Kayaking can be a relaxing activity, for anyone. It is an effective way to maintain social distancing and enjoy time in lap of nature, amidst the ongoing pandemic. However, the location chosen for kayaking plays a key role in the ultimate enjoyment. In a state like Texas, kayaking opportunities are abundant. The Lone Star State is replete with vast rivers, plenty of lakes, reservoirs and inland waterways. There are so many places suited for beginners and also for veteran kayaking enthusiasts.
How To Pick A Kayaking Destination In Texas
You have to think of aspects like your preferences, budget, interest in wildlife and penchant for serenity while picking kayaking destinations in Texas. If you are new to this, renting a kayak makes sense. You also have to look for availability of places selling water sports accessories. If you do not have any prior experience, opt for the places where guided kayaking tours are available.
Best 5 Lakes and Paddling Trails In Texas
There are some beautiful and serene paddling trails and lakes in the state you can pick from.
1. Toledo Bend Reservoir
The pretty Toledo Bend Reservoir is a massive sized lake located on the border of two states- Louisiana and Texas. The water is flat and easy to paddle through. The place is so calm that makes it ideal for detoxifying the mind and body.
2. Lady Bird Lake
The beginners in kayaking opt for the Lady Bird Lake and the reasons are obvious. The lake located in capital Austin, spanning over 468 acres is only 18 feet deep. This makes it absolutely ideal for the novice kayaking lovers! If you want to experience something different, take part in the famous Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Tours. However, the lake is not very serene. You will find quite a number of kayak rental establishments near the lake shore.
3. Caddo Lake
A large sized lake liked by water sports lovers; Caddo lake is spread over an area of 25,400 acres. The lake shore is replete with gorgeous cypress trees, coated with layers of moss. The lake is ideal for the shutterbugs and the wildlife lovers will also find it enticing. You will spot so many types of birds in and around the lake. The diverse species of fish and reptiles in the water also add to the attraction.
4. Buffalo Bayou
Located in downtown Houston, it is where you get 26-mile trek for paddling in peace. While the seasoned kayaking lovers will cover the entire stretch within a couple of hours, it should be more than adequate for those new in this sport. Of course, you can opt for the guided tours in this trail. The wildlife loving lot will be delighted. The species that you can spot in Buffalo Bayou include hawks, herons and turtles. Plenty of kayak rentals operate in this area. You will feel at ease owing to the trail’s Smooth-flowing water.
5. Lake Travis
It is a top kayaking destination in the capital city of Texas. The hilly backdrop encircling the lake will offer you great imaging opportunity. However, it is not likely to be serene given the fact other water sports lovers also prefer it.
Best 8 Rivers In Texas For Kayaking
1. Brazos River
The Brazos River may not be the best for kayaking but some sections are preferred by kayaking lovers. You should head to the Palo Pinto Mountains. The river is replete with large boulders and water clarity is relatively better. The area is surrounded by rocks, and the sunsets can be very beautiful. You will encounter a number of rapids while kayaking in this river. Water level does not remain the same yearlong and so plan kayaking trip in the Spring.
The river is replete with bass and some of them can be big enough to tempt for the angling lovers. If you are an ace angler, catching some trouts while kayaking is also a possibility. The Brazos River runs for 840 miles through Texas and then it ends at the Gulf of Mexico. The river water remains clam except when water is released from the dams.
2. South Llano River
There are many reasons to prefer South Llano river for kayaking in Texas. It gives you so many thrills to explore and the natural backdrop is amazing, to say the least. The seasoned kayaking lovers will like navigating through the boulders in the water, amidst the stunning and large granite formations. The river shore is replete with wildlife species.
You will spot rattlesnakes, Turkeys, deer, and hogs every now and then. The vegetation seen in the water includes lily pads and Alligator Weed. Water visibility is however just average. You may resort to angling in the river. You may also head to the pretty South Llano River State Park. It is ideal for families.
3. The Devils River
The Devil’s river is ideal for kayaking and angling, away from the chaos of urban jungle. The hilly desert backdrop is awe inspiring and the dashes of greenery are also soothing on the eyes. However, you will not find a lot of huge trees on the shoreline. For most part, you will not see too many people around and that can be bliss actually!
The Dolan Falls area near Del Norte is perfect for relaxing and the water is quite clean here. The river has rock bottom and the river water remains clear as it is fed by water springs. Fishing opportunities are also good.
4. Frio River
The Frio River is known for its scenic beauty. The rock surroundings look enticing and the water is clear. You will spot large Cypress trees on the shoreline. The view of mountains gets blocked by the huge trees but the shutterbugs will love the river nevertheless. However, fluctuation in water level can be drastic and in summer days, some parts of the river are too shallow for kayaking.
If you love fishing while kayaking, the clear water will make you delighted. Quite often you will spot large sized bass swimming through the alligator weeds beneath the water. The fallen Cyprus trees in the river serve as hotspots for angling. The water is more or less calm though you will encounter a few rapids. Camping options along the river are also available.
5. Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande river is ideal for kayaking and the area near Big Bend National Park is preferred by the novices. The surrounding landscapes look grandiose. The view of mountains and huge canyons can be mind blowing. The veteran kayaking lovers will love the rapids as well.
6. Guadalupe River
Located near New Braunfels, the Guadalupe River has become a hot spot for the kayaking lovers. The river is ideal for all types of enthusiasts. Pick from calm water and class II rapids, based on your skill and penchant! The water clarity is very good and it remains cool. The Guadalupe River state park region is beginner friendly.
7. Colorado River
Another large river that flows through Texas, it is sought after by the veteran kayaking lovers. It is actually the state’s longest stretching river and so you can plan kayaking trip comprising of several days, along the river route. Granted, you will not find too many thrilling rapids to test your skills. However, the serenity and amazing scenery more than makes up for it.
8. Medina River
Those who love to indulge in kayaking without giving up on the amenities and comfort should choose the Medina River. The glistening bluish water is enticing. The trees are large enough to offer shading as you keep paddling in the river. So many rental and kayak tours are offered. You can rent accessories like bags and cases for your gadgets.
The Legal Norms For Kayaking In Texas
Texas is a haven for kayaking enthusiasts, for sure. Its numerous lakes, rivers and water bodies offer something for everyone interested in the activity. However, you have to be aware of the laws on kayaking in the state.
Listed below are the kayaking law nuances in Texas that you should know:
- Those below 13 years need to wear a PFD cleared by the US Coast Guard.
- In case you install a motor on the kayak, it is deemed a motorized vessel. Then you have to get it registered.
- If you want to paddle at night, you have to carry bright lights.
- You cannot drink when you indulge in kayaking, as per the law. Imprisonment and monetary fines- both can occur if you violate the law.
- For fishing while kayaking in Texas, you have to get a fishing license.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.