Tubing the Hill Country

One of the most popular summer activities in the Hill Country is tubing, a scenic and buoyant tour of some of the prettiest vistas in the region. There’s almost an embarrassment of riches in the Hill Country when it comes to great rivers on which you can tube! The Blanco, Comal, Frio, Guadalupe, Llano, Medina, Nueces, Pedernales, and San Marcos Rivers all have stretches that are ideal for tubing. It’s a great way to beat the heat and connect with nature and your friends and family!

By the absolute letter of Texas state law, it’s legal for you to tube on any river in the Hill Country, as long as your entrance and exit from the river are on public property; to do so on private property requires the express permission of the landowner. There are some important points you should consider if you’re planning a free trip down the river:

⦁ Know the terrain. Don’t get caught off-guard by an unexpected set of rapids or faster-flowing water. These can lead to dangerous and potentially deadly situations.

⦁ Plan your entry and exit points precisely. Make sure everyone in your group is aware of these, too, in case some members get separated.

⦁ Plan your transportation. Some tubing trips cover a few miles, so make sure you have transport waiting at the end of your trip; otherwise, you’ll face an exhausting walk back to square one.

When it comes to tubing, we recommend you take advantage of the services of local outfitters and trip planners. They know the rivers intimately, their current conditions and when and where it’s safe to hit the water. They offer tube rentals, and often stock all the gear you’ll need for your float, from footwear to ice and beverages. Most also provide shuttle service from the end of your trip back to the beginning, where you can easily access your vehicle and leave. While these outfitters cost more than a “free” trip off the side of the road, the conveniences they provide are usually worth it.

Locating outfitters and trip planners is easy with the Texas Hill Country Travel App! If you know the town or towns you’ll be visiting, pull up the “Parks” category for that given town. Not only do we list nearby parks that are close by that allow tubing, but the same category includes listings for tubing outfitters who can help you with all the details. It’s a sure way to eliminate guesswork and unpleasant surprises!

Finally, a few general tips to consider before you go tubing:

⦁ Bring sunscreen. Many rivers are tree-lined, but during midday there is often no shade at all on the water...which, by the way, reflects sunlight and can burn you from below, too.

⦁ Hydrate. While alcoholic beverages are usually allowed, moderation is key, since alcohol is dehydrating. Try to balance adult drinks with water.

⦁ Wear proper footwear: NO sandals or flip-flops; wear aqua shoes or sneakers that grip your entire foot, and won’t be swept away by a current. Riverbeds can contain sharp rocks and slippery surfaces, which are no fun bare-footed.

⦁ Good swimmers only. If there are members of your group who can’t swim well, equip them with life jackets, and keep an eye on them. Be aware drowning often occurs in total silence.

If you pay attention to safety and plan the details of your trip well ahead of time, you’re guaranteed to have a blast while tubing one of the many recreational rivers in the Hill Country! Thousands of folks come here every year for the experience, and we’d love to hear and see the stories and photos of your next tubing trip.

Take full advantage of your time here with the Hill Country Travel App, your comprehensive resource for exploration! With over 30 towns, local businesses, events, and more at your fingertips, this indispensable tool is downloadable for free on both iPhone and Android devices.