The Central Texas kayaking scene is thriving, with a variety of different opportunities for beginners and experts alike. Whether you want to hit some rapids and take on the tricky waterfalls on Town Lake or enjoy a leisurely outing with friends, there are plenty of options in Austin.
Kayaking in Austin is one of the most rewarding ways to experience the natural beauty of central Texas. With so many different places to kayak, it’s hard not to find something that suits your interests and skill level.
Whether you have kayaked before or not, you will feel like a pro when you paddle down the Colorado River, San Marcos River, and South Llano River all within minutes of each other.
List of Best 13 Places To Kayak in Austin, TX
- Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a manmade reservoir that runs on the Colorado River. The size of the lake is 416 acres. Austin is a city that is known for its lakeside locale. One of the most popular lakeside activities is kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, a large urban lake in Austin, Texas. Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake can be enjoyed year-round and is a great way to experience the city from a different perspective.
Lady Bird Lake was created in 1960 when the Colorado River was dammed to create the Tom Miller Dam. The lake offers kayaks and canoes for rent and also has a restaurant overlooking the water, a fishing pier, and walking trails.
2.Kayaking in Lake Austin
Lake Austin is a reservoir in central Texas, near the city of Austin. It was created in the 1930s through the building of Mansfield Dam on the Colorado River mainstem. The lake is managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority and provides water storage, flood control, hydroelectric power production, and recreational opportunities for Texans.
- Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River, in the Texas Hill Country, and is located near Austin.
- Lake Travis is surrounded by a number of communities including Rollingwood, Lakeway, Lago Vista, Volente, Briarcliff, and Spicewood.
- Lake Travis has over 100 miles of shoreline and four public boat ramps.
- Lake Travis offers ample space for recreation such as swimming, fishing, and picnicking
3. Kayaking in the San Marcos River
Kayaking the San Marcos River is a favorite pastime for many Central Texans and one of the most popular leisure activities in Hays County. The river stretches 128 miles from its headwaters near Wimberley to its mouth on Lake Travis. It flows through rich, scenic Hill Country terrain with some hills, cliffs, and rocky outcrops.
The San Marcos River is a great place for kayaking and offers a variety of options for beginners to experienced paddlers. The river is calm and slow-moving, with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore.
There are two main types of kayaks available in the San Marcos River, sit on top kayaks and inflatables. Sit on top kayaks are more popular because they are more versatile, stable, and they sit higher in the water. Inflatables offer more comfort and convenience.
4. Kayaking in Walter E. Long Lake (Decker Lake) in Austin
Walter E. Long Lake (Decker Lake) is a reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. The reservoir was formed by the Longhorn Dam and is fed by the Colorado River. The dam is operated by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Walter E. Long Lake, also known as Decker Lake, has a surface area of 4,260 acres and a shoreline of 60 miles.The LCRA lowers the lake level during winter to conserve water for human consumption and agricultural needs.
I’ll never forget the day I decided to kayak Walter E. Long Lake in Austin. It was a hot summer day and the lake was peaceful and serene. There were no other people around which made it feel like I was completely alone in the world.
5. Kayaking in Lake Travis
Kayaking in Lake Travis is a popular activity for people who would like to explore the water and the natural beauty of the lake. The lakeshore is largely undeveloped, which creates an expanse of wildlife for kayakers to enjoy.
Lake Travis is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River, located in Central Texas. With a maximum depth of 200 feet and a surface area of 604 square miles, the lake is the fourth-largest body of water in Texas. The lake is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs that drop up to 150 feet into the clear water below.
6. Kayaking in Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle, a 13-acre island with a nice view of Tom Miller Dam, is undoubtedly the site where you should go kayaking.
Kayaking in Red Bud Isle is an experience of a lifetime. Not only will you be able to see the beautiful, unspoiled beaches, but you will also be able to explore and witness the wildlife that resides on this pristine island.
7. Kayaking in Zilker Park
So you want to try kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, but don’t know where to begin? Well, Zilker Park is the perfect place for beginners. The calm water and scenic views make for a relaxing paddling experience.
Zilker Park is the largest park in Austin, Texas and it’s a great place for outdoor adventures. It’s one of the few places in central Texas where you can go kayaking. The Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail is a 3 mile stretch of water running from Zilker Park to Lady Bird Lake that offers some of the best kayaking opportunities in Austin.
8. Kayaking in Inks Lake
Inks Lake is a destination for both locals and those visiting the area. The water in Inks Lake is clear, making it an excellent spot to kayak because the bottom can be seen. This spot would be perfect for a family outing or friends gathering. There are also plenty of spots to stop and picnic along the way.
Inks Lake is a recreational wonderland in Texas. It’s home to the Inks Lake State Park, which offers kayaking on a serene lake. The 10-mile loop paddle trail is scenic and provides hours of entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts.
9. Kayaking in Lake Bastrop
Kayaking in Lake Bastrop is one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. The lake offers a variety of scenic views and wildlife sightings. You will be able to see the reflection of an eagle, a blue heron, or even a manatee!
Lake Bastrop is a reservoir located in Bastrop County, Texas. It was created as part of the water conservation efforts of the Lower Colorado River Authority in response to the prolonged drought. The reservoir was completed in November 1990 and covers an area of about 12 miles by 22 miles and has a shoreline length of 124 miles.
10. Texas Rowing Center
The Texas Rowing Center is the largest growing facility in the world and hosts 500,000 visitors a year. The center features six indoor rowing tanks ranging from 200 to 2000 meters in length, as well as a 1/4 mile long watercourse for those who want to try their hand at kayaking.
The Texas Rowing Center is an indoor rowing center in Austin, TX with six lanes, and over 7500 square feet of space. The facility is open to the public for $22/hour for adults or $20/hour for children, seniors, and military personnel.
11. Kayaking in Lake Austin
Austin is home to many lakes, and Lake Austin is one of the most popular. For those who enjoy kayaking, Lake Austin has a variety of options from calm to more challenging. This will cover the basics of kayaking in Lake Austin.
Kayaking in Lake Austin is both an adventurous and relaxing experience. The water is clear and the scenery is breathtaking. There are a few different locations to kayak, but we recommend starting at the Greenbelt Public Kayak Launch east of 360.
12. Kayaking in Walter E.
Walter E. is a small, unincorporated community on the border of the United States and Canada. The area is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. It also has an annual festival called “Walter E. Walter” that celebrates the area’s history and culture with a parade, car show, fishing derby, arts& crafts vendors, and more!
13. Barton Creek Greenbelt River Kayaking
Another popular river for kayaking is the Barton Creek Greenbelt River Tour. This tour takes about 2 hours and starts at Barton Springs Pool, ends at Zilker Park, and includes a stop at one of Austin’s historic springs before ending back at Barton Creek Pool for lunch – all while you are kayaking on Barton Creek!
If you are into fishing, then kayak down the Buffalo Bayou and enjoy catching fish as well as viewing some beautiful man-made structures.
One of the most famous tours is the Lady Bird Lake tour. This tour offers a full day, 5-hour kayak session that includes lunch on the water and an afternoon of paddling on Lady Bird Lake.
Reasons to Go Kayaking in Austin (I meant, why?)
1. Explore the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country
2. Challenge yourself with challenging rapids
3. Enjoy the serenity of drifting down a secluded creek
4. See some of the wildlife that calls the area home
5. Learn about one of the fastest-growing sports in the country
6. Meet new people and make friends
7. Relax in one of Austin’s many beautiful parks
8. Share moments with friends and family
9. To try a new sport
11. The water is much cleaner than in most Texas rivers
12. The water is a refreshing 72 degrees year-round
13. You can kayak the Lady Bird Lake Trail, Austin’s urban greenbelt
14. You get to paddle among the bats and the wildlife in the evening
15. You can put on your own kayak and paddle at Barton Creek
16. You can visit the musical “Austin City Limits” namesake
Top Kayak Rentals in Austin To Make Your Experience Even Better (with Address)
1. Olympic Outdoor Center
San Marcos, TX
2. Carefree Boat Club, Lake Travis
3. Rowing Dock
2418 Stratford Dr
4. Texas Rowing Center
Canoe & kayak rental service
1541 W Cesar Chavez St · In Ladybird L
5. Congress Avenue Kayaks
Boat rental service
74 Trinity St · In Town Lake Metropolitan
6. Live Love Paddle
Canoe & kayak rental service
1610 E Riverside Dr · In AMLI South Shore
7. Austin Paddle Shack
600 E Riverside Dr · In Cidercade Austin
8. Peace Paddling, LLC
Canoe & kayak rental
12300 River Bend, Austin, Tx
9. Zilker Park Boat Rentals
Boat rental service
2101 Andrew Zilker Rd
10. Greenbelt Outdoors
2709 S Lamar Blvd P1
Kayaking is a great activity for those interested in experiencing the outdoors and having a lot of fun in the process. Austin offers a variety of parks and lakes that are great for kayaking.
NUS is a kayaking enthusiast who has been kayaking with a local group for the last five years. He loves using kayaks while out on outings on the water or camping when the friends want to have a BBQ party somewhere on the bank of a local lake.
Based on his experiences with the different types of kayaks, he is sharing his opinion about kayaking tricks and required gears so that a beginner can get started right away.
Find his team on Twitter here. Happy reading!