Is there anything more Texan than tubing in the summer heat? It's just something about the combination of icy water, scorching inner tubes, and borderline alcohol poisoning that makes Texans lose their collective shit every summer.
Texas has plenty of prime real estate to satisfy your desire to throw your worries out the window and float ass-first into a one-day paradise of booze, water and sunburn. Here are five rivers in Texas for your respective taste, whether it be partying with a herd of frat boys or keeping quiet and loafing with the family.
This river is for the regular party animals of the Lone Star State. On weekends, it can be seen filled bank to bank with college kids mercilessly slapping bags and crushing Keystones. If crowds and floating stereo coolers blasting Blake Shelton's latest hits are your thing, the Guadalupe is the place to tube. In recent years, the can ban on the river has been lifted, but there is still a ban on glass and styrofoam. So if you plan on sippin' cognac on the rapids like a baller, you'll have to do so out of a plastic container. The Guadalupe spreads across several cities including San Marcos, New Braunfels, and Gruene with plenty of parking and outfitters in each, so the crowd in the river will not affect your ability to find a place to park and get started. It should be noted that due to recent rain, the part of the river in Gruene will be much wilder than other areas. Tubers beware.
This is the ideal family relaxation river. Beginning at Comal Springs in Landa Park and running 2.5 miles until it joins with the Guadalupe, the Comal river is the shortest river in Texas. It has no boulders, rapids, or obstacles, which makes for a much less intensive float than larger rivers like the Guadalupe. It's perfect for those of you who want all the fun of a river float minus the possibility of someone in your party drowning. The Comal is not completely without a little thrill, though. It has a single tube chute that'll wake you up in the event that you fall into a snooze during your float.
With 47 miles of secluded beauty, the Frio river is the answer to people looking to ditch the crowd. It's chock-full of high limestone bluffs, colossal cypress trees, and boulders throughout. Without a denser-than-lead horde of intoxicated teenagers on either side of you, you can really take in and appreciate the stunning Texas scenery as you float through the Frio's invigorating water. Although calm in the sense of crowds, the Frio still has plenty of obstacles and rapids to keep you on your toes and give you an exciting tubing experience. Keep in mind that the Frio is surrounded by many dry counties, so if you want a side of brain-pickling with your float, it would behoove you to grab some alcohol before hitting the road to avoid getting stuck dealing with your asshole friends sober all day.
San Marcos River
The spring-fed San Marcos river has some of the cleanest water you will find in Texas. In fact, it's 10 times cleaner than EPA standards for drinking water. So drink up! This river offers an easy float similar to the Comal and is a bit less crowded. The river itself has been left untouched by urban development over the years, which allows you to float through downtown San Marcos and even Texas States' campus. If you're lucky, you might just pick up an education before your tube sesh ends. Other parts of the San Marcos go through park land with beautiful elephant ear plants adorning its banks. It makes for a truly peaceful summertime float.
The Brazos is a river for tubers, canoers, and kayakers alike. Generally, it's a slow moving flat water river with little to no rapids, so don't go in expecting a whitewater experience. A cool feature of the Brazos is that there are plenty of road crossings on it which makes it easy for you to skip the outfitter and take a do-it-yourself tubing trip the way God intended. In normal conditions, the Brazos gets pretty low by the end of the summer. With all the recent rain, though, the river should remain at a good floating level once the water settles.