Rafting in Texas

Clear and cold, the spring-fed streams of the Hill Country attract more whitewater rafters in Texas than any other rivers in the state. This area stretches from the central section of the Texas-Mexico border to the Colorado River in the east. Many of its streams are seasonal and susceptible to flash flooding due to high runoff after heavy rains. But the San Marcos, for instance, runs year-round and its clean water appeals to novice and expert paddlers alike. Located between Austin and San Antonio, it is mostly flat water and only one of its rapids is classified. Naturalists can find several species of plants and wildlife that are said to be unique in the world. While paddlers fish for bass, perch, catfish and bluegill, they can observe hawks, owls, kingfishers and herons overhead.

Texas Whitewater Rafting in the Hill Country

Texas whitewater rafting in the Hill Country streams typically offers the experience of whitewater rapids, small waterfalls and boulder gardens. Riverbanks are lined with tall bald cypress, sycamore, pecan and live oak trees, and cliffs are crowned with mesquite, cedar and yucca. The Guadalupe River, flanked by rolling hills and rocky bluffs, has rapids for both novice and expert as well as good fishing.

Further- west lies the Mountain Region, with the Rio Grande offer¬ing some of the most exciting scenery and Texas white water rafting in the state. At the heart of this country is the Big Bend National Park, a truly spectacular wilderness of desert canyons. With sheer walls rising 1800 feet or more, the Big Bend ravines rank behind only the Grand Canyon and Hell's Canyon on Idaho's Snake River.

Texas whitewater Rafting in the Desert Country

Big Bend's deserts abound with cacti, while river cane, mesquite, salt cedar and cottonwood line the Rio's banks. Texas whitewater rafting can be enjoyed all year, but many paddlers say the best period is from Thanksgiving to Easter. In summer the river is at it’s lowest and the air temperature often rises above 110 degrees. The river is highly susceptible to flash flooding, especially during spring and fall. One of the most popular Texas whitewater trips in the Big Bend is Santa Elena Canyon, a 17-mile float between 1500-foot canyon walls. It is enlivened by the "Rock-slide" rapid, side canyons, fern-covered waterfalls and cool swimming holes. Wildlife along this stretch includes eagles, rare peregrine falcons, bank beavers, wild burros and javelina. Within this mysterious and alluring desert-mountain country may be found more bird species, including eagles, peregrine falcons and hawks, than in any other National Park.

Elsewhere in Texas the scenery may be less awesome but the rivers are still appealing to many Texas rafters. The forested region of East Texas has a wealth of slow-moving, coffee-colored streams, which owe their hue to tannic acid.

The nice thing about Texas whitewater rafting is that you can do it all year round. The outfitter guides are friendly and enjoy describing the flora and fauna, geology, folklore, and history as they steer the rafts through the canyons with rapids of up to Class II1-IV difficulty. Floaters can enjoy fishing, camping, swimming and paddling lessons.

Guided Texas whitewater rafting trips last anywhere from half a day to three weeks. Most are suitable for rafters of all ages and skill levels. Many of the guides offer lessons and often encourage the guests to do hands on paddling.

Those wishing to row, however, should be in good physical condition. If you are unsure of you’re conditioning or prefer to concentrate on photography or bird watching, you can elect to ride on one of the larger, guide-operated rafts.

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