Paddlers know the Texas terrain offers more than prairies with cattle, oil derricks and windmills. There are challenging and relaxing canoeing opportunities, ranging from true wilderness trips to pleasant weekend jaunts. Paddling down the rivers and streams also provides a unique perspective for sights that might normally go unseen on land.
The Rio Grande
The top location for the experienced and fearless paddler is the Rio Grande. The river covers many miles for canoeing, but it's not for the newbie or the paddler who likes creature comforts. The best sections of the Rio Grande in Texas are located in wilderness areas, where access is limited. If you put in for a trip here, you should be prepared to look after yourself. On the northwest section, the Colorado Canyon offers 34 miles of easy rapids and excellent camping. For a long wilderness trip, choose the Lower Canyons, with over 125 miles of scenic and remote desert landscape, punctuated by challenging rapids.
The Brazos River
The Brazos, equidistant from Austin and Dallas, offers of easy put-in points, shallow waters and good fishing, making it a popular first-time canoeing destination. Most paddlers choose the upper Brazos for their trips for long portages and shuttles around several dams in the southern sections. The 40-mile stretch from Possum Kingdom Dam to Highway 180 and the 35-mile run from Highway 180 to Highway 281 are recommended for someone looking to get their feet wet with a multiday trip.
The San Marcos River
Located 60 miles from Austin, and with a good flow all year round, the San Marcos River is a common destination for Texas paddlers. There are plenty of put-in and take-out points, so day trips are easy to arrange and execute. Be advised you'll need to execute a few portages around small dams on the lower stretches of the river if you're planning a trip of the entire navigable reaches. Despite that, paddlers enjoy the 43 miles on this river.