about. Why would you spend a day just floating around in the rivers of central Texas for a day? It might surprise you but millions of people have been enjoying tubing and rafting in Texas since people began settling along the river ways. After all, imagine getting as many friends or family as you can gather together and taking a party bus or shuttle bus ride to any number of popular river destinations. Bring your own alcohol on the bus and get a little buzz on before your group even gets in the water! Then once you are floating down the river, everyone gets to bond together and socialize. Nothing beats drinking and conversing with your closest friends doing just about anything together right? Also, for those of you who have never been to Austin, you have no idea how hot it can get there! There is no better way to cool off than to get in the river! Tubing allows countless Austinites a way to escape the heat during the scorching summer months. If you like water, don’t mind a little adventure, and the sun doesn’t bother you much, then tubing is going to be right up your alley.
Is This River Stuff For You?
This is a question that only you can answer. Do you like water? Do you like rivers? Then yes! This river fun is for everyone. It’s doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is an absolute blast. It’s great for families, corporate functions, parties, birthdays, and even by yourself if you so desire. It’s also a great way to get to know people and make new friends. People tend to also love challenges and achieving goals. For the more adventuresome, pick a spot on the river that you know will have rapids and enjoy a little challenge as you float. If for some reason you don’t like or shouldn’t get a lot of sun then floating might not be for you. If you have some sort of aversion to water then this also might disqualify you even if you get a tube with a bottom. Other than that, tubing is a delight for all involved. Most people will find it to be a very enjoyable experience.
Different Floating Devices and Their Pros and Cons
Tubing is by far the most popular way of enjoying any of Austin’s rivers. It really doesn’t require a lot of thinking or planning. There aren’t any major directional maneuvers you will need to make when going down any of Texas’ rivers besides avoiding branches, boulders, etc. There also aren’t any oars or other objects you would need to use to float the river. There are actually a number of different types of tubes to choose from though. Most outfitters have the standard donut shaped tube but there are many other varieties. Some tubes have bottoms to them, some don’t. There are arguments for and against each type so be sure to check out both options. Millions of people have rented tubes and floated down a river and you can do it too! Check out the scene and if you want to drink some brews, make sure the river you choose allows alcohol. Tubing is the most relaxing option for you to enjoy the river. It’s the least strenuous and cheapest option as well.
Kayaking involves a little more skill than just tubing down a river. Kayaking means that you rent a kayak and oar. It requires some more hand eye coordination than a tube but can be just as fun if not more. There are a ton of outfitters in this guide that will allow you to rent a wide variety of kayaks. The options include renting a single person kayak as well as one for multiple people. If you are new to this type of watersport then at first you should probably go with someone with a little experience. It’s also a good idea to get the hang of it before you actually go down the river. Be sure to practice when you first get in the water to hone your skills. Most outfitters will give you tips and maybe even classes but it’s a little more dangerous than just floating in a tube. If you are into kayaking though, you probably already know this and nothing is going to stop you. Perfect! Get yourself a kayak and float down any of Texas’ rivers and have a great time!
Rafting generally involves more than one person in an inflatable raft. The general idea is that you pack the raft full and just about everyone grabs an oar to help steer and propel the craft forward as well as around river obstacles. These rafting trips can be a ton of fun. Imagine getting together with five of your friends, sipping on beers, and floating down any of Austin’s rivers. This is virtually guaranteed to be a great time and isn’t as difficult as kayaking or even canoeing would be. Not all outfitters allow you to rent rafts though and be sure to check river conditions before you rent a raft as they are more fun with more rapids.
Canoes can be a lot of fun to go down the river in. This type of watercraft is for multiple people to enjoy and thus caters to couples or small families. Not all outfitters allow canoe rentals though, so be sure to ask if you are debating on using one on your next river adventure. Canoes don’t just float down the river like rafts or tubes do though. You will need at least one oar to steer and propel you forward as well as around obstacles. Be sure to realize this before renting one. It requires a little more brain work than the typical rafting or tubing trip does.
Stand Up Paddles
Stand up paddles or SUP’s are a lot of fun but can also be challenging. With these SUP’s, you stand on what can only be described as a large surfboard. The way you maneuver and propel yourself forward is with a long oar or paddle. SUP’s can take some time to get used to and should only be rented by the properly initiated. These floating devices are also great for getting a ton of exercise. After all, you will be standing the entire time and using a lot of arm strength. With that being said, SUP’s are an absolute blast when you get the hang of things. On your first time down a river, make sure to make it a short trip just in case you don’t enjoy the experience. If you do fall in love with this form of river fun, then gradually increase your river floats accordingly.
What is there to say about party barges? It’s a similar experience as a party bus ride except you and a ton of other people are floating down a river. You get a bunch of friends or family together and get to drink alcohol to your heart’s content while being ushered around in a suitably larger water craft. The initial cost is higher than most of the other rentals but you need to keep in mind that you can break that cost up between you and your friends. Bring enough people and you will be surprised to find that it’s actually cheaper per person than some of the other options to go down a river. Party barges are also great when you have some brews handy. You aren’t going to be doing any paddling or maneuvering through the river. This is done by your guide so just feel free to relax, get some sun, and enjoy the sites!
Where Do I Begin?
Pretty much the first thing you need to do if you decide that you want to try out this river fun stuff is to figure out what river you want to float down. It also depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want a bunch of rapids then check out the Guadalupe River for instance. If you want a peaceful relaxing trip then check out the Comal. It’s pretty important to figure out what river you want to float down first so you know what to expect. If you are really just a beginner to water sports then we recommend renting a tube of some sort just to figure out how this whole process works. After you get the general idea of what is going on, feel free to experiment with more advanced ways to get down the river like canoes, kayaks or SUP’s. So, now that you know what river you want to go down, the next step is to find an outfitter to rent you the water device you so desperately need. All of the outfitters in this guide have been tested and deemed reliable. How long of a trip do you want to take down the river? Most outfitters will have a number of floating options for you to choose from. These typically range from one hour trips to all day adventures or perhaps even longer. You are sure to be able to find something you were looking for. Next check out the “Tips For Success On The River” in this guide to determine what you should and shouldn’t bring on your trip to the water. After all this, you are set. Get a group of your best friends together and enjoy the river!
San Marcos River
The San Marcos River is one of the most beautiful and peaceful rivers in all of Texas. It’s got the clearest water and an absolutely perfect water temperature of 72 degrees all year round. In fact, the current statistics say that the San Marcos has water that is cleaner than most tap water in the area. This is due to the fact that it is spring fed at the beginning of the river at San Marcos City Park in San Marcos Springs. It is here that the river gets its start with help from the giant Edwards Aquifer which pumps the water into Spring Lake. Some portions of the beginning areas of the river are restricted because of the numerous rare species that reside there as well as a delicate ecosystem susceptible to damage from unknowing tubers. The river is host to a large number of endangered species that if you are lucky enough, you will see and experience as well. Some of these endangered species that you should be on the lookout for are the Texas Blind Salamander, the San Marcos Salamander, and Texas Wild Rice. After this delicate zone, the river flows southeast for 75 miles and eventually hits the Guadalupe River, two miles west of the town of Gonzales. The portion of the beginning section of the San Marcos River that eventually runs into the Blanco River after a good four miles is known as the upper portion. This section flows through Texas State University and the actual city of San Marcos. This upper portion is a very popular recreational area and a lot of tubing trips end around the Rio Vista Dam where you and your family will find pavilions for picnics, picnic tables, a children’s play park, pools to play in as well as the Rio Vista Falls. The lower portion is also very popular for recreational water sports and shouldn’t be missed out on either. This portion allows for longer trips down the river and exciting views of both flora and fauna. There are a bunch of tubing outfitters on both the upper and lower portion so be sure to check them out in this guide!
Recommended San Marcos River Outfitters
Cool River Ranch Tube Rental and Concert Venue
Cool River Ranch really has everything you could possible want if you and your group desires to spend some time near the San Marcos River. They aren’t limited to just tube rentals either. They have a huge 25,000 seat concert venue on the property as well as a ton of party patios to help you host your next event. People come from all around the country just to see the different types of musical performers that they host there. Located right on the San Marcos river with over 220 acres of river front property for you to enjoy, Cool River Ranch is a must experience kind of place. The best part about them is that the property is also a working ranch with cattle and other livestock grazing peacefully nearby. Cool River Ranch doesn’t rent out any tubes themselves, instead, there is a separate company called U-Toob River Floats that handles all the tube rentals for them. Feel free to rent a tube, enjoy the 72 degree year round temperatures of the San Marcos River, and take advantage of their shuttle service to your drop off point! There is plenty of parking and they even offer showers, volley ball courts, and plenty of picnic areas under their beautiful century old shade trees.
Lion’s Club Tube Rental
Lion’s Club Tube Rental is definitely one of the oldest and most experienced outfitters along the beautiful San Marcos River. They have been around since the 1970’s when they would rent out tubes from a cattle truck behind Joe’s Crab Shack. They are a campground as well as full service tube outfitter today. They are located right in the heart of San Marcos City Park in the Rec Hall and they will shuttle you upriver from Rio Vista Park and then you can float back down as many times as you want. They also offer storage boxes for your valuables that just can’t be lost in the river. The water is always fantastic along the San Marcos River which just adds to the appeal of Lion’s Club. They also donate a ton of money to charities every year which is a plus to renting a tube there. When Lion’s Club first starting renting tubes out, they were doing 20-40 a day. They say that they are now averaging 800-850 rentals a day now during the peak times in the summer! Be sure to check this place out if you are thinking about floating down the San Marcos. You can’t go wrong with an establishment that has been renting out tubes since the 1970’s!
Pecan Park Riverside RV & Cabins
Pecan Park is one of the most beautiful campgrounds along the San Marcos River that you will probably ever encounter. It got its name because of their abundance of natural Pecan trees strewn throughout their 24 acres of prime riverfront property. They don’t have any tube rental facilities within the park but literally next door to them is TG Canoe Livery which is also featured in this guide. They will be able to help you with all aspects of enjoying a ride down the river. Pecan Park is featured in this guide solely because of the immaculate grounds and beautiful scenery they offer. On their 24 acres, they have 116 spacious RV spots for you to park and begin your vacation if traveling in a motorhome or camper of some sort. They also provide the usual electricity, sewer, and water as well as a ton of amenities like restrooms, showers, picnic tables, basketball courts, and more! They even have cabins if you would rather sleep in one of those as well! Among the many pecan trees that they have on their property is a ton of wildlife for you and your family or friends to enjoy. Pecan Park is also a great place to go exploring on their property. They have some caves as well so be sure to bring your flashlight. If you do decide to go down the river, the San Marcos is special in that there is a ton of overgrowth along the edges of the river so that it resembles a jungle. It truly is a sight to see. Leave your primitive tent at home when visiting here though as they only have RV sites and cabins at this location at this time.
TG Canoe Livery
This outfitter located downtown Austin as well as along the San Marcos River is an epic place to check out. Not only do they facilitate kayak and canoe rentals, they also sell a ton of boats, other watercrafts, lighting systems, and even the highly coveted Orion coolers to the public. Currently they have two locations. The Austin location services a number of nearby lakes and the Colorado River just downstream of Austin. The San Marcos location services the beautiful San Marcos River. Check out their website for more up to date details! They don’t allow alcohol at either of their locations and children must be seven or greater to rent one of their river toys. They have a number of trips available to you on the San Marcos which range from a one hour, two mile ride on up to a four hour seven mile ride down the river. Prices are very affordable and you can rent canoes, kayaks, boats, and more from them. They also do watercraft repairs as well and brag that they have 30+ years of experience in this field. TG Canoe isn’t just a place to rent a kayak or canoe though, this place has it all including watercrafts made for fishing and lessons on using your floating device. Check them out for sure before you commit to using any other outfitter along the beautiful San Marcos.
Texas State Tubes
Texas State Tubes is located super conveniently along County Line Road and the very edge of the San Marcos River. They advertise themselves as a high service, low cost alternative to other outfitters along the San Marcos. They were purchased in 2011 and it’s been smooth sailing ever since for them and their customers! At Texas Tubes they are very customer oriented and will do virtually anything to make sure that you and your group have a great time! No reservation is needed and they do allow alcohol on their river runs. The typical trip lasts about three hours and they offer you two options. Park, ride, and float or park, float, and ride. The difference being if you would like to be shuttled before or after your trip down the river. They have two large parking lots which are absolutely necessary there because things can get crowded on a hot summer day. They rent out rafts, tubes, coolers, and more for an affordable price. They even do VIP charters for 50 bucks a person and these consist of a guided tour down the San Marcos River. This is a place that should be experienced if you are debating on floating down the San Marcos this summer!
Don’s Fish Camp
Don’s Fish Camp is perhaps the most famous of all the outfitters along the San Marcos River. It’s owned by a man named Don Nelle who can be found wandering around the 50 acre property with his famous yellow suspenders on. Don has owned the property for basically 50 years and has been renting out tubes for the last 15 years and they are still going strong. At Don’s, they know what they are doing and it shows in the quality of their online reviews. They also offer shuttle service from your door to the river and back if you so need. You can choose between a tube and a kayak and they advertise themselves as having the best float in Texas. They have a ton of merchandise for rent as well as for sale in their merchandise shop. Music is almost a necessity when floating down a river for the day and a lot of people forget this aspect. Don’s has you covered there as well with music emitting coolers and special waterproof speakers. Free parking is available to anyone who rents a tube from them as well. Don’s Fish Camp is located very conveniently just off highway 80 on Nelle Lane right along the San Marcos river.
The leisure resort is one very cool place to check out while you either camp or tube down the San Marcos River. It’s nestled within a 150 year old Pecan orchard which is cool in and of itself. They have been family owned and operated since 1982 and they still have that family atmosphere around the place instead of the corporate environment that others have adopted. It appears that camping is their main focus and boy do they nail it! With 117 RV sites complete with electric hookups, water, and sewer, they have you covered. If you really want to get the full camping experience then bring your own tent and set up camp right on the river’s edge. They also offer country cabins and even treehouses for you to enjoy! How cool is it that you can actually camp out in a tree there! As far as activities go, they have volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, kid’s playgrounds, a clubhouse, trails, fishing, and even more! Yes, they also do tube rentals at the Leisure Resort. Their trip down the river usually lasts one hour and 15 minutes and there are shuttles that will pick you up at the end, every hour on the hour until 6 pm that night. Tubes can be used all day but need to be back at Leisure Resort by 7pm that night. They also do provide life jackets for a small fee.
Korner Stop San Marcos
Korner Stop is perhaps one of the coolest convenience stores you will ever find. Not only do they sell the usual cigarettes, alcohol, and snacks, but they also sell tubes as well as provide tube rentals! They even supply kegs and have air hookups for the tubes you brought from home. They have been in business since 1998 and are privately owned. Korner Stop advertises that their tubes are top of the line and come from some of the best suppliers. They are located right on the San Marcos River and cater to those that want to make it down the river on their own as well as those who wish to rent instead of buy their equipment. This place is a must check out when planning a trip down the San Marcos River. Their prices are in line with other outfitters and it’s just cool to rent a tube from a convenience store!
Atxcursions is the premier place to float down any of the rivers in the Austin Texas area. They are centrally located at 602 East 4th Street in Austin. They float all the major rivers in the Austin area and choose what river they are going to float on a day by day basis depending on which river would be optimal. The average float takes anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on which river they are using that day. Their packages include tubes, ice, and cooler rental. Since they are located downtown Austin, they offer a shuttle service to bring you either publically or privately to the river of their choosing. Bring your own beer and alcohol to enjoy on any of their river trips which makes things more fun! They also do private and public brewery tours so take advantage of that as well if you so choose. Keep your private possessions in one of their locked lockers instead of bringing valuables into the river to avoid losing them. You never want to lose possessions while going through some rapids! Be sure to check out Atxcursions for your next adventure down the San Marcos!
For those that are experienced tubers, the Guadalupe River is very hard to avoid. After all, it is the longest river in the Austin area and debatably the most fun as well. The river runs from Kerr County to the San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout its length, there are several dams with one worth noting here. The main dam is called Canyon Dam and it forms Canyon Lake which is just northwest of New Braunfels. The Guadalupe is divided into two parts or at least the outfitters have labeled it this way. The parts are labeled the upper Guadalupe and lower Guadalupe. The upper portion of the river starts in the Texas Hill Country. This part is known for its smaller and faster waters with beautiful limestone banks to enjoy. It is also very shaded by Pecan and Bald Cypress Trees which are a very cool sight to see. The lower Guadalupe begins at the outlet of Canyon Lake but does not feature limestone banks anymore and is slow with hardly any rapids. It’s got a bunch of cool things to see while tubing or rafting down it though. Log jams and small dams are very popular for tubers to see. It also has six fascinating reservoir dams along the way as well. These are known as Lake Dunlop, Lake Placid, Meadow Lake, Lake Gonzalez, Wood Lake, and Lake McQueeney. The flow of the river is mainly determined by the good people at Canyon Dam as well as seasonal rainfall. Like other rivers, it is very important to check the water levels of the river for the day you want to go rafting or tubing. The Guadalupe can be either very dangerous to be in during the summer or very relaxing and mellow. It is an ever changing river due to these flow rates. 1000 CFM’s or lower and there will be probably thousands of other people on the Guadalupe as it’s very rapid. Over 1000 CFM’s and the rapids might be deadly to be blunt. The river is so big that parking and driving there shouldn’t be a problem. It’s got everything you want in a tubing river. We’re talking about boulders, rapids, tube chutes, and more for people of all ages and experiences to enjoy. The Guadalupe also flows into the Comal River within the New Braunfels city limits. It also happens to run into the San Marcos River about two miles west of the town called Gonzalez. The main portions of the Guadalupe River can be classified into three sections. The horseshoe is in the upper Guadalupe, it’s basically a one hour stretch of river which is perfect for newcomers. When you are done with the horseshoe, it’s only a five minute walk back up the river to enjoy it all over again. Instead of walking, you and your group could always have a transportation company drive you back up to the starting point of the river. The Chute, or second portion of the Guadalupe, is a few hundred yards of wild rapids and tons of fun. This portion comes right after the horseshoe so you can either continue after getting done or just have someone drive you right to the Chute to start there. After the chute you again have the option of getting out and heading home or continuing to the area around Gruene. This Gruene area, or third section of the Guadalupe, has sets of small rapids and when the water levels are low, this is basically the only feasible section of the river to even float down. When the water is high, this area can contain many rapids for a wild ride. There are two very popular rapids in the Guadalupe River. They are known as Devil’s Playground Rapids and Bad Rock Rapids. The Guadalupe is undoubtedly the most popular tubing river in the Austin area and should be experienced at least once in your life. Check out the Guadalupe outfitters and get floating!
Guadalupe River Outfitters
Roy’s Rentals and Campground
Roy’s is a great place to go for everything related to tubing the famous Guadalupe River. The thing that stands out the most to us about Roy’s is their customer service though. They have years of experience renting out tubes on the Guadalupe and it shows! They offer a whole slew of options including tube rentals, raft rentals, and camping spots. Specifically for the camping though, they have a ton of primitive spots where you can pitch your tent and get some rest right along the river. The tube rentals are all affordable and you can get one with or without a bottom. If you aren’t interested in tubes, they have rafts as well as inflatable canoes, sit on kayaks, and hard shelled canoes. With every rental comes a free shuttle service for you to enjoy. They will really take you to the river in style in one of their shuttle buses. Not a bad deal over at Roy’s!
Atxcursions is the premier place to float down any of the rivers in the Austin Texas area. They are centrally located at 602 East 4th Street in Austin. They float all the major rivers in the Austin area and choose what river they are going to float on a day by day basis depending on which river would be optimal. The average float takes anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on which river they are using that day and their packages include tubes, ice, and cooler rental. Since they are located downtown Austin, they offer a shuttle service to bring you either publically or privately to the river of their choosing. Bring your own beer and alcohol to enjoy on any of their river trips which makes things more fun! They also do private and public brewery tours so take advantage of that as well if you so choose. Keep your private possessions in one of their locked lockers instead of bringing valuables into the river to avoid losing them. You never want to lose possessions while going through some rapids! Be sure to check out Atxcursions for your next adventure down the Guadalupe!
Rockin’ R River Rides
The complete Guadalupe river package is offered by Rockin’ R River Rides for anyone interested in this popular river. They have six locations around the Austin area with five of them actually on the Guadalupe. They offer rentals of toobs or tubes, rafts, SUP’s, and even party barges. You can also schedule a luxury vehicle to pick you up at your doorstep, take you to the river, and then drop you back off at the house. Perfect right? They offer multiple trip options from their multiple locations on the Guadalupe River ranging from 1-4 hours for the longer trips. They are also affiliated with Camp Huaco Springs which offers a huge space for RV parking, tent camping, cabins, and all the extras like fishing, swimming, etc. The campgrounds are conveniently located along the river as well so just hop out of the water and come on over! Forgot something? Their camp store has everything you need to stay comfortable while camping or enjoying the Guadalupe River!
Jerry’s Rentals was the first tubing facility to open up along the Guadalupe River. They have been around for a while and have a knack for getting things done right the first time. All though they have been in business for decades, they have kept things very simple. Located just outside of New Braunfels along the Guadalupe, they are in the perfect place. They rent out tubes, ice chests, and rafts for very reasonable pricing and are situated right next door to KL Ranch. This ranch is a camp and tent area that offers very reasonable lodging accommodations. KL Ranch also offers pay showers, a place to lay your head after a long day on the Guadalupe, as well as a general store of sorts. This store has everything you might need for a river trip as well as for camping. Be sure to check out Jerry’s website for up to date information on the Guadalupe River such as water flow, weather, etc. If you want to purchase a tube or raft, then they can also accommodate this request there. Check out Jerry’s if you are thinking about tubing the Guadalupe!
Bergheim Campground and River Outfitter
Bergheim Campground and River Outfitter is also a great place for information and tube rentals along the Guadalupe River. They will help you get started with kayaks, canoes, and tube rentals. They boast some class II rapids which are a lot of fun for the adventuresome. Don’t forget their full service campgrounds and RV parking either. These camping facilities come with hot showers, grills, phones, fire pits, and more! There are a number of options for rafting and tubing but in general, the trip starts at their campgrounds and goes about 3.8 miles down the river. They also provide a shuttle service for a small fee to help you get back.
Mountain Breeze Campground
This place is especially neat because it’s a complete river outfitter as well as a year round campground. They have RV sites with water and electric hook ups as well as awesome rustic cabins. It’s located off River Road in New Braunfels right along the Guadalupe. They facilitate fishing, musical guests, equipment rental, events, and even a bar and grill on the property. As far as tubing goes, they only rent out tubes and rafts and with the rental price comes parking, shuttle service, and as many trips as you can handle that day down the Guadalupe. If you just want to relax after your float, they have volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a ton of area along the river to just swim or relax in the water. Mountain Breeze Campground is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed while drinking with friends or even with the family on a mini vacation. Check them out!
Guadalupe Canoe Livery
Guadalupe Canoe Livery really has it all for your next trip down the Guadalupe River. They have the ability to rent you canoes, rafts, bottomless as well as bottomed tubes, and even kayaks. They also feature nearly a mile of great camping areas as well as RV water and electricity hookups. Their campgrounds are covered with picnic tables, have direct access to the river, hot and cold showers, and are open 365 days a year! Guadalupe Canoe Livery was opened in 1930 and the outfitter portion of their business has been around since 1971. They offer six different rafting or tubing trips complete with shuttle service back to your vehicle. The longest trip is actually 17 miles and takes roughly 7-8 hours to complete! Their campgrounds feature a bunch of really cool cliffs to jump off of as well as rope swings. They are located along the Guadalupe River just off U.S. Highway 281 North in Spring Branch.
The Lazy L&L is another full service outfitter providing both comfortable lodging as well as tube, kayak, and raft rental to float down the Guadalupe River. They provide RV access with hookups for both water and electricity as well if you are an RV type of person. They also have three quaint vacation homes to rent while in the area. All of these lodging accommodations are located very close to their volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, dance hall, and even the tube rental facility. Lazy L&L is situated just 10 miles west of New Braunfels and if you are looking for an exciting time down the river then you should check them out. Their float trips last anywhere between 2-4 hours and feature a trip through the famous Devils Playground and Bad Rock Rapids. If you are feeling even more adventuresome, reserve one of their longer trips and enjoy the Guadalupe’s chutes for an incredible time. They offer a shuttle service as well so you don’t have to walk far if at all at the beginning or ending of your trip. The campgrounds have been family owned since 1972 and it shows in the quality and knowledgeability of their staff. Check them out!
Lonestar Float House
The Lone Star Float House is always a blast! They are located on River road just past the 2nd crossing. Their unique river trips can be done in either a tube or a raft and last anywhere from 1-6 hours. The floats begin at various points down the Guadalupe depending on how long of a trip you book. For longer trips, floaters get to enjoy the Devils Playground Rapids which are an adrenaline filled rush so ask them for details on how not to miss them! All trips end at Lonestar Float House where you can just hang out or enjoy some of the best food along the Guadalupe River. Be sure to try their ½ pound cheeseburger and loaded nachos when you’re absolutely starving after a few hours in the water. They offer shuttle services as well which you should take advantage of unless you want to walk! They say that the best part of taking one of their trips down the river is the chute, which is about 200 yards of rapids which end conveniently at a rocky beach area where you can stop, regroup, go swimming, slam a beer, or even walk back up the river and take the Chute again!
Little Ponderosa River Outfitters
The Little Ponderosa River Outfitters is one of the better places to rent water equipment, get advice on where to float, and find out how long you want to float down the Guadalupe River. As with most outfitters, they provide a convenient shuttle service to get you back and forth from the river as well as your vehicle. They also offer both tube and raft rental for whatever your preference may be for floating. They are located just off River Rock road and can drop you off to float virtually anywhere along the Guadalupe river depending on how long you want to be in the water. Their trips last anywhere from 2-7 hours and they can facilitate floats on either side of the famous horseshoe area at the beginning of the Guadalupe. Feeling adventuresome? Ask them about how to enjoy the famous Devils Playground and Bad Rock rapids and even the Chute, which is 200 yards of rapids that end in a calm beach area to take a rest or slam a beer.
Rio Guadalupe Resort
Rio Guadalupe Resort is one of the most beautiful sites in which to book a trip down the Guadalupe River. With this outfitter, you have a number of options including fishing, direct access to the river, RV sites, and even lodging in one of their 25 different sized cabins. They are located just a mile from Canyon Lake and got their start as a campground in 1977. They have come a long way in the years since and now even host weddings amidst their absolutely stunning scenery. Of course they offer shuttle services which is very cool and they offer different river trips in a raft, tube, or kayak. They even have a general store within the campground that provides you with anything you might need to go camping or floating down the Guadalupe. As stated earlier, they offer fishing trips and even guided fly fishing adventures which are a blast. Trout is the main catch for their side of the Guadalupe and they are abundant near the resort area. If you are looking for a full service outfitter along the Guadalupe River then this resort should be right up your alley!
Andy’s River Toobs
Andy’s River Toobs is a place that needs to be checked out when deciding to enjoy the Guadalupe River for a day. They are located right in the middle of the famous horseshoe which is easy to access coming from a number of different locations. They provide both bottomless and bottomed tubes and even cooler tubes which really come in handy when you need to keep your drinks safe. Andy’s offers three main float trips that last anywhere from 1–6 hours. The two longer trips offer you free shuttle service back to Andy’s, or your car which is a great incentive to take the longer trips. Hungry after a long day on the river? Andy’s boasts that it is the only place to have great food as well as tube rentals in the Horseshoe area of the Guadalupe. They host the Horseshoe Grill on their property so there is no need to bring food or beverage. Andy’s has your hunger needs covered! They offer free parking as well which is always a plus.
Shanty Tubes is a great outfitter and let us tell you why. This place offers you the ability to tube, raft, or kayak down the Guadalupe as well as other rivers in the New Braunfels area. They offer shuttle service to different parts of the river and back so you don’t have to worry about walking either. They offer a number of trip options that range from only an hour and a half to six hour trips. The floats start at either the horseshoe, the 4th crossing, or Little Ponderosa. They have two locations right on the horseshoe of the Guadalupe River. One location at the beginning of the horseshoe and one at the end for your convenience. They also have this awesome place called the Tiki Bar and Ice House on their property as well. The Tiki bar is located right on the river and gives you the opportunity to watch people float by while you sip on your exotic cocktail. The Ice House, which is perhaps the coolest part of Shanty Tubes, provides you the ability to purchase alcohol and take it onto the river. It’s essentially a liquor store complete with a pool table, foosball setup, and of course a great selection of alcohol for your river run. They also have campgrounds with either private campsites or cabins with river access. Group packages are also available for you and your guests so be sure to ask Shanty Tubes for further details. Also, they do have great food selections on the property as well which is perfect when your group is tired and hungry from being on the river all day.
River Sports Tubes
River Sport Tubes is located very conveniently right in the middle of the famous horseshoe loop along the beginning of the Guadalupe River. It’s 12 miles west of New Braunfels at the intersection of FM 306 and FM 2673. They offer three options which makes things a lot less confusing as with other outfitters. They offer a short float, medium float, and long float so be sure to ask for additional details on what each float entails. They also offer a shuttle service back to their main location for each of these runs. They rent out tubes, cooler rentals, and life jackets to keep you safe on the water. On River Sports Tubes website you can find the current weather conditions on the Guadalupe as well as the river levels. Be sure to check the river levels before making the trek out to River Sports Tubes. They offer military and group discounts so be sure to ask about these when you call to make a reservation. The horseshoe is a very popular place and there are plenty of lodging accommodations as well as restaurants and bars nearby for you to check out as well.
Tube Haus is the premier place to rent tubes at the base of the famous horseshoe along the Guadalupe River. They offer bottomless tubes as well as bottomed tubes for your next float trip. They offer three different lengths of trips down the river. They are called the short float, medium float, and long float. Feel free to bring your own cooler as long as it’s not styrofoam. Also, be sure to bring your own music to play while floating down the river. At Tube Haus you can float with the tunes playing in the background! They have three lodging areas nearby for your sleeping convenience as well. Also, feel free to bring your dog or dogs but remember that you are 100% responsible for their behavior and safety on the river. Life jackets do come free with any tube rental which is a great incentive to give Tube Haus your business. It’s never a good idea to not have a life jacket on the Guadalupe River. They have been around since 1978 and definitely know how to make people happy while floating the river. They are located at the beginning of the horseshoe portion in Canyon Lake, Texas. Just be sure to look for the giant Texas flag on their even bigger billboard to find them!
Whitewater Sports is a great place to get outfitted to float down the Guadalupe River this summer. They are conveniently located at the end of the horseshoe loop at the beginning of the Guadalupe River. They have been around since 1972 and even have the White Water Amphitheater on their property which plays awesome music and entertainment on the weekends. Whitewater Sports offers a number of trips and rental options for you to enjoy the Guadalupe River. One of the coolest parts about them is the fact that all of their tubes are cloth covered so you don’t burn your skin like you do with the hot black plastic tubes that other outfitters provide. They also have tubes for any sized coolers as well as offering a free life jacket service! Since Whitewater Sports is outside of the New Braunfels area, a lot of restrictions are not in effect. Bring any sized cooler you want as long as it isn’t styrofoam though and avoid the glass beverages.
Gruene River Company
Gruene River Company offers you everything you need for your next float down the famous Guadalupe River. They offer a wide variety of trips and lengths so be sure to call them for the latest details as the floats vary due to water levels in the river. Usually, the trips range from between 2 ½ hours all the way up to 8 hours. They also cater to the beginning floater and even offer the services of an experienced river guide to help you navigate the waters. They allow you to rent rafts, tubes, kayaks, and ice chests. If you and your group is interested in guided rafting trips then Gruene River Company can also facilitate this for you. For those tubers or rafters looking for a more exciting time down the river then be sure to tell them that you want to include Huaco Falls during your trip down the Guadalupe. These falls are perhaps the most intense you can find along the river. Rental rates here are very competitive with other outfitters in the area and no reservation is needed for small groups. Lastly, be sure to check out their website for up to date deals and discounts that they are offering that week. You can save significant amounts of money just by doing this. Enjoy your trip down the Guadalupe!
Bezdek’s Rentals has everything you and your party needs to float the Guadalupe plus an extensive array of lodging accommodations as well. They have been in operation for 38 years and as a result, have perfected the outfitter role they play on the Guadalupe. Their customer service is second to none and they have that family atmosphere around their property. Also, Bezdek’s is outside of the New Braunfels city limits so the container laws are not in effect there so bring all the containers you need! As far as their lodging arrangements, they have a number of sites for you to choose from and they all have electrical hook ups which is always a nice touch. It is recommended to make a reservation for the camping sites throughout the summer especially on holiday weekends. They also have a general store so you can purchase the items you forgot at home or that you need for camping. As for the river tubing, Bezdek’s rents out rafts in a number of different sizes and they will shuttle you and your party up river so you can float back to their location. Also, just so you know, all of their trips down the Guadalupe River go through the famous “Chute” which can be a lot of fun. Don’t have a life jacket? Bezdek’s has you covered here as well with free life jackets for all rafters and tubers if needed.
Riverbank Outfitters is located very conveniently just off River Road in New Braunfels. For over 30 years, they have been facilitating rafting and tubing trips for people all over the country. They offer five different types of floats for all tubers new or old. They range from a one mile trip all the way up to a seven mile monster float! A lot of times after a float, hunger can be an issue. Be sure to bring a picnic for your group on your next adventure down the Guadalupe because Riverbank Outfitters provides picnic sites under huge cypress trees for shade. They also provide camping sites along the river as well if you should choose to spend the night. They provide bathrooms but not showers so be prepared for a bath in the river! At Riverbank Outfitters, alcohol is indeed allowed but please leave the glass bottles and styrofoam containers at home. This outfitter along the Guadalupe is a must check out for your next river adventure. Their prices are in line with other outfitters and the picnicking and camping is just a bonus!
The Llano River is a tributary of the Colorado River and it flows for a total of 105 miles, making it one of the shorter rivers in this guide. It’s located just northwest of Austin, not very far at all compared to some of the other rivers down in South Texas. Two spring fed tributaries, the North and South Llano come together just east of Junction, Texas which, at this point, forms the Llano River proper. Here, the Llano runs northeast through the Edwards Plateau and then east until it eventually joins the Colorado river as an arm of Lake Lyndon B Johnson which is about 50 miles northwest of Austin. The Llano is a very well-known and respected fishing area as well for those fisherman out there. Fly fishing is the method of choice it seems and the target fish are the Guadalupe Bass and Large Mouth Bass, alligator gars, and various sunfish. The Llano is not as heavily vegetated as some of the other Texas Rivers, probably because it flows through some arid terrain. The Llano happens to also be one of those hidden gems of a river for tubing. There are a few outfitters that we have named in this guide. Give them a call for information relating to tubing and other water activities along the Llano. If you already own a tube and the other necessities to float down any river, you might want to just plan to enter the river at the 2nd to 1st crossing which is a great area for swimming and offers great views as well. Another entry point is first crossing to Boone’s crossing, which is a pretty spectacular run for not only tubing, but also fishing. Boone’s to State Park is also a very popular float and if you take this route, you will find gravel bars along the banks which are perfect for taking a break from the water and relaxing. Then there is the float from State Park to Flat rock. This route is a great trip and contains a bunch of swimming areas which are always a lot of fun too.
Llano River Outfitters
Sun & Fun Canoe Rentals
Sun & Fun offers kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and as always, tubing! They give you much more than that though. They have something for literally everyone there. They allow you to rent anything from a one person kayak to a 15 passenger Crest Tritoon boat! All for very affordable rates. The owners have been in business since 1983 so they have essentially 30 years of experience in the industry and know exactly what you will need to know to have the best possible experience going down the Llano river. Sun & Fun is located a short distance from Austin so they also do a great job of facilitating wakeboarding and water skiing on Lake Austin if you would like to go that route as well. Sun & Fun shouldn’t be missed this summer when you are in the area. They have a “Specials” section on their website that they update regularly so be sure to check out what new offers they have for your group on your next event date.
South Llano River Cabins
South Llano River Cabins has a bunch of really cool lodging accommodations available for rent for a very decent price when maneuvering the Llano River. Call soon though and reserve your cabin as there are only four of them on the property. They don’t rent out tubes but instead they offer kayak rentals for a lower price than most outfitters. They are available on a first come first serve basis as well, so no reservation needed. Anywhere near South Llano River Cabins, you will find wildlife as well. Deer are very common and can be seen virtually every day. Wild turkeys are also very abundant on their property which are always fun to see. If you happen to be a star gazer then you should probably check out this place at night. There is not a lot of ambient light around the property so the stars are a truly an amazing sight.
The Comal River is the shortest rafting and tubing river in the entire state of Texas. Its common local nickname is “The longest shortest river in the world” because it runs entirely within the city limits of New Braunfels but is the smallest river in the country right now. It starts out as the Comal River from Comal Springs in Landa Park and then runs into the Guadalupe River after about 2.5 miles. For this reason the Comal was originally called the Little Guadalupe in early Spanish accounts. It then took on its official name of the Comal River in 1727. The word comal happens to mean basin or flat dish in Spanish. This river has a rich history with the early German settlers. It was used by these newcomers to power watermills, cotton gins, and a little bit later on down the line as hydroelectric power. Today, the river’s uses for agriculture and power are basically nonexistent and it is used for water recreation almost exclusively. The Comal is also home to one of the most famous water amusement parks in the state and even the country. Schlitterbahn water amusement park was built along a 16 acre stretch of the river in 1979 and has been attracting visitors ever since. As with almost all of the rivers around Austin, the Comal River is home to a number of endangered and fascinating animals. One of these protected species is the fountain darter, a fish which is now only found in the Comal and nearby San Marcos rivers. If you are interested in water activities on the Comal besides tubing, scuba diving is also a very popular pastime. The river features mild currents and very clear water which makes it ideal to grab a mask and see what’s in this amazing river. Just like the San Marcos River, the Comal boasts a constant temperature of 72 degrees year round. This allows people to enjoy the water in both winter and summer months. Tubing on the Comal can provide a more relaxing adventure than some of the other rivers featured in this guide. It’s less intense and you probably won’t encounter as many boulders to maneuver around and even less rapids. The only fast part is the single-person, man-made chute that diverts tubers around a dam. Be sure to ask your outfitter of choice if your particular river trip will pass through this chute. Obviously the depth of the river varies wildly but you can expect it to be around 3-4 feet deep in any given area throughout the spring or summer. The only other river that can be compared to the Comal is the San Marcos. Both are very similar as far as what to expect while tubing down their waterways. If you happen to need lunch or last minute supplies, feel free to take a break and get said supplies from any of the establishments along the river float. The Comal boasts a broad tubing area that is very leisurely so it’s a great option for families and those with children as well. If you want to avoid the crowds that some of the other rivers attract, then the Comal would be a great option for your group.
Comal River Outfitters
Atxcursions is the premier place to float down any of the rivers in the Austin, Texas area. They are centrally located at 602 East 4th Street in Austin. They float all the major rivers in the Austin area and choose what river they are going to float on a day by day basis depending on which river would be optimal. The average float takes anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on which river they are using that day. Their packages include tubes, ice, and cooler rental. Since they are located downtown Austin, they offer a shuttle service to bring you either publically or privately to the river of their choosing. Bring your own beer and alcohol to enjoy on any of their river trips which makes things more fun! They also do private and public brewery tours so take advantage of that as well if you so choose. Keep your private possessions in one of their locked lockers instead of bringing valuables into the river to avoid losing them. You never want to lose possessions while going through some rapids! Be sure to check out Atxcursions for your next adventure down the San Marcos!
Chuck’s tubes and Chuck’s General store are a couple of places that you really need to check out when going tubing along the Comal River. They advertise that they are the premier river outfitter along the Comal. This is also the only outfitter that focuses on private groups. This allows them to really provide a level of customer service that is unparalleled in the industry. Show up with your swim suit and Chuck’s tubes will provide the rest. Their general store isn’t just a general store either. Show up and enjoy Texas BBQ, burgers, a beer, or a frozen drink as well as all the necessary water supplies. They offer shuttle services so you don’t have to worry about walking too far either before or after your float. It’s always a great idea to go with an outfitter that provides shuttling services for obvious reasons. You and your group don’t want to worry about getting back to the car after the float. Chuck’s rents out tubes with bottoms and without for your convenience. Feel free to rent one of these tubes, a kayak, or even one of their famous sea sleds. What is also cool about Chuck’s is that fact that you can very easily book online through their website without even having to make a phone call!
Corner Tubes is located right on the Comal River directly across the street from Hinman Island Park and Prince Solms Tube chute. They are open from 9am to 7pm seven days a week and offer a ton of different types of tubes to rent. They have regular tubes with no bottoms, bottom tubes, cooler tubes, and even dog approved tubes! Alcohol is permitted on the Comal River so feel free to bring some to enjoy while floating. As with most outfitters, they offer a door to door shuttle service to anywhere in or near Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, and the New Braunfels area. As far as we know, Corner Tubes is the only place that offers all day rentals all the way up to multiple day rentals. When making your decision on which outfitter along the Comal River to use, be sure to include Corner Tubes in the mix. You don’t want to miss out!
Rockin’ R River Rides
6 locations along the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers
Rockin’ R is a huge place with 6 locations all along the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers. Please call them before just showing up at any of these locations though. All their locations offer different amenities so ask for details on what you need when making contact. For instance, some of their locations offer camping accommodations and others don’t. Rockin’ R rents out a ton of different types of river equipment to use while floating down the rivers. In this section, we will focus on their Comal River locations. They offer tubes, rafts, SUP’s and even a party barge for you to rent and enjoy! Need transportation directly from your front door to the river and back? Rockin’ R has you covered and should be your place to go for Comal River activities. They have this shuttle service called Rapid Transit. For a very fair price, Rapid Transit will show up at your front door and take your party to the river and drop you back at your house at the end of the night. If you choose to go tubing, then you can expect your trip down the Comal to last anywhere from 2-7 hours. If you choose to go rafting, expect the trip to last 3-4 hours. They have been around since 1979 and certainly know the river and how to please their customers.
Landa falls is located very conveniently in New Braunfels right along the Comal River. They claim to have the longest tubing adventure on this particular river of any outfitter. They offer a few unique options for floating the Comal. These trips can range from anywhere between two and four hours to complete. The best part is that you get to enjoy the run for as many times as possible during the day. As long as you get your tube back to them before they close, you don’t have anything to worry about. Once you get down the river, they have a shuttle service that will bring you back to the Wurfest grounds where Landa falls is located. Because it’s located on these famous Texas grounds, there is a ton of free parking everywhere which is always a plus. At Landa Falls you can rent tubes with or without bottoms, coolers, cooler tubes, or a combination of those options. Life vests are free which is always nice. People who don’t swim that well should for sure grab a life vest! Landa Falls is a lot of fun and should be considered as a preferred outfitter when floating down the Comal River.
Comal tubes is one great place to get your float on. Located right near the Comal River, this place has it all for any tuber. First of all, the Comal River is only 3-4 feet deep so this is a great river for families and kids as long as they are of age. It’s also 72 degrees year round and the water is crystal clear. Comal Tubes offers one tubing route and it starts up at the Prince Solms Park and ends where the river hits the Guadalupe. In total, it takes about 2-3 hours of float time depending on water conditions. They have free parking and a shuttle continuously takes guests back to the Comal Tubes headquarters and your car. When you start the float, there are a few chutes but other than that, it’s a very relaxing and satisfying trip. They also have one of the coolest gift shops that has everything, and we mean everything, you could possibly need to float down the river. They sell a bunch of extra fun items as well such as squirt guns and other fun water toys which are actually a blast while enjoying your float.
Texas Tubes has an advantage because they are located right on the Comal River’s edge. Literally, all you have to do is get there somehow, rent a tube (bottomless or bottom) and jump in the river. How easy is that? Other outfitters sometimes have to shuttle you to the river which can be a pain and add to your costs. The average trip down the river for Texas Tubes is three hours but that obviously depends on river dynamics. Alcohol is definitely permitted on their trips so be sure to bring your own supply. They also allow you to rent tubes with ice chests as well so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. How nice is that? Check out Texas Tubes the next time you and your group are thinking of floating the Comal River. You won’t regret it!
Barton Creek River
The Barton Creek River doesn’t get a lot of water flow throughout the year so be sure to check availability and water levels before you make it out to float this river. Barton Creek gets its beginnings in northern Hays County and flows 40 miles east right through Austin where it eventually drains into the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Then, with what is called the lower portion, the river begins again at Barton Springs and continues until it hits the Colorado River. The three main rivers in the Austin area are the San Marcos, the Comal, and the Guadalupe. Barton Creek is kind of like a 4th option providing you with absolutely stunning views, amazing wildlife, and great floating options. It flows all throughout the Austin area and you can have a great time checking out the surrounding greater Austin area. Once past Austin though, this river runs through a bunch of protected lands that host a wide variety of beautiful flora and fauna. Barton Creek is thus divided up into two sections, the upper and lower portions. The upper half, usually during rainy season in the spring, is great for all types of water recreation. Kayaking, tubing, and swimming is very popular here. The lower portion includes these activities year round and even has a whole slew of swimming holes and other fun areas. If you can rent your tubing gear from somewhere else or perhaps purchase it, you will be just fine on this river. You will also have to arrange your own transportation to and from your destination as well because unfortunately there are no outfitters or shuttle services along this river that we are aware of. If you do have your own equipment and gear, feel free to float this river. You can start and stop wherever you want, you will just have to make your way to the river’s edge to get out. By far, the most popular starting point is the Loop 360 access. If you enter here, you can expect a 2-3 hour float down to Barton Springs.
Barton Creek Outfitters
Because of the hit or miss water levels of Barton Creek, it doesn’t make sense for outfitters to locate and service this river. Bring your own tubes or water crafts and be sure to check river levels before you go. The upper half of Barton Creek is usually best during the rainy spring season and the lower half will provide you with water access year round.
For those of you that only know English, Frio means cold in Spanish. This cold river won’t disappoint you on a super-hot Texas day though. It is debatably the most beautiful as well as most secluded river in the entire state. This is the waterway to hit up if you are looking to avoid the crowds of floaters that tend to accompany some of the more popular rivers. Most people prefer to float the Guadalupe, San Marcos, or Comal rivers while in the Austin area. This river is mainly for Austinities who wish to travel or for those residing in San Antonio. For some reason, not too many people are even aware that the Frio is a floating option. This river has plenty of outfitters along its banks but nonetheless, it remains a hidden gem of a river. It extends over 47 miles and most of it offers tubers a private little path that seems to have been carved by God himself. There are a ton of sights to take in and the water is spectacular. Throughout your trip down the Frio, you can expect to see high limestone bluffs, large Cypress trees, and huge boulders. The water flow varies wildly though so as with some of the other rivers in this guide, be sure to check the flow when you decide to float this waterway. This is one of the reasons that some of the other rivers are more popular, these other rivers have a constant flow rate suitable for tubing. As far as location of the river goes, it is about 160 miles from Austin and is actually a little closer to San Antonio. Be aware though when tubing down the Frio, there are many dry counties around the area and securing your case of cold ones might be difficult. Be sure to bring your own from home!
Frio River Outfitters
Josh’s Frio River Outfitters
One of the coolest outfitters along the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Frio River has to be Josh’s Frio River Outfitters. Josh’s got its start in 1991 as a bait shop with some random tubes for rent. Since that time, it has been transformed into a large outfitting facility complete with two locations! They are also perhaps the most advanced fishing outfitter along most of the rivers in Texas in our opinion. They offer hand painted tubes as well as kayaks to facilitate a great time on the river year round. The kayaks come with either a one or two seat option and the tubes can be bottom less or with a bottom and they even rent out cooler tubes separately. They also have a much needed shuttle service that will pick you up after you are done with your float and take you back up to your vehicle. When you get to Josh’s, be sure to check out their gift shop with some famous t shirts, glasses, and other Texas memorabilia to bring home.
Andy’s on River Road
Andy’s on River Road has been the premier camping and outfitter of water fun along the Frio River since 2002. They are conveniently located in the hills of Frio Canyon, literally ½ mile from the river in the city of Concan. As stated earlier, they have a ton of camping options for you if you decide to spend the night with your group. They also have a bunch of RV sites to choose from which all include electricity, water, and sewer. If camping in an RV isn’t your thing then they also have a bunch of cabins and suites for you to choose from. The prices are very fair so making that decision to just spend the night after a long day on the river just got a lot easier. Bring your own tent if you want to go this route but be aware that the banks of the Frio River are private property and the river is a short ½ mile drive from Andy’s. As far as water activities go, they offer tubes with or without bottoms and kayaks for rent. They have seven styles of tubes to choose from and 30+ kayaks to allow you to pick the best suited option for you and your group. They also have a ton to do while spending the day on their property such as volleyball courts and horseshoe pits. Forgot something? They have you covered with a rather large gift shop where you can get everything you need for your stay or for a trip down the river. They even sell groceries too so they have you covered in every regard possible. Shuttle service is also available through Andy’s and they will bring you back to your car after a trip down the river.
Happy Hollow Grocery
Happy Hollow Grocery’s name might be a little deceiving at first. Is this an outfitter along the Frio River or a grocery and gift shop? The answer is both and they offer much more! They are a family oriented full service outfitter located right on the corner of Highway 83 along the Frio River. They rent tubes and kayaks as well as offer a really reliable shuttle service. They allow you to rent regular tubes, tubes with bottoms, colored tubes, and even cooler tubes to keep your beverages cold and safe on the spring fed river. The banks of the Frio and the trip you will take from Happy Hollow are lined by huge Cypress trees, beautiful foliage and tons of wildlife. The store that they have on the property has everything you could possibly need to camp out and float down the river. Forgot something at home? There is a 100% chance that they have just what you need at the store for a very fair price. As far as camping goes, they have a bunch of options with a large number of houses, cabins, and even RV sites for your larger than life vehicle. With any tube rental, you get free parking which is always a plus. Be sure to check out Happy Hollow the next time you visit the Frio River. You don’t want to miss this place!
Neal’s Lodges is a full service outfitter along the Frio River as well as providing camping, fishing, and everything associated with water fun! They are located just off of Hwy 127 along the Frio itself and have been family owned and operated since 1926. A visit to Neal’s lodges is sure to bring a smile to your families’ faces this summer. After all, it is a very family oriented place to enjoy abundant wildlife, year round activities, and a lot of fun on the Frio. As stated earlier, the Frio is one of the less crowded rivers to choose from, thus making it very popular for people looking for an intimate getaway. As far as sleeping accommodations go, they have 71 cabins to choose from, 9 RV hookups, and even 12 lodges in different areas of Concan to choose from. Doesn’t sound interesting to you? How about 16 condos overlooking Frio Canyon? Don’t forget food but if you did, Neal’s café is literally next door. If you happened to forget something else, then don’t worry. They have a country store, grocery store, and even a gift shop for emergencies and souvenirs for those back home. The cabins all come with air conditioning, televisions, and a kitchen with all utensils and plates already stocked for you. They have tube rental as well for only 10 bucks a day which you really can’t beat. Shuttle service is also offered there so take advantage! The shortest trip down the Frio is about 4 hours with this outfitter so be prepared for a day of fun while at Neal’s Lodges!
The Brazos River is available for tubing, kayaking, and canoeing almost year round. It really has something for everyone but once again, it’s a little bit of a drive from Austin or Dallas. It is actually situated 130 miles from Dallas and 170 miles from Austin proper. This doesn’t stop the diehard tubers though. You guys will travel to any available river during the summer time right? The Brazos boasts very slow moving water and very few if any rapids. Great for a family trip or those accompanied by children. There are a lot of cool sandbars around some areas of the river which are the perfect places to park the tubes and go exploring on the banks of the Brazos too. The river is fed by Lake Granbury and typically hosts some low water levels and slower floats towards the end of the summer so keep this in mind. This is another one of those rivers where a DIY floating trip is easy. There are a ton of road crossings along the river to begin and end your float but it seems like the most popular drop off areas are nearest to Possum Kingdom Lake. If a DIY float isn’t an option for you then check out the fantastic outfitters of the Brazos for a great deal on a tube this summer!
Brazos River Outfitters
Brazos River Adventurez
In our opinion, Brazos River Adventurez is one of the most state of the art outfitters in all of Texas. They are located in Cleburne, Texas which is 80 miles from Dallas and 168 miles from Austin. This place offers the usual camping and floating options but also does some really cool activities for a very fair price. You can go on a bow fishing tour where you fish with a bow and arrow as well as something called catfish noodling. This involves searching for catfish to catch with your bare hands! They have 28 beautiful RV sites right along the Brazos river for spending the night if need be. They are all nestled within a Pecan tree grove and right by their 1000 foot beach area. They offer camping services year round as well and are open every day for your needs. Each camping area will provide you with picnic tables, grills, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits. Ever seen those cool airboats? Well Brazos river adventures can hook you up with an airboat tour at pretty much anytime throughout the year. They also have a bunch of primitive campsites as well if you are packing your own gear. They sell a few things in their gift shop and even supply firewood if you need it. They are located along miles of beach area along the Brazos and should be a place that you check out for sure along the next time you visit the Brazos.
Hillbilly Haven Park
Hillbilly Haven Park is one neat place to stop by when you are near Hwy 20 and the Brazos itself. If you have an RV then things just got even better for you. After all, they advertise themselves as being a camping and RV resort. They are 45 minutes from the metropolis of Fort Worth which makes them super popular for weekend trips and extended summer vacations. They also have a lot of nearby places as well such as Brazos River Catfish Café and Redneck Haven if you need to get your grub on. If you are planning on camping then feel free to bring your own gear or they have tents for you to rent or purchase as well. As far as tubes go, their runs last a good amount of time and you can rent either a canoe or tube. For every four people, they automatically include a cooler tube and rope so your group can tie themselves together and nobody gets lost! Friday and Saturday nights are sure to be the highlight of your week with their live music and karaoke nights on the property. It’s always a great time at Hillbilly Haven so call today for more information. No reservation is necessary for tubing by the way. Their prices are great and the not too crowded Brazos will be the highlight of your summer!
Dick’s Place is another one of those hidden gems along the Brazos River. If you are looking for family fun, or maybe something unique and memorable then you should check out Dicks for sure this summer. They have been around for 20 years and offer you the ability to rent either a canoe or kayak for very reasonable pricing. Their trips start at Lake Whitney dam and end about 8 miles later. They offer shuttle service upstream so that you can float back down to your car at the end of your float. The entire trip takes about 5-6 hours so come prepared with snacks and a change of clothes. Feel free to fish while in the Brazos River as well while at Dick’s. There are a ton of great fishing spots on your way down the river. If you are interested, Dick’s also sells a wide variety of canoes and kayaks if you want to float the river by yourself next time. If you need lodging accommodations, Dicks also has you covered with a cottage in the hills above the Brazos with a deck offering views of the Brazos. Check out Dicks and the surrounding area for sure when you are near the Brazos River this summer.
The Neches River is another one of those relatively unused rivers for tubing. There aren’t many outfitters along this river but feel free to check the water levels and bring your own tube and gear to enjoy a river that most people never get a chance to float down. The Neches River gets its start in Van Zandt County just east of Rhine Lake. It flows for over 415 miles through east Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake just near the Rainbow Bridge. The river is host to two main reservoirs which are a ton of fun. They are called Lake Palestine and B. A. Steinhagen Reservoirs. There are also a lot of cities that this beautiful river flows though, including Tyler, Lufkin, Silsbee, Evadale, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur. Much of the Neches has been untouched by man and is thus in its primitive condition. It happens to flow through Big Thicket National Preserve which contains some very interesting wildlife to view on your float. For most of your trip down the river though, you will be surrounded by beautiful piney woods and lots and lots of shade. We have highlighted two of our favorite outfitters for the Neches but feel free to rent your own gear and enjoy this river for the joy that it is. There are a number of spots to start at and you can float until you and your group get tired. The main starting points are at Rhine Lake Dam, State highway 21, State Highway 7, Us Highway 59, B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir, and US highway 96. Each of these access points will give you a trip down the river for miles and miles. Pack lightly and bring some camping gear if you like.
Neches River Outfitters
Neches River Adventures
Neches River Adventures is just about as good as it gets along the Neches River. They don’t offer tubes, rafts, or canoes, but what they do offer you is just as cool! This company has a gigantic covered excursion boat called Ivory Bill. The Ivory bill is capable of operating the expansive Neches and is quiet enough to allow you a true glimpse into Mother Nature’s wildlife along the banks. In fact, along the Neches you might see up to 200 tree species, 47 different types of mammals, 300 bird species, and an absolute ton of reptiles and amphibians. The Ivory bill is available for public trips as well as private charters. They do a lot of corporate events, social events, field trips, and provide each of their guests with a ton of education on this river and the surrounding flora and fauna. Public trips are on Saturday and you will be mixed with other interested parties. The private charters are for renting out the Ivory Bill for your party only. Prices are very fair and the trip is outstandingly educational. The public tours are just on Saturday mornings and the private charters are available by reservation only 7 days a week.
Eastex Canoe Trails
Eastex Canoe Trails mainly operates along the lower Neches River and is the only outfitter that we know of to service this portion of the river. They give river adventurers a few different options as far as floats go. The most popular trip is their three day and two night adventure where you float a large portion of the Neches and primitively campout at night. They also offer day trips as well as more expansive two day rentals. Reservations are best with Eastex as they book up quick! On any of their number of trips you can enjoy primitive flora, wildlife, amazing scenery, as well as white sandbars. Parking over at Eastex is free which is always a plus. They will also provide shuttle service to help you and your group avoid a bunch of walking. They use these shuttles to tow your canoes as well as providing assistance with getting into and out of the water. When you are done with your trip, just give them a call and they will be right over to pick you up. They have a number of different options as far as canoes rentals go. At the time of the writing of this guide, they have a couple different types of canoes and kayaks, including tandem kayaks. They have trips that last two hours and on up to five days. Be sure to call for more information and details. Don’t let the lack of outfitters along the Neches deter you from floating it. Be sure to let the good folks at Eastex facilitate a great time for you and your party this summer!
The Medina River is also one of those rivers that is a little bit of a drive from Austin as well. It’s located in the Medina Valley and is almost exactly 103 miles from downtown Austin but it’s highly recommended based on its beauty and secluded atmosphere. If you have friends or family in San Antonio then this would be a good floating river as it’s only 67 miles from there. The Medina River gets its start at the Edwards Plateau in Northwest Bandera County. It then merges downstream with the San Antonio River when it hits southern Bexar County. It flows for a total of 120 miles making it a decent sized Texas river to float down. The Medina gets its water flow from rainfall as well as springs that feed the river due to the Balcones Fault. The Medina is one of those calm rivers where you will have plenty of time to think and reflect on nature’s beauty while getting your float on. After all, it’s not a well populated river and a lot of it remains untouched by man. Some of the only maneuvering you will have to do while floating down this river are some 90 degree turns and be sure to watch out for low overhanging branches. People say that the Medina River is the most scenic and fun filled rivers in all of Texas which is saying a lot. It boasts small and manageable rapids throughout the crystal clear water and if you aren’t interested in tubing the Medina, they also offer fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and two 18 hole golf courses along the river for you to enjoy.
Medina River Outfitters
Medina River Ranch Resort
The Medina River Ranch Resort is everything you will want or even need when spending some time near the Medina River. They offer hunting packages, fishing packages, horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting, guided tours, and a ton of lodging accommodations if you are tired from being on the water all day. Medina River Ranch is also a popular place to hold special events such as corporate, social functions, as well as weddings. Call early to reserve though because they book out fast! Medina River Ranch does not rent out tubes or kayaks, or anything of the sort, but they make up for this by renting out pontoon boats. You can take these pontoon boats all throughout the Medina River and back if you so choose. They seat a large number of people comfortably and are a ton of fun for everyone involved.
S.A. Kayak Rentals
Of all the outfitters we have featured in this guide, perhaps SA Kayak Rentals is the most unique and useful. They are a mobile kayak rental business and let us explain exactly what that means for you. This means that they will come to you and deliver all necessary items to float down the Medina River. Yep, you heard that right, if you rent at least two kayaks, they will show up at any San Antonio park free of charge fully equipped with your floating gear. If this for some reason doesn’t work for you, feel free to go to them as well for your water equipment. They only offer kayak rentals, no tubes, but kayaks are a great way to experience the Medina River alone, or with your family and friends. They have a few different types of kayaks to choose from. Their inventory includes an eight foot or smaller kayak, 10 footers, tandem, and fishing kayaks. At the time of this writing, they have six varieties of kayaks for you to choose from. S.A. Kayak Rentals and their staff are also super knowledgeable about the river and where it’s best to get in and out. Give them a call today and make them come to you!
The Nueces River is actually quite a way from downtown Austin but is an absolute blast in every respect. It’s situated 195 miles from the city but this shouldn’t deter the adventuresome. Even if you don’t have a car, there are a ton of transportation options available to you such as party buses, and shuttle buses that will take you to and from the river. The Nueces flows for 315 miles throughout central and southern Texas. It drains into the Gulf of Mexico right near the town of Mathis. It is the southernmost major river in Texas, Northeast of the Rio Grande. It gets its start northwest of San Antonio in the Edwards Plateau in Real County and flows south to south east until hitting the Gulf of Mexico. The river hardly ever flows except when it rains so keep this in mind if you want to make the trek down there to float it. The Nueces River is known for its crystal clear water and spring fed streams. It’s also not one of the main rivers that people float so you can enjoy some peace and quiet along its banks. Wildlife is also very abundant here and you should keep an eye out for the hundreds of different types of flora and fauna in the area.
Nueces River Outfitters
Nueces River Adventures
Nueces River Adventures is another one of these outfitters that has the complete package for anyone wanting to spend some time in or around the Nueces River. They have camping, kayak rentals, swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and mountain biking. Please be aware that this is not a public location though. It’s located on a private ranch located in this beautiful area right along the River. What’s very neat about Nueces River Adventures is that they are centrally located and can access the Nueces, Frio, and Sabinal Canyon Rivers rather easily. They are located just outside of the city of Uvalde Texas. These guys advertise that they provide tubers with a fully accommodated trip down the river. Just bring yourself! They are also very big on fishing and their tubing packages will help you target Large Mouth and Guadalupe Bass. Catch and release of course but it’s fun nonetheless.
Chalk Bluff River Resort
Chalk Bluff literally has everything you need for fun while near the Nueces River. It’s located in Uvalde, Texas just off Chalk Bluff Road. They offer everything possible for their guests to enjoy the Nueces as well as the surrounding area. This includes tubing and kayaking, they also have a whole host of other activities such as hiking, fishing, birdwatching, animal petting, and even camping. Chalk Bluff is the perfect spot for your next family getaway, wedding, family reunion, or any type of retreat you can imagine. We would put this place in the same category as a wilderness retreat. They have special cabins and primitive camping spots for you and your guests to enjoy a good night’s rest. On the property they have a bunch of animals for you to interact with as well. Feel free to just explore the property for hours and you still won’t see it all.
The Trinity River although not very common as far as tubing goes, is actually a force to be reckoned with. It’s just over 710 miles long and is actually the longest river that flows entirely within the borders of Texas. It gets its beginning in north Texas just a few miles south of the beautiful Red River. The Trinity has four branches and they are named as follows, The West Fork, The Clear Fork, the Elm fork, and the East Fork. From these tributaries, it eventually flows south until it hits the Gulf of Mexico. The Trinity is also the closest river to Dallas to go tubing. Check out the Trinity River Vision Authority’s website as they frequently host tubing events on the Trinity. Also, while near the Trinity, be sure to check out Panther Island Pavillion which frequently hosts musical events all summer long.
Trinity River Outfitters
Backwoods Paddlesports is the latest and greatest way to get you and your group down the Trinity River. It’s located in the absolutely stunning Panther Island Pavilion so when you get done tubing, kayaking, or using one of their SUP boards to float the river, you can enjoy virtually daily concerts, festivals, and adventures. It’s located right by Fort Worth so if you happen to live near there or are traveling there, you just have to check this place out. As stated earlier, they rent out tubes, kayaks, SUP’s, and even canoes to help you and your group navigate the Trinity. When going down this river, it flows right past downtown Fort Worth so you and your group will get a new perspective on Texas’s beloved city. Nearby to Panther’s pavilion, there is a beach that is open 7 days a week to the public. Check it out! The Trinity River is pretty calm and harmless but excitingly beautiful. It’s great for children and other groups looking to avoid the other crowded Texas rivers. Backwoods Paddlesports will help you out in a big way should you decide to float this river. They have years of experience doing this and their level of customer care is top notch. Don’t miss them!
The Colorado River flows for 1450 miles across parts of seven states and some of northern Mexico. It begins in the central Rocky Mountains and flows somewhat southwest and then south where it eventually ends in Mexico. The Colorado is known for its canyons and whitewater rapids as well as being a vital source of water for people up and down the river. Both the river and its tributaries are controlled by an elaborate system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts. Because of its size, it offers pretty much anything that a floater could possible want in a river. You will encounter huge rapids, calm waters, boulders, and more along this beautiful river.
Colorado River Outfitters
Bastrop River Co
This place is a must check out if you plan on tubing, kayaking, or virtually any other type of experience in the waters of the Colorado River! They are conveniently located right next to the Old Iron Bridge in downtown Bastrop. This is the river you want to go down if you want to avoid the crowds that you typically encounter on the Guadalupe or San Marcos Rivers especially. Being a good distance away from Austin and Dallas, this river doesn’t draw the crowds that the other rivers bring. Bastrop offers you a planned out 2-3 hour trip down the river if you so choose. They have it all for any group or single person party. They rent out kayaks, tubes, canoes, and even SUP’s, which are a blast by the way! There is no reservation needed and they even offer a moonlight trip down the river. How cool is that? Their kayaks hold one or two people, their canoes hold two or three, and the Sup’s are one person obviously. If you are in need of a cooler tube then they also offer those for reasonable pricing. They offer shuttle services to help you and your group avoid walking too much as well which is a nice touch in an outfitter. They also offer primitive camping sites on any of their unique islands. It’s a blast! They don’t just specialize in water activities though. They also offer retreats and corporate or group team building activities. This place knows what they are doing and it shows. They got their start in 2011 but soon thereafter changed owners and the rest is history! If you are of the fishing type and want to fish, they also offer a ton of options for you along the Colorado River as well!
TG Canoe Livery
This outfitter located downtown Austin as well as along the San Marcos River are epic places to check out. Not only do they facilitate kayak and canoe rentals, they also sell a ton of boats, other water crafts, lighting systems, and even the highly coveted Orion coolers to the public. The Austin location services a number of nearby lakes and the Colorado River just downstream of Austin. The San Marcos location services the beautiful San Marcos River. Check out their website for more up to date details! They don’t allow alcohol at either of their locations and children must be seven or greater to rent one of their river toys. They have a number of trips available to you on the Colorado River which range from short and leisurely to long and arduous. Prices are very affordable and you can rent canoes, kayaks, boats, and even more. They also do watercraft repairs as well and brag that they have 30+ years of experience in servicing repairs. TG Canoe isn’t just a place to rent a watercraft though, this place has it all including lessons on using your canoe or kayak, and water devices made for fishing. Check them out for sure before you commit to using any other outfitter along the beautiful San Marcos or Colorado Rivers. Be sure to call for details on each of these rivers for more up to date information.
Tips For Success On The River!
Tennis shoes or river sandals are highly recommended when floating down any of the rivers mentioned in this guide. Please note that flip flops might sound like a great idea but can actually have disastrous consequences. This type of footwear provides little protection from the river and its inevitable obstacles such as boulders, sharp rocks, broken glass, and things you can’t even imagine yet. Also, flip flops slip off your feet very easily while tubing and can float down the river never to be seen again. If for some reason you forget your river shoes, check with your chosen outfitter to see if they allow you to rent a suitable pair. Better to be safe than sorry on the river. We always hear horror stories of people who actually need to go see a doctor or hospital as a result of improper footwear while in the river. You are probably going to want to explore the banks of the rivers as well so be sure to come prepared with appropriate shoes or sandals.
Sun screen is necessary pretty much anytime you spend time on the rivers in this guide. In Central Texas, the sun is hot and intense and you should bring something to protect your skin with. You know your body and what SPF sun screen you might need, so don’t forget this item. If you do, the next day’s sunburn will be a nightmare especially if it’s bad enough to cause sun poisoning. You should apply sunscreen before and during your water adventures in any river in Texas. This is a given and should be a no brainer.
It’s also a great idea for both women and men to wear some sort of headwear and sunglasses. Its miserable having to squint throughout your entire rafting trip because you forgot your sun glasses and favorite hat. The Texas sun is intense and you will thank us for this tip. Sun screen is often not enough to allow for comfort on the water. It only protects the skin, not the eyes.
Securing Sunglasses and Prescription Eyewear
This is perhaps the most commonly made mistake for any new tuber or water adventurer in Texas. If you hit any rapids or turbulence during your trip, it is possible that your eyewear, prescription or non-prescription, will get knocked right off your face. This type of occurrence happens a lot. You will need to purchase something called float bobbers that attach to your glasses so they float on the water opposed to sinking immediately. Many of these float bobbers also attach to you as well so that they can be easily retrieved from the water. There really isn’t another way around this unless you leave your glasses at home and brave the sun without them. Perhaps you could get away without float bobbers and other attachments on the slower rivers but this is never recommended.
Do not wear clothing that will tangle or restrict your ability to swim which could cause you to drown if you fall out of your tube. Do not wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, scarves, coats, jackets, long dresses, etc. Basically avoid loose or baggy clothing of any type. Make sure your arms and legs have free movement at all times while you are tubing or when you are in the water. You would be surprised but when clothing gets wet, it doubles and even triples in weight. People that aren’t strong swimmers might find it difficult to reach the surface of the water if they fall overboard while wearing loose and heavy clothing. Just be aware of this and have a safe and enjoyable time in the water.
Water is pretty essential and should be included along with your alcohol for a river trip. Yes, technically, you can drink the river water but you shouldn’t have to resort to that. People get dehydrated all the time on these rivers and bottled water prevents that. Don’t just bring alcohol and think you will be okay. Alcohol dehydrates the body and things can get out of control fast if you are out in the hot sun with beer, but not water. Be sure to drink some water between alcoholic drinks as well to avoid nasty hangovers the next day. The secret is to stay hydrated. Drink as much water as you can, even when not thirsty to avoid any problems on your float.
Be responsible with alcohol on the river. Avoid glass bottles since those have all but been completely banned in any of Texas’ rivers. Also, be smart about drinking and floating. Be of legal age and just like any other drinking establishment, be responsible with it. You don’t want to turn a perfectly awesome rafting trip into a disaster by getting too drunk, too rowdy, or get too tired. Alcohol on the river can be a lot of fun but if it gets out of control, it can be a nightmare. Be sure to check the river laws with your local outfitter and find out their particular laws and restrictions before making a reservation. As mentioned earlier, do not bring glass or even styrofoam coolers. There are laws on most of the rivers in Texas that state you are not allowed to bring glass or styrofoam containers into the water. Glass is not allowed for obvious reasons and styrofoam is banned because it breaks up so easily in the water and pollutes the river. To get past this, bring a cooler or rent one from your outfitter. You can usually buy or rent a plastic one that holds just as many beverages as a styrofoam one would. Instead of bringing glass bottles, bring aluminum cans and put your hard liquor in a non-glass container just to be safe.
This tip should be pretty obvious but people every year need to be reminded not to bring valuables onto the river. This even applies to not so obvious items such as wedding rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. You would be surprised but your fingers shrink and get slippery when you have been in the water for an extended period of time. Rings fall off into the water all summer long and most of them are never found. Also, be sure to leave cell phones, wallets, and any other valuables at home or in the car at least. If you are going to be using an outfitter, ask them if they have lockers to store your belongings in. If you are braving the river with your own tube then please leave important items at home or in the car.
This one might seem weird but always bring cash when planning on floating down any of the rivers in this guide. Some places don’t accept credit cards and you don’t want to be stuck without any money. Certain outfitter will also ask for collateral, such as a cash deposit, your driver’s license, or even your car keys so be aware of this and plan accordingly.
Make a Reservation
Reserve ahead of time with an outfitter if you can. This will speed up the process as well as guarantee you the tubes you and your friends need for floating. You never want to drive out to the river and find out that all their tubes are rented out. What a bummer that would be! Make a reservation just to be safe.
If you are not a strong swimmer then either buy or rent a life jacket. Check with your outfitter of choice for that particular rivers’ laws regarding life jackets. In some places they are optional, others require them, and for almost all the rivers, children under a certain age must have them on while in the water. Some outfitters provide them free and others charge a small fee to rent them. We recommend you use them no matter what.
There are not restrictions we are aware of regarding dogs going into the water with you. Outfitters typically welcome dogs going tubing and usually allow them to ride on their shuttles as well. With that being said, be sure to ask before you bring your furry friend to their establishment. When it comes to animals, you are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of your pet at all times. This includes its behavior towards other people, other dogs, and animals you encounter going down the river. Your outfitter is not responsible for your dog in any regard or manner. Not all dogs are suited for river tubing though. There are both inherent and unknown risks and dangers on the rivers, and these include but are not limited to injury or loss of life for you and your dog. Know your pet’s abilities and make your decisions accordingly. Outfitters typically have a no refund policy, so if it turns out your dog does not like tubing, there are no refunds. Some people would like their dogs to wear a life jacket while tubing or swimming, but be prepared and bring your own doggy jacket unless your outfitter has dog vests in stock. For Comal County, an ordinance requires all dogs to be on a leash and there is a fine of up to $500 for dogs running loose. Many campgrounds do not allow dogs and other pets anyway so have your trip planned out if you are bringing your pet dog. Check with every place you plan on frequenting while going down the river on whether or not pets are recommended or allowed.
This section is mainly for the DIY floaters. The type of people out there that have their own tubes or rafts. There are a ton of areas to safely get to the river and park close by but check in advance for available parking. If you choose to enter or exit the river in a not so common location then just be careful to park legally. There is nothing worse than having an awesome day on the river and then finding out that your car has been towed. Situations like this make for a sour day.
You really shouldn’t risk bringing your car or house keys with you into the water. Keys fall out of pockets while tubing all summer long. You’re having a great day on the river and then you lose your keys. Big time bummer. If you are using an outfitter, they usually have lockers for you to use. Be sure to use them opposed to risking it on the water. What some people do is to hide the keys safely near the car or tie them to your bathing suit. Be creative. Just don’t bring your keys on any rivers featured in this guide. They don’t float!
All over the state of Texas, they sell mesh bags to be used as trash bags for your trip down the river. Be sure to use them. Help keep the rivers in the same condition that you found them in. If you plan on going on an extended float, be sure to plan for how to dispose of your trash. You are going to eat and drink most likely so have somewhere where you can store your trash until you can exit the water. If you don’t feel like purchasing a mesh bag, then potato sacks work just as well. To sum it all up, just make sure you have something or somewhere to keep your trash contained and not floating down the river.
Always Check River Conditions
It’s always a good idea to check the water levels of the river you plan on floating down. Water levels in some of the rivers featured in this guide vary wildly throughout the year. From being unable to tube at all to being flooded beyond belief. Know the water before you enter it. The water levels can either cause your trip to be smooth sailing or full of huge rapids. In some cases, water levels can actually make the river dangerous. Great places to check on the levels would be your outfitter. They have been maneuvering the rivers for decades and should know if it’s safe for you or not. Give them a call first!
Jumping From Bridges
Do not jump from the bridges into the water. Not only is this not a smart idea because you never know what is below the surface of the river but also because it is illegal. If the police see you jumping from bridges, you will be fined! Use common sense and avoid any trouble while on the water for the best possible time in the river.
Fireworks, Fire Arms, and Fires
Fireworks and firearms are not permitted in most campgrounds in this guide. Polices vary concerning campfires as county fire bans may be in place when you plan on camping out. Again, the best form of advice we can give in this guide would be to check with your outfitter regarding fireworks, arms, and camp fires. You want to abide by all local laws on your trip down the river. Better to be safe than fined by the police!
Ziploc baggies are very useful when floating down the river. They sell them in virtually every grocery store in the state of Texas and they don’t cost an arm and a leg. They also have various sizes depending on what you want to keep dry. Some people like to bring their music on the river with them and keep the electrical portion in a baggie. Other uses for these baggies are to keep snacks, cell phones, and other valuables dry. Whatever you need to keep waterproof, Ziploc baggies are a life saver!
Be sure to bring dry clothing and towels and keep these items in your car until you get off the river. It’s always great to get out of those wet clothes after a float. Trust us!
Snacks are always great while floating down any of the rivers in this guide. You would be amazed at how hungry you get on a float. Again, be sure to plan ahead for your trash with a mesh bag of some sort. Also, be smart with the kinds of snacks you bring. Easy items like granola bars, sandwiches, etc. are all great options. Lasagna, spaghetti, or cupcakes might not be the best idea. Use common sense!
You might be thinking that this is going to be easy no matter what river you choose to raft or tube down. This is hardly the case. Obviously it depends on what river you choose but you never know what you are going to encounter while going down a Texas river. Children should generally be 5-7 years of age or older in most cases. Check with the outfitter you plan on using for recommendations regarding little ones. The elderly, sick, and children under five should probably stay out of the water. There are no life guards along these rivers for obvious reasons. People do drown and get injured every year. Be absolutely sure that you and your guests are in good health and just to be even more secure, make sure you and your guests can swim. It’s also risky to float down any river in Texas alone. It is usually not a requirement from the outfitters but the buddy system works. With two or more people, if one gets hurt then at least they have a friend to help get them the assistance they need in time. There is no law saying you can’t go by yourself but common sense and years of experience have shown us that you should at least bring a friend to watch your back. Also, be sure to tell at least one friend or family member that you plan on going tubing that day and which river you have chosen. It’s always a good idea to let people know where you will be just in case something happens and you don’t return on time. A friend or trusted family member will be able to vouch for your whereabouts. Medical releases for the elderly and those with chronic issues are highly recommended for a river trip.
It’s always a great idea to bring a cheap waterproof camera with you on the water. You will want to capture the fun you all are having and there is no better way to do this than to take photos. Leave the high dollar cameras at home though. Only bring it if it is completely waterproof. Use common sense!
It has been a pleasure for Austin Party Ride to compile this expansive guide of river fun in and around the Austin area. It’s a blast for us to transport guests to and from these many river destinations all summer long for years now. Tubing seems to never get old and whether you are a seasoned professional or a newbie, you will be welcomed with open arms at all of the outfitters, restaurants, and lodging areas. Austin is known as a really fun place and the people here are very accommodating and knowledgeable about everything water related. On your next trip to Austin, be sure to check out the rivers and rent a tube and see for yourself what literally millions of people are raving about!