10 Of The Best Places To Kayak in Texas

Texas has long been famous for doing everything bigger, so it should come as no great surprise that their kayaking opportunities are also larger than life. In fact kayakers across the length and breadth of the Lone Star State have wonderful kayaking opportunities across a range of beautiful and exciting waterways, including rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and even bayous that are optimal for a paddling day adventure. Some of them are for beginners who will fare better on placid and peaceful waters while others include thrilling rapids along rushing rivers for the more experienced kayakers.

Whether a person is a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, he or she will enjoy the interesting scenery and varied sights all around Texas from the 10 best kayaking waterways.

1. Devil’s River, TX

The Devil’s River, Texas

For any kayakers looking for peace and quiet, the Devil’s River delivers it in this rugged and pleasantly secluded Texas river. This is definitely a waterway for the more experienced kayakers as it boasts more than just flat and easy stretches of water. Class II rapids exist along the way in between those placid runs. On this river, kayakers are sure to love the stunning blue water surrounded by striking and contrasting desert vistas while paddling down the West side of Texas.

2. Buffalo Bayou, TX

Buffalo Bayou, Texas‘ by Patrick Feller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The residents of Houston are in for a real treat with the Buffalo Bayou. It is actually a 26 miles long stretch of water that goes all through Houston. This is easy and smoothly flowing water running within the Buffalo Bayou, making it popular with beginning kayakers, those who bring along families with children, and tourists. The Buffalo Bayou might just be the best possible way to experience the natural aspect of the megalopolis of Houston, all the while enjoying fresh air and some great exercise too.

3. Frio River, TX

Frio River, TX‘ by FHG Photo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The kayak enthusiasts will come from all across the vast Lone Star State to undertake an expedition on the Frio River, especially in the scorching hot months of summer. It is no accident that the river is named for “cold” in Spanish as the Frio River gets its water from an ice cold underground spring. Thanks to this characteristic, the Texas river remains refreshing, clear, and cool for the entire year. In the summer it is as popular with visitors as one might expect. Yet during the fall months, kayakers can have much of the river to themselves in blissful seclusion.

4. Caddo Lake, TX

Caddo Lake, TX‘ by Dustin Askins is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Caddo Lake is an incredible 25,400 acres large, much like the impressive state of Texas itself. It is ideal and highly recommended for those kayakers who wish to enjoy a day exploring the many varied surroundings and one of a kind natural setting. For those who hope to pass their paddling time taking in the local wildlife, they will not be disappointed by all of the birds that live around the lake, plus the alligators, reptiles, and fish that populate its lovely waters. This is definitely one of the expeditions to bring along those cameras as the beautiful cypress trees that are moss covered and dot the lake shore are a highly recommended and photogenic photo op.

5. Brazos River, TX

Brazos River, TX

The Brazos River is among the longest of rivers in all of the United States. It runs an impressive 840 miles all throughout the great state of Texas to where it eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. As the river is long and winding, kayaking it turns out to be not only scenic but also tranquil.

This river provides a relatively mild ride, yet when there have been storms or water released from dams along the river, it can swell quite a bit. At times like these, visiting kayakers will experience a greater number of rapids as the water levels can change dramatically.

6. Toledo Bend Reservoir, TX

A huge lake found along the Texas border with Louisiana is the Toledo Bend Reservoir. The reservoir provides a great amount of paddling areas for kayakers to spread out and enjoy the weather on the water. It is entirely possible to put in an entire day just paddling over the Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Beginning kayakers will find the water here to be flat usually. This makes for a great level of comfort for them in paddling calmly around the creeks and bends that the Toledo Bend Reservoir delivers to visitors. Even experienced kayakers will find the exploration and scenery worth while.

7. Rio Grande River, TX

Rio Grande River, TX‘ by Jonathan Cutrer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Rio Grande encompasses a spectacular recreational area called the Big Bend National Park. This site is ideal for more than only hikers and campers as it is an excellent entry point for kayakers to enjoy this most famous of rivers that also happens to be among the finest of kayaking river opportunities in all of the Lone Star State.

On a kayaking expedition down the Rio Grande, visitors will enjoy stunning vistas of the surrounding landscapes, including stark desert-like mountains and astonishing breathtaking canyons. For those kayakers who want more of a true challenge, the Rio Grande delivers milder rapids as well as one Class IV rapid for thrills as big as the state of Texas.

8. Lady Bird Lake, TX

Lady Bird Lake, TX‘ by Katie Haugland Bowen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For any kayakers frequenting the Austin area, the Lady Bird Lake boasts a more or less easy float. The lake itself lies in the midst of the state’s capital city Austin, and it has become a well-known and beloved spot for kayaking within the Texas kayaking community. Making it even easier to enjoy the sport is the fact that many kayak rental establishments dot the lakeside. Visitors do not even have to bring their raft to take in the beautiful city views while enjoying the views from the stunning lake.

9. Colorado River, TX

Colorado River, TX‘ by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Colorado River happens to be the longest stretching river in all of the Lone Star State, making it an ideal water for a long (even multiple day camping) kayak expedition. Beginners can enjoy this run too thanks to the steady and tranquil nature of the Colorado River. What the river lacks in thrilling rapids it makes up for with peace and seclusion for those who long to escape from the ubiquitous tubers and swimmers frequenting other waterways throughout the great state of Texas.

10. Guadalupe River, TX

Guadalupe River, TX‘ by Carolyn Savell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A popular waterway with the tubing set, the Guadalupe River lies close to New Braunfels. Kayakers also consider this water to be a hot spot for their own sport thanks to its friendliness to all skill levels of kayakers. The variety of this river means that there is a little of something for all kayaking interests and abilities, between those calmer waters and the Class III rapids.

There are a wide range of places to gain kayak access to the Guadalupe River, which does mean that visitors will share the river with fishermen and tubers as well. Another beautiful characteristic to this river is that it is fed by springs, meaning that the waters will be both pristine in clarity and cool all year long. What is not to love on a hot summer day?

Summing Up Kayaking in Texas

They do not call it the great state of Texas for nothing, as this state has so much to offer its native resident and visiting kayakers. The Lone Star State serves up incredible massive rivers like the Colorado and the Rio Grande, placid waters like Lady Bird Lake and Caddo Lake, and even expansive bayous like Buffalo Bayou. These wide-ranging choices of waterways that are conveniently geographically spread all throughout the state also mean that kayakers of all skill levels will find their own ideal place to drop their kayaks and contentedly paddle away the day in Texas.