8 Kayaking Hot Spots in Texas Hill Country

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January 5, 2021

A pair of kayakers heading toward Sunset

From Austin down to San Antonio, there is no shortage of lakes and rivers in Texas Hill Country to enjoy your preferred flavor of kayaking. Whether you’re into recreational paddling, kayak fishing or whitewater kayaking, the best kayaking destinations in this area of Texas provide opportunities for paddlers of all experience levels.

For those of you that are new to the Texas Hill Country region, it might surprise you to find so many great paddling spots close by. And even for long-time Texas residents, you might find a few of these spots to be hidden gems worth exploring.

So let’s dive into them!

lakes and rivers in Hill Country for enjoy kayaking Kayakers against a city skyline.

Lady Bird Lake. Photo: Getty Images

Lady Bird Lake

Austin is well-known as one of Texas’ most entertaining cities, but it’s also got plenty for the outdoor adventurer to explore. Lady Bird Lake (named after former-First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson) provides great kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities year-round. And if you arrive in Austin anytime from early March to early September, take a sunset paddle near Congress Bridge to witness the emergence of one of North America’s largest urban bat colonies.

Shoreline of a lake with beachgoers on the sand.

Canyon Lake. Photo: Getty Images

Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is located about 30 minutes northwest of the city of New Braunfels. It’s a man-made reservoir that’s part of the Guadalupe River. This is a multi-use lake that also offers plenty of opportunities for boating, camping, and shoreline fishing. There are a total of seven parks located on the different fingers of the lake. These parks offer launching locations and shoreline access for exploring the different reaches of one of the largest lakes in Central Texas.

A thin rivers runs out of a high skyline.

Colorado River near Austin. Photo: Getty Images

The (Texas) Colorado River

Yes, there is a Colorado River in Texas. And, no, it’s not the same as the one that calls the Rocky Mountains its birthplace. But the (Texas) Colorado River is the longest river in the state and its wide, peaceful waters are perfect for beginning paddlers. Of course, there are many places to launch a kayak on this river, depending on just where you are in Central Texas. And for the most experienced and adventurous paddlers out there, this river also hosts the annual Texas Water Safari!

Kayakers on the current

Brazos River. Photo: dimitrisvetsikas1969

The Brazos River

Spanning a total of about 840 miles, the Brazos River is one of the longest rivers in North America. In fact, it flows all the way through the Lone Star State to the Gulf of Mexico at its southern terminus. During most times of the year, the wide, slow-moving river offers calm, easy paddling for all skill levels. But storm swells and dam releases along certain parts of the river can make this river an attractive option for whitewater kayakers as well.

Kayak Bow with yellow paddle

Frio River. Photo: Getty Images

The Frio River

True to its name (Frio means ‘cold’ in Spanish), this river is a great place to escape to during the hottest months of the year. It’s fed by an underground spring that keeps its water at a cool and refreshing temperature year-round. And it also boasts some of the clearest, cleanest waters in the entire Lone Star State.

San Marcos River

Because it runs through San Marcos (which is home to Texas State University), the San Marcos River gets a reputation for a college-aged crowd. This is especially true during the peak river tubing season, but there are much quieter times of the year where you can enjoy the lush green scenery along the banks in peace. This river offers a little bit of everything, including kayak fishing, recreational paddling and sections of whitewater.

RVs parked near river during fall.

RVs parked near the Guadalupe River. Photo: Getty Images

Guadalupe River

Also popular for tubing and casual river floats during the summer months, the narrower Guadalupe River boasts some great rapid sections for whitewater kayakers. While whitewater paddlers can enjoy up to Class III rapids, there are also calm sections of the river that are perfect for recreational paddlers. And the spring-fed nature of this river keeps it cool and refreshing when the Central Texas temperatures reach their extreme highs.

A man paddles in violet light of sunset.

Lake Kayaking: Photo: Pete Nowicki/Unsplash

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is located about an hour and 15 minutes northwest of Austin and, in addition to paddling, it offers some of the best striped bass and white bass fishing in the state. This reservoir is the second-largest of the Highland Lakes in Central Texas, so there’s plenty of shorelines and open water to explore. And if you’re looking for a specific recommendation, Cedar Point Recreation Area is one of the largest pieces of public land on the lake and offers more than three miles of shoreline.

Good Sam Parks in Texas Hill Country

If you want to get away for a little RV staycation in Central Texas, you’ll probably want to roll your rig somewhere with water nearby. So check out two of the highest-rated Good Sam RV parks in your neck of the woods!

Geometric hot tube in resort.

Photo: La Hacienda Sun RV Resort

La Hacienda Sun RV Resort

The La Hacienda Sun RV Resort in Austin is perfectly situated for paddling on the (Texas) Colorado River. This location is perfect for Central Texas RVers looking for a relaxing, luxury staycation spot. There are a total of more than 180 sites available at this park with full hookups and the ability to accommodate rigs up to 90 feet in length. The resort also offers WiFi, an enclosed dog run, heated pool and hot tub, recreation hall, and much more!

Aerial shot of RV resort

Summit Vacation & RV Resort

Summit Vacation & RV Resort

If you’re looking for a spot a little further south, the Summit Vacation & RV Resort is located just 20 minutes from the shores of Canyon Lake. It’s also situated a little further down on the Guadalupe River, which offers its own paddling opportunities. The resort itself features more than 90 full hookup sites and they accommodate rigs up to 80 feet in length. In terms of amenities on-site, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor games, nature trails, a recreation hall and game room, a swimming pool and hot tub, and more!

Kayakers navigate gentle rapids on a river.

Pecan Park Riverside RV Park

Pecan Park Riverside RV Park

Situated just five miles outside of the center of San Marcos, the Pecan Park Riverside RV Park sits on the banks of the San Marcos River. While this river can get really crowded with tubers and swimmers during the summer and fall, it also offers great paddling during the off-season. The RV park boasts a total of 75 full hookup sites and accommodates rigs up to 75 feet in length. In addition to river access, you can also enjoy a heated pool and hot tub, a riverfront beach area, outdoor games, nature trails, and more on the premises.