Ultimate Guide To River Tubing in Austin, TX

Welcome to our guide to tubing the rivers in and around Austin, TX!

We put this page together to help you find out everything you need to know about floating the rivers near Austin.  So tourist or local, we hope this guide helps you plan the perfect trip!

Best Rivers to Tube in Texas/Austin

If you love tubing the river, Texas is the place to be!  We have so many amazing rivers to float, but there are some that stand far above the rest.

If you are in the Austin area, here are some of the best rivers to float

  • San Marcos River: This river is known for its clear water, and it's a popular spot for tubing and is always a great time.  While you will see some families on this river, it's primarily known as a party float.
  • Guadalupe River: This river is located just outside of Austin and is a perfect blend between Party & Chill vibes when floating.
  • Comal River: Ooo, how we love the Comal.  With its crystal clear waters and amazing vibes, you can't go wrong.

There's also the Blanco River & Medina River if you'd prefer a quieter float.

Average Cost of Tubing in Austin, TX

Floating the river is a wonderful (and affordable) way to enjoy the hot Texas summers.  There are several ways to float the river, and depending on which you choose, your costs will vary.

If you have never gone tubing, we highly recommend that you go with a Tubing Outfiter like us for the first time.  It will help ensure you have an amazing experience and know how to do it on your own next time.
The cheapest way to float the river is to buy a tube online or from a local sporting goods store.  Just make sure you get a tube with a bottom!

Here are the 3 tubes we recommend if you are going to purchase your own.

  • Budget Tube: Intex River Run
    • Great entry tube. If you take care of it, you might be able to get more than one season.  however, it's not uncommon for these to get ruined on a single float.
  • Mid Level: Retrospec Weekender
    • Great tube for someone who plans on going tubing for more than one day.
  • Best Tube:  GoSports River Tube
    • If you want a tube that will last for years to come, this is the tube for you.  It's also the tube we use!

If you plan to use a tubing trip company like ours, your transportation, tube rental, coolers, and everything else you need to enjoy a wonderful day on the river is included in the price!

How Long Does a Typical Tubing Trip Last?

You gotta know how long a float typically lasts to plan your trip!

You can typically count on a float taking between 2-3 hours in Texas.  However, if there has been a lot of rain recently, or if the river is higher than normal, those times can be cut down drastically.

For instance, one year, we got record rainfall in the evenings but bright sun during the days.  This caused the rivers to be high and flow fast, and our typical 2-3 hour float was only taking 45-50 minutes.

On the flip side, if the river is extra low OR Extra busy, you can expect those times to go up.   As an example of this, during times when the water levels are lower than average, combined with a popular weekend, it's not uncommon for a float to last 4-5 hours.

Can you Bring Alcohol on Tubing Trips around Austin?

Nothing beats a cold drink on a hot day, right?  At least, that's what every country song has ever taught me.

If you want to enjoy a few cold ones on the river, you are in luck, but there are a few things to know.

  1. Some Rivers Do Not Allow Aluminum Cans  - Which include alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  The rivers that don't allow aluminum often require you only bring reusable containers.  So stop by the store and pick up something large enough to store all your drinks!
  2. Always Bring a Trash Bag - And Make Sure You Tie It To Your Tube!   Do you know the saying "Don't Mess With Texas"?   Well, that applies here.  Apart from serious fines if caught, sinking a can or throwing your trash in the river is just NOT COOL... So don't do it.

Either way, just make sure you are being safe and responsible, and remember we all share the rivers!

Safety Considerations for Children and Non-Swimmers

Pappa always said SAFETY FIRST!

While tubing is an enjoyable activity for people of all ages and swimming abilities, you just have to stay safe and use your head.   Remember, it's very hot in Texas, and you have been lying down in a tube for a while!  So make sure you are staying hydrated.

Here are some of the general safety considerations to keep in mind

  • Sunburn and dehydration: Spending hours in the sun can lead to sunburn and dehydration, particularly in children and non-swimmers. Make sure that everyone wears sunscreen, drinks plenty of water, and takes breaks in the shade as needed.
  • Group separation: It's not uncommon for tubers to get separated from their group on the river, especially in crowded areas or areas with rapids. Children and non-swimmers may not be able to navigate the river as easily as more experienced tubers, so it's important to make sure that everyone stays together and keeps an eye out for each other.
  • Drowning: Drowning is the biggest risk associated with river tubing. Children and non-swimmers are particularly vulnerable to drowning, so it's essential to make sure that everyone wears a properly fitted life jacket at all times while on the water.

What to Bring on a Tubing Trip

Less is more!  While there are a few essential items to bring, what you want to avoid is bringing To Much Stuff!  You'll also want to avoid bringing valuable items such as your car keys, wallets, and other nonessentials on the float. Here's a list of the essential items we recommend:

  • Sunscreen - Remember to re-apply!
  • Water & Snacks - You'll probably get hungry and you will certainly need some water.
  • Waterproof bag or box:  To keep essentials in and help them return home with you.
  • Sunglasses - This is a MUST MUST MUST.
  • Cooler / Cooler Bag - Those drinks will get hot fast without one.  We like to bring an extra tube for the cooler and then strap that tube between our group.
  • Speakers / Music - Nothing beats floating the rivers with some cool tunes and great friends during the Austin summers.
  • Good Vibes - It's essential to bring Good Vibes along with you when floating.

Rules and Restrictions for Tubing in Austin

  1. Age Restrictions: Some rivers in Texas have age restrictions.  For instance the Comal doesn't allow children under the age of five to float.  So be sure to check age restrictions if you are planning to bring the kiddos.
  2. Glass, Alumnimun, and Styrofoam Ban: Glass containers, aluminum cans, and Styrofoam coolers are not allowed on several rivers in Texas.  So be sure to bring plastic containers and coolers instead.
  3. Alcohol Restrictions: While it's legal to drink alcohol on most rivers in Texas, some rivers have restrictions in place. For example, our favorite river (and also the river with the most restrictions), the Comal, only allows alcohol in plastic containers.
  4. Littering: 4 Words - Don't Mess With Texas.
  5. Life Jacket Requirements: Texas law requires all children under the age of 13 to wear a properly fitted life jacket while on the water.
  6. Tethering Tubes: We recommend tieing your tubes together so that you don't drift apart.  However, make sure you are smart about it and avoid tieing more than 4 or 5 tubes together at a time.

Best Time of Year to Go Tubing in Texas

The best time of year to go tubing in Texas depends on a few factors, such as weather, water levels, and how crowded a particular weekend will be.

Typically you'll want to go between late spring and early fall (May-September and even October).  Some of the most popular tubing weekends include:

  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • The Fourth of July
  • Labor Day Weekend

Be sure to check the weather and river conditions before heading out, and always follow safety guidelines to ensure a fun and safe tubing experience.

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Welp, that's about it for this guide!   We hope you have an amazing time on the river and please let us know if we can help!