If you’ve spent any time at all in the Texas Hill Country during the summer months you’ll hear folks talk about “tubing”. As in, “Hey, you wanna join us? We’re going tubing this weekend.” Before you shake your head and wonder about the mental state of folks in Central Texas, let me explain the concept of tubing. First of all, let’s start with a picture of a “tube”.
Now that we know what a tube is we can delve even deeper into a condensed and abbreviated definition:
“Free-floating tubing often takes place on rivers and streams. The tube riders are conveyed by the current of the water. People paddle with their hands to steer while groups of tubers often rope their tubes together creating a large floating group. This generally slows down the float but allows the group to pass food and drink around. Longer expeditions often include tubes mounted with coolers for food and beverages.”
So in other words tubing looks like this:
I’ve lived in San Antonio since 2003 and almost from the beginning I would hear folks talk about tubing. I had a vague sense of what it was, but it wasn’t until I actually went tubing that I truly understood the attraction.
Up until recently my floats have been on the wild and untamed Guadalupe River. However, this year because of low rainfall and drought conditions we decided to give the Comal River a try. Let me tell you it was love at first site and by the time I was floating down river, I was hooked!
Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
Start off by stopping at one of the local River Outfitters. You can bring your own tube and manage a two car drop off/pick up plan. In my time as a tuber, I have been very happy using the services of the River Outfitters. In doing so, I am supporting the local economy while making my float experience fun and hassle-free. Price ranges anywhere from $14-$20 depending on whether the tube you select has an attached bottom or is au natural. I highly recommend opting for a tube with a bottom. Other than being a place to rest your bottom, It has the added benefit of being a place you can hold your extra gear.
We always rent an extra tube for our ice chest to hold ice cold beverages and sandwich fixings. Being in the sun for a few hours has a tendency to make you hungry so it’s always a good idea to take some food along. Before you leave the River Outfitters, make sure you grab some rope and a trash bag. You’ll want to tie that ice chest tube to your group and of course we want to keep the river clean so a trash bag is a must.
The last thing you’ll need before you leave is plenty of sun block. The water is as ice cold as the sun is hot. After a day of fun the last thing you want is a nasty sunburn. I won’t go into the details about how I know this to be true.
Now that I’ve given you my tips for a successful river float, let’s get back to my recent Comal River experience:
The water was cold and flowing which meant I didn’t have to paddle in order to keep moving. In the triple digit heat we’ve had recently this was exactly what we needed. One of the first things I noticed about the Comal River was it’s neat and clean appearance. The next thing I noticed was how organized the tubing experience was. I was glad to see Park Police were on hand to keep folks safe and secure.
I also noticed signs along the river letting us know what was coming ahead. No surprises meant we could relax and enjoy ourselves instead of being concerned with unexpected rapids or drops. What was especially impressive was seeing Life Guards before and after the River Chute. We were able to enjoy the excitement of going down the fast rushing water chute knowing there were trained responders on hand.
When we were done with our 2 1/2 hour float we picked up our tubes and headed to the waiting River Outfitter vehicles. They loaded our tubes and drove us back to the starting point. We could pack up and go home or for the bold and the brave go for another round of floating. Naturally, we jumped right back in the ice cold water and went for round two.
The Comal River float winds through the City of New Braunfels, TX in the Heart of the Hill Country. Our family had such a wonderful time last weekend. So much so that the Comal River will be our next river destination. The good thing is that we won’t have to wait long. We’ll be part of the folks flocking to the Comal River this 4th of July weekend. I can think of no better way to celebrate Independence Day Weekend than to relax and enjoy the freedom of a river float. Wave if you see me there. I’ll be the one with the water gun helping keep folks cool.
If you want to have even more fun, check out the other activities on the list. Other San Antonio bloggers have provided their take on some of the best activities in the area.
Take a look:
5. San Antonio Missions Baseball Game Fourth of July Extravaganza, by Derrich Rodriguez
4. Fourth of July Celebration in Luckenbach, TX, by Luis Sandoval Jr.
3. Tubing on the Comal River (New Braunfels, TX), by Jennifer Navarrete (good thing you’re already here, eh?)
2. Celebration on the River (Kerrville, Texas), by Shelley Cook
1. Aqua Boom Festival on Lake LBJ, by Jessica Young
The locals will tell you there is simply no better way to spend a hot, lazy Texas afternoonâ€”and the fourth of July is no exception. Independence Day is regarded as one of the best days of the year to break out the swimsuit and float down the river with a group of friends. The water of the Comal River is cool and quick, perfect for a day of relaxation and fun in the sun.
This blog post is part of the JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa â€œList of the Best Things to do in the Texas Hill Countryâ€ Blog Scavenger Hunt. The goal is to compile a list of the best ways to spend this Fourth of July (and any day of the year!) in the Hill Country. Thank you for helping us discover the Hill Country â€“ the home of the newest and largest JW Marriott Resort, opening January 2010.
River float image by Texas Tubes
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Intro: I’m from Ecuador. End Intro.
The way we tube back home is INTENSE. We grab tubes and basically go down rapids while someone – who I imagine (or hope!) gets paid ludicrous sums of money since the job is the most dangerous and intense workout I can think of… – holds on to us for dear life while ALSO steering us in the right direction (A.K.A. away from rocks…)
I first tubed the Comal River in 2007 and it is without a doubt one of the most relaxing experiences ever. The kind of thing you do once and is enough to NEVER have you go back to doing it the old way…
I’m with you on this one. Love to float.
With the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers running through it, visitors and locals alike enjoy a variety of water recreational activities, one of the most popular being tubing
Indeed. My recent tubing adventures now involve riding my bike from Downtown San Antonio up to New Braunfels and then jumping in the Comal River for a much deserved reward.
I give mad props to Tito and the Tour de Toob folks for organizing their bike and float event every year.
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