Kayaking is one of the best ways to beat Texas’ miserable summer heat while viewing the sights from a different perspective.
We’re going to look at the best places to go kayaking in Austin, Texas. We feature trails for all skill levels, and we’ll even talk about kayak rentals in Austin, Texas, and the costs of each trip. The best trips occur along the Colorado River, but there’s plenty of peaceful lakes to visit too.
When kayaking these locations, you can bring your equipment. But if you come empty-handed, we’ll provide you with companies that offer kayak rentals and their fees.
Colorado River – Webberville
If you take a thirty-minute trip east of Austin, you’ll find the city of Webberville, Texas. This town may be small, but it’s got some of the best kayaking in the state.
Cook’s Canoes offers multiple paths along the Colorado River, encompassing a 50-mile stretch. If you want a relaxing day of floating, choose the five-mile route that extends from Little Webberville Park to Big Webberville Park.
Both locations have concrete boat ramps for easy launching and loading. You can bring your own kayaks or rent from Cook’s Canoes. A tandem canoe holds up to three people and costs $50 a day or $75 for an overnight trip. Solo canoes run $35 a day and $45 overnight.
Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle, located in Austin, Texas, is a 13-acre island that separates Lady Bird Lake from Lake Austin. This location is most famous as a dog park with plenty of put-ins for water activities, including stand-up paddleboards, canoeing, and kayaking.
Kayakers launch and paddle around the island to view abundant wildlife, towering cliffs, and ancient Cypress trees. But if you head to the outside of the lake, you can take a more extended excursion through downtown Austin.
After dark, hitting the water gives you an astonishing view of the Austin skyline and unobstructed views of the night sky.
You do need to be careful about the current if the Tom Miller Dam opens while you’re kayaking. And you have to bring your own gear as there are no rentals and no access points to public bathrooms.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a massive 416-acre reservoir located on the Colorado River, just a short drive from downtown Austin.
This lake is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. But gas-powered boats are prohibited, which makes the water smooth and easy to travel.
You have multiple access points where you can launch your boat, although Zilker Park, located at the lake’s west end, is the easiest.
If you show up sans gear, stop in at Congress Avenue Kayak, Capital Cruises, or Rowing Dock to check into canoe, kayak, or boat rentals.
- Rental prices for Capital Cruises: Single – $10/hour; Double-$15/hour
- Rental prices for Rowing Dock: Single – $15/hour or $35/day; Double – $20/hour or $45/da
- Rental prices for Congress Avenue Kayak: Single – $15/hour or $35 half day ($10 for extra hour); Double – $20/hour or $45 half day ($10 for extra hour); Triple – $25/hour ($15 for extra hour)
Lake Austin is a few miles north of Lady Bird Lake, located on the Colorado River. This lake is less congested than Lady Bird Lake but no less beautiful.
However, most of this lake is privately owned, so there’s only one public boat ramp. Access this on Look 360, close to the bridge Pennybacker.
You can bring your own equipment or stop by ATX Peace Paddling to grab a rental. You do need to watch out when kayaking, as motorized boats are allowed on this lake, making for rough waters. But there’s plenty of secluded areas to explore.
Kayak rentals are $15 an hour for singles or $20 an hour for tandem kayaks. You’ll owe $10 for each extra hour after that. Lifejackets and paddles are included in your rental.
If you’re looking for a safe, fun location to visit with kids in tow, look no further than Lake Bastrop, located an hour’s drive from Austin.
There’s plenty to do at this 900-acre lake, including kayaking, biking, and hiking. This lake’s unique feature is that the water temperature stays warmer due to being a plant cooling reservoir.
You can head to Rising Phoenix for equipment rentals. It costs $45 a day for a single kayak, $65 for a tandem, or $50 for a canoe. Trips around this lake can take up to six hours.
San Marcos River
Just a thirty-minute drive from Austin, the San Marcos River provides visitors with the feeling of traveling on a lazy river full of adventure.
You start your journey at City Park, where the river flows calm and slow. End your trip here if that’s all you enjoy.
But for an adrenaline rush, stay on the river and enjoy class one and two rapids for a 17-mile stretch along the tree-lined river banks.
Equipment rentals and tours are available through Olympic Outdoor Center or Paddle with Style. Rentals cost $45 to $79 a day and include a guided tour.
Walter E. Long Lake
Walter E. Long Lake, also called Decker Lake, is a remote but prime destination for kayak fishing and cruising. This 1,200-acre reservoir has plenty of room to explore with various channels and coves, plus plenty of open space for jet skis, swimming, boating, and kayaking.
And when you’re tired of kayaking, there are places for jogging, biking, picnicking, and sand volleyball. But most people come for the fishing.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife say that Decker Lake has excellent catfish populations, hybrid striped bass, sunfish, and large-mouth bass.
There are no direct kayak rentals available at Walter E. Long, but you can rent from other kayak businesses and use them here. You have to pay a $6 entry fee on weekdays ($8 on weekends), but there’s a public boat ramp for water access.
Lake Travis is a winding reservoir located in northwest Austin. It is one of the top places to visit for water-based recreational activities, including paddleboarding, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, and fishing.
This gigantic lake has 270 miles of shorelines and 63.75 miles in length, littered with dozens of campgrounds, public facilities, parks, and beaches. Besides being the go-to spot for kayaking, it’s also a popular place for motorized boats, so always be safe and watch your surroundings.
Enjoy crystal-clear water of one of the cleanest lakes found in Texas. During dry times, you can often kayak to the Sometimes Islands. There are also numerous inlets and limestone cliffs to view and explore.
For a sunset view to rival any you’ve ever seen, grab a meal at The Oasis, a 30,000 square foot outdoor restaurant perched 450 feet above the lake. Or head to Waterloo Adventures, Lake Travis’s popular waterpark, and obstacle course.
Nothing is more enjoyable than jumping in a kayak and paddling the open water while enjoying the sights. We’ve given you some of the best places to kayak in Austin, Texas. Whether you take a trip down the Colorado River or paddle around one of the many lakes, there’s plenty of kayaking to do in or around Austin, Texas. Happy kayaking!