Top tubing destinations: Where to float the river in Central Texas

2:18 p.m Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Summer Fun Guide
Jay Janner/Jay Janner
-- -- Jorge Rosas of Houston relaxes in the San Marcos River at the inaugural Float Fest which was expected to attract up to 10,000 people to tube in the river and listen to live music from 14 bands on two stages at the Cool River Ranch Tube Rental and Concert Venue in Martindale. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

If you haven’t floated the river at least once, is it really summer in Texas? The short answer: no. The long answer: here are a bunch of places in Central Texas you can get your tubing fix.

RELATED: Where to eat and drink after floating the river

Barton Creek Greenbelt

Sure, this isn’t an “official” tubing destination. It’s a BYOT (bring your own tube) situation, but clearly the best option if you don’t feel like making the drive to, say, San Marcos or New Braunfels. 

Location: Austin. Tube rentals: No. Estimated cost: Free. Alcohol: No booze allowed on Barton Creek (but you’ll see this doesn’t stop many people).

Comal River

Scoot on down for a day trip to New Braunfels for some of the best tubing around. The Comal River is the shortest navigable river in Texas and it’s nice and chilly (according to tubing sites, it’s a cool 72 degrees year-round since it’s spring-fed). And there are countless tube rental locations, all with return shuttle services to get you back to your car safely. Try Comal TubesLanda FallsTexas Tubes  or Comal Rockin’ R.

Location: New Braunfels. Tube rentals: Yes. Estimated cost: $15-$25. Shuttles: Yes (some free, some paid, depending on tubing company). Alcohol: Drink up, just don’t bring glass or Styrofoam. 

Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe is pretty much the Comal’s big brother. It’s more popular, it’s louder and there are always more people there, which makes it perfect if you’ve got a big group to entertain. Try renting your tubes at Tube Haus, River Sports TubesWhitewater Sports or Shanty Tubes.

Location: New Braunfels/Canyon Lake. Tube rentals: Yes. Estimated cost: $18-24. Shuttles: Yes (some free, some paid, depending on tubing company). Alcohol: Drink up, just don’t bring glass or Styrofoam. 

San Marcos River

San Marcos is, without a doubt, the most popular tubing destination in Central Texas. It’s the closest to Austin and you’ll see everyone there from college kids to families to retirees. Lions Club is likely the most popular tubing rental company (and also the cheapest, if you don’t count the $20 refundable deposit), but Texas State Tubes and Don’s Fish Camp are popular among the college crowds.

Location: San Marcos. Tube rentals: yes. Estimated cost: $12-50. Shuttles: Yes. Alcohol: Drink up, just don’t bring glass or Styrofoam.

Tubing pro-tips: