Looking for a way to escape the heat on those hot summer days? Well, if you are a Texan or are visiting the Lone Star State, we have a refreshing solution for you: plan a river float trip on one of Texas‘ incredible rivers. Whether you are on an inner tube, a kayak, or a canoe, there is a breathtaking Texas river for you to explore and enjoy.
While a majority of the most popular rivers to float are located in central Texas and the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, you can even find some closer to Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston for a quick getaway from the big city. Float trips are a guaranteed time to soak in that sun while simultaneously having family-friendly fun in the cold waters of a glorious spring-fed Texas river.
8 Best Texas Float Trips
1. San Marcos River
Located within a quick drive of both San Antonio and Austin, the San Marcos River has some of the most crystal-clear waters in the state. Centered around Texas State University, this small town is a hot spot for tubing trips, canoeing, and kayaking. The river stays at a year-round temperature of 72 degrees and is home to a multitude of rare and endangered species. The “upper portion” is the most frequented section for floating and usually ends at Rio Vista Dam for picnics and more playtime. There are a handful of river outfitters for tube rentals, including Cool River Ranch, Lion’s Club, Pecan Park, Don’s Fish Camp, and Texas State Tubes.
2. Comal River
The Comal River starts at the Comal Springs in Landa Park and flows 2.5 miles through the entirety of the city limits of New Braunfels before it meets up with the Guadalupe River. Early Spanish accounts say that the Comal was once called the “Little Guadalupe,” but locals today call it the “longest shortest river in the world”. The Comal River is also where one of the top waterparks in the world is located, Schlitterbahn.
The Comal also boasts a year-round temperature of around 72 degrees and is a great family-friendly option for a float trip, as it’s less intense than other Texas rivers on this list. However, there is one man-made chute that diverts tubers around a dam. River tubing outfitters for rentals on the Comal include ATXcursions, Corner Tubes, Rockin’ R River Rides, and Landa Falls.
3. Guadalupe River
Arguably the most fun river float trip in Texas, the Guadalupe River is the longest river in the central Texas area. Flowing from Kerr County all the way into the San Antonio Bay at the Gulf of Mexico. This dammed river features Canyon Dam (forming Canyon Lake) and for simplicity’s sake, is split into the upper and lower sections.
The upper portion in the Texas Hill Country has faster waters and limestone banks for taking pit stops as well as magnificent pecan and bald cypress trees for shade. The lower portion starts at Canyon Lake and has six reservoir dams along the way. While there are dozens of places to get your tube rentals from, some favorites include Whitewater Sports, Rockin’ R River Rides, Tube Haus, and Gruene River Company.
4. Frio River
If you are looking for a more secluding floating option, the Frio River (“cold” in Spanish) is the river trip for you. Tubers will not be disappointed with 47 miles of pristine river to float on hot summer days. Just be sure to check the river flow water levels to make sure the water is high enough to enjoy. Some parts of the river reside in dry counties, so keep that in mind if partaking in alcoholic beverages. Andy’s on River Road, Happy Hollow Grocery, and Neal’s Lodges all provide tube rentals for the Frio River — most are located in Concan, Texas, near Garner State Park
5. Brazos River
Perfect the majority of the year for kayaking, canoeing, and inner tubing, the Brazos River presents another wonderful option for a river rafting trip. While this one is 170 miles from Austin and 130 from Dallas, it is one hundred percent worth the trip. As the river flow is calmer with little to no rapids, the Brazos is a great option for families. Ideal for a “D-I-Y” float trip, most tubers put in at Possum Kingdom Lake. However, if you want to rent from an outfitter, local companies include Brazos River Adventures, Dick’s Place, and Hillbilly Haven Park (817-341-4009).
6. Medina River
The Medina River starts off at the Edwards Plateau in northwest Bandera County then merges with the San Antonio River in Bexar County. With 120 miles of mainly secluded and beautiful riverfront, the Medina River is ideal if you are looking to get away from people and city noises. River outfitters for the Medina include Medina River Ranch Resort, S.A. Kayak Rentals, and Medina River Company.
7. The Trinity River
When thinking of river trips in Texas, usually the Trinity River is not the first one that comes to mind. However, Trinity River is actually the longest river that flows entirely within the borders of the Lone Star State. (It’s over 710 miles!) This is the closest river to the Dallas and Fort Worth area for a day of river floating. You rent rafting devices from Backwoods Paddlesports.
8. South Llano River
A tributary of the mighty Colorado River with two spring-fed tributaries located just northwest of Austin, the Llano River presents more opportunities for soaking up the sun! The North and South Llano merge together east of a Junction, Texas, where the Llano River “proper” starts. This river is a gem for anglers but floaters can also enjoy its bountiful beauty. A popular “put-in” spot is Boone’s crossing and then floating State Park. You can also put in at State Park and get out of Flat Rock. South Llano River Cabins or Sun & Fun Canoe rentals do not rent tubes but they do rent other rafting devices!
Important Information for Float Trips
When planning and embarking on a Texas float trip, be sure to always check river levels as recent rains (or lack of rains) can make tubing or rafting dangerous or inaccessible. Always follow local guidelines as far as alcohol consumption and other important issues are concerned. Frequently apply sunscreen (that is river-safe!) and stay away from styrofoam and other one-use plastics that may end up as litter in the river.
As always, pick up ALL of your trash. Bring a bag, take it with you, and dispose of your waste responsibly. Do NOT mess with Texas. If you are partaking in alcohol on the river, always have a designated driver or a safe ride home.
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