When the Texas summer heat starts wearing you down, you know exactly what to do, head for the best swimming hole you can find. While there are many great lakes and swimming areas in Texas, Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country definitely tops the list. There are so many things to do in Canyon Lake, TX that you can not only cool off from the Texas sun, but you can have a great time doing it!
Known for its water recreation, Canyon Lake offers visitors the perfect spot to relax thanks to its location on the famous Guadalupe River. This Texas Hill Country gem is only just over an hour north of the popular cities of Austin and San Antonio, and only twenty-five miles west of the small Texas towns of San Marcos and New Braunfels, making it an easy Texas getaway.
This reservoir on the Guadalupe River is on many people’s Texas bucket list thanks to its scenic rolling hills, gorgeous cypress trees, fantastic fishing, tubing, golf, camping, and abundant wildlife, this area has been welcoming visitors for years!
In addition to all of the lake’s recreational activities, visitors can also enjoy the outdoor areas, some great local restaurants(some with live music), scenic drives, boutique wineries, and even museums, making this a great Texas road trip.
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Things to do in Canyon Lake, TX
Tour Canyon Lake on a Boat
One of the best things to do when visiting any lake in Texas is to get on the water! Canyon Lake covers just over 8,000 acres of surface area, making it a great lake to spend the day exploring by boat.
Bring your boat and launch it at one of the 23 boat ramps conveniently located all over the lake. If you don’t own a boat, no worries, the two marinas on Canyon Lake offer boat rentals. In addition to boats, the marinas also offer personal watercraft rentals! For rates and information, visit their website.
Be mindful while boating on Canyon Lake. There are many trees that lurk just above and just below the surface of the water. These trees can be unforgiving to boats and people.
Of course, there are tours offered of the lake if you would rather sit back and relax and let someone else show you around!
This will ensure that you have a fun day of outdoor adventure exploring Canyon Lake!
Drive River Road
No trip to the Canyon Lake area is complete without taking a drive down the incredible River Road. River Road is known throughout the Texas Hill Country as a scenic, relaxing road that hugs the blue-green waters of the Guadalupe River.
If you want to drive the entire 15-mile long scenic road, from Interstate 35, take the exit for Highway 337 in New Braunfels. Follow this to the Shell gas station that is just north of the Guadalupe River and turn right.
River Road will take you through river crossings, overlooking rolling hills, campgrounds, and farmland while surrounding you with gorgeous cypress trees before ending in Overlook Park. It really is a gorgeous drive, especially in the spring when the Texas bluebonnets are in bloom!
Relax at Overlook Park
Know as one of the best swimming areas in Canyon Lake, Texas, Overlook Park is accessible off of a short trail from the beautiful River Road. Just follow the trail to the water’s edge. You will know when you have arrived.
Overlook Park is a little rocky, but don’t let that deter you. Bring something to sit on and enjoy a day swimming and basking in the Texas sun at an unbeatable spot on Canyon Lake. The best thing is that Overlook Park is free to visit!
Hang Out at One of the Many Parks on Canyon Lake
One of the great things about Canyon Lake, TX is the abundance of outdoor areas and parks that are available to visitors free of charge. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains eight of Canyon Lake’s parks, ensuring that you always have a place to enjoy nature.
Visitors to the Corps of Engineers parks have fun while taking a swim, hiking the trails, hunting for fossils, fishing from the bank, and more.
Go Fishing in the Lake Canyon
Texas Parks and Wildlife notes that the predominant fish species in Canyon Lake, Texas is bass. This includes largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Guadalupe bass, and white & striped bass. I would say if you try your hand at fishing in Canyon Lake, TX, you have a good chance of catching bass!
Now, my daddy is an avid fisherman, and he loves fishing at Canyon Lake, TX. He says that fishing for largemouth bass is easiest in the spring and summer months when the temperatures are cooler. So if the largemouth bass is what you are after, keep my dad’s advice in mind when planning your fishing trip!
Of course, lake conditions including lake temperatures, water levels, and so much more can affect fishing conditions. Use the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to check out the current lake conditions to ensure that you have the best day out on the water!
While fishing from the bank is free of charge in most areas, remember to purchase a fishing license and to follow all state and local regulations.
Swim in the Clear Blue Water
Canyon Lake is the perfect place to beat the Texas heat by taking a swim in the clear blue water. Honestly, taking a swim is the absolute best thing to do at Canyon Lake and a must-do during your visit!
If you have a boat for the day, you can stop anywhere on the lake that you want to jump in and cool off.
If you are choosing to swim from the shore, then Canyon Lake, TX has you covered there as well. There are three nice beach areas located on Canyon Lake for visitors to enjoy.
Just take note that there are no lifeguards, so please be safe and bring life jackets and safety gear with you while swimming in Canyon Lake.
Popular places to swim include Comal Park, Overlook Park, North Park, Jacob’s Creek Park, Randolph Recreation Park, Potters Creek Park, and Cranes Mills Park. Just note, that not all swimming areas are free, some charge a fee. If you want a swimming area that is free of charge, then please do your research before visiting.
Explore the Hiking Trails
Exploring the great outdoors of the Texas Hill Country is one of the highlights of Canyon Lake, so don’t stop with just the lake activities. There are miles of scenic hiking trails located in Canyon Lake, Texas. All of the trails here are just waiting to be explored, and honestly, the hiking trails are one of the top attractions in this area.
Find the perfect trail for your skill level and then set out on a hike looking to see the beautiful scenery. Better yet, during your hike, search for some of the fossils left behind by the Native American people who once called this area home.
Often times you will have the trail all to yourself while visiting Canyon Lake, TX, so be sure that let someone know what trail you will be hiking and where the trail is located. Safety first!
Check Out Canyon Lake Gorge
If you want a really interesting area to hike and explore, check out Canyon Lake Gorge. History revealed itself in 2002 when a horrific flood caused water to spill over the Canyon dam for more than six weeks straight.
This rushing water from the dam created a 1-mile long gorge. A trip to the gorge is like stepping into a natural history museum thanks to it exposing rock that is millions of years old. Canyon Lake Gorge allows you to search the area for dinosaur tracks (which are popular throughout Texas, especially Glen Rose), fossils, wildlife, and more.
Guided tours are even offered of the gorge to teach you more about the flooding from the dam and the impact it had on the ecosystem of the area.
Visiting this area is one of the most scenic and best things to do in Canyon Lake!
Spend the Day at Comal Park
Comal Park is one of the day-use parks at Canyon Lake located on the south shore near the city of Startzville. Open seasonally from April 1-September 30, Comal Park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a fun day at the lake.
Comal Park does charge a fee for entry, but that fee allows you to enjoy so many outdoor amenities including a large swim beach, access to restrooms, a playground, picnic areas, and boat ramps.
Float the Day Away at Canyon Lake
One of the best things to do at Canyon Lake, Texas is to just spend the day floating in the water.
It is no secret that people flock to the cities of San Marcos and New Braunfels for some river-tubing. Tubing in the Comal River and the Guadalupe River are popular summer attractions in the Hill Country. Matter of fact, New Braunfels gets so busy on the weekends from people making the trip from San Antonio and Austin that you can barely get into the river!
Escape the crowds and make your own natural floating area miles away from the crowds by hitting one of Canyon Lake’s small creeks or just floating on the lake itself.
Play Some Golf
Golf enthusiasts will be glad to know that they can play a round of golf while visiting the Canyon Lake area. Lakeside Golf Club offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy their 18-hole golf course.
This course is carved out of the gorgeous Texas countryside and includes a small creek and gorgeous views. In addition to the course, they also offer food and drinks at their 19th Hole Bar and Grill.
Visit their website for current rates and operating hours.
Discover History at the Heritage Museum of Texas
Located near Canyon Lake, on FM 2673 between Startzville and Sattler, the Heritage Museum of Texas is the place to visit if you love exploring pre-historic history. According to their website, the Heritage Museum of Texas is dedicated to protecting and preserving over 200 dinosaur tracks that were created over 110 million years ago!
Heading down a hiking trail at the Heritage Museum means you are in search of history! Take time to explore the natural area around you and locate all of the cool attractions this museum has to offer.
The museum offers tours that include information on the Texas Hill Country geology, the Texas Hill Country geography, the wildlife in the area, and, of course, education on the dinosaurs that once called this area home.
You can find more information on their website.
Search for a Ghost Town on a Scuba Dive
Thanks to the clear blue waters of the lake, Canyon Lake is a popular destination for people who love to scuba dive.
Known for being a relatively easy dive spot, it is easy to see while people come from cities like Austin and San Antonio to enjoy diving in Canyon Lake. Not only does Canyon Lake have several interesting plant and animal species to observe, but it also has wrecked cars and boats.
The most interesting underwater attraction (and what most people make the trip for) is the ghost town that is now submerged under the lake. The town was actually there prior to the reservoir being filled. When the decision was made for this area to be a reservoir, the town was evacuated and the lake just filled in right on top of it! Now, that makes for a unique scuba dive for sure!
Dive access points can be made from the shoreline including access from North Park, Comal Park, and Overlook Park.
Do Some Camping (or Luxury Camping)
For those of you that want to spend some time exploring the Texas Hill Country and Canyon Lake, consider camping near Canyon Lake.
There are several areas around Canyon Lake that allow you to get up close and personal with nature during your visit by allowing only tent camping. These parks include North Park and Canyon Park.
If you are like me and enjoy your nature mixed in with some modern luxuries, then luxury camping or glamping in Texas might be more your style. If that’s the case, then you will have more fun luxury camping at Potter’s Creek Park, Cranes Mill Park, or Rio Guadalupe RV Resort.
Tour Some Local Wineries
You can’t visit the Texas Hill Country and not tour some of our local Texas wineries. Lucky for you, there are several wineries located within a few miles drive of the Canyon Lake area.
La Cruz de Comal Wines is located in New Braunfels and offers wine made from their estate-grown grapes. Priding themselves on wine produced with no added acid, sugar, tannins, or sulfites, this winery is definitely worth a visit! You can find more information on their website.
Dry Comal Creek Vineyards is another must-visit winery in the Canyon Lake area. The wines from Dry Comal Creek Vineyards are produced from 100% Texas grapes and are sure to make you fall in love with Texas wines. In addition to offering wine tastings, wine by the glass, and wine bottle service, Dry Comal Creek also hosts several events. Check out their website for more information.
Final Thoughts on Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is such a great area to explore in the Texas Hill Country no matter what season it is. There are so many things to do here that are sure to have you return to this area time and time again. While here, be sure to explore the surrounding communities of San Marcos and New Braunfels as they each have so much to offer also.
Of course, we always want to hear from you also. Have you ever been to the Canyon Lake area? What else would you add to our list? Please comment below and let us know. If you haven’t visited this area yet, what are you most excited about seeing or doing while at Canyon Lake, Texas?
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About the Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. While she is a professional educator by day, her passion for travel has her jet-setting all over the world during her free time.
Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blog, That Texas Couple. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.