top of page

A Summer Float Down the Comal River

Updated: May 28

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer season here in Central Texas, when 100 degree temperatures make aquatic activities a necessity.


One of my favorite summertime pursuits is spending a lazy afternoon on an innertube for a relaxing float down the Comal River in New Braunfels.


People in bathing suits sit in innertubes on the Comal River in New Braunfels, Texas
Summer on the Comal River

Last weekend, I met three friends at Texas Tubes for our seventh annual Kicking Off Summer excursion on the Comal, a Texas Hill Country gem.


Surprisingly, Texas Tubes’ parking lot was relatively empty, and I was able to secure one of the approximately thirty free parking spots (please note that if the parking lot is full, you will need to find parking on the neighboring streets).


There are restrooms and showers onsite if you need to change into your bathing suit before or rinse off when you get back from your float.


The tube rental and shuttle ride back to the parking lot was $25 plus tax, and you get your choice of an innertube with or without a bottom (I took one with a bottom because I think it is more comfortable, but hardcore floaters have strong and varying opinions on this).


Two women stand at the cashier desk at Texas Tubes in New Braunfels
Cashier Desk at Texas Tubes

Thankfully, thick clouds blocked the powerful late May sun, and the outdoor temperature was in the low 90s when we jumped on our tubes and entered the refreshing 70-degree river water.


The float takes approximately three to four hours and offers stunning natural views of New Braunfels' unique Hill Country riverfront terrain.


Austin Rosenthal and two friends are on the Comal River on Tubes
The Buddies On the River

Over the course of the first hour as we made our way down river from the Texas Tubes launch site, the waterway became much busier, especially as we approached the bend close to Hinman Island Park, a local park replete with picnic tables, BBQ grills and sunbathers.


The crowd in the water ranged from high school and college students to biker gangs and everyone in between.


Country music blasted from large speakers aboard innertubes, and large groups shared conversations around coolers that were strapped to special floats.


People on tubes sit next to a massive speaker strapped to a lime green tube on the Comal River in New Braunfels, Texas
Massive Speaker (and Cooler) Strapped to a Tube

One lengthy conversation I overheard amongst Texas State college students revolved around whether or not it was superior to pee in the shower vs. the toilet - apparently, their consensus was that the shower is best.


Perplexed by the startling information imparted from the newly minted graduates and starting to bake in the now steadily shining sun, I decided to hug the southern shoreline to get some shade in solitude under the overhanging trees and reapply my sunscreen.


Apparently, I was not the only one with this idea, as I noticed two deer stopping at the edge of the river to get a nice cool drink of water.


I wish I could have snapped you a picture, but in a way I didn't want to disturb these beautiful creatures that had decided to join a Memorial Day Weekend party with all of us, and to be honest, I was kind of neurotic about taking my phone out of its waterproof case.


Needless to say, these immaculate cotton-tailed deer were completely unperturbed by the musical disturbances going on beyond the tree-lined shore, and I may have been the only one who saw them before they scurried up the hill into the thick woods.


It was an incredible reminder of the symbiosis of humanity and wildlife, and I took a long deep breath after they were gone.


Feeling refreshed, I then pushed myself back out into the main channel and rejoined my buddies as we headed towards the Chute.


As you progress around the bend near Hinman Island Park, there is a Tube Chute ahead of you, and this challenging mini rapids can cause you to tip over if you are not attentive. Be sure to keep all of your belongings secure when you "chute" the rapids!


There are stairs before the chute if you aren’t inclined to jeapardize your valuables, and as you exit the chute there is a shallow spot at the Float In, an excellent place to stand and catch your breath before heading down river.


Austin Rosenthal stands in the Comal River with his innertube in front of the Float In
Standing in the shallow water at Float In

After exiting another small chute, the river narrows and its strong current takes you quickly past the Schlitterbahn water park, which is up on the hill on your left.


The final half of the float is visually appealing, with beautiful riverfront Hill Country homes on stilts high above the flood plain. Furthermore, the river is shallow enough to walk so you can speed up or slow down your journey as you wish.


At the end of the float, you will see a sign for Texas Tubes, and you will need to navigate yourself out of the river with your tube, which requires some agility.



After climbing a steep staircase with your float, you wait in line for the Texas Tubes white school bus shuttle to take you back on a 10-minute drive to your parked vehicle.


As the four friends headed back on the bus, we were drunkenly serenaded by the same college students who were previously discussing the rules of etiquette for shower urination.


The song they sang was Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," which was a fitting end to a heavenly day.


********************************************************************************


Here is some vital information you need to know before you make the trip.


According to Visit New Braunfels, preparing for a day on the Comal river involves the following:


  1. A Good Attitude — Being in the hot sun with a crowd can cause some frustrations. Be smart, keep cool, and remember we are all here to have a good time.

  2. Proper Footwear — The Comal River is a naturally flowing body of water. You can expect to encounter rocks, silt, floating debris, muddy banks, and other natural elements. Proper water shoes are highly recommended - especially when you have to get out of the water at the end and need grip amongst the mossy rocks and stairs.

  3. Sunscreen and Shade — Apply before you depart and while on the water. A hat helps keep you cool and out of the sun.

  4. Drinking Water — Soft drinks and beer can be refreshing under the Texas sun, but be sure to follow them up with adequate water and electrolytes.

  5. Waterproof Phone Case/Lanyard/Dry Sack — Please, take only what you will need for your New Braunfels tubing adventure. Leave your jewelry, extra keys, and wallets at home. Any items you bring should be protected from the sun, grit, and water. Purchasing a waterproof phone case is ESSENTIAL if you want to bring your phone with you on the journey. I wear one that hangs around my neck.


Expect to spend anywhere between $15-30 per person, including shuttle, tube rental, and fees. Most New Braunfels outfitters require a drivers license or credit card to hold as a rental deposit.


While you can bring a cooler and certain items onto the river, be sure to check the rules below and on the Comal County website.


COMAL RIVER RULES

  • No disposable containers.

  • No glass.

  • No foam containers.

  • No littering.

  • Lifejackets are recommended for weak swimmers and children under eight. During peak season, the City of New Braunfels has free life jackets available for all Comal River tubers. Get yours at the New Braunfels City Tube Chute or other river outfitters.

  • No volume drinking devices.

  • No containers under 5 fluid oz.

  • Noise devices must not be audible beyond 50 feet.

  • No jumping from bridges, dams, or trees into the Comal River.

  • Coolers must have a clasp on the lid (zipper, Velcro, latch, cord) with a maximum size of 30 quarts and 1 cooler per person.

  • Vessels on the Comal River may not be over 18 feet in length.

  • Limit of two tubes per person.

  • Canoes and kayaks may not use the Last Tubers Exit on the Comal River on weekends and holidays.

  • Round inflatable tubes cannot be bigger than five feet (5′) in diameter.


***************************************************************************************


To learn more about Texas Hill Country getaway destinations such as New Braunfels and the Comal River, click to read my article here.

96 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentário


What a time it was! An additional “No-No” apparently is bringing ziplock bags onto the river. I was told it is a $1,000 fine by one of the Texas Tubes employees so I discarded it promptly.

Very scenic float and the watershoes are a MUST! I look forward to another “float” in the near future.

Curtir
bottom of page