Are you looking for the perfect place to cool off during those hot Texas summers? Look no further than tubing down one of the many rivers near San Antonio! Some rivers are frequented by college frat boys and party goers, while others provide a tranquil atmosphere and milder rapids that make them ideal for families. No matter which river you choose, floating in San Antonio will be an unforgettable experience. So grab your tube and jump aboard!
1. Blanco River
Located just an hour away north of San Antonio, The Blanco River runs through the lush green landscape of south Texas. Unlike other party rivers in the area, it is the perfect spot to go tubing with kids. The water is gentle and perfect for beginners or those wanting a less rowdy experience. There are several shores and nooks to stop and relax, picnic, or dip in the cool water.
The best way to access the river is by heading to the Blanco State Park. The entrance costs $5 for adults and free for kids under 12. Tube rentals are open daily from 9 am to 2 pm, and you must return the tubes by 4 pm. Make sure to check the water level before tubing. If it’s too low, you could get stuck dragging your inner tubes across rocks and weeds, which could lead to injury.
In addition to tubing, Blanco State Park offers other fun activities, such as swimming, fishing, hiking, boating, and camping. Ranger Programs are available for visitors of all ages, including the Junior Ranger program for kids.
After your floating adventure, head west for the Natural Bridge Caverns. While you can’t float in the Caverns, our guided tour turned out to be adventurous and very educational for the youngsters. Of course, it’s also a great way to dodge the sun if your skin is starting to peel 😉
2. Guadalupe River
If you ask local people which river they go to for tubing, it will most likely be Guadalupe! Just 45 minutes from downtown San Antonio, Guadalupe runs 230 miles from central Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the most popular tubing destination, especially during summer.
Guadalupe River is a party river, which means more tubers with alcohol and loud music. You will see people floating down the river or relaxing with beers in their hands. It is an excellent place for those looking for a social atmosphere with stunning views! Enjoy tubing along the scenic limestone cliffs and lush green. Most tubers choose to float the Horseshoe, which takes around 2 hours. However, if you’re in for an adventure, you can continue beyond the first river crossing and prepare for an all-day excursion!
The river is open daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm. The entrance fee is $7 for adults and free for kids under 12. Due to the convenient shuttle service, many people rent tubes from various tubing companies.
After our floating adventures, we did a guided nicht tour along San Antonios river walk. It was a great way to round off an adventurous day and learn about all the famous sights in downtown San Antonio.
3. Medina River
Medina River is located near the small town of Bandera, just outside San Antonio. This hidden gem offers crystal-clear water with mild rapids. The river is shaded by maple trees and canopies of cypress, making you feel straight out of a fairy tale as you drift along it.
Situated in a more secluded area, it is the perfect place for families looking for tranquility on the river, away from the party-goers. There are several sections to float through, with the longest lasting up to 6 hours. In addition to tubing, you can also go kayaking and camping. The Medina River Company in Bandera offers $20 for a tube rental and shuttle ride, and only $10 if you bring your own tube.
4. Frio River
Frio River is located at the Garner State Park in West Texas. The name “Frio” comes from Spanish, which means “cold,” and it is clear to know why. The river is chilly all year round due to the spring-fed water, perfect for cooling off during brutal summer days. This 200 miles long river boasts one of the most scenic views of Texas, with cypress trees, limestone formations, and wildlife.
The water can get shallow in some areas, which can be unpleasant. So, it’s best to check beforehand. The State Park is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm. However, they may close the park once they reach capacity. We recommend you make a reservation or arrive early before peak hours. The entrance costs $8 for adults and free for kids under 12.
Other popular activities include swimming, paddle boating, hiking, and camping. Stay until evening for their routine Summer Dance, where visitors gather at the park’s concession building for a jukebox dance.
5. San Marcos River
Despite being located near the city center, San Marcos River has some cleanest water. The water stays chilly even during hot summer because it is spring-fed. The river is usually filled with students from the University nearby. However, it is excellent for families too, as the river has a small park with a playground for kids to play.
The park is open daily from 6 am to 11 pm. There are no admission fees. Start your tubing journey from the city park behind the Strahan Basketball Stadium and exit once you reach the falls at Rio Vista Park. The trip typically lasts for an hour, depending on the flow rate and the number of tubers in the water. You are allowed to bring your own tubes. However, you will only have access to a shuttle service if you book one in advance. We recommend booking a shuttle to take you back to the beginning of the river, as it could be quite a walk!
6. South Llano River
South Llano River is located inside a large state park of the same name, just 90 minutes away from the heart of San Antonio. This spring-fed river is an excellent spot for inexperienced tubers. The water is slow-moving, ideal for family water fun! Tubing here is fun, short, and mild, as this river is only a 2-mile stretch. It lasts less than an hour, and you can repeat the trip as much as you want. Just be prepared to walk back upstream!
The park is open daily. Entrance is $5 for adults and free for kids under 12. They often reach capacity, so making a reservation is highly recommended. The park rents out tubes and other water-sport gear, such as canoes and kayaks. You can either rent from them or bring your own.
In addition to tubing, the park offers many other exciting things to do, from swimming, paddling, and fishing to hiking and bird-watching. The South Llano Park is an International Dark Sky Park, make sure you stay late to stargaze and marvel at the night sky!