By Donna Long
The Guadalupe River lovingly called “the Guad” by locals of the Lone Star state, winds and meanders its way through the Texas Hill Country. It flows past carved out limestone cliffs and mounds of gnarled cypress roots looking like they are dipping their toes in the river as they reach for water. A favorite destination for people of all ages who are trying to escape some of Texas’ sweltering hot summer humidity.
Guadalupe River – A Texas Gem
Located roughly a one hour drive from both San Antonio and Austin makes floating the Guadalupe an easy day trip or a quick relaxing weekend getaway. Along the twelve miles of river are over 30 outfitters eager to help you have a safe and fun float adventure by renting tubes, kayaks or rafts. The outfitters rent two different styles of heavy rubber tubes. One type is the standard open-bottom tube that you sit in the other style has a closed-bottom. The closed-bottom innertube is ideal for holding small coolers with cold drinks and snacks or dry bags for towels and a change of clothes.
If you are not familiar with dry bags, they are an absolute must for water activities such as kayaking, rafting, or even hiking because you never know when a little rain cloud is going to camp out over you. Dry bags come in a variety of sizes from 2L (safely holds keys and a phone) to 50L (good for towels and a change of clothes) depending on your need.
The Needed Equipment
The sun reflecting off the water is deceptively brutal so make sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat to protect your face.
A hat with a medium brim to protect the tops of your ears and water shoes are a must. Flip flops, no matter how cute they are, will not cut it. You are bound to lose one, and unless you are a one-legged pirate, you will either throw the other one out or give it to your dog to chew. The best type of water shoe to wear is something that has a heel strap or complete foot coverage.
Floating the Guadalupe is a fun group activity. Make a weekend of it. We did and had a fabulous time slowly meandering down the river, rolling over rocks in our tubes, with the occasional whitewater rush. It may sound a bit daunting to “hit” whitewater while sitting in an innertube in the water, but at this particular float time, the Guadalupe was only about knee deep in most places. Several stretches of the river the water flowed slow enough that our tubes stopped moving. One member of our group took a nap.
A Relaxing Summer Weekend
Floating the Guadalupe is all about relaxing and not being hurried. Take the time to pull your tube to the side of the river to explore one of the beaches, stretch your legs and eat your lunch you packed.
We knew we were nearing the last mile of the float trail when we started seeing banners from the different outfitters stating to exit right or to “exit after bridge” as was our case. Our outfitters were waiting for us, helped us out of the water, loaded our tubes in a truck, and took us back to the tour company’s office.