Grab an inner tube (a cooler full of beverages is standard or optional, depending on who you ask), plop it in the Guadalupe River, kick back, and let the current lazily carry you down a refreshing tree-lined waterway. It’s a pleasant way to spend a hot summer day in South Texas, even though city officials are making efforts to deflate some of the fun, particularly for the younger crowd who consider it an excuse to get loaded while catching some rays.
The party-on-the-water atmosphere was indeed getting a bit out of hand, with empty beer cans and bottles littering the scenic river and reports of several types of questionable activity taking place along the banks. To combat the excess, lawmakers adopted ordinances that prohibit tubers from carrying coolers with capacities of more than 16 quarts. This allows the college-aged crowd to continue their shenanigans without requiring a case of beer to do so, and, in the process, keep the scene clean and more family-friendly.
Dozens of companies provide tube rental service. To do some comparison shopping, check out the River Outfitters link at the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce website (www.nbcham.org). The following sites come recommended by veteran tubers.
A good place to get your tube in the water is River Sports Tubes (12 miles west of town at the intersection of FM 306 and FM 2673, 830/964-2450, www.riversportstubes.com, 9 a.m. to dusk Sun.–Fri., 8 a.m. to dusk Sat.). River Sports has a prime spot on the Guadalupe right in the middle of the busy Horseshoe Loop, making access to the river simple and quick. Tubers have the option of taking short, medium, or long floats, and when they’re done, the shuttle returns them back to home base. Tube rental runs $15, or upgrade to a tube/cooler combo for $23.
For those setting up base camp in Gruene, the local hot spot is Rockin’ R River Rides (1405 Gruene Rd., 800/553-5628, www.rockinr.com), billing itself as the only river outfitter in New Braunfels with locations on both the Guadalupe and Comal rivers. Call for rental options and costs.
Another popular rental spot is Roy’s Rentals & Campground (6530 River Rd., 830/964-3721, www.roysrentals.com). Campsites are available and, in addition to tubes, Roy’s provides inflatable canoes, regular canoes, and rafts.
There’s also the downtown option of Felger Tube Rental (161 S. Liberty Ave., 830/625-4003). Tube rental is a respectable $7 (with $10 deposit) and the shuttle charge to the pick-up/drop-off point is $10. Be forewarned: Parking is a hefty $7 per vehicle.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition