Best Places to Go Kayaking in Austin, Texas

Austin, the capital of Texas, is home to several lakes, rivers and natural sights, making it a hub for outdoor activity. Your stay here would be incomplete without a tour of any of its beautiful waters. These places draw visitors to enjoy water-based activities like swimming, fishing, and kayaking. This article guides you through kayaking in Austin, listing the best kayaking locations.

Best Places to Kayak in Austin, Texas

The ease with which kayaking balances fun and numerous health benefits is chief of the reasons many people look to hit the waters. And the number of excellent water spots in Austin, Texas, makes it a hotspot for kayaking enthusiasts. Whether you prefer kayaking within the city’s skyline or in quieter places, Austin has the best locations for you. 

Here are a few kayaking locations you should check out:

  1. Lake Austin
  2. Lady Bird Lake
  3. Walter E. Long Lake
  4. San Marcos River
  5. Lake Travis
  6. Lake Bastrop

6 of the Best Places to Go Kayaking in Austin, Texas

1. Lake Austin

Austin being one of the largest cities in Texas means many of its outdoor locations are like to be crowded. On the other hand, Lake Austin is some distance from the city, making it one of the few locations unlikely to be packed to the rafters. 

Located a few miles north on the Colorado River, Lake Austin begins at the Mansfield Dams and ends at Tom Miller’s Dams. The lakes here are under private ownership. As such, visitors will have to launch from areas like Walsh Boat Landing, Fritz Hughes Park and Emma Long Metropolitan Park (This park charges an entrance fee). 

The presence of motorized boats on the lake makes it an unfavorable choice for people looking for calmer waters. If the presence of these boats would not be a problem, you are in for a treat as this lake is a prime location to get some fishing done. 

Lake Austin is the perfect spot for families, anglers and those who want to enjoy kayaking away from the city crowd. 

2. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is one of the most popular places to visit in Texas. This Lake, formerly called the Town Lake, is one of the best places for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing in Austin. 

Located in the city’s heart, Lady Bird Lake is an artificial 416-acre reservoir formed by damming the Colorado river in 1960. It features an array of spectacular sceneries, breathtaking skyline views, and sparkling buildings in downtown Austin. 

It is a fun hotspot and social hub as you will likely meet other people who share the same love for kayaks, boats and canoes. As a result, it will come as no surprise that this tight-knit bunch wants to remain so and has outlawed the presence of motorized vehicles on this lake. 

According to locals in the area, the Congress Avenue Bridge is a perfect place to sight the bats that take flight at night. This lake is best for a fun kayaking experience and is also a good fishing site. 

There are many public access points on the lake. However, the easiest to find while offering parking options and rental services is Zilker Park.

3. Walter E. Long Lake

Also referred to as Decker Lake, Walter E. Long Lake is the perfect spot for those who love kayak fishing. The massive 1,200-acre reservoir features many hidden coves and channels for your exploration.

The lake is surrounded by the Metropolitan Park, which offers vast space for other activities like biking, volleyball, jogging, grilling and much more. 

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, Decker Lake is a paradise for anyone looking to hit the water for some fishing. This is due to the lake’s enormous population of catfish, large-mouth bass, sunfish and hybrid striped bass. 

However, you will find motorized boats on the lake. This could cause you to experience slight artificial waves that could interfere with your paddling. 

You can access this fun spot and a publicly accessible boat ramp for $6 and $8 on weekdays and weekends, respectively. 

4. San Marcos River

The San Marco River is a 30-minute drive from Austin. Regarded as the most popular spot for tubing, it offers a relaxed and adventurous feel depending on what part you paddle. 

It starts from the City Park flowing calmly, offering tubers, kayakers, and canoe paddlers a relaxed experience on the water. The current picks up as you move downtown, as the ride slowly morphs into a fully blown paddling adventure as you paddle closer to the exterior of San Marcos.

While you have the option to paddle across the San Marcos River to the Guadalupe River, recreational paddling is often restricted to within 17 miles of the city park and the staples dam. Ordinarily, going any further would mean kayakers would have to carry their kayaking gear across the land, particularly the old dams.   

This river has 16 access points, all free. You can find them at numerous parks in San Marcos between City Park in the north and Ramon Lucio Park in the south.

5. Lake Travis

Lake Travis, a winding reservoir located in Northwest Austin, features crystal clear waters and is flanked by beautiful hills. This aesthetic allure makes it a prime summer destination for people looking to go kayaking while taking in the surreal views. 

All the above combine to make Lake Travis one of the most popular spots for people worldwide to enjoy fishing, swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, paddle boarding and many more.   

Surrounded by 270 miles of shoreline, Lake Travis has dozens of beaches, parks and campgrounds in its immediate locale to give your friends and your family a fun time outside the water. In the dry season, kayakers often paddle out to the ‘Sometime Islands’ to explore the numerous cliffs and hidden coves. 

There are many beautiful sights to see on the lake. You can experience an incredible sunset view at The Oasis, a restaurant 450 feet above the lake. The Waterloo Adventure is another fantastic park to visit while in Lake Travis.

5. Lake Bastrop

Lake Bastrop is one of the safest spots for kayaking in Austin. It’s located about 30 minutes away from Austin. It’s an excellent spot for kayaking, fishing, biking, hiking, and more. 

The Lake serving as a plant cooling reservoir means its temperature is relatively warmer than the other options on the list and most other lakes in Austin, Texas. The Rising Phoenix, located close to the lake, offers Austin kayak rental services to rent equipment and gear.

Best Austin Kayak Rentals

Various places around popular kayaking locations offer rental services. Check out any of these locations if you will be renting kayaking gear when you go kayaking in Austin, Texas. 

1. Live Love Paddle

Located in the Eastern part of Austin, Live Love Paddle offers rental services on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Apart from their free on-site parking, they also provide touring services and put you through basic water safety skills.

2. The Rowing Dock

The rowing dock rental is located farther upriver. Their reasonable prices and experience make them a great place to rent your kayak and canoes. They also offer pedal-driven kayaks for people living with disabilities. It is perfect for those coming from the west as you would not need to navigate the city to get there. 

3. Texas Rowing Centre

The Texas Rowing Centre is located at the north end of Lady Bird Lake. It doubles as a training center for boaters of all ages and a kayak/paddle board renting service. 

4. Austin Rowing Club

The Austin Rowing Club is located in the city center and has become a household name for residents and visitors. Here, you can rent paddle boards, canoes and kayaks with the option of signing up for a unique touring service. However, you might want to arrive there on foot or some other transportation besides a car as parking space is very limited. 


If you are a resident or visiting Austin, Texas, you should check out the above-listed fun kayaking locations. Reflect on the sights and scenery as you explore the open water. Whatever choice you make, you are guaranteed Texan hospitality. Happy Kayaking!