White Water Rafting In Texas

Have you ever considered going white water rafting in Texas?

Are there good opportunities for rafting throughout the state?

Does the white water rafting Texas experience differ from other places?

If you’ve never considered rafting in Texas, you may want to think about it. Although Texas might not be the first state many people associate with whitewater rafting, there are nevertheless plenty of great places to go if you’re looking for an excellent rafting experience.

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In this article, we’ll show you three of our top picks for Texas-based whitewater rafting. For each location, we’ll give you some basics and help you understand how long you’ll potentially be out on the water when rafting these rivers as well as any pros and cons you should consider before you plan your trip.

Remember that, no matter which river you choose, you should always do some additional research and find out whether or not it’s suitable for you and everyone else who may be joining you . Some rivers are more intense than others, and some may be too much of a challenge for certain people.

It’s also important to plan rafting trips ahead of time, so you can call and book your seat on the raft. This way, you don’t have to worry about scrambling to make your vacation perfect at the last minute.

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Read on to find out more about rafting opportunities in Texas!


Option #1. Big Bend National Park

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced
Cost: $$$
Location: Lajitas, Texas
Trip durations available: Half-Day, Full-Day, Two-Day, and Multi-Day

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If you’re looking for an incredible adventure you just can’t miss when it comes to white water rafting in Texas, the Big Bend National Park is sure to please! There are many different rafting locations and opportunities within this National Park, and there’s a little something for everyone.

  • Santa Elena Canyon: This portion of the river offers plenty of wildlife viewing and includes one rapid that can be Class IV when the water levels are high enough.
  • Mariscal Canyon: This is an extremely out-of-the-way location with mostly Class II rapids and a great chance to float along the river. Choose this canyon when you’re looking for a very private getaway.
  • Boquillas Canyon: Usually only available as part of a two-day or multi-day trip, this is an intermediate adventure that allows plenty of viewing and floating comfortably as well as a few rapids for extra entertainment.
  • There is a very low-impact beginner raft available at Big Bend Ranch State Park that’s perfect for families and riders who may have some physical limitations.
  • Some of the portions of the rivers available within the National Park are very advanced and can be challenging for more experienced rafters.
  • The water levels may be too low for the majority of these rafting trips, and in fact often are, so many rafting companies will offer canoeing as a backup option for anyone whose trip cannot be taken on a raft.
  • These are more commonly floating trips rather than high-impact rafting trips, with just a few exceptions.

Option #2. Rio Grande Gorge

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Cost: $$
Location: Taos, New Mexico
Trip durations available: Full-Day

To begin with, it’s important to note that this river rafting experience is not in Texas, but is in fact in New Mexico. However, if you’re looking for a truly intense rafting experience with plenty of whitewater rapids to enjoy, this is the closest location to Texas available. Many Texas-based rafting enthusiasts go out of their way at least once a year to raft in the Rio Grande Gorge because of its proximity and its high-quality rapids, too.

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  • Depending on the rafting company you go with, you can find many full-day adventures on the Rio Grande that incorporate rapids of several different difficulty classes.
  • Most day-length trips include a break and lunch as well as plenty of guided information about the area.
  • Children must be at least 13 years of age to safely raft on the Rio Grande.
  • Portions of the river may be very crowded depending on the time of year when you visit.

Option #3. Guadalupe River

Difficulty: Beginner
Cost: $$
Location: Canyon Lake, TX
Trip durations available: Quarter-Day, Half-Day

The Guadalupe River provides ample opportunities for beginners to float and paddle their way through lush scenery and beautiful Texas sights. The vast majority of the tours offered on the Guadalupe River are innertube-based and do not take place on a raft; however, some are available on rafts as well, depending on the company you end up going with. Even the tubing trips are available with a guide, however, so you can learn about the area and make sure you have the best and safest possible experience when enjoying your time on the river.

  • There are plenty of floating opportunities available for families and beginners of all ages just looking to get their feet wet in Texas.
  • It’s easy to find this river, and the location is populated during peak season, so there’s no risk of tubing completely alone.
  • It may be impossible to stop your tour ahead of time if you choose to, because much of the land surrounding the river is private property.
  • There are many restrictions when it comes to bringing items along on this river, so be sure to read up on these ahead of time.
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As you can see, there are plenty of good options to pick from when you want to go rafting in Texas. Depending on the skill level of you and everyone else in your party, you may be able to find one or more rivers to help meet all your needs.

But is white water rafting really the only thing you can do during your Texas outdoor vacation? What are some other activities you might want to try while you’re in Texas? Here are just some of the fun and exciting outdoor activities you might want to consider trying on your next trip to Texas:

  • Tubing:One of the most popular outdoor activities in Texas is tubing. Many rivers that are too calm for whitewater rafting can provide excellent opportunities for tubing, and families and individuals alike regularly enjoy drifting down these rivers and enjoying the scenery as they go.
  • White water kayaking:Kayaking is another fun alternative that’s popular in Texas. Unlike rafting, most kayaks only hold one person, so kayaking is a solo event. You can, however, often book a kayaking trip with a group that travels together down the river if you’re still looking for something you can participate in with your whole family.
  • Non-water activities:Of course, there is plenty of fun to be had outside the water, too! With many hiking, biking, and horseback riding adventures throughout the state, you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to do when you’re looking to fill up your vacation with fun in the sun in Texas.

No matter which activities you plan, be sure you call ahead, and make sure everyone in your party dresses accordingly for each activity, too. Brush up on safety tips and share them with everyone who will be traveling with you. And remember to always listen to your tour guides!

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Where and How to Go Tubing in Texas

Justine Harrington is a TripSavvy writer based in Austin, Texas, where she covers topics spanning travel, food & drink, lifestyle, culture, social advocacy, and the outdoors.

Frio River 5

Nothing says summer in Texas like a float trip.

For those who’ve never been (or, gasp, those who may have never even heard the term “floating”), a day spent lazily floating in an inner tube down a Texas river is some of the most fun you could ever hope to have. Floating (or “tubing”; the terms are interchangeable) generally takes anywhere from one to several hours, depending on which river you’re on, which outfitter you book with (although you can also opt to go it alone), and how many stops you make along the way. No, you don’t need a paddle, a helmet, or any other gear (Colorado, this ain’t); depending on the river, you may experience some rapids and deep areas where you can’t touch the bottom, but you shouldn’t need anything to navigate or paddle with.

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Basically, your day on the river looks like this: You’ll put all your snacks and drinks in a cooler, tie the cooler to one person’s tube, and then hop in and leisurely float to your destination. And, the best part is, given the abundance of floatable rivers in Texas, you can really customize your experience—do you want to party like it’s Mardi Gras? Sink into a state of utter relaxation, becoming one with the water and the sky? See some of the best natural scenery that Texas has to offer? Whatever you’re craving, there’s a river for it; see below for details.

Where to Go

The Lone Star State is blessed with some incredibly scenic rivers, no two of which are the same. We’re narrowing it down to the top five rivers here (with honorable mentions down below), but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Frio River. Emerald-green moss and giant cypress trees thronging the riverbank, sun-bleached limestone cliffs, glassy, crystal-clear waters. the Frio scenery is just plain gorgeous. Accessible lodging and tubing can be found at Garner State Park or in the close-by towns of Leaky and Concan. (Recommended outfitters include Tube Texas and Josh’s Frio River Outfitter.)
  • Nueces River. The Nueces is easily Texas’s prettiest river, and it’s also one of its most remote/least well-known. You’ll be blown away by the water quality here—the startlingly clear, blue-green is Caribbean-like in color. The Nueces is rather isolated—flowing from Real County, in southwest Texas, to the Gulf—which is all part of the fun, of course. (You’ll find tubing outfitters in the nearby town of Camp Wood.)
  • San Marcos River. The spring-fed San Marcos has a (well-earned) reputation for being the party river of Texas, with its location that runs right through Texas State University. A day on the San Marcos is like a night out on Bourbon Street, and you will end up shotgunning Lone Stars at some point. You’ve been warned. (The city park behind Strahan Baseball Stadium is the best entry point, outfitter options include Tube Texas, Texas State Tubes, and Tubes San Marcos.)
  • Guadalupe River. Like the San Marcos River, the Guadalupe (or the Guad, for those in the know) is always crammed with beer-guzzling, Texas flag-waving revelers blasting Kid Rock from a giant speaker. It’s popular for a reason: The stately bald cypress trees and flowing green waters are a sight to behold. You can opt for a two-hour, four-hour, or six-hour float, and cabins and campsites can be found all through Central Texas, in San Marcos, New Braunfels, Gruene, and other towns. (Outfitter options include Tube Texas, Tube Haus, Andy’s River Toobs.)
  • Medina River. While the Guadalupe and San Marcos are always packed with people, the lovely Medina is usually much more peaceful. It’s definitely more of a meditative experience than a party zone. (Check out the Medina River Company, in Bandera, for tube/shuttle services.)

When to Go

Tube season in Texas typically stretches from late March/April to September, with the busiest months being June, July, and August. If you want to avoid crowds, your best bet is to go in March, April, or September, depending on the weather.

What to Bring

If you’re not adequately prepared, your day on the river can go from fun to not-so-fun, fast. First off, you’ll need two tubes: one for your body and one for your cooler. Other than via outfitters, you can find tubes at Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, Target, or any other similar box store.

Aside from tubes, the most important thing to bring is sun protection. If you forget your sunscreen/sun hat/sun shirt at home, then you may as well cancel your trip—that white-hot Texas sun is no joke, especially in July and August (and especially if you’ll be out all day). And, actually remembering to reapply sunscreen is everything.

Proper sun protection aside, other key ingredients for a good time on the river include a cooler packed with ice, plenty of water (aside from the other drinks of your choice), snacks, and a trash bag—don’t be the super-gross person who pollutes the river with your beer cans and plastic wrappers. And if you’re planning on bringing your phone, a (very) waterproof case is a must. Oh, and keep in mind that glass and Styrofoam aren’t allowed, no matter where you go; instead, bring cans, or, you know, pour your chilled rose into a stainless steel thermos. Whatever floats your boat.

Where to Book

There are multiple outfitting companies available at the most popular tubing rivers in Texas. Most will shuttle you up the river and pick you back up when you’re done floating; some will take you back to your car, while others will take you back to the outfitter parking lot. Depending on the river/route you’re doing, it’s also possible to show up with your own tubes and float to your campsite or cabin or back to your car. For a full list of reputable tubing outfitters, see here.

Texas’ Best Float Trips: The Top Tubing Destinations and Hidden River Escapes

Float trips are a favorite Texas summer past time. (Photo courtesy of Rockin' R River Rides)

N othing says Texas summer like a float trip. As temperatures skyrocket into the triple digits (and stay there), the best way to beat the heat is one of the Lone Star State’s favorite past times.

You’ve seen the heat advisories, now take our advice: a tubing trip down the river is just what you need.

No two float trips are the same. Trips range from a two-hours-long getaway to an all-day excursion. If you’re into the scenic views, you can take in everything from cypress trees to limestone bluffs and even urban landscapes if the river takes a turn through the city.

Then there’s the mood — from laidback and serene to Mardi Gras.

PaperCity’s rounded up the top five rivers for float trips this summer, and one honorable mention. They cover every kind of river retreat.

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A few must-haves on your float: sunscreen — reapplying is everything — a cooler, water, drinks of your choice, koozies, snacks and a trash bag. What not to bring: your expensive new sunglasses, no matter how cute. You’re guaranteed to lose them, and no one wants you losing it on the trip.

Gifts for Him

You can bring your own tubes to these spots, but stopping by an outfitter is highly recommended for tube rental and shuttles.

So go ahead. Float on.

Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe is nothing short of legendary. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone brings up float trips. These are the waters you want if you’re down to get a little fratty in a big group. Think about it — all the fun of a party without even having to stand up.

It’s rowdy-meets-relaxing, especially on holiday weekends. Imagine a bevy of friends with boozy beverages in hand while you float past limestone bluffs and bald cypress trees. Alcohol is definitely approved. Just don’t you dare bring Styrofoam or glass.

Floats can take you anywhere from two hours to six hours, depending on where you take off. The famous Horseshoe Loop is a quintessential section for floaters. You can float for two and a half to three hours before you can hop off on the exit by the bridge over Farm to Market Road 306. Whitewater to 4th crossing is a good bet, too.

Some outfitter options: Whitewater Sports, Tube Texas, Tube Haus and Andy’s River Toobs.

tubing texas tubes

Many of the rivers allow alcohol — just don’t bring any glass or styrofoam. (Photo courtesy of Texas Tubes)

Comal River

Come one, come all to the Comal River. This is the go-to for first-time floaters. It’s the shortest navigable river at just three miles long in total, calm and quick enough for you to take multiple trips. You can drift downriver in these cool spring-fed waters, which peak at just 72 degrees year-round.

The best part? The Comal feeds into New Braunfels’ epic waterpark, Schlitterbahn. If you want just a taste of the river, hop on one of the rides that splashes you out into it. It’s a great end to a day at the aqua park — after plenty of Dippin’ Dots, of course.

After that first feel of the crisp waters, you’ll want to grab an inner tube and jump into the Comal and mosey down the heavily shaded path.

Some outfitter options: Rockin’ R, Texas Tubes, Comal Tubes and Texas Tubes.

San Marcos River

This Guadalupe tributary is hands-down the most popular float trip in Central Texas, running through the very heart of San Marcos. The cool spring-fed waters are some of the cleanest around, and you don’t have to drive far from Austin to float here.

The San Marcos is popular with novices and veterans alike, especially students. The lazy river weaves through the Texas State University campus, making it an undeniable draw at the end of finals season.

The city park behind Strahan Baseball Stadium is the ideal entry point. Throw your head back and kick back for a mile, sailing through three exciting small waterfall drops.

Some outfitter options: Texas State Tubes, Tubes San Marcos and Tube Texas.

Frio River

This is one river where muy frio means muy bueno. Spanish for cold, the “Frio” delivers the promised ice-cold waters for an unbeatable float trip. The long, scenic Frio River makes for a trip you’ll never forget, in part because it’s more peaceful than party.

This float trip is considerably less crowded than its counterparts, giving it a truly secluded feel. You could even call it remote as you glide down the river under a shady canopy of Cypress trees.

You can get into this refreshing-but-not-freezing river at Garner State Park, You’ll be able to float a good mile and a half down before getting out at Country Road 350. We’ve got to warn you: time will stand still, and the trip’ll be over before you know it. Feel free to go another round.

Some outfitter options: Tube Texas, Frio River Outfitter and Andy’s on River Road.

Colorado River

This one’s not as widely traveled, but allow us to float the idea. The Colorado River is the longest river in the entire Lone Star State. That means ample opportunity to get yourself in the water, meaning you can have all different sorts and styles of float trips on just one river.

The flow is gentle and serene, with a few quick shallows here and there. The beautiful banks are lined with trees, making for a perfect Insta shot. The area is home to tons of wildlife, so keep an eye out for birds you won’t see just every day.

The Colorado River also stands out for its sand bars and islands. You can pull off and relax at these spots, slowing down your pace if you feel like it. It’s a classic, easy river for overnight trips. Hop in just east of Austin in Bastrop, on Highway 71.

Some outfitter options: Bastrop River Company and Dagger Blackwater.

Honorable Mention: Barton Creek Greenbelt

Here we go: the trip that everyone wants to take, but few dare to. It’s not exactly official. You won’t find outfitters in the area, making it a more labor-intensive, DIY kind of experience.

But if you’re down to Bring Your Own Tube, this is a great destination. You won’t have to drive all the way down to New Braunfels or San Marcos. It’s wild and free, and no outfitters means it’s literally free.

Source https://raftingaddict.com/txrafting/

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/destinations-for-river-recreation-in-texas-1657494

Source https://www.papercitymag.com/culture/texas-float-trips-best-tubing-destinations-river-san-marcis-river/

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