A travel journal
to Austin by Ben the Grate
Quote: Tubing on the Guadalupe is a quintessential Texas experience. In fact, if you're young and outrageous, or a little white trashy, or BOTH, there isn't a single thing to do in the ENTIRE STATE that is quite as unique and pleasurable.
Quiter floating times are mid-to-late April (though the water is still frigid), and mid-to-late September, or anytime mid-week during the summer.
It's important to remember 30SPF sunscreen, and RE-APPLY IT EVERY 2 HOURS! The river and tubes rub off your sunscreen, and the blazing south Texas heat will FRY you through any sunscreen lower.
DON'T BRING glass bottles or styrofoam ice chests. Glass and styrofoam are not permitted on the river. You can rent a cooler tube from Janies. Bring CANNED beer and soft drinks.
Bring a waterproof ziploc bag to keep cameras, cigarettes, money, or anything that needs to stay dry. Also, have an eyeglasses strap for your sunglasses or glasses to keep them from falling into the river. Janie's sells all this stuff.
The Guadalupe River is accessible from many locations. From I-35 in the town of New Braunfels, take the exit for Hwy 46/337 and head west into town. Cross the Guadalupe River, and then across another creek and turn RIGHT onto River Road. Follow this road to the river and you'll begin to see the outfitters after you make a right turn to stay on the river road at a large outfitter and cafe. Janie's is about 4.5 miles from the junction of Hwy 45 and River Road.
The best way to get around is obviously by tube! There are plenty of "outfitters" on the river who rent tubes and run shuttles. Our favorite is Janie's, described in their own section in this journal.
Restaurant | "Rudy's Bar-B-Que and General Store"
The place certainly has atmosphere. It looks like a giant barn with anti-vegetarian murals painted all over it, loudly proclaiming "REAL PEOPLE EAT MEAT" or "I DIDN'T CLAW MY WAY TO THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN TO EAT VEGETABLES."
Rudy's serves up mouth wateringly tender brisket, barbecued chicken, pork sausage, ribs, and chopped brisket. Everything is done perfectly, but the only downside is that you order by WEIGHT, not by menu.
"I'd like a half pound of brisket please."
If you want a nice mix of meats, just smile politely and say, "A little brisket and a little chicken, please" and they'll usually hook you up.
Basically, a half pound of meat is A LOT to eat, especially if you get some of their yummy potato salad, or pinto beans. They also serve you about HALF a loaf of bread with your barbecue, so plan on having that, as well.
I usually spend about $9 for 1/4 pound of brisket, some pork sausage or ribs, potato salad, beans, iced tea, and banana pudding. You can go leaner or heavier, however you like. The food is incredible and VERY reasonably priced.
Seating is "family style" at long rows of tables with rolls of paper towels as napkins. Large bottles of Rudy's world famous spicy barbecue sauce are all over the place, along with their "sissy sauce" for those with a more delicate pallete.
They have beer, but no bar.
Fun place to eat. Lots of character, great convenience, and best of all...AMAZING barbecue.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 30, 2002
Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q
936 Loop 337
New Braunfels, Texas 78130
Restaurant | "Oma's Haus"
In keeping with New Braunfels' German heritage, Oma's serves up INCREDIBLE German cuisine for a remarkeably low price.
You can eat there under $10, but I recommend splurging a bit. Most combination entrees will run you around $12.
The sausages here are the specialty, and they'll knock your socks off. But also excellent are the weinerschnitzel, and the spinach-stuffed puff pastry.
You also simply MUST save room for desserts. The Germans are known for their desserts, and Oma's is no exception. The pastries here are simply DIVINE!
We've experienced slow or cold service here more than once, but you've got to remember that this is NEW BRAUNFELS for God's sake, not Austin. People here live a slower life, and "fine dining" like you find in big cities is a foreign concept.
Take solace in the fact that the food rivals the finest restaurants in Baden Baden.
Oma's Haus Restaurant
541 S State Highway 46
New Braunfels, Texas 78130
Attraction | "The Tubing Experience"
The river is a clean, crystal clear spring fed river that is revered throughout the state as "THE" recreational river in this part of the world. Folks try really hard to keep the river clean for others to enjoy, so you should, too. Pack out all your cans and trash.
The river water is ice cold year-round, but it can be downright unpleasant in early spring or late fall. Tubing is generally safe at a river flow between 100-500 cfs and you can check out the daily flow level at
After you've secured tubes and a shuttle from an outfitter, they will basically drive you upstream a few miles, let you out, and you float downstream back to your car.
Most outfitters offer 2 different runs, a long one (about 5 miles) and a short one (about 3 miles). Floating time depends on river volume, but the short trip takes 3-4 hours, and the long trip takes 6-8 hours.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND the long trip! In the summer, the blazing sun will roast you and sap all your strength (especially if you're drinking) and the short trip will exhaust you just enough to where you'll want to come back. I can't say the same for the long.
Janie's Outfitter's short trip is the best on the river. They drop you off JUST upstream of "The Chute" which is a long series of narrow rapids that you can shoot over and over.
The Chute is followed by a placid stretch where you might have to paddle a bit. After this there are 2 more rapids, and then a rope swing on a tree on the right bank of the river. This swing is FUN but BE CAREFUL as you have to climb the tree to jump off, and the river depth varies from 1-8 feet and there are rocks under the water. Scout it out before you try.
The last stretch of river gets a bit shallow and you'll find yourself walking every now and then. After about 3-4 hours, you'll see the bright red barn of Janie's on the left bank and you can get out right at your car.
Be careful about getting too drunk. Make sure at least one person in your party is sober enough to keep their head about them. People die on the Guadalupe every year, mostly intoxicated students who got pinned in the hydraulic underneath a small waterfall.
Also make sure you have SOME sort of shoes, sandals, or watersocks on, as you WILL have to walk some of the time, and it protects your feet from sharp rocks on the bottom.
River Road, Guadalupe River
They are located on River Road between the first and second bridges, about 4.5 miles from the junction of Hwy 45 and River Road.
Tube rentals vary per season, but a basic price list is below for peak season:
River Use Fee - $6 per person
Open bottom tube - $6
Closed bottom tube - $8
Cooler tube - $10 (canned beer only, no glass bottles)
They also rent kayaks, canoes, and rafts at a high charge.
They will ask you to leave your keys as a deposit, which is NICE because you don't have to keep track of them. BUT this also means you MUST get back to Janie's before they close, or you won't be able to get into your car!!! In peak season they close around 7pm, which means you should NEVER start your float after 3pm.
Some people ask about tube reservations, and this is rarely necessary at Janie's unless you're floating 4th of July, Memorial, or Labor day weekends, in which case you should just arrive EARLY (around 9am) to ensure that you get a tube. Expect a wait of about an hour to get everything set up and get on the shuttle. Other than that, you can usually be on the river within 30 minutes of arriving.
Janie's sells ice, sodas, beer, waterproof bags, glasses straps, watersocks, swimsuits, and everything else that you might have forgotten at home.
6000 River Road
New Braunfels, TX 78132
Ben the Grate