Tubing Texas

Kylene Mamrus

It's humid.  Rain is forecasted for Saturday.  It sounds like a good weekend to pack up the car and get out of town for a couple of days.

This week, we're going to send you to the Hill Country to take part in what has become a tradition all Texans, natural born and naturalized, should take part in -- basking under the warm Texas sun while floating, along with your cooler, down a chilly river.

There are a lot of streams and tributaries that one could choose to tube, but by and large the three most popular are the Comal, Guadalupe and Frio rivers.

The Guadalupe in New Braunfels is the granddaddy of Texas tubing. Long known for it's party crowds and playful chutes and rapids, the Guadalupe offers both a leisurely ride and some intense moments spread out over several miles.  By and large the river has a good pace, but the flow fluctuates with the release of water from the Canyon dam.  Obstacles are plenty and river can be, at times, intense.

Also in New Braunfels, the Comal, one of the shortest rivers in the world, flows just two and a half miles until it merges with the Guadalupe.  In that short distance, tubers can enjoy an lazy, slow pace with only a few obstacles along the way.  Oh, and the spring-fed water isn't too cold -- typically between 70 and 72 degrees.

The Frio, in Concan west of San Antonio, is, as evidenced by its Spanish name, cold.  The river is long, secluded and a great choice for those who want to shy away from the crowds at the Guadalupe.  The Rio Frio is the farthest of the three from DFW, at about 350 miles, but worth the drive for the scenic beauty, isolation and relaxation.

The great thing about tubing is that many of the rivers have several take out points where you can get out of the river, go back and tube the section you like the most again and again.  Also, many of the outfitters in the area offer free shuttles for using their service.

Once you pick your river, or rivers, the next step is to find a place to crash for the night.  There are log cabins near Concan and plenty of cottages and bungalows in New Braunfels.  Camping is also a great way go and campsites and RV locations abound.  Of course, you could also just stay in a traditional hotel, but takes something away from the whole experience.

Lastly, be sure to pack sandals or water shoes, goggles for taking a quick swim, water guns for shooting your friends and beer for your cooler that you, of course, will tie to it's own tube. Remember, alcohol is allowed on all Texas rivers, but local laws still apply so be sure to pay attention to signs while floating.  New laws were implemented this year to make tubing more of a family-friendly event -- you can read up on some of the changes here.

For more information on river trips, accommodations and planning your trip, check out Tube Texas.com.

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