Is there a better way to beat the Texas heat than cooling off with a nice float down a river?
I submit that there’s not.
Which is why I have a habit of tubing the rivers any time the Texas weather starts getting too hot. And over the years, I’ve picked up a few favorites…
So grab a tube and hit the water! These are the X of the best rivers to float in Texas.
Map of the best rivers for floating and tubing in Texas
Here’s a map to give you a rough idea of the best tubing spots in the state.
But keep in mind, these rivers are huge! So there’s plenty of additional places to begin your float along each of these rivers.
Whether you’re in San Antonio or Austin, the Blanco River is just an hour away. The spring-fed river offers up some of the most beautiful views of the Texas Hill Country. Unlike “party rivers” like the San Marcos River, Blanco is pretty chill. It’s the perfect river for folks who want a quieter, less rowdy experience.
To tube the river, you’ll need to pay $5 to enter the Blanco State Park. Tube rentals are open from 9 am – 2 pm and you need to return the tubes by 4 pm. Be sure to check the water level before you go, though. If the Blanco River is low, you could be stuck dragging your inner tubes across weeds and rocks, which is no fun.
- Address: 101 Park Road 23, Blanco, TX 78606
- Website: Blanco State Park
The Comal River is one of the most breathtaking rivers I’ve ever seen. The clean, clear water and lush trees make for a stunning sight that you can’t beat. You’re allowed to bring your own tubes if you have them, as long as they aren’t bigger than 5 feet wide. Start your float at either Hinmand Island Park or Prince Solms Park. On average, you can expect your float down the Comal to last about two hours.
Keep in mind that, if you don’t rent a tube, you’re on your own to hike back to where you parked your car. While it’s a 15-minute walk to the parking area, I highly recommend renting a tube and catching a shuttle. Nobody wants to walk after 2 hours on the river.
- Address: 100 Liebscher Dr, New Braunfels, TX 78130
- Website: Comal River
The Pedernales River has striking limestone formations and waterfalls that are a gorgeous sight. While some sections of the river are downright dangerous, you should be fine if you stick with the river’s approved tubing route. You can put your tubes in at Trammell’s Crossing Trail, which is well above the Pedernales Falls so it makes for a peaceful float.
Keep in mind that there aren’t as many tube rentals on the Pedernales, so you’ll likely want to bring your own. And be sure to book passes to the state park well in advance—it’s almost impossible to get reservations on busy weekends in the Spring and Summer.
- Address: 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636
- Website: Pedernales Falls State Park
The Guadalupe is definitely more of a party river, meaning more tubers and more noise. But if you want a social atmosphere with awesome views, it’s still a great place to float! Depending on the river flow and your route, you can float for as little (2 hours) or as long (6 hours) as you want. Most folks rent tubes from some of the various tubing companies because of the convenient shuttle service.
- Address: 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070
- Website: Guadalupe River State Park
Sick of murky river water? Float the stunningly clear spring-fed Frio River. Because it’s spring-fed, the river is a chilly 70 degrees even during the height of summer (hence the name “frio,” which means “cold” in Spanish). This is a massive 200-mile river with plenty of gorgeous sights like limestone formations, cypress trees, and wildlife.
If you start at the Seven Bluffs Crossing and tube all the way to Neal’s Crossing, you’ll spend about 7 hours on the river. I recommend paying for a tubing service to rent tubes, customize your route, and arrange for transportation back to your car.
- Address: 234 RR 1050, Concan, TX 78838
- Website: Frio River
South Llano River
While the South Llano River is huge, the easiest way to float the river with your family is to stick with the 2 miles of tube-friendly riverfront at the South Llano River State Park. It costs $5 to enter the park for the day, although children under the age of 12 are free.
The park rents out tubes, but you’re allowed to bring your own. Because it’s just a 2-mile stretch of river, you can float this section of the South Llano in less than an hour. Best of all, you can repeat the trip to your heart’s content. Just be prepared to make the walk upstream!
- Address: 1927 Park Road 73, Junction, TX 76849
- Website: South Llano River State Park
San Marcos River
The San Marcos River is what most people think of when you say “I’m going to float the river.” Because San Marcos is a college town, the river is definitely full of young partiers looking for a good time. It’s not unusual to see the river packed with tubers during the busy summer season.
You’ll start your float on the San Marcos River from City Park to Vista Park, which generally lasts about an hour. You’re permitted to bring your own tubes, but keep in mind that you won’t have access to a shuttle service unless you book one in advance. Either prepare yourself for the walk or pre-pay for a shuttle to take you back to the beginning of the river.
P.S. It’s illegal to “display alcoholic beverage consumption” and to have any glass containers, so discretion is advised.
- Address: 170 Charles Austin Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666
- Website: San Marcos River
I absolutely love the Brazos River. I like to stop at a rickety picnic spot off highway 281 and watch the glimmering water below. But you don’t have to watch this river from afar: you can float it in a tube, too! If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are plenty of outfitters available to make your Brazos tubing dreams come true.
Now, the Brazos is a fickle river, so if you plan to float it, it’s a good idea to call a tube service the day of. Make sure that there’s adequate water flow or you’ll spend your float time climbing over rocks.
- Address: 3901 St Park Rd 33, Caddo, TX 76429
- Website: Brazos River
The Trinity River is super close to Fort Worth, so it’s the perfect spot for tubing in North Texas. While I could go on and on about the Trinity River’s natural beauty, the real showstopper here is the live music!
Every Saturday in July – August you can catch live music as you float the river with the Rockin’ The River concert series. They even do a fireworks show after every performance, so this is a can’t-miss experience for North Texas tubing aficionados.
- Address: 325 Purcey Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102
- Website: Rockin’ The River
You can enter the Medina River just outside of San Antonio near Bandera, Texas. If you want to avoid the hoopla and noise of partiers, the Medina River is definitely better suited for families looking for some quiet time on the river. The glass-green water is absolutely stunning and many tubers compare the sights on the Medina to a children’s storybook.
- Address: 5800 Enrique M. Barrera Parkway, San Antonio, TX 78227
- Website: Medina River Natural Area