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Hot Tips for Guadalupe River Tubing in 2024

Are you looking for a fun way to spend your days this summer? Guadalupe River tubing offers an exciting and refreshing way to beat the heat! The river’s beautiful landscape coupled with its thrilling rapids and tube chutes make for a perfect adventure!

Several beautiful rivers wind their way through Central Texas. The Guadalupe River is the largest and perhaps the most popular. If you are looking for a quieter tubing adventure, you might check out tubing the Frio River instead.

The Guadalupe River is 230 miles long, but the most popular stretch for tubing is from just south of Canyon Lake to New Braunfels. Canyon Lake is known as the Water Recreation Capital of Texas and is very worthy of a visit this summer! No matter which area of the river you choose to float, you will love this journey through Hill Country in Texas!

I have been river tubing since I was little and introduced my kiddos to this summer bucket list activity as soon as I could! Check out their cute little faces!

Family Tubing on the River

Planning Your Guadalupe Tubing Adventure

To get started, all you need is an inflatable tube and a sense of adventure! Tubes come in various sizes, so be sure to choose one that suits your comfort level. Some include drink holders, or attached coolers – so be sure to check those out. Don’t forget to also bring sunscreen, a hat, and water shoes to protect against the sun and rocky riverbeds.

Short Float vs Long Float on the Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River offers various float lengths to suit your preferences typically lasting from 2-6 hours long depending on water flow with some routes flowing through the beautiful Guadalupe State Park, one of the best state parks near Fredericksburg.

Keep in mind, that where you rent your tube from is likely going to determine which route your float as each outfitter provides shuttles to only certain entry and exit points on the river.

The most popular option is “The Horseshoe,” a short float that starts and ends at opposite sections where FM 306 crosses the river. This route takes about 1-2 hours complete. This loop is perfect for those wanting a quick, fun-filled adventure. Pro tip* Start early and you can float it twice!

For a more extended float experience, consider going beyond the Horseshoe and exploring more of the river’s beauty as it winds through the Texas Hill Country. You can exit at 4th Crossing Bridge or Ponderosa Crossing for a 4-6 hour tubing adventure.

Another popular stretch is north of New Braunfels starting in Gruene and lasting 2-3 hours.

Before booking your tube rental, you’ll want to check where the shuttle service drops off and picks up in order to help you choose the length of your route.

Guadalupe River State Park - a beautiful spot to tube through!

Choosing the Right Outfitter

No need to worry if this is your first time floating – tubing outfitters on the Guadalupe River can help you with any questions and provide guidance. They typically also offer particular routes to choose from. Some even offer guided group tours and shuttle services to make your tubing experience super easy!

Here is our list of the recommended river outfitters with the highest reviews:

Whitewater Sports

Little Ponderosa River Outfitters

Horseshoe Tubing Company

Rockin’ R River Rides

Accommodations

When planning a tubing adventure, consider staying at nearby lodging to allow more time in nature and get the added convenience of being able to make an earlier start as well.

Keep in mind that tubing during events and holiday weekends may be busier, but it also adds to the excitement and camaraderie with fellow floaters!

Guadalupe River in Texas

What to Bring when Tubing the Guadalupe

Tube and Cooler Rentals

There are several rental services available for tubes and cooler tubes. There are a variety of tube rentals for different age groups and comfort levels. While heartier tubes may be more comfortable when floating, keep in mind that they are more difficult to hang onto while exiting the river.

Cooler tubes are also available, accommodating cooler sizes up to 50 quarts. It’s a good idea to rent cooler tubes along with your regular tubes, as they help keep your drinks and snacks chilled throughout your trip.

Life Vests

Safety should always come first when tubing on the Guadalupe River. Wearing a life vest is strongly recommended, especially for inexperienced swimmers and children. 

Other Necessary Gear

  • Sun protective clothing that won’t tangle or restrict your ability to swim
  • Protect your feet with secure footwear like river sandals or aqua shoes
  • Hat + sunglasses
  • Sunscreen, and more sunscreen!
  • More water than you think you will need
  • Tasty drinks and filling snacks
  • Music

What NOT to Bring

Leave all valuables at home! Rings can easily be lost in the river when your hands have been in the cold water for hours. Car keys can be left with your river outfitter for the same reason.

If you must bring your cell phone, bring a hearty waterproof case. The river can be very deep in some areas and items that fall are likely to stay lost forever!

By following these tips and renting the right gear, you’re sure to have a fantastic time tubing down the Guadalupe River!

River Rules and Regulations

It’s important to follow the rules and regulations to ensure everyone has a great time while keeping the environment clean and safe. The following sections discuss the main guidelines to follow in order to have a fun-filled experience.

Alcohol and Beverages

While floating down the river, many people enjoy sipping on their favorite beverages to beat the heat. Alcohol is permitted on the Guadalupe River, but it’s important to drink responsibly and adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Glass containers are strictly prohibited on the river. Be sure to bring your drinks in plastic bottles or cans, and avoid anything that might shatter and pose a safety hazard or harm the environment.
  • Local law enforcement is present and actively enforcing open container laws, so remain aware of the legal age for drinking and consume alcohol in a responsible manner.
  • Pack drinks in ice chests or coolers to keep them chilled during your tubing adventure. However, do not bring any Styrofoam, as it is forbidden along the riverbank and on the waterway.

Life Jackets

Life jackets are encouraged to be worn by anyone who is not a strong swimmer and all children younger than 8. When the water flow exceeds a certain level, life jackets are required to be worn by these parties.

New Braunfels City Rules

When floating down the Guadalupe River further south in the city of New Braunfels, additional rules do apply, so please take note:

  • No disposable containers such as cans
  • No containers smaller than 5 ounces
  • Music must not be heard beyond 50 feet from the source
  • Coolers must be latched closed with a zipper, lock, straps, etc. and no larger than 16 quarts

Understanding River Flow and Conditions

Tubing on the Guadalupe River is a thrilling experience, but watching out for unsafe flow conditions is important. You can reach out to any river outfitter to check on current flow conditions before hopping in the river.

The flow of the Guadalupe River is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). This indicates the volume of water that flows by a given point per second. River conditions can vary greatly depending on the flow rate. The water release rates from the dam at Canyon Lake dictate the river’s flow rate, which can also influence river levels.

When planning a tubing trip, it’s essential to know that flows above 500 cfs may be unsafe for certain parts of the river. At these levels, one should consult an outfitter before embarking on the adventure.

The Guadalupe River’s landscape features rapids, boulders, and tube chutes, making it more intense than other central Texas tubing areas. Tubing in above average levels is recommended for experienced individuals only, with great caution exercised around rapid areas. WhileiIn some instances, the flow is lowers and slower, and it may be necessary to walk around some areas.

Making the Most of Your Trip

Guadalupe River tubing offers a fun and exciting experience for everyone, whether you’re visiting with friends, family, or as part of a corporate event. In the 2023 season, make the most of your trip by considering a few essential tips.

  • Best time to Float: To avoid the crowd and traffic, plan your trip on weekdays or during off-peak hours. Not only will this make your experience more pleasant, but it might also save you some money on tube rental fees.
  • If you are unable to float the Guadalupe River on a weekday, then try to arrive by 9:00-9:30am to avoid lines and crowds. If you don’t arrive until 10:30 or 11:00am, you are likely to be tubing surrounded by 1000 of your closest friends! If your life motto is “the more the merrier,” then you will love the Guadalupe River float on a Saturday afternoon!
  • While tubing down the river, you’ll encounter several bridges and a thrilling spot known as “the chute.” Be prepared to navigate around these obstacles with ease by bringing along durable rafts or tubes for a smoother ride. Remember to always prioritize safety and follow any guidelines provided by rental companies or local authorities.
  • As for cooler and ice chest tips, be sure to pack light, water-resistant, and sealable containers to keep your snacks and beverages cold throughout the day. Don’t forget to secure them to your tubes using straps or bungee cords, so they don’t float away.

FAQs for Guadalupe River Tubing

What is the best tubing spot on the Guadalupe River?

There are several great spots for tubing on the Guadalupe River, but the most popular one includes the Horseshoe Loop and along River Road.

Can I float on the Guadalupe River now?

Tubing season on the Guadalupe River typically starts in late spring and continues through the summer, depending on river conditions. It’s essential to check the current river levels and weather conditions before heading out to ensure a safe and fun experience for everyone.

How long does it take to float the Guadalupe River?

The length of your tubing trip can vary depending on the chosen route and river flow. A typical float down the Guadalupe River can last anywhere between 2 to 6 hours. Some floaters start out early so that they can float their route twice!

How much does it cost to tube the Guadalupe River?

The cost of tubing on the Guadalupe River can vary depending on the rental company and the services they offer. Some companies charge around $20 per person for tube rentals, while others may offer discounts or packages that include amenities like shuttle service, life jackets, or even coolers.

Any cabin rentals?

There are numerous cabin rental options available along the Guadalupe River. From rustic cabins to luxurious lodges, you’re bound to find accommodations that suit your preferences and budget.

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