It's nearly springtime in Texas, so you can rest assured that the hellfire heat of Summer is on its way. When it gets here, you're bound to want to spend some time cooling off. But where should you go? There are ample water park options across the state, but some are quite a drive, and others can be pretty pricey. You could always drag a tube or styrofoam floatie out into the Gulf on your favorite beach, but it won't be long before you're washed back up ashore with a swimsuit full of sand. Why not just grab your tube and head to the closest Texas river? Tube rentals are super easy, so you'll be chilling on an inner tube in no time. Plus there really is nothing like a lazy float in a Texas river.
Well, if you don't know the current flow rate of the river and are unfamiliar with where the whitewater rapids are, this can get dangerous, not to mention illegal in some spots. A good float is accessible, easy, and, most of all, relaxing! So if you're not quite sure where the best floating location for your preferences is, check out this list of excellent places to go tubing in the Lone Star State, and then just take your pick! Don't forget to grab your sunscreen!
7. The South Llano River
The section of the South Llano River that runs through the South Llano River State Park near Junction, Texas, is a family-friendly tubing destination. The banks of the river by the bridge near the park entrance are shallow enough for little ones to splash, and bigger kids and grownups can hop in a tube for a short two-mile float. You can also go canoeing or kayaking on the South Llano if, for some unfathomable reason, you don't want to get in the water.
6. The Trinity River
Running through Dallas and Fort Worth, the Trinity River is open to tubers weekly throughout the Summer. Beginning in June, the Rockin' the River concert series hosts bands for a four-hour show so you can jam out while you float!
5. The Medina River
Located northwest of San Antonio surrounding the cowboy community of Bandera, Texas, is the vastly under-appreciated Medina River. The Medina River Company, situated on Main Street in Bandera, offers tubes and shuttles for a float along the Medina River. You can also camp along the river. The Twin Elm Ranch, for example, provides tubing excursions to their campers.
4. The San Marcos River
The spring-fed San Marcos River runs through the heart of the city that was recently named one of the six most romantic in the U.S. by Curbed. The river also runs through the campus of Texas State University, and its banks have historically been a favorite haunt of students looking to cool down. It's also well-known among Austinites since it's roughly 30 minutes south of Austin. Two great options for San Marcos River float trips are the local Lion's Club and Texas State Tubes.
3. The Comal River
If you've never been floating in Texas, the Comal is a great place to start. The float is an extremely popular one and is only 3 miles long. The Comal is heavily shaded, and part of the waters of the Comal feed the famous Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. There are ample businesses that will provide you with a tube and a ride back to your car. The Rockin' R and Texas Tubes are just two of the many great options for tubing trips down the Comal.
2. The Frio River
A little further west, you'll find the famed Frio River, which is one of the most famous and undeniable favorites for floating in Texas. The river is very long, scenic, and as the name implies, muy frio ("frio" is Spanish for "cold"). Accessible lodging and tubing near the Frio are in Garner State Park and Concan, Texas.
1. The Guadalupe River
The portion of the Guadalupe River that runs through the Texas Hill Country is quite possibly the most popular river tubing spot. Tubes, cabins, and campsites can be found all through central Texas, from San Marcos to New Braunfels, to Gruene and San Antonio. You can take a two-hour float, a three-hour float, or a six-hour float. These are average times, of course, because time seems to stand still when you're floating the cold waters of the Guadalupe through the lush shade of the bald cypress trees that line its shores.