12 Scenic Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in San Antonio
By Natalie Ringel
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Updated August 2, 2021
Brimming with history and culture, it is no wonder why San Antonio is the most visited city in Texas. Along with visiting the Alamo and eating some delicious Tex-Mex, San Antonio is a wonderful place to explore the outdoors. From lazy rivers to whitewater streams, there are countless scenic places to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio.
Both visitors and locals enjoy paddling around San Antonio because it offers a unique look at San Antonio’s historical landmarks and urban centers. However, if you are going canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio to get away from the busy city, there are plenty of lush green spaces with excellent waterways. Best of all, most of the places to go paddling near San Antonio are calm enough for all ability levels to enjoy. With so many amazing options, it can be overwhelming to choose where to paddle. Below, we have created a complete guide to the most beautiful places to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio to help you get started on you epic outdoor adventure.
Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in & Around San Antonio
One of the longest spring-fed rivers in the nation, San Marcos River is a wonderful place to go kayaking in San Antonio and escape the Texas heat. Since the San Marcos River headwaters are at Spring Lake (which is one of the oldest landmarks in the United States) you will have sparkling water throughout your whole trip.
This calm, lazy river is a great place for novice paddlers to try canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio. Along with canoeing and kayaking, San Marcos River is a hotspot for tubing. The river’s crystal clear waters make up gorgeous scenery and also sustain many endangered species.
Many paddlers enjoy kayaking the Zedler Mill Paddling Trail at San Marcos River. This 6 mile-long route is a wonderful pathway for all ability levels to experience the beauty of San Antonio. While paddling, visitors can navigate through clear pools of water, lush forests and even ride some Class I rapids.
San Marcos River is an amazing way to spend an afternoon cooling off in San Antonio. Whether you go tubing or paddling, this pristine waterway offers some of the best scenery in all of Texas. If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak near the Old Zedler Mill. Otherwise, you can rent canoe and kayak gear from TG Canoe & Kayak.
How to Get There: The best way to get to San Marcos River is to drive. If you are driving, start on US-90 E toward Houston. Then, continue on TX-80 N to Scenic Rd. until you reach the water.
If you are looking for a rugged outdoor adventure, you need to look no further than kayaking down the Brazos River. Stretching all across Texas, the Brazos River has earned its title of being an amazing backcountry paddle destination.
Although Brazos River is isolated enough to have that backcountry vibe, it is still easy enough for all ability levels to explore. The river’s flat waters are calm enough for novices and young children who want to experience kayaking near San Antonio.
Flowing through the beautiful bluffs of Possum Kingdom Lake, paddlers can enjoy this breathtaking scenery without distractions. Along the sandy shores, paddlers can spot tons of wildlife and even explore mini islands along the way. This winding river has miles of authentic nature that is best explored by boat.
Since the Brazos River remains a stretch of untouched beauty, it is best to plan your route before getting on the water. Most visitors enjoy planning a multi-day camping trip while paddling down the Brazos River. Whether you paddle for a few peaceful miles or decide to make a multi-day trip, the Brazos River is a great introduction to the outdoors for all ages.
If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak at any of the put-ins along the river. The put-ins along Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury are the most popular starting points for kayaking the Brazos River. Or, you can rent kayaks and book trips through Rochelle’s Canoe Rental.
How to Get There: The best way to reach the Brazos River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-35 N toward Austin. Then, continue on Cameron Park Dr. until you reach the water.
Within minutes of downtown San Antonio is the wild and scenic Saspamco Paddle Trail. Stretching over 29 miles of Bexar and Wilson Counties, this waterway is an excellent way for urban life to engage with the beautiful outdoors.
The Saspamco Paddling Trail is one of San Antonio’s greatest joys. This waterway receives its unique name from San Antonio Sewer Pipe Manufacturing Company, the largest employer and prominent part of the San Antonio community. To honor this company, locals and visitors can now explore San Antonio’s natural beauty on a serene paddling trail.
While kayaking along the Saspamco Paddling Trail, visitors can stay cool under the shade of the famous cottonwood, pecan and cypress trees that stretch across the width of the waterway. In total, the waterway is about 12 miles long, but most paddlers opt to take out there boats at Helton San Antonio River Nature Park which is halfway down the river.
Surrounded by these lush forests, Saspamco Paddling Trail transforms urban San Antonio into a peaceful retreat from city life. If you have your own boat, you can launch you kayak at the Loop 1604 River Access Site. Or, you can rent kayak gear from Texas Paddle Sports.
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Saspamco Paddling Trail is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-37 Frontage Rd. Then, continue on TX-1604 Loop E to the access site.
Galveston Island State Park has everything you need for an epic weekend getaway. Although it is outside city limits, going to Galveston Island State Park is worth the drive. From hiking to geocaching to paddling, there is no shortage of outdoor activities at this state park.
On the North side of the park, there are 3 paddle trails that are great choices for going canoeing and kayaking near San Antonio. The Dana Cove and Jenkins Bayou trails are about 2.5 miles long and meander through beds of seagrass and marshes. There, paddlers can cruise through unique marine environments and spot tons of wildlife.
The third trail, Oak Bayou Trail, is another wonderful option for intermediate paddlers. While paddling, visitors can kayak along the park’s main coastline, navigate through high marshlands and explore the restoration area. All of the paths loop around which makes navigation effortless, but the Oak Bayou Trail is double the length of the other trails.
Along with these stunning waterways, visitors can also enjoy hiking and biking paths that cover the entire island. After a long day of paddling, Galveston Island’s lovely beaches offer a nice resting place. To add on, geocaching and bird watching are also popular activities for those visiting Galveston Island State Park.
If you are looking to go kayaking near San Antonio, Galveston Island State Park truly has it all. From wide-open waters to marshy inlets, visitors can see diverse landscapes all around the island. You can launch your boat at the park or rent kayak gear from Galveston Kayak Outfitters.
How to Get There: The best way to get to Galveston Island State Park is to drive. If you are driving, take I-45 S toward Galveston. Then, continue on Seawall Blvd. to the park.
The green-blue waters of the Blanco River are perfect for beginners looking to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio. This spring-fed stream is a bright and fresh place to explore Texas’ natural beauty.
If you have some experience paddling, then the Blanco River will be an easy and relaxing place to enjoy the outdoors. The best part of kayaking down the Blanco River is that Blanco State Park offers kayaking lessons to beginners! No matter your ability level, all visitors can enjoy the river’s stunning views and vibrant fish population.
If you want to explore more of Blanco River outside of the state park, many paddlers enjoy kayaking around the town of Wimberley which also sits on the river. With put-ins all along the river, kayaking down the Blanco River is a customizable experience and is accessible to all ability levels.
If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak anywhere along the river. Or, you can rent kayak gear and take lessons at Blanco State Park. Visitors also love spending the weekend at 7A Ranch which has access to the Blanco River and many other wonderful outdoor spaces and activities.
How to Get There: The best way to reach Blanco River is to drive. If you are driving, take US-281 N toward Johnson City. Then, follow signs for Stonewall and continue to the river.
For adventurous spirits looking for a challenge, Devil’s River State Natural Area is an awesome place to fully immerse yourself in nature. This backcountry paddling is best for experienced outdoorsmen and women looking to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio.
Before beginning your journey, paddlers must purchase the $10 permit to access Devil’s River and its camping grounds. Spanning over 40 miles, this expansive waterway is ideal for multi-day camping trips and long excursions (most paddlers can kayak the river in 4 days).
Along the way, paddlers can spot wildlife on the riverside banks, kayak past limestone cliffs and see towering bluffs up to 500 feet high. This intensely majestic scenery makes Devil’s River one of the most rewarding outdoor experiences. However, if you do not want to paddle the full 47 miles, there is also a beautiful place to go kayaking at the river’s headwaters.
If you are up to the challenge, going kayaking at San Antonio’s Devil’s River will surely be an adventure. Prepare for some rapids around the hills of Val Verde, another exceptional landscape on the river route. If you have your own boat, you can launch you kayak at Baker’s Crossing. Or, you can rent kayak gear from Armistad Expeditions.
How to Get There: The best way to get to Devil’s River State Natural Area is to drive. If you are driving, start on TX-41 toward Rocksprings. Then, continue on Dolan Creek Rd. until you reach the park.
Located near downtown San Antonio, all outdoor lovers can appreciate the convenience and beauty of the Mission Reach Paddling Trail. Spanning 400 acres of the Mission Reach region, history buffs and nature enthusiasts will enjoy going canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio’s Mission district.
Roosevelt Park acts as the main put-in for the Mission Reach Paddling Trail. This quaint park is a wonderful place to get started on your urban paddle adventure. Eventually, paddlers can choose to take -out their boats at Mission Espada. The Espada Dam is one of the only places to go stand up paddle boarding in San Antonio, so you can give it a try there too!
Most paddlers enjoy the easy 8 mile-long loop around the Mission Reach district in San Antonio. Along with beautiful scenery, kayakers can also explore the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Seeing this significant part of San Antonio’s history from the water offers a unique perspective of the city’s vibrant culture and connection to the past.
If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak at Roosevelt Park. Or, you can rent canoe and kayak gear from Mission Kayaks. With stunning views of urban San Antonio’s history and natural landscapes, the Mission Reach Paddling Trail is a family-friendly place for all to go kayaking in San Antonio.
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Mission Reach Paddling Trail is to drive. If you are driving, take Roosevelt Ave. to Park Rd. to reach the trail.
The all-inclusive whitewater playground in Rio Vista Park is an epic paddle destination for canoe and kayak lovers. Open all year-round, paddling at Rio Vista Park offers tons of different opportunities to explore whitewater kayaking in San Antonio.
While rebuilding the Rio Vista Dam, 3 man-made whitewater kayaking areas were also added to this amazing outdoor recreational area. The rapids range from Class I-IV so all ability levels can get a taste of a wild river. After tackling these challenging paddle routes, visitors can relax at the picnic area, grill some dinner and enjoy a night spent under the stars.
Most visitors spend an afternoon or whole day at Rio Vista Park. The whitewater playground will keep visitors entertained for hours! The best part of Rio Vista Park is that Olympic paddler Ben Kvanli frequents the park and teaches kayaking lessons year-round. After a day at the park, you can also adventure into the charming town of San Marcos for shopping and dining.
If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak in the park. Or, you can rent canoe and kayak gear from Paddle SMTX. If you are looking for a whitewater thrill, going kayaking in San Antonio’s Rio Vista Park will not disappoint.
How to Get There: The best way to get to Rio Vista Park is to drive. If you are driving, take I-35 N toward Austin. Then, continue on Guadalupe St. until you reach the park.
Called “the Jewel of Texas Hill Country”, Canyon Lake is an expansive waterway perfect for all ability levels to enjoy San Antonio’s natural beauty. Nestled next to the Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake offers a mellow space to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio.
Since Canyon Lake is a large lake, most visitors stay near the northern end of the lake. This well-protected area is best suited for novice paddlers since the coastline acts as a shield from the elements. However, advanced paddlers will also love the northern end of Canyon Lake for its easy paddling and gorgeous greenery on shore.
Besides having excellent conditions for canoeing and kayaking near San Antonio, the town of Canyon Lake is a charming destination for visitors. There is tons of shopping, dining, golfing and even log cabins that can be rented for an overnight trip.
If you are interested in going kayaking at Canyon Lake, we recommend starting at the Canyon Lake Marina. Not only does the marina have boats for rent, but they can also guide you in the best direction for paddling that day. If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak at Jacobs Creek near Cranes Mill. For an all-inclusive resort feel, going kayaking at Canyon Lake is the best place for a weekend spent in San Antonio.
How to Get There: The best way to reach Canyon Lake is to drive. If you are driving, start on US-281 N toward Johnson City. Then, continue on Canyon Lake Dr. and follow signs for Canyon Lake Park.
For a refreshing place to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio, the Frio River’s crystal clear waters are one of the purest sources of water in Texas. Receiving its fresh, cool waters from underground springs, the Frio River is an amazing place for intermediate paddlers to get out on the water.
Flowing through miles of Texas Hill Country, the Frio River is an amazing resource for outdoor recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful float trip down the river, or choose to go kayaking down some of the river’s Class I rapids.
No matter if you choose to go tubing or kayaking, visitors will be in awe of Frio River’s stunning landscape. Bordering a desert, Frio River is the water source that supports vast cypress forests surrounded by massive limestone bluffs.
While paddling down the Frio River, kayakers can spot bald eagles, foxes, deer and other wildlife on the coastline’s forests. The river also meanders through Garner St. Park, a wonderful place for paddlers to take a rest and explore more of San Antonio’s outdoor spaces.
Locals and visitors alike all rave about paddle trips down the Frio River because of the clear waters, beautiful scenery, and accessibility to all. There is limited access to public launch sites for the Frio River. Therefore, most paddlers opt to rent kayak gear and book tours through Frio River Outfitters. If you are looking to spend a few days in the area, the Frio County Resort is another great option for spending time outdoors with access to the river.
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Frio River is to drive. If you are driving, take US-281 S toward 3 Rivers. Then, continue on Co Rd. 422 to the river.
The wild and scenic Neches River is a wonderful place for all ability levels to go canoeing and kayaking near San Antonio. With dense wooded forests all around, kayaking down the Neches River is a private and secluded way to immerse yourself in nature.
Spanning across East Texas, the Neches River is considered one of the “3 great rivers” in Texas. This slow-moving, meandering channel is home to many vibrant ecosystems. If you are interested in spotting wildlife, the shores of Neches River are one of the best places to explore near San Antonio.
Brimming with adventure, the Neches River is a natural waterway known for its untouched beauty and commitment to protecting crucial ecosystems. If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak at Anderson’s Crossing or Chandler River Park. Or, you can rent kayak gear from Eastex Canoe Trips.
How to Get There: The best way to reach the Neches River is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-10 E toward Houston. Then, continue on TX-73 E to Port Aurthur to reach the river.
If your busy schedule does not allow much outdoor time, visiting the Comal River is the perfect place for you to go canoeing and kayaking in San Antonio. Rated as the shortest navigable river in Texas, the Comal River may be short but it is packed with adventure.
Sitting next to the Guadalupe River, Comal River’s rushing waters are an awesome place to test out your whitewater kayaking skills. The whole river takes about an hour to paddle, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the area’s surrounding beauty.
In the Summertime, Comal River is a very popular spot for tubing and floating. However, the Spring and Fall is really the best time to experience the Class II rapids and drops of Comal River. Although Comal River is short in length, it is absolutely overflowing with the opportunity to have a wild paddle journey.
These sparkling blue waters are an excellent place to spend a day outdoors. If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak at Prince Solms Park or Hinman Island Park. Or, you can rent tubing and kayaking gear from Outlaw River Rentals. For a quick and easy trip, Comal River is an epic place to experience whitewater paddling near San Antonio.
How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Comal River is to drive. If you are driving, take I-35 N toward Austin. Then, continue on Hinman Island Dr. until you reach the water.
Hippie Hollow Park may be one of the most unique places to go canoeing and kayaking near San Antonio. It is important to know that Hippie Hollow Park is only open to visitors who are 18 years old and above because it is the only clothing-optional park in Texas.
Within this unique setting, paddlers can experience two great places for swimming, canoeing and kayaking. The park itself lies in the basin of Lake Travis. This portion of the park is great for beginner paddlers because the water is calmer near the shoreline. Once there, you will see why Hippie Hollow Park is known for its steep and rocky cliffs that line the coastline. Not only are these bluffs beautiful to look at, but they also provide shelter from the elements which creates a safe place to go kayaking near San Antonio.
If you have some experience paddling, many visitors also enjoy kayaking around Lake Travis. These wide-open waters provide a beautiful landscape for exploring San Antonio’s natural environment.
Traveling to Hippie Hollow Park is definitely a special way to engage with San Antonio’s natural beauty. While this setting is not for everyone, it is still a stunning environment that and an excellent place to go kayaking for all ability levels. If you have your own boat, you can launch your kayak in the park. Or, you can rent kayak gear from Lone Star Kayak Rental.
How to Get There: The best way to reach Hippie Hollow Park is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-35 N toward Austin. Then, continue on TX-360 Loop N to Comanche Trail to reach the park.
What to Pack for Kayaking in San Antonio
Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare men’s and women’s styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair ofsunglassesand croakies to keep them from falling off.
Hat: It’s best to keep the sun off of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip withthese cool water bottles.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringingsunscreen and bug spray in the boat with you to ward off any pests and sunburns.
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