Tubing the Guadalupe River Horseshoe: Tube Haus in Canyon Lake
by Stacy Curtis
When friends and family warned me the Guadalupe River was cold, I was apprehensive about getting in. I'm wimpy when it comes to cold water! But my girls were gung-ho (as they always are when it comes to playing in water of any kind), and I had a Groupon, so we headed for the Tube Haus in Canyon Lake near New Braunfels.
Canyon Lake is located approximately half way between San Antonio and Austin, approximately 14 miles northeast of New Braunfels on FM 306 west from IH-35. The Guadalupe River creates a horseshoe at this juncture providing a unique entry and exit within a half-mile land crossing of each other. Tube Haus was one of many river outfitters at the entry point. Others include River Sports Tubes nearby in Canyon Lake, and Texas Tubes, Riverbank Outfitters, Corner Tubes, and Shanty Tubes a bit south in New Braunfels.
Rental rates along the river range from $12-15 per tube, but coupons are plentiful on the Internet. You could even bring your own float if you'd like, but it would be tricky to find free parking in decent walking distance. Parking without tube rental is around $20.
We slathered on sunscreen, locked up our car, and handed over the keys to be cared for until we were done. Each of us received a black rubber tube attached to a plastic bottom (for scooting easily over rocks). We carried them a short hike and splashed down, ready for adventure.
The Tubing Experience
Surprisingly, we floated in place at first, not sure just which direction the river was moving. That was good, since it did take a few moments for our legs and backsides to get used to the cold water. The Guadalupe is v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-moving for most of the year.
We eventually got in the flow and spent a fun 3 1/2 hours cruising the one-mile horseshoe, seeing gorgeous scenery, meeting new people (and some tube-riding dogs) and listening to rock, jazz, hip-hop, and country music. Several float groups had their own beverage cooler tubes and even waterproof radio tubes. We had to pause our trek and wait for one group to catch up to us so the girls could listen to a favorite song.
The river at the horseshoe is typically knee-to-waist high, but periodically goes much shallower or deeper (the girls loved these 'swimming holes'). Twice we stood and carried our tubes over water too shallow to hold us.
You definitely want to wear water shoes (and not flip flops) to protect your feet. Many little islands offered areas to 'park' our tubes, eat a snack, meet new friends and catch minnows. We also encountered a slight rapids around the bend.
The tubing experience is best for those five years old and older.
We decided to hop out at the end of the horseshoe, but could have floated another four hours down and then called for the Tube Haus pick up at the second exit point. Alternatively, we could have walked across to the start and ridden the horseshoe again.
All in all, my kids and I agreed this is a family-friendly activity definitely worth doing again the next time we are in the area!
Click here for other family-friendly attractions in the Canyon Lake area. For more about using Groupons for short and longer vacations, click here (link to Groupon article).
©2011, Stacy Curtis.
Stacy Curtis is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas.