Texas Paddling / San Antonio / Corpus Christi?

I am officially moving to San Antonio, TX area in May. Probably going to live north of the city. Looking for any pointers on good paddling locations of all sorts (kayaking canoeing, whitewater, surfing, etc). Primarily focused on good surf spots on the coast and whitewater (Class II/III) since flat water spots are easy to find.

I like to I really like surfing and rough water paddling. Here I get lots of days with big winds and open water on the Chesapeake Bay which is great for surfing wind waves. I assume I won’t get much of that there and that most of my local/weekend paddling will be on mostly flat water like Canyon Lake which I assume stays flat, but maybe there is more wind down there than I think (here we commonly get 20+ knot winds in winter and fall).

Also really like surfing in a sea kayak / beach or inlets. I am spoiled here because I have an awesome inlet (Corson’s) within a couple of hours that produces fast current large standing waves in the 3-5 foot range when the conditions are right. Again….I doubt I will have that sort of thing down there, but it appears like Port O’Connor may offer some wave action.
Corpus Cristi area is not that far so we will probably do a lot of weekends down in that area near Mustang Island / Port Aransas.

I know I have “cast a wide net” with this post. Any feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated!



You may find Texas Waters a bit boring but they get hurricanes.

Gulf surfing is hit or miss. Try contacting HASK (Houston Area Sea Kayakers). A few of them enjoy surfing some areas west of Houston. Tropical storms and hurricanes almost anywhere in the Gulf will create good waves and probably dangerous rips too - enjoy and be safe.

We have some nice rivers in the area but the whitewater is going to be mostly small and those rivers frequently don’t have sufficient water to paddle. Don’t waste your time looking for whitewater east of I-35.

The upper Guadalupe River between Center Point and Rebecca Creek Crossing above Canyon Lake is beautiful and has some nice small rapids and a couple of bigger ones, especially below 3351. The Lower Guadalupe from Canyon Lake to New Braunfels has even better rapids although this section is highly developed and you got to pay for access and deal with tubers in the summer months. You’ll need 150cfs minimum to paddle the Guad.

The Llano River runs on granite and has some nice whitewater when it’s running suffiently, maybe once or twice a year. It also has some unique Texas scenery.

The Hill Country streams Pedernales, Blanco, Medina and Frio also have great scenery and some rapids, but they almost never have enough water.

The San Marcos River is a pretty spring fed river that only has a couple minor rapids but at least it ALWAYS runs. Downside is, there are many small dams to portage.

The Rio Grande, Pecos and Devil’s rivers have some II-III whitewater in a few places, but you’ll be on a multi-day wilderness camping trip.

A source I can highly recommend for Texas rivers is

The Rivers of Texas

The website states the minimum water level, optimum range and maximal level for each river section, among other things.

Join the Alamo City Rivermen to meet some other river paddlers. Message me if you’d like to a do a river trip around here sometime.


Good to see there are Pnetters in the San Antonio area. A dear relative is moving there in a couple of weeks and I hope to visit at some time.

Also hope all that ice and snow melt quickly and the power is restored.

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the information. This is very helpful and very much appreciated! Sounds like there will be many great places to paddle, but also sounds like I may need to lower my expectations for adrenaline…lol


There’s a whitewater park called Rio Vista in San Marcos that you might enjoy.

Hello Mat. I live in Austin and have paddled most of the Central Texas rivers. Class 2/3 rapids only happen when it’s flooding down in Texas. You’ll learn to watch the weather and gauges if you want white water.
As mentioned the San Marcos river is spring fed and has fairly constant flows and is very beautiful. I’ve done about sixty miles of the SM from San Marcos to Palmetto SP. My favorite section is from Fentress, to Luling River park, about 14 miles. No whitewater, just strong currents, eddies and downed trees.
The other Central Texas river that is spring fed and has fairly constant flow is the South Llano, another beautiful river with plenty of access points. Camp at the SP in Junction and you could do the whole river in a couple of days
The Medina river is one to watch, when it comes up to above 200 CFS it’s a blast! Not so much rapids as it is the trees in the river, don’t let your guard down.
Make the most of the ‘wet years’ , they are the exception not the rule.

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One lake that every Texas paddler should explore is Caddo Lake. It’s a flooded cypress forest and very beautiful, it’s a haul from San Antonio, but well worth the trip.

I’m surprised the San Jacinto hasn’t been mentioned.
Not really. I lived within a couple of miles of it below the Lake Houston dam for 8 years. I wasn’t really into paddling back then but wasn’t impressed with it. Above the lake it was a bit more scenic.

Great info. Much appreciated. I will keep watching this post.



Helpful info

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Matt, this group puts on a number of races that might provide the rush you/we like.
If you are close to Canyon Lake, then you are close to the San Marcos river. The river is crystal clear spring water that is a constant 72 degrees, it comes out of the ground a short distance from the two highest access points. The clarity changes as you travel down river, though the quality remains high. The banks are lush and green with tons of turtles, birds, deer and some cattle. You’ll learn how to tell a water snake from a cotton mouth/water moccasin with a quick glance. The water snake will only show it’s head, the cotton mouth has it’s entire body on the surface of the water. If one comes at you swing the paddle at it, this is not fooling advice, it happens. Stinking snakes.
The San Marcos is a great paddle and the first place you should start exploring, in my humble opinion.

Today we went from Staples to Fentress on the San Marcos, it’s a 9.5 mile section.
Perfect day, cool morning, 50 degrees at 9, mostly sunny, light winds. All the trees on the banks are pushing that new lime green foliage that glows in the morning light. About a mile or so downriver we stopped to look for large fossilized oysters, and perched in a large pecan tree right above was an American Eagle. In the nest could we see two young eagles moving around, cool!
Today we had cattle who did not want to get out of the river. There were five or six blocking the river, we approached slowly and all but one gave way. The one stayed in the river while we paddled past. Never had that happen before, cattle usually run at first sight, to have one stay in the river was uncommon. She must have been enjoying the water!
Around a few more bends and there was a small herd of whitetail deer in the river. They took off in two groups, one group went straight to shore, the other ran down the river aways before heading to shore.
Small one normal size Cotton Mouth and small one, both were sunning on logs. The turtles were out in force, they always are.
Today, we floated more than we usually do, to pretty of a day on the river to hurry through.