The Texas summer heat can be brutal, but there’s a great Texas tradition that’ll help cool you down through the long dreadful summer months called river toobing (tubing). I’ve floated on rivers on the East Coast, more specifically the James River in Virginia, but Texas toobing takes this fun summer activity to the next level. With a little bit of safety in mind, this article aims to give you a Guadalupe Tubing Guide, Comal River Tubing Guide, and Frio River Tubing Guide. Before you head out to the River for your first time this summer, read through this article to help you prepare yourself and your family for a safe river outing in the heart of Texas.
What You’ll Need To Go Tubing in Central Texas
Let’s first go over the things you’ll probably need as a first-time toober. If you’re a seasoned river rat, you’ll probably have most of the gear listed below, but if you’re just getting into river-floating, then check out the list below to get you started. If you decide that you’d rather rent out the tubes, then skip little ways down on this article for a list of places to rent your tube. Buying your own tubing gear can save you money over time, Texas summers are long. Too long.
|Intex River Run I Sport Lounge, Inflatable Water Float||Check Price|
|Intex 58837EP River Run II Sports Lounge (Double)||Check Price|
|YETI Roadie 20 Cooler||Check Price|
|YETI Rambler Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Gallon Jug||Check Price|
|Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion||Check Price|
|Merrell J65243 Water Shoes||Check Price|
|O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest||Check Price|
|GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition (Optional)||Check Price|
|Witz See it Safe Waterproof ID/Badge Holder Case||Check Price|
The two most important things from the list are sunscreen & cooler. We use our Yeti Roadie cooler for camping and river tubing and it works really well to keep things cool and it’s watertight. Our friends use the YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler (bag cooler) for their stuff and it also works well. Either way, if you decide to bring drinks with you on the river ( water or alcohol ), which I highly suggest, you’ll need a cooler.
Footwear is also important, make sure it’s one that is strapped on to your foot. Some places on the river like the Comal has a couple of ‘tube shoots’ that that people have lost countless items due to rougher waters. Some areas are shallow enough where your feet might touch or if you decide to dismount your tube and walk around the shallow areas, having good footwear will save your feet from getting cut up by rocks and infected.
ID holder & Lifevest (if you’re a weak swimmer) also recommended, anything can happen on the river. Some places on the Guadalupe or the Comal can get fairly deep (5-6 foot of water) and if you feel like you’re not a very good swimmer, a lifevest is definitely your friend.
Bring your camera or GoPro so you can brag to all your friends on Facebook how much fun you’re actually having. But in all honesty, it’s cheaper to lose a small camera like GoPro than losing an entire phone.
Where to go Tubing (Toobing) in Texas (San Antonio | Austin)
There are several rivers you can go tubing around the Hilly Country, more than we can fit on this list. But we’ve narrowed down some popular tubing destinations within driving distance of Austin & San Antonio. These rivers will usually have an entrance, exit and a river outfitter proving tube rental services if you don’t own a tube.
Public Entrance Address: 158 Liebscher Dr, New Braunfels, TX 78130
Comal River is a spring-fed river located in New Braunfels, TX. This is our favorite river to go tubing in, the water is clear, cool (70-72F consistently all year round). The entrance to the Comal River for tubing is located in a Park, so there’s plenty of parking if you get there early, but you will have to pay to park, either through an app or by using one of the designated machines. There’s also a ‘Tube Shoot’ fee that you’ll need to pay, so bring some cash with you (at least $50). But if you’re renting the tube, no need to pay for the tube shoot, but some river outfitters will charge you for parking.
Guadalupe River is another favorite local river for toobing. There are a lot of river outfitters in the Guadalupe River and renting tubes is our preferred method of tubing when going to the Guadalupe River. There are a couple of public entrances noted above and you can find parking in these lots, though very limited. You could park at the Tube Haus even though you’re not renting from them and use the 306 bridge to get in the river, we’ve done this before with success. Overall, the Guadalupe River is great, although a little rougher than the Comal and can get fairly murky. We went on the Guadalupe River on the 4th of July for one year, it was pretty insane.
San Marcos River
Public Entrance Address: 601 S CM Allen Pkwy, San Marcos, TX 78666
San Marcos River is usually filled with college kids looking to let loose in the summer since Texas State University is smacked dab next to the San Marcos River. What’s great about San Marcos River is the free parking all around the proximity of the river next to the city of San Marcos. San Marcos River River has a few tube rental options, so shop around, but the prices are generally the same across the board give or take a couple of bucks.
Using River Outfitters to go Tubing (Tube Rentals in Texas)
When we first started tubing in Texas, we mostly rented our tubes from these river outfitters. Most people that only go once or twice during the summer usually opt to rent tubes rather than buy their own. The best benefit of renting your tube from a river outfitter is the ride back to the start/entrance, where you will probably be parked. If you bring your own tube and enter at a public entrance, there’s no ride back to the parking lot, you either have to walk back or have someone pick you up. The Comal & Guadalupe by far are the two most popular tubing
Comal River River Outfitters (Tube Rentals & Ride)
- Texas Tubes (830-626-9900) | 250 Meusebach St, New Braunfels, TX 78130
- Rockin’ R River Rides (830-629-9999) | 1405 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130
- Comal Tubes (830-387-4408) | 1880 I-35BL, New Braunfels, TX 78130
Guadalupe River Outfitters (Tube Rentals & Ride)
- Tube Haus (830 964-3011) | 12454 FM306, Canyon Lake, TX 78133
- Gruene River Company (830-625-2800) | 1404 Gruene Road New Braunfels, Texas 78130
- River Sports Tube (830-964-2450) | 12034 FM306, Canyon Lake, TX 78133
- Whitewater Sports (830-964-3800) | 11860 FM306 #2, New Braunfels, TX 78132
San Marcos River Outfitters (Tube Rentals & Ride)
- San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental (512-396-5466) | City Park, San Marcos, TX 78666
- Texas State Tubes Park & Float (512-638-7165) | 2024 N Old Bastrop Hwy, San Marcos, TX 78666
- Great Gonzo’s Tubes & Shuttles (512-749-2991) | 19385 San Marcos Hwy, San Marcos, TX 78666
Frio River Outfitters (Tube Rentals & Ride)
- Josh’s Frio River Outfitter (830-232-6292) | US Hwy 83S, Leakey, TX, 78873
- Happy Hollow Frio River Outfitters (830-232-5266) | 32580 US-83, Concan, TX 78838
- Frio Tubing Company (No info)
Garner State Park
Laws & Rules Tubing in Texas (San Antonio | Austin)
Follow these rules if you’re going tubing in one of the rivers listed on this article since the rules are pretty much the same. If you’re tubing elsewhere, check the laws and regulations so you don’t get in trouble. Basically, respect the river and other floaters so we can all enjoy it. Different rivers will have specific rules, so check out the website for the river you’re looking to tube, but for the most part, the list of rules below will usually apply.
- No cans (locally known as ‘can ban’)
- No disposable containers
- No glass
- No foam containers
- No littering
- Lifejackets are recommended for weak swimmers and children under eight, PFD’s will be provided to tubers/citizens free of charge w/ deposit at City Tube Chute or river outfitters
- No volume drinking devices
- No containers under 5 fluid oz.
- Noise devices may not be audible beyond 50 feet
- No jumping from bridges, dams, or trees
- Coolers must have a locking mechanism on the lid (zipper, Velcro, latch, cord) with a maximum size of 30 quarts and 1 cooler per person
- Limit of two tubes per person
- Round inflatable floatation devices shall not exceed five feet (5′) in diameter
Can You Drink Alcohol while Tubing in Texas?
Yes, you can. You can in fact drink on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers. There’s no law on what you can or can’t drink, so drink whatever you’d like – including, but not limited to, beer, wine, any other alcoholic beverage, juice, or water.
This is an important part of your experience on the river, nothing can ruin a perfectly fun day than an injury or act that could have been avoided. Here are some safety tips for you when tubing in Texas.
- Bring lots of sunscreens, I can’t stress this enough
- Drink responsibly, tubing can last for hours, all day if you want it to. Drinking in the sun and generally having fun might lead you to drink excessively.
- Follow the rules of the river
- Bring a safety vest if you feel like you’re not a strong swimmer
- Drink a lot of water, Texas heat is brutal
- Sunglasses or a hat will help a lot
Overall, just use common sense, be respectful of others and enjoy!