San Maximum: Tubing the San Marcos River

By Austin Cowan
Blog Content Contributor

There is no better way to cool off on a hot summer day than floating down the San Marcos River. According to CNN, San Marcos, Texas is voted the fourth best river town in the nation. This is a believable statistic, because there is times where the San Marcos River appears to have more tubers floating in tubes than gallons of water in the river. When I am with family and friends I find tubing extremely relaxing. If you are a person who desires to have the maximum San Marcos tubing experience, the rest of this blog will answer any questions you may have.

  • Should I rent a tube or buy one?

    Tubing 2
    Photo by Austin Cowan

The first thing a person needs to do is decide whether they want to rent a tube or buy one. If you are unsure whether buying a tube is worth the investment, a good way to figure out if you will buy one is to decide if you will go tubing five times in the next year. If so then buying a tube is a good investment. If not then you are better of renting a tube. I have rented tubes before and there is nothing wrong with rentals. Rental tubes are sturdy clean and convenient for customers to get access to. If you choose to purchase a tube from the store than you will never have to worry about renting a tube, however, you will need to blow it up yourself.

  • Where can I rent a tube?

Deciding where to rent a tube is a great question. In San Marcos there is two main locations where a person can rent a tube. For Texas State students and their families tubes can be rented at the Outdoor Recreational Center. For Non-Texas State Students you will be better off renting a tube from the Lions Club. Renting tubes from either of these locations is perfectly fine. The tubes at these facilities are sturdy, clean and reliable. They will not deflate on you will floating the river. 

Outdoor Center
Photo by Austin Cowan
  • The Outdoor Recreational Center– This is a rental facility located inside Sewell Park, which is conveniently located to one of the main spots to jump into the river.  This store is owned by Texas State University so at least one person in your party will need a Texas State ID physically present in order to rent tubes from here. A twenty-five dollar deposit is required for all tube rentals. Once you return your tube you will get the deposit back and the entire rental process will have cost a total of six dollars.
Lions Club
Photo by Austin Cowan
  • The Lions Club– This is the main location for tube rentals. The Lions Club in San Marcos is a great choice for tube rentals. The rental fee is ten dollars per tube with a twenty-dollar refundable deposit per tube. This is a great deal because for ten dollars you will gain an inflated tube and a unlimited shuttle ride from down river all the way back to the Lions Club where people park their cars. For people who bring their own tubes you can fill them up at the Lions Club for a price which varies depending on the size of your tube. The Lions Club’s hours of operation at 10am-7pm and the last shuttle leaves at 6:30pm.
  • Where to buy a tube?

    • Purchasing a tube is the best choice for anybody who plans to tube more than five times a year. If you live near San Marcos or plan to be in the area for the summer than you better purchase a tube. The reason being is that when it comes to parties and overall fun the river is the place to be in San Marcos.
    • Korner Food Store- This convenient store is located on Aquarena Springs Drive across the street from Sewell Park. This is a good place to buy tubes because the Korner Food Store is right next to the first place in the San Marcos River where people are allowed to jump in. Tubes can be purchased here for a price varying from 15-25 dollars depending on the choice of tube. You will have to inflate your own tube.
    • HEB– There are two HEB’s in San Marcos and both a great to purchase tubes from. Tubes can be purchased here anywhere from 15-25 dollars depending on the choice of tube. HEB occasional sells tubes at different prices. HEB also sells cooler tubes and youth-size tubes. My personal advice is to purchase a tube from HEB because provides free air, so people can inflate their tubes. This is the most economical and convenient way to inflate ones tube themselves, however, you will need a truck and some rope to transport your tubes to the river. HEB takes care of its tubing customers and for that I thank you.
  • San Marcos Tubing Tips
Where to buy a tube
Photo by Austin Cowan

After you have your tube there is not much else to do except float down the river. However, here are some helpful hints that can assist first timers.

  • The Water Walk

For anybody tubing from Sewell Park to the most popular tubing stop, Rio Vista Park the Water Walk is the best way to walk back to your car. Most people park around Sewell Park before jumping into the River. The Water Walk is a trail that starts at Sewell Park then goes through Bicentennial Park and finishes at Rio Vista Park. This is the best way to walk back to the beginning of the river because it is a lot shorter and prettier a walk than any other path. Plus you will not burn your feet off walking on the asphalt.

  • Wear sunscreen

You are in Texas. It is sunny in Texas. Wear sunscreen it will make your Momma happy.

  • Bring Drinks

Again it is hot in Texas. Bring a cooler or an igloo tube on the trip. Stock whatever drinks you want in the tube. If you choose to bring alcoholic drinks make sure there is a sober person in your group. Too many drunks get washed down river, don’t be dumb but have some fun at the same time.

  • Look Out For Wildlife

There is snakes, turtles, beavers and all kinds of stuff that lives in the river. Do not mess with them and they will not mess with you.

  • Do not touch the Texas Wild rice

The Texas Wild rice is an endangered species of plant that only lives in select places in the first three miles of the San Marcos River.

  • Do not bring glass or Stella foam.

Do not bring glass or Stella foam. Stuff made out of these two materials are not allowed in the river. This will save you the embarrassment and hassle of having to mess with the park police.

  • Have fun!!!!

Tubing is a fantastic way to enjoy your day. Sit back relax and enjoy your summer day. Tubing the San Marcos River is one of the necessary activities to do in order to gain the maximum San Marcos Experience.

Tubing tips
Photo by Austin Cowan

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