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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Toobin' Tips!

I’m not sure about other parts of the country but here in Texas floating our rivers atop of inflated tubes is a favorite past time during the summer. We will take any chance we can get to fill up a cooler with iced down drinks, don our sunnies and flip flops and jump on in with a crowd of our closest friends. There is nothing quite like holding on to one another’s tubes (or sometimes ankles) as you leisurely float down a long and winding river. If you think I’m crazy – just hang in there for a minute. If you’ve never spent a day on the river you are seriously missing out. If you are new to the scene no worries – you can call any of the river outfitters and they can set you up. You don’t have to be seasoned to enjoy this “sport.” However, I’m here to share with you some insider tips on how to float the river.

Floating (also called toobin’) can be enjoyed both as an adults only or family friendly activity; the age of your group is going to greatly affect how you should plan your river trip. If you plan on taking children along you will want to plan your trip for earlier in the day. There are also specific rivers that I believe are calmer and more “suitable” for children, but we’ll talk about those in a minute.

General Tips

Go early to avoid crowds.
Wear sunscreen & reapply every hour or so – the Texas sun is HOT!
Pack a cooler with drinks & snacks.
Take plenty of towels & a change of clothes.
Wear Shoes! Rocks can be sharp or slippery and the traction from your shoes is helpful.
Know your entry & exit points (especially if you have a shuttle picking you up!)


Floating the river is a HUGE thing here in Texas. If you’d like to spend a holiday weekend on the river – say Memorial Day (the unofficial kick off of toobin’ season), the 4th of July, or Labor Day – you’d better book your stay months in advance. Yes, I’m serious. Everything gets booked up and quick! The traffic is insane and the river gets crowded. These weekends on the river are a lot of fun, but things do tend to get rowdy! In my humble opinion, holiday weekends on the river are not good for children. There will be a lot of drinking and a lot of people and it’s just not a good environment for little people.

Rules & Regulations

There are rules on the river people – it’s not a free for all fun fest. Be sure to know the rules before you head out. There are certain spots that don’t allow alcohol or cans on the river. You can ask your river outfitter and they can give you full details. Remember to be respectful of your surroundings. Don’t throw your trash into the river – it’s very easy to attach a mesh bag to your tube to hold your trash. Also, people live along those banks – don’t throw trash on their property, don’t lounge around on their property – you know, be a decent person.

Find the Perfect Spot

There are a ton of places you can float the river and some of them are very popular for varying reasons. Here are a few of the hottest spots:

Guadalupe Via
Guadalupe River – NewBraunfels, Texas This is “the place” to be when floating the river. Take a drive down River Road to find many choices of river outfitters and camp grounds to stay at. The Guadalupe will be busy all summer long but during holiday weekends it will be packed to the brim. The Guadalupe can be an exciting ride with it's rapids so get ready for a fun time! 

Frio via

Frio River – Concan, Texas This popular destination is also home to Garner State Park.This is the only river on this list that I haven’t personally floated and it’s on my to-do list (and soon!) Garner State Park offers campsites, shelters and cabins for lodging as well as other fun activities – like nightly dances throughout the summer!  Concan is a small town and from what I can tell most people like to stay at the state park. However, there are other places to stay in nearby towns.

San Marcos River via

San Marcos River – San Marcos, Texas San Marcos is near and dear to me because I attended college at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and I spent many days on the “hill” at the banks of the San Marcos River. Even though this town is full of college kids, I have to say that the San Marcos River is a fantastic spot for families. The crowds are usually lighter and the river is calm and cool (72 degrees all year round!) I recommend renting tubes from the Lions Club where your tube rental also includes shuttle service.

Blanco River via

Blanco River – Blanco, Texas My family visited Blanco last summer for their annual Lavender Festival – actually I think it was in April but it was so hot it might as well have been summer! We spent quite a bit of time at Blanco State Park and we had the greatest time! There were plenty of shallow areas for my young children to explore and enjoy. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time we spent grabbing rocks up from the river bed – kept my kids entertained for hours!

As you can see, you have plenty of choices when it comes to planning your float trip and this is only a tiny fraction of the awesome spots you can enjoy. 

Do you float the river where you live? Have you ever floated a Texas river? Where?

---A big THANK YOU to my friends at Petit--Lapin and ATXfoodnews for lending me pictures & tips to help with this article! 

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  1. Great post for Texas Tubing! Its been years but floating down the Guadalupe and San Marcos were constant adventures for me. One time though i was on the Guadalupe and the water was pretty shallow. There were lots of snakes that would swim right between us and it freaked me out.
    I want to go again though.

  2. Awesome post! I really do want to camp at Garner, and tube the Frio. Hmm...checking my weekend availability now!


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