River tubing in Texas is a statewide pastime: there’s no better way to beat the legendary Texas heat than by grabbing an inner tube and watching the gorgeous Texas countryside roll by while floating the river.
A long summer season gives Texans and visitors alike plenty of opportunities to cool off and have some fun floating the river in Texas.
There are dozens of rivers in Texas that offer opportunities to tube and swim during the summer months.
Here are the best rivers to float in Texas, plus some essential Texas tubing tips for those heading out on their first float trip!
10 Best Rivers to Float in Texas
The most popular river for tubing in Texas, the Guadalupe is a favorite summer spot. With beautiful waters that are spring-fed and cool, it’s no wonder this is one of the places to be in Texas.
The most popular drop points of the Guadalupe River center around New Braunfels, San Marcos, Gruene, and San Antonio. With so many places to drop in and get out of the water, you can spend as much or as little time on the river as you wish.
Many of the towns along the Guadalupe River have cabins and camping spots for visitors to enjoy along the water. The state park and state troopers are very vigilant along the river. Leave your alcohol behind and don’t pack it in the cooler while you float down the river.
The float along the Comal River is about 3 miles long. This is a beautiful stretch of river that is very family-friendly and one of the best rivers to float in Texas. As you float downriver, there are several sandbars to stop at for a picnic or a swim.
One of the benefits of the Comal is the amount of shade along the edges of the river from the massive oak trees. The Comal River feeds the Schlitterbahn resort in New Braunfels and is a relaxing and fun day trip.
The beautiful Colorado River is the longest river in Texas. While there are several rural areas where locals enjoy the river, the most popular area is in central Texas, just east of Austin.
Bastrop, Texas offers tubers a calming, steady float in the river with beautiful trees lining the banks of the river. This stretch of Texas is known for its wildlife, and people tubing the river can see a variety of birds and even some deer or rabbits as they relax on the cool waters of the Colorado River.
If you are traveling near the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Trinity River is a favorite North Texas stomping grounds for river tubing in Texas. One of the best parts about floating the Trinity are the bands that play on the river from June – August each summer.
The four hours of music, called Rocking the River, plays a variety of popular hits and various types of music.
Whether you are parking your vehicle or Ubering back to your hotel, floating the Trinity River creates an oasis in the middle of the DFW Metroplex.
The Medina River flows past the small town of Bandera, Texas and into Medina Lake, about a half-hour northwest of San Antonio. While the river eventually flows down to the Gulf of Mexico, the best stretch to tube this river is around the area listed above.
The Medina River’s water level depends not just on springs but also on rainfall. The water level in spring and early summer is perfect for Texas tubing and has only mild rapids without any sharp drops as it meanders southeast toward the gulf.
San Marcos River
This spring-fed river is a popular spot tubing spot with college-aged and young adults. It winds through the city of San Marcos and is close to Texas State University. The San Marcos River is known for its clear waters–in San Marcos, you can even take a snorkeling or glass-bottom boat tour on the river.
One bend of the river also popular for tubing is about thirty miles south of Austin, and is a popular day trip from the city.
The Blanco River winds through the beautiful landscape of south Texas. The best tubing along this river is through Blanco State Park. The path along the Blanco has beautiful scenes of nature and is a relaxing, gentle float.
This is one of the best places in Texas to go tubing with kids, with several shores and alcoves to stop and enjoy a picnic or dip in the cool waters.
The Frio River is a beautiful, crystal clear stretch of water just about an hour west of San Antonio.
Arguably one of the absolute best rivers in Texas to float, the cold waters are a welcome relief under the hot Texas sun. The Frio has a rock bottom, which enables you to see clearly through to the bottom.
There are a lot of places to put in and get out along the Frio River, with companies willing to pick you up and take you back to your vehicle.
If you are tubing close to Concan, Texas, the river winds a lot in that area, enabling you to make it back to your vehicle with just a short hike. Wear river shoes when floating down this peaceful tubing paradise.
South Llano River
The South Llano River is a slow-moving river that is perfect for families tubing with kids in Texas, or anyone looking for a leisurely, uncrowded float. Some of the easiest places to put in and get picked up are near and around South Llano State Park.
If you put in just north of the park, you can float through and get picked up outside the boundaries, or spend the night in one of the many cabins.
Don’t forget that alcoholic beverages are not permitted within the state park, so don’t hit the shores of the park with your beverage in hand.
A North Texas treasure, the beautiful Brazos River is relaxed and quiet. Tubers along this river will find it to be one of the least crowded of all the ones on this list, due to it not being near any major metropolitan areas.
Like many of the best rivers to float in Texas, it is located near a state park. Possum Kingdom State Park has camping, RV parks, and cabins provide plenty of overnight options for those tubers looking for a more private stretch of river.
Lower water levels in late summer give this river a faster current than travelers experience in May or June.
Essential Tips for Tubing in Texas
Bring lots of sunscreen.
The Texas sun beats down strong as you float the river in Texas. Make sure you bring enough sunscreen to reapply often, at least every two hours.
Don’t forget when you are tubing in TExas that your legs and feet need lots of sunscreen too, laying in a tube means lots of coverage for the whole front of your body.
Prepare for the sun.
A hat and sunglasses are a must to help protect your eyes and face from the sun. The water’s reflectiveness can really dry out your eyes and create eye burn. It’s also valuable to bring along an overshirt or swimsuit cover as backup protection.
Bring lots of water.
It is important to bring a lot of water with you. It is easy to get dehydrated under the hot Texas sun. You will definitely want to bring a bag or ice chest with at least two bottles of water per person.
If you are going to be on the river for more than four hours, increase the amount of water per person.
If you are going to be on the water for more than two hours, then snacks become a must. It doesn’t seem like floating the river in Texas would create an appetite, but it will. The best thing to do is to put all your snacks in a double layer of ziplock bags to prevent them from getting soggy.
Pick your tube carefully.
There are two things to keep in mind when buying or renting a tube, don’t get the black ones if you’re in a sunny area, and make sure it has a cup holder. The big black tubes get hot in the sun and can burn your skin. Blisters on the underside of your arms and legs are possible, especially for kids.
The best tubes are lighter in color and have netting on the bottom. Cup holders are convenient and easy for holding your drink or your snack so your hands are free.
No glass bottles and no styrofoam.
This is essential not just for the environment but also for the safety of everyone on the river. Glass bottles are a huge no-no on the river, or any water in Texas. Plastic bottles and cans are always your best bet. No styrofoam either, it is toxic for the fish and wildlife.
Check alcohol rules carefully.
Drinking a beer (or two) on the river is a time-honored Texas pastime, but not all rivers allow alcoholic drinks–that especially goes for state parks.
If you plan to bring alcohol on your river float in Texas, check the rules at your destination carefully before setting out.
Bring a Trash Bag.
Don’t mess with Texas! When hitting the river, bring along one of the yellow or orange water trash bags that can be gotten at any tubing or supply store.
These are great because the water flows through them and can be strung along behind you float, and they make it easy to keep your trash together for easy disposable at the end of your day tubing in Texas.