The Central Texas Hill Country boasts cold, clean, refreshing river waters that make the perfect respite from triple-digit Texas temperatures. Among the most popular of Central Texas’ aquatic getaways is the Guadalupe River, which welcomes thousands of river tubing enthusiasts per year — sometimes per day.
While the nearby Comal River is more of a social float, and the San Marcos River specializes in scenery, the larger Guadalupe River combines those attributes, offering river tubing trips that are adventurous in every sense of the word. With several distinct stretches between the Canyon Dam and New Braunfels, Texas, the beautiful Guadalupe River features a number of floating options — each one striking a good balance between picturesque and party-friendly.
Getting Started on a Guadalupe River Tubing Trip
Although the number of Guadalupe River tubing outfitters can seem overwhelming to visitors, it’s important to realize that most of these local businesses offer a range of floating options. So regardless of which outfitter tubers go with, there will be a number of floating routes, of varying length and difficulty, to choose from. In other words, tubers needn’t worry about choosing the right river outfitter — it’s more about the float itself!
One easy way to get started on a Guadalupe River float is to take a trip down River Road, right outside of New Braunfels, off Highway 46. This scenic drive will take visitors right to many of the Guadalupe’s best outfitting businesses. Another area that provides great river tubing access points is the historic town of Gruene, Texas, also right outside of New Braunfels. Floaters should be aware of where they are on the river, though, as tubing within the city limits of New Braunfels is subject to different laws and regulations.
Natural Beauty and Fun People
A little preparation (tons of sunscreen, a properly-packed cooler) and river tubing know-how (choosing the right tubes, safety precautions) will ensure a great experience once everyone is afloat. The festive atmosphere and resplendent scenery then become the stars of the show. Crystal-clear waters take floaters through a majestic canyon of precipitous cliffs and deeply-carved limestone banks. Intermittent rapids and obstructions along the river provide occasional breaks from leisurely traversal, giving floaters several nice thrills along the way. Depending on river levels and flow rates, which vary according to the activity of Canyon Dam, tubers can expect a float that has challenging rough spots, yet overall is serene and strikingly picturesque.
While the Guadalupe River’s scenery is enough to make a nature lover of anyone, its beer-and-barbecue-wielding patrons ensure that the Guadalupe is a place for party animals, as well. Whether it’s the floaters — who enjoy themselves while moving downriver, or the land-bound river-goers, who stake out their places on the banks so that they can swim, cook, and playfully harass passing floaters — everyone is there to have fun. Parents should be advised that the celebration occasionally tends toward the R-rated, but the good times are mostly family-friendly.
The Guadalupe River, one of the biggest attractions in Central Texas, is a great place for a family vacation, a friendly river float, or just a one-day getaway. It’s a place where friendliness and socialization accentuate the charm of Central Texas scenery. Ultimately, the Guadalupe River is perfect for those looking to unwind and enjoy a distinctly Texan getaway.