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There is no better time to be on the water than the summer. Especially in the Texas heat! With a beautiful river running straight through the heart of the city and tons of peaceful rivers within an hour’s drive, Austin is the perfect place to kayak. Whether you’re a beginner or an experience kayaker, we have you covered.
Here are the best places to go kayaking in Austin, or not TOO far away.
As always, please make sure to follow basic safety rules when kayaking. We recommend wearing a flotation device and choosing the appropriate water for your skill level.
Colorado River in Webberville
About 30 minutes east of Austin is Webberville, Texas, a small town with great kayaking. Cook’s Canoes offers several trips on the Lower Colorado River between Austin and Bastrop, about 50 miles. Their most popular trip is an easy five-mile run between two parks. Discover the peaceful treasure outside of Austin while you fish, bird-watch, and sunbathe.
Inks Lake State Park
An hour away from Austin is Inks Lake State Park, an 800-acre lake popular for kayakers. The lake is a great spot for fishing since there are plenty of catfish, crappie, and bass. The state park does require reservations to be made in advance. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, life vests, and paddles at the park store. After you’ve relaxed on the water, you can play volleyball, have a picnic, hike, or take a dip in the swimming hole, Devil’s Waterhole.
Lady Bird Lake
With this 416-acre reservoir on the Colorado River, you’re bound to find a breathtaking view of the city not far from the busy downtown streets while kayaking in Austin. On the weekends, Lady Bird Lake can be found sprinkled with kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. Gas-powered boats are not allowed so you can paddle about worry-free in smooth water. There are many public access points on the lake, but our favorite is Zilker Park on the west end. If you’re in need of kayaking gear, check out Capital Cruises, Congress Avenue Kayak, or Rowing Dock.
If you’re looking for a less crowded area compared to Lady Bird Lake, head a few miles north on the Colorado River to Lake Austin. While most of the lake is privately owned, there is a public boat ramp on Loop 360 near the Pennybacker Bridge. If you don’t have your own kayaking equipment, check out ATX Peace Paddling for rentals. Motorized boats are allowed on Lake Austin but there’s plenty of secluded areas to stay away from the waves.
For those kayaking with children, Lake Bastrop is the perfect spot. Located just about an hour outside of Austin, this 900-acre lake is great for kayakers, fishing, and more. After spending some time on the water, you can hike, run, and bike around the lake. Because Lake Bastrop is a power plant cooling reservoir, the water temperature is warmer that most lakes. If you’re in need of equipment rentals, Rising Phoenix allows kayakers to take the kayak to Lake Bastrop.
Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle is a 13-acre park featuring hiking, canoeing, and kayaking in Austin. The water, also a section of the Colorado River, is at the foot of the Tom Miller Dam and has picturesque scenes of towering cliffs and wildlife. If your dog loves to kayak with you, this is the perfect spot as the entire park is off-leash. Most of the water is fairly calm, though the water near the dam can have unpredictable patterns.
San Marcos River
If you’re interested in best of both worlds type of kayaking with the lazy river feel and the adventure feel, make the 30 minute drive to San Marcos, Texas. Tubers, canoers, and kayakers alike start at City Park for a slower, relaxed water feel. However, after you get out of downtown the current picks up and you can find consistent one and two class rapids. Become one with nature as you paddle the next 17 miles on the tree-lined river. In need of rental equipment? Look no further than Paddle with Style or Olympic Outdoor Center for kayak rentals, tours, and programs.
Walter E. Long Lake
For those wanting to fish while kayaking, Walter E. Long Lake is the perfect spot. This 1,200-acre reservoir is more secluded, especially on the weekdays. The water is great for fishing bass, catfish, and sunfish, and features plenty of coves and channels to explore. Walter E. Long Lake is surrounded by a metropolitan park, so it’s a great place to bring your family for sand volleyball, grilling, biking, and more. While there are not any places to rent a kayak, you can bring your own or rent from Austin Kayak who will allow you to take the kayak to any location. Click here to see daily rates for the park.