When it comes to summer adventures, a Frio River tubing adventure is one of hidden gems in the Hill Country in Texas. The 47-mile stretch of river offers a serene, secluded setting with high limestone bluffs, towering cypress trees, and clear waters.
While some rivers, like the Guadalupe River, are known for their party vibes and larger crowds, the Frio River distinguishes itself as more of a relaxing, family-friendly spot.
I have been tubing down rivers since I was a child, practically everywhere we traveled, and so to say I was excited to try floating the Frio River was an understatement! This place is beautiful! And chilly! But so refreshing on a hot, summer day. Sharing tubing adventures with my children since they were young, makes up some of our favorite memories.
One extra highlight when you are tubing down the Frio River, is that it passes through Garner State Park, the heart of Texas Hill Country, offering wonderful activities both in and out of the water and beautiful views. A morning hike in the park before hopping in the river makes for a perfect day!
Frio River Tubing: How to Start Planning
When it comes to enjoying the Frio River, one of the most popular activities is tubing. In this section, we’ll dive into the essentials (see what I did there?) to make your tubing experience on the Frio River fun and smooth!
How to Float the Frio River
The Frio River stretches over a 47 mile stretch filled with clear, cool water and a family-friendly vibe. Check out our top tips for planning a smooth and fun day tubing.
Options for Tubing the Frio River:
- Your first choice is to float with friends and park one car at the entry point and one car at the end point. This allows you to drop off everyone but two people at the launch point, then drive the second car a coupe miles down stream, park the second car, and then drive back to the launch point.
- Your first choice is to use a shuttle service. Most river outfitters rent tubes and offer shuttle services, and many will shuttle you for a small fee even if you brought your own tube.
Tube and Equipment Rentals + Shuttles
You can rent tubes, kayaks, life jackets, and other equipment from various outfitters conveniently located along the Frio River. They even offer shuttle services as well.
Here are some of the top outfitters with the best reviews:
- Josh’s Frio River Outfitter
- locations in both Concan and Leakey
- shuttle service from Concan location only
- $15/tube | $20/tube + shuttle | $15/shuttle only | free parking
- gift shop, kayaks, fishing gear, coffee shop
- No reservations; first come, first served
- Happy Hollow Frio River Outfitters
- located in Concan, just north of Garner SP
- $12/tube | $15/tube + shuttle | $10/shuttle only | $5-$10 parking
- coolers, kayaks, and cozy cabins also available for rent
- No reservations needed for tubes
- Andy’s on River Road
- located in Concan
- $15/tube | $20/tube + shuttle | $15/shuttle only
- Cooler tubes + kayaks also available
- Private shuttle service for groups available
Preparing for Your Trip
Before beginning your tubing adventure, it’s crucial to ensure you are well-prepared for the day. Some key points to remember are:
- Make sure to wear comfortable water shoes or sandals
- Sunglasses are essential for protecting your eyes from the sun
- Bring an ice chest with snacks and drinks to stay hydrated on your ride
- Check the weather forecast before your trip to avoid any unexpected surprises
- Bring sunscreen, hats, and other sun protection – a rash guard would be a great choice.
- Leave your jewelry and electronics behind. If you want to bring your phone, use a heavy duty waterproof case.
- Remember: safety first! Use a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer
With these essentials in mind, you’ll be all set for a fantastic day of tubing down the Frio River!
Frio River Tubing Locations
While you can float down the whole stretch of river, you can’t get in and out of the river anywhere you please as you will likely be trespassing on private property.
However, not to fear, there are plenty of legal spots to toss your tube in the water with some very minor planning. Access to the Frio River is limited to road crossings (listed below) as well as booking one of the Frio River cabins with private water access.
The most popular stretch of the Frio River for tubing is in Concan, either from 7 Bluffs to Frio Country or from Frio Country to Neal’s Crossing (or both for a full day adventure!). Each of these routes is about 2 miles long and lasts 3-4 hours depending on river flow (your river outfitters can give you an up to date estimate).
Public River Access Points for Floating the Frio River
Each of these spots is a public access point for the river. However, keep in mind that most places charge fees to park your vehicle here for tubing unless you are lucky enough to grab a street spot. Fees listed below are current as of the time of publishing.
During peak days, parking will fill up early so plan ahead if you plan to park and transport yourselves rather than take a shuttle.
Just east of where US-83 and Ranch Road 337 intersect in Leakey
Where Flatrock Circle crosses the Frio river just off of 1120. South of Ranch Road 337 in Leakey
Also off of 1120, just south of Flatrock Crossing where the river crosses John Davis Road
Road 1120 Crossing
Head south a few miles to meet up with this river access point in Rio Frio near the RV Park.
Bridge Crossing at Garner State Park
1050 Crosses the river just on the outskirts of the northern border of Garner State Park. Make a reservation in advance if you pan to park in the park. Gorgeous river area here, pedal boat rentals, rope swings, picnic areas, hiking trails, and camping are all available. This one of Texas’ best state parks!
This popular swimming spot offers a parking lot of launching your tube. Park on the street for free if you can find a legal spot, but expect a parking fee of $30 to park in the lot.
Seven Bluff Crossing
The Frio River crosses Country Road 348 (River Road) at this crossing and access point. This is a popular spot to start your tubing adventure through Concan. 7 Bluff Cabins + RV Park is a great spot to sleep for the night. Frio River Cabana Park is a fun spot to play in the sun with some shade for cooling off or a nap by the river.
Frio Country Crossing
Country Road 348 re-crosses the river here a couple miles south of Seven Bluff Crossing. This is another spot that is popular for launching your tube near Frio Country Resort.
TX-127 crosses the river at this access point and it is also the home to Neal’s Lodges which are a great spot to stay as well as the lovely Concan Swimming Hole. It is $50 per vehicle (as of the time of writing) to park and enter the swimming area.
This is the perfect place to exit the river and spend the rest of the day playing by the river or grabbing a tasty burger from Neal’s Dining Room.
Most Popular Frio River Spots
Garner State Park
Garner State Park is one of the most well-known spots for Frio River tubing. It’s located in Concan and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Keep in mind that parking at Garner State Park can fill up quickly, so arriving early is recommended. Don’t forget to take a break and relax on the shaded banks, perfect for a swim or picnic.
Magers Crossing is located near Leakey, a beautiful spot on the Frio River. It’s an excellent area for tubing because of the gentle rapids, making it enjoyable yet relaxing. Magers Crossing is also a prime location for swimming as well as launching a kayak.
Happy Hollow is another popular tubing location in the Frio River. Happy Hollow is on private property and and offers lodging for tubers as well. If you just want to launch from Happy Hollow or exit there, options are available for a small access fee. They do, however, offer tube rentals and shuttles for a full service options.
As you float through this section of the river, prepare yourself for a gorgeous ride and beautiful cypress tree-lined banks!
Safety and Regulations
Alcohol and Glass Containers
While you may be tempted to bring along your favorite adult beverage for a refreshing drink on the river, keep in mind that there are a couple rules to follow.
Alcohol is not allowed in Texas state parks, including Garner State Park as well as many private campgrounds. Also, glass containers are prohibited in the Frio River.
You may have heard me say this before, but the Texas sun is HOT! So it is essential to stay hydrated during your tubing or kayaking adventure. Bring a large stainless steel water bottle or a non-glass container to keep your drinks cold throughout the day.
You can also pack a small cooler – just check the weight limits allowed on your Frio River tube rental – you don’t want to weight your inflatable down too much!
Legal Access Points and Trespassing
Access to the Frio River is available through public parks, such as Garner State Park, various private campgrounds in the area, and specific road crossings.
Be aware of private property lines and respect them. Always use designated legal access points to enter and exit the river when tubing or kayaking, and avoid hopping fences or wandering onto private property to reach the river.
Water Levels and River Conditions
The water levels and river conditions on the Frio River can vary significantly with a wide range of optimal flow rates. To make sure your Frio River float is fun AND safe, it’s crucial to check with a river outfitter regarding the river’s current conditions and water levels before taking off on your adventure.
Because the Frio River is a small, narrower river, sometimes the tubing adventure can go slowly due to low current. Also, keep an eye on weather forecasts and be cautious of potential flood conditions, especially during or following heavy rainfall.
River outfitters can also give you an estimate on how long your chosen route will take based on current water levels so you can prepare accordingly.
Accommodations and Activities when Floating the Frio River
Cabins and Campsites
Visitors to the Frio River can choose from a variety of accommodations ranging from cozy Frio River cabins to well-equipped campsites.
We love booking local vacation rentals in the Frio River area as we have room to spread out and somewhere to prepare some of our meals. These are perfect for families and groups looking to float down the river or and lodge together. Many often offer private river access where you will be lucky enough to have a section of the river all to yourself.
There are also numerous RV and campgrounds available where guests can enjoy the natural beauty of Texas.
Hiking and Outdoor Adventures in Frio River
The Frio River region is absolutely beautiful with remarkable limestone bluffs and cypress trees along the riverbanks. If you are looking for adventure, you can take advantage of numerous hiking trails in the area, including those within Garner State Park and Lost Maples of Texas Hill Country.
Visitors can partake in various outdoor activities such as biking, in addition to swimming and tubing the Frio River in its cool clear waters.
Garner State Park Concessions and Summer Dances
A trip to the Frio River is incomplete without experiencing the long-standing tradition of summer dances at Garner State Park. The park hosts nightly dances during the summer months, allowing guests to engage in Texas-style fun under the stars along with the historic jukebox. How fun is that?
Apart from dancing, visitors can explore the park’s concessions area for snacks, souvenirs, and a handy tube shuttle service for those looking to float down the Frio River on an inner tube.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does tubing the Frio River cost?
Tubing on the Frio River can vary in cost depending on the outfitter you choose. Prices typically range from $15 to $25 per person, which includes tube rental and shuttle service.
What is the best time to float the Frio River?
The best time to float the Frio River is during the summer months, from May through September. The sunny weather and cool, refreshing water make for an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Remember, always check with outfitters for day-to-day updates on river conditions.
Where to stay nearby when floating the Frio River?
There are plenty of accommodation options available near the Frio River, including cabins, vacation homes, and lodges. Choose a spot that suits your budget and preferences and enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.
How long is the Frio River tubing route?
The tubing route’s length on the Frio River can vary depending on water levels and the specific route you choose. Several start and end points are available. Typically, a float trip will last between 2 to 4 hours and cover 2 miles, but this can fluctuate depending on the trip length and current water flow.
What are the Frio River camping options?
Camping along the Frio River is an excellent way to really enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Numerous campgrounds with various amenities are available for both tent and RV camping. Keep in mind that in summer, it will be very HOT.
What is the distance from San Antonio to the Frio River?
The Frio River is about 80 miles from San Antonio, making it a perfect weekend getaway. The drive offers beautiful views of the Texas countryside, and you’ll find plenty of exciting activities to enjoy once you reach the Frio River.