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Floating a river in an inner tube is truly a beloved outdoor adventure in Texas. With three-digit temperatures in most of the state during the summer months, there really isn’t a better way to cool off than by floating in a spring-fed river. Some of the rivers on this list are located near cities, making for easy access. However, for those wanting a more secluded float, there are rivers on this list for you too. No matter what river you choose, there are outfitters nearby ready to shuttle you to access points or provide you with a tube rental. Take your tube and embrace these nine best Texas rivers to float down.
The Guadalupe River is the most popular river for floating in the Lone Star State. This 230-mile river runs from central Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the most popular spots to float are found in the Texas Hill Country, especially in Canyon Lake, San Marcos, New Braunfels, and San Antonio. The cool water on the Guadalupe makes this a popular summer tubing destination. Tubers can choose from a short float to an all-day excursion. Shaded by cypress trees, the Guadalupe River is a relaxing float, where Texans are seen with typically a beer in hand. Several tubing rental outfitters along the Guadalupe River provide all the equipment for a tubing adventure, including tubes, life vests, and shuttle services. These outfitters often have multiple access points along the river, allowing you to choose different lengths and durations of tubing routes. Some routes have stops where you can swim, relax on the riverbanks, or enjoy a picnic.
The Comal River is a tributary of the Guadalupe River, and at only two and a half miles, floating down it is one of the best things to do in New Braunfels. Tubers typically begin their journey in this spring-fed river at Landa Park. The crystal clear water makes for a great reprieve from Texas’ hot summer days. Tubers utilize their right to bring along alcoholic beverages here but do keep in mind that single-use, disposable items, as well as glass, are not permitted. End your float on the Comal at the “tuber’s exit” right before the Comal meets the Guadalupe. Similar to tubing on the Guadalupe River, tubing outfitters along the Comal River provide tube rentals, life vests, and shuttle services. You can rent a tube and choose from various access points to start your tubing adventure. The gentle currents of the Comal River make it suitable for tubers of all ages. It’s a family-friendly activity that both adults and children can enjoy.
The San Marcos River is the waterway for the perfect summer tubing spot for those in Central Texas. Usually filled with coeds from Texas State University, the San Marcos River has some of the cleanest water a tuber could ask for. This spring-fed river, also a tributary of the Guadalupe, does have cool temperatures year round, 72 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Locals love to start their tubing journey on the San Marcos River at the city park behind the Strahan Basketball Stadium. Tubers typically float a mile down the river from here and exit right before reaching Rio Vista Park. Like the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, the San Marcos River features gentle currents, making it a suitable choice for tubers of all ages. It’s an excellent activity for families, friends, and groups. Along the way, keep an eye out for a plethora of species of aquatic plants and animals, including rare species of fish and other wildlife.
For those looking for an outdoor adventure in West Texas, hit up the Frio River. Spanish for “cold,” the Frio is 200 miles long, boasts scenic views of Texas’ best land, and is cold due to the spring-fed water. Garner State Park is a popular spot where floaters typically gain access to the Frio. Unlike rivers in the Texas Hill Country, the Frio River is less populated and is in a more remote setting. Similar to other tubing destinations, tubing outfitters along the Frio River offer tube rentals, life vests, and shuttle services. These outfitters provide options for different tubing routes and access points, allowing you to tailor your adventure to your preferences.
The South Llano River, a tributary of the Colorado River, is located northwest of Austin, Texas near Junction, Texas. This popular fly-fishing river is also a great spot to float in a tube. There are a number of spots to enter the river with your tube, but many tend to enter near South Llano River State Park or even before the park at Boone’s Crossing. This relaxing float is family-friendly and is also a great place to canoe or kayak.
Located near Caddo, Texas, the Brazos River is a great spot to tube, kayak or canoe. Since this river is quite a drive from Texas’ big metropolitans, like Dallas and Austin, the river isn’t as crowded as other rivers on this list. When it comes to tubing, most floaters enter the water near Possum Kingdom State Park, which just so happens to be a great spot to camp too. Fed by Lake Granbury, the Brazos River varies from slow floats to quicker currents depending on the weather. Mid-summer is the best time to experience a float on the Brazos, since water levels tend to run low near summer’s end.
The Trinity River is the closest tubing destination for Dallas residents. Every summer, the Trinity River Vision Authority hosts tubing events, and in June, the Rockin’ the River concert series begins, where tubers can enjoy live music while floating in the river. The Trinity River is truly Texan since it’s the only river that flows entirely within the borders of the Lone Star State.
For a secluded float, head to the Medina River. A float on the Medina is one of the most scenic on this list. Near the small town of Bandera, Texas, this 120-mile Texas river offers clear water and mild rapids. The Medina River is spring-fed but also relies on rainfall to manage its flow. It might be in a more isolated area than other rivers on this list, but the town of Bandera still offers tubes, shuttle services and excursions for those wanting to experience the Medina River.
The Colorado River, a massive river that flows through seven states, is the final river on this list, perfect for tubers. The longest river in Texas, the Colorado River, generally offers a mild flow with plenty of sandbars for when you need a place to take a break. However, tubing routes can vary in length and difficulty. Some sections provide a gentle and relaxing float, ideal for families and beginners, while others may have small rapids and chutes for those seeking a bit more excitement. It is very common to have multiple-day excursions on this river. To access the Colorado River, Columbus, Texas, is the town to visit for supplies and access points.