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Kayaking In Texas: The Best Spots to Kayak in the Lone Star State

Mark Armstrong
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With major rivers and an impressive coastline, there can be many fantastic places to go kayaking in Texas. Whether you’re after a scenic day trip or an epic multi-day adventure, the Lone Star State should have something for you.

To give you a taste of what’s on offer, we’ve made a list of some of the best spots to check out.

Kayaking In Texas - PinterestPin

11 Best Places To Kayak & Canoe In Texas

1: Colorado River, Tx

The Colorado River can offer lots of river miles if you’re up for a multi-day trip. The river is generally flatwater, which can make it ideal for families. There are also plenty of access points, making it easy to plan both short and long trips.

A short trip can be from Little Webberville Park to Webberville Park. Kayak and canoe rental is available next to Little Webberville Park.

Another good spot is Bob Bryant Park in Bastrop, where you can paddle seven miles downriver to the take-out at Bastrop County Nature Park.

How to get there:

Little Webberville Park is located off FM-969 east of Austin. Bob Bryant Park is located off Charles Boulevard in Bastrop.

2: Brazos River

The Brazos River is a long river that can be great for extended trips as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. A good place to launch can be near Possum Kingdom Lake, just below the Highway 16 bridge. From here it can be a scenic 10-mile trip to Chick Bend, where you’ll find several places to camp.

You can take-out at Chick Bend or continue to Highway 4. Kayak rentals are available near the launch at Highway 4. This can be an alternative launch point to paddle to Hart Bend.

The river can also be great for fishing for bass and catfish.

Guide to Bass Fishing in Texas

How to get there:

The put-in at Possum Kingdom Lake is at the Highway 16 bridge. The take-out (and kayak/canoe rental) is at the Highway 4 bridge north of Palo Pinto.

3: Lady Bird Lake

Kayakers below railroad bridge on the Lady Bird lakePin
Courtesy: Patrick on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Lady Bird Lake is part of the Colorado River and is located in downtown Austin. This can be an ideal spot to paddle, with fantastic views of the Austin skyline.

Because of its city location, there are several places to rent kayaks, including at the Texas Rowing Center. There are many places to launch, with boat ramps dotted along both banks, including Waller Beach Metro Park.

Lady Bird Lake is known for its large colony of bats that take flight each night during the summer from the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Guide to Kayaking in Austin

How to get there:

Lady Bird Lake is located in downtown Austin.

4: Guadalupe River

Two kayakers at Guadalupe RiverPin
Courtesy: Trek Texas on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Guadalupe River can be easy to reach from San Antonio and Austin. It features a combination of mild rapids and flatwater, with scenic surroundings, including limestone bluffs, native trees, and a variety of wildlife.

The river is also home to a variety of bass (including Guadalupe bass) and is known for its trout fishing below the Canyon Lake dam.

A good launch is at Guadalupe River State Park to follow the paddling trail to Nichol’s Landing. You can choose to continue your trip beyond this to Rebecca Creek Road.

Kayaks and canoes are available for rent at the canoe livery at the Highway 281 bridge.

Our full guide to Guadalupe River fishing

How to get there:

Guadalupe River State Park is located off Highway 46 between Boerne and New Braunfels.

5: Caddo Lake

A beautiful view on bald cypress trees from a kayak on the Caddo lakePin
Courtesy: Thomas & Dianne Jones on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Caddo Lake can be one of the most scenic and interesting places in Texas to paddle. The lake spans thousands of acres and features bayous filled with bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. There’s also lots of wildlife, including alligators.

This calm lake can be ideal for all skill levels. Caddo Lake State Park can be a great place to launch and features a campground and kayak rental.

Paddling techniques for new and experienced kayakers

Carter’s Chute Paddling Trail can be one of the highlights and can begin and end at the state park.

How to get there:

From Marshall, head northeast on Highway 43. Follow signs for Caddo Lake State Park after the town of Karnack.

6: Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore features the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the salty Laguna Madre on the other, this can be a fantastic place to paddle.

The Laguna Madre offers sheltered waters, ideal for new paddlers. There are also lots of beaches for camping.

This can be a great place for birdwatching and viewing other coastal wildlife. A good spot to launch can be at Bird Island Basin, where there’s plenty of parking. Kayak rentals are available at the end of Bird Island Basin Road.

How to get there:

From Corpus Christi, cross the JFK Causeway and follow Park Road 22 to the National Seashore and Bird Island Basin is to the right shortly after the park entrance.

7: Frio River

If you’re looking for crystal clear water and beautiful scenery, the Frio River could be the ideal spot. This clear, but cold river can offer a relaxing trip alongside limestone bluffs and bald cypress trees. The river is shallow with sections of flatwater and mild rapids.

Garner State Park can be a good place to launch and if you don’t want to bring your own kayak, you can rent one from the park’s boathouse.

There are several access points along the river between Leakey and Concan.

How to get there:

Garner State Park is located just off Highway 83, south of Leakey.

8: Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is one of Texas’s most famous waterways and is a designated Wild and Scenic River. It flows through deep, remote canyons and alongside the Mexican border.

Paddling the Rio Grande will usually require a multi-day trip. For a two or three-day trip, a good spot to launch to paddle through Boquillas Canyon is at Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park. The take-out is 33 miles downstream at Heath Canyon.

Beyond Heath Canyon, the Lower Canyons section has Class IV rapids and is not recommended for beginners.

How to get there:

From Route 90, take Route 385 south from Marathon and follow it to Rio Grande Village.

9: Neches River

The Neches River is a wild river that flows through Davy Crockett National Forest. This can be a peaceful place to paddle and ideal for wildlife viewing. There is a 9-mile paddling trail that launches at Anderson Crossing (CR-1155) with the take-out at Highway 7.

The river can offer good fishing for catfish and bass. It can also be ideal for family trips and new paddlers. The water is generally slow-moving with occasional small riffles.

How to get there:

From Highway 7 take FR-511 (dirt road) to CR-1155. The launch is signposted at the bridge.

10: Sabine River

Green canoe on a river bank of SabinePin
Courtesy: Michael Gras, M.Ed. on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Sabine River can be an ideal spot for an all-day adventure. The Sabine Sandbar Paddling Trail offers three different trips. The longest one is 19 miles and can take around 10 hours to paddle to Yellow Dog County Park. This put-in for this trip is at the FM-2517 bridge.

The next take-out is 15 miles downstream at McFadden Landing. You can also launch here to paddle the shorter four-mile trip to the Yellow Dog launch.

This can be a quiet spot to paddle with wildlife and opportunities to stop on sandbars.

Kayak rentals are available at Austin Kayak for self-transportation.

How to get there:

From Carthage, head south on US-59 to FM-2517. Head east on FM-2517 – the launch is at the bridge. McFadden Landing is at the end of CR-438.

11: Galveston Island

Galveston Island can be a fantastic place to explore by kayak. The barrier island is rich in history and a haven for wildlife. Galveston Island State Park can be a great place to access the water on both sides of the island.

The park offers three paddling trails through sheltered waters, with coves and inlets to explore.

Kayak rentals and tours are available outside of the state park.

How to get there:

From I-45, take 61st Street to Seawall Boulevard. Follow the road southwest to the state park.

What Are The Kayak Laws in Texas?

US Coast GuardPin

We have a full guide to Texas kayak laws

Here are the laws in brief:

  • PFD is required for each paddler and passenger.
  • Children under 13 must wear a USCG-approved PFD at all times.
  • Registration is only required for motorized vessels (includes trolling motors).
  • Boating Under the Influence of alcohol is illegal with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
  • sound-producing device (whistle) is required.
  • white light is required for night paddling.
  • Visual Distress Signals for night use are required for night paddling on federal/coastal waters.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Texas

Ok, Over To You…

Now that you’ve seen some of the amazing adventures you could have while paddling in Texas, let us know which one you plan to hit first.

With thousands of river miles and a beautiful Gulf Coast shoreline, you could probably spend months kayaking around this big state. Stay safe and remember your sunscreen.

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