Tubing down a Texas river is a rite of passage in the Lone Star State and it’s almost time to start loading up the truck to head to the water. While Texas has hundreds of rivers, there are four popular floating choices – Guadalupe, Comal, San Marcos and Frio. We’ve been down all four and can tell you each has its own appeal.
The Guadalupe River, which consists of 230 miles from the Texas Hill Country to the San Antonio Bay off the Gulf of Mexico, fluctuates more than the other rivers because the flow is controlled by Canyon Dam and by the amount of rainfall the area has received. The section of the river located near New Braunfels is the most popular are for recreation, including tubing. When the water is at just the right level, not too low and not too high, the river is flooded with thousands of tubers. Not only is the Guadalupe a great place for tubing, but because some sections of the river have obstacles and heavy rapids, the Guadalupe is also a great place for rafting and kayaking.
The Comal River, another popular tubing route, is spring fed which keeps the water at a steady flow level. The shortest tubing river in Texas, the Comal runs for only 2.5 miles in New Braunfels before feeding into the Guadalupe. In addition to having a steady flow level, the Comal stays between 70 and 72 degrees year round making it an ideal destination during the hot summer months. Unlike the Guadalupe, you are less likely to run into rapids and boulders during your float down the Comal making it a serene, easy float.
The San Marcos River begins at the San Marcos Springs and is joined by the Blanco River just four miles later. It then passes through Luling and the Palmetto State Park and after 75 miles the river eventually feeds into the Guadalupe near Gonzales. The San Marcos River is not as popular as the Guadalupe and Comal, which means it is less crowded but equally as enjoyable to float. It is also spring-fed, so the river stays at a refreshing 72 degrees and has some of the cleanest water in Texas.
The Frio, named for the cold spring waters that feed the river, is southwest of the other three rivers and runs for 200 miles running through Garner State Park in Uvalde County. While it is not the most popular tubing river in Texas, many Texans, including George Strait who grew up in Frio County, have taken a float down this refreshingly cold river. Lined with limestone bluffs and enormous cypress trees, the Frio River is a great place to enjoy the tranquil Texas beauty without the company of thousands of other tubers.
The temperatures are rising in Texas, which makes the thought of floating down a cool river with an ice-cold beer sound pretty darn good. Each of these rivers offer tubing companies that allow you to rent a tube, float the river and catch a ride back to your starting point making your river adventure as hassle free as possible. Make sure to check the river status before heading to your river of choice, as sometimes these rivers are closed due to rising or falling water levels.
When you’re ready to head down the river, don’t forget to wear appropriate shoes, apply plenty of sunscreen to protect you from the Texas sunrays and pack a cooler full of refreshments. It is now legal again to bring disposable non-glass containers on these rivers, so your 12-pack of Shiner Light Blond cans is welcome.
Happy tubing, folks! We want to know what river is your favorite for floating. Is it the Guadalupe, Comal, San Marcos or Frio?