Tubing in New Braunfels: The Best Texas Summer Fun! (2021 Update)

Can you think of anything more fun than floating down a crystal-clear river, a drink in your hand, on a hot summer’s day? Nope? Didn’t think so. River tubing is one of the most fun things to do in Texas, and the town that takes the crown for tubing in Texas has to be New Braunfels. It has not one but TWO rivers to relax on. This guide to everything you need to know about tubing in New Braunfels will set you up for a day of fun.

And it’s exciting that tubing is back in 2021! After cancellations in 2020, I know there are a lot of people keen to get back out on the water this year.

This post was last updated in June 2021. I’ve done my best to check that information remains current in light of the pandemic, but please check with individual businesses before booking. If you see any errors, please let me know so that I can keep this article updated.

Where to go tubing in New Braunfels

There are many places to go river tubing in Texas, but we love New Braunfels because, as I mentioned earlier, it has TWO rivers! It’s also a lovely little town and there are plenty of other things to do in New Braunfels when you’re not having fun in the water.

New Braunfels is a town of around 80,000 people located in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. It’s about 4 hours’ drive from Dallas and only 50 minutes from Austin.

There are two rivers in New Braunfels: the Comal and the Guadalupe. Both are spring-fed, so they are deliciously cool on a hot summer day. You can float on tubes down either river.

The Comal River winds through New Braunfels and around Schlitterbahn waterpark. Locals bill it as the “longest shortest river in the world” because it’s the shortest river in the country. It’s only 2.5 miles (4kms) long and floating down here will take you 2-3 hours. The best part about Comal River tubing is the fun chutes that divert around the dams – they’re like mini waterslides! The Comal River is super easy to get to, and there are a couple of bars and restaurants on the river bank that you can stop at along the way.

The Guadalupe River is known as the party river – here you’ll find college students and people looking for a good time. Trip lengths vary from 2 hours to 5-6 hours for the longest route. There are some rapids along the river to keep the excitement levels up.

We prefer to float the Comal River because the chutes are so fun. 

Whichever river you choose, you’re going to have a great time.

One thing to note is that it can get very crowded – as you can see from my photos. Floating during the week is far quieter, as is floating at the start and end of the season.

Tubing in New Braunfels is so much fun - although it can be very crowded

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Choosing a company for floating the river in New Braunfels

You can either go with a tubing company or float the river by yourself. Unless you’re a resident or you’ve been floating the river in New Braunfels for years, I’d recommend finding an outfitter to organise everything for you. It makes the trip so much easier and means you won’t have to bring a whole lot of stuff with you.

Tubing companies will provide tube rentals and shuttle you to and from the river access points. Some hire out coolers, life vests and other essential equipment as well. You’ll pay $20 to $30 per person so it’s also a pretty cheap day out. 

River outfitters provide shuttles to and from the river access points
Inside the shuttle bus on our way to start our tubing adventure in New Braunfels!

Reserve ahead if you can, to save time and to make sure you do actually get a tube during the busy weekends. Most of the tubes were gone by the time we arrived to pick up our tubes from the company we’d booked with. I’d recommend hiring river floats with a bottom if you can, as they do provide a bit more comfort.

Pick your company carefully. We had a sort-of-bad Comal River tubing experience with a disorganised company with staff that weren’t very helpful, even though we’d booked ahead online. Read the online reviews carefully.

Some of the recommended tubing companies in New Braunfels include (I haven’t listed the company we used here):

These are just a few of the companies in operation. River outfitters organise trips on both rivers or they’re experts on either the Comal or Guadalupe River, so check this out as well when you’re making your choice.

If you want to go it alone, you’ll need to do a lot more planning: buy a tube, figure out parking, know where to find the river access points and then get back to your car when you’re done floating. In my opinion, it’s far easier to have someone do all the organising for you.

New Braunfels river float: Rules of the river

Your New Braunfels river tubing experience will be so much more fun if you follow a few rules. The rules change regularly, so make sure to do you research beforehand. This is a good site to stay up to date. The company we used did not have the latest information on its website, so we broke a few rules (ahem, don’t tell!) about the containers we brought with us.

Yes, you can drink alcohol on the river (woo hoo!) but you cannot bring your food and drinks in disposable containers. You must pack everything in non-disposable containers.

What’s allowed:

  • Hydration packs
  • Reusable jugs
  • Sports bottles, insulated bottles and cups

What’s not allowed:

  • Anything that’s made from a disposable material. Think plastic, glass or Styrofoam – that includes foam coolers, Ziploc bags and so on
There are two rivers in New Braunfels for tubing - we chose the Comal River

You can bring one cooler per person on the New Braunfels river float and it needs to have a locking mechanism. That locking mechanism can be as simple as a zip or a Velcro patch – anything that means the contents won’t spill out if the cooler tips over.

Bring your music, but it can’t blast sound beyond 50 feet.

Your tube can’t be bigger than five feet in length or width (so unfortunately something like this is out of the question!).

Most importantly: DON’T LITTER and take your rubbish out with you. If everybody did this, there wouldn’t be a need for so many rules!

Finally, there are no lifeguards along the way, so stay safe and keep an eye on your friends, especially if y’all are drinking. Pack life jackets for weak swimmers and kids.

If the water is flowing at more than 1000cfs, tubing isn’t allowed, so check first with your tubing company (most companies also list the daily flow on their websites).

Tubing in Texas - in New Braunfels - is a fun way to spend a few hours

What to pack for floating the river in New Braunfels

Alright, so now you know the river rules. What do you need to take with you when tubing in New Braunfels?

Bathing suit – obviously! For the ladies, I’m loving these affordable Cupshe bikinis and bathers

Sunscreen – there are some shady parts but for most of the time you’re going to be out in the open, so take plenty of sunscreen

Rash guard – if you’re prone to burning easily, a rash guard could be a good idea. Here are some ideas for women’s and men’s rashies

Hat and sunglasses – it’s bright out there!

Sunglass straps – don’t lose your sunglasses, pack some sunglasses straps like these ones (which come in a pack of 6) or this pack of 10 colourful straps

Cooler – bring a floating cooler like this one filled with ice to keep your drinks cool. Remember, no Styrofoam coolers

Insulated cup – when tubing in Texas, it gets hot! We found that our ice melted pretty quickly, so you might want to mix up some drinks and sip them out of this insulated cup or a hydration pack (yep, they’re not just useful for hiking). If you’ve got a group, consider something a little larger like this

Drinks – beer, wine and liquor is all allowed on the river. Take plenty of water, too – stay hydrated people!

Waterproof phone case – this was the best thing I packed! You’ll have plenty of fun taking photos and sharing Instagram Stories from your river float. Just make sure you keep your phone dry with this waterproof case

Dry sac – this bag was a great item for us as we could keep our sundresses, sunscreen, car keys and a small amount of cash dry

Shoes – I wore flip flops and was constantly worried about them slipping off, so I’d suggest packing river sandals with straps. There are times when you may need to get out of your tube and walk over the rocky bottom of the river. Nothing expensive though, you’ll probably end up losing them!

Cash – take a small amount of cash or a credit card if you want to pull up to one of the bars alongside the river. Again, make sure you put it in a waterproof bag

Rope – this is one thing I wish I’d known about beforehand! Bring some thin rope so you can tie your group together, tie your cooler to your tube or your shoes to your tube. It’s easy to get separated from your gang, especially after going down the chutes

Life jacket – if you’re not a strong swimmer, wear a life jacket. For kids, slip on a child life jacket

Cover up – slip a cover up on once you’re done tubing (you can keep it dry in a dry sac)

What else is there to do in New Braunfels?

When you’re not out having fun on the river, what is there to do in New Braunfels? I wrote a post about the best things to do in New Braunfels, and below are some highlights.

  • Check out a show at Gruene Hall, the oldest music hall in Texas
  • Wander historic Gruene. Visit Gruene General Store and buy some fudge or souvenirs and browse through the antique stores
  • Sip local Texas wines at the Grapevine. There’s live music every Friday night
  • Visit the New Braunfels Farmers Market, held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Enjoy more water activities at Schlitterbahn, spread out over a whopping 70 acres

Where to stay in New Braunfels

We really liked our stay at Zink Haus. This renovated property is made up of three separate cottages. You can rent one cottage or larger groups can book all three.

We booked Chardonnay Cottage, the smallest of the three, and it was perfect for our stay. The two bedrooms had their own bathrooms (one with a huge bathtub). The kitchen and lounge room were small but cosy and had everything we needed for the weekend. There’s a decent-sized private garden with a fountain.

I hope this guide to tubing in New Braunfels was helpful for planning your next Texas summer adventure!

Have you ever been tubing in New Braunfels? Let me know in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Tubing in New Braunfels: The Best Texas Summer Fun! (2021 Update)”

  1. I went to float for my first time in summer of 2019- I had a blast! Floated both rivers too. Your tips and suggestions will definitely help newbies like myself to river floating. Highly recommend reading the rules beforehand because they do change. Great Pin!

    Reply
  2. This looks like a blast…with maybe half the people, lol! My family used to go to Texas for vacation every year in the 80’s and a highlight was always going to New Braunfels to Schlitterbahn…brings back some great memories!

    Reply
    • I know – some people we bumped into (literally! on our tubes!) said that it was busier the weekend we went than it was on July 4 weekend. Schlitterbahn is next on my list!!

      Reply
  3. Great post! We love tubing in New Braunfels as long as the river is flowing. LOL! You’ve given great suggestions here, especially recommending people visit Gruene and Gruene hall!! Love it!!

    Reply
    • I just wish it was closer so we could go there more often! I love the Texas Hill Country, there’s so much to do there – and so much history.

      Reply

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