White Water on the Comal river in Central Texas is more of of toobers paradise than a rafter or kayaker’s dreamland, but for a fun and relaxing family adventure I highly recommend the trip. For the second time in the last two years my family and I spent a few days partaking of fun, water and sun in and around New Braunfels, Texas on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. Day one was spent on the Comal floating gently down the lazy 72 degree water from Prince Solms Park to the Rockin R take out. I have always rented tubes from Rockin R for as long as I can remember Rockin R claims to have been established in 1979, so maybe that first time I went to Camp Warneke it wasn’t called Rockin R, but it sure seems it was on the same corner. Though Camp Warneke is no longer, the signs along the river still point to a simpler time when multi-million dollar water parks didn’t dominate the landscape of New Braunfels.
Rockin R does a great job of shuttling around the huge qualities of toobers in old airport rental car shuttles who enjoy the relaxing beer soaked float down the Comal. Tubes can be rented with or without bottoms and don’t forget your cooler float. Ours came complete with a nice little Texas flag painted on the front of our cooler.
Our first day on the Comal was later voted as the family favorite. The relaxing float which started just above Prince Solms park in Landa Park featured four trips through the tube hoot for my son and I. It wasn’t until the third trip through that I noticed that the park was closed and there were No Trespassing signs everywhere. Opps! On the forth trip the rest of the family finally braved the light rain having waited out all the thunder, lighting and most of the heavy rain under the large oaks on the shores of the Comal in Landa Park. To tell the truth I was more than a little apprehensive this labor day weekend as scattered thundershowers followed us the entire vacation. They say lighting never strikes twice, but I wasn’t in the mood to tempt fate as I was shocked by a lighting surge the previous week working at my computer with my hand resting on the mouse. My pinky may never be the same again.
Our first trip with the entire family down the Comal was as a classic. Exciting start and a smooth, relaxing finish. The urban Comal River is 2.5 mile in length and is one of the largest springs in Texas with 8 million gallons of water flowing through every hour. The water is pure, clear and cold, and a constant 72 degrees. The calm cool waters of the Comal in Landa Park are created by a small dam to the right of which is the mild adrenaline rush of the dam’s S shaped spillway called the Prince Solms Park Tube Chute.
After the mild adventure of the tube chute at the start we had a incredible day on the water given the fact that we only had two beers in the cooler. A tactical mistake given the cases of beer that toobers consume during the course of any given day on the Comal River in Texas. On a side note the beer at the Rockin R was, lets say priced like a piece of plywood in Florida this hurricane season on the black market.
At the end of our trip, Rockin R’s exclusive exit was where our crew and toobs were graciously hoisted from the water by the Rockin R staff. At the top of the stairs our Rockin R cruise director asked of our future intentions to float the river. The Rockin R will haul you from the finish line to the start from sunup to sundown. The family decided to have another go at the river after lunch. With tubes loaded in the trailer our old rental car shuttles vinyl cover seats served as our latest venue of relaxation. Several dads with water guns provided the entertainment spraying innocent bikini clad women from the bus windows as we made our way back to the Rockin R store on Liberty Street. The gang decided on Pat’s Place for some old fashion burgers and iced tea from mason jars as the lunch de jour. After a satisfying meal and great service our only compliant being they had no outdoor full service deck, we headed over to the corner store to pick up some reasonably priced refreshments. Having fully stocked the expedition, we took the shuttle back to our starting point in Landa park. This time we all took the refreshing plunge into the cool waters of the Comal quickly and rafted up for the descent down the tube chute.
Our final trip through the tube chute stared the same as the last, but my ten year-old daughter who was tied off with her grandmother broke away and got caught up in the whirlpool action just behind the dam. She couldn’t get back across the main outflow of the spillway, and couldn’t grab the high bank wall to get back to the steps just behind the dam. She made several attempts just below the park rangers un-watchful eyes before I yelled and motioned to her to stay put in her tube. I waded back upstream on the opposite bank and dove into the main current of the tube chute which sent me rocketing across the river to the opposing shore. As I neared the high concrete embankment, I jumped and grabbed hold of the wall only to be swiftly washed off by an influx tubers and the surge of water preceding them. Trying to keep my head above water I got a very nice shin rash from the sharp concrete wall foundations as I grabbed for the stair rails and my second attempt to get out of the swift currents. Finally with a new found respect for the tame waters of the Comal I headed up stream on the opposite bank to assist my daughter. Having heeded my advise she was resting near the wall in a clam area where the top of the wall was just out of her reach. Laying down she handed me her tube and I pulled her out of the water for the brief trip on the walkway back downstream. As I ambled, fairly exhausted, past the park rangers I gave them the quizzical eye as if to say, “where the hell where you.”
The remainder of the float downstream I was amazed at the stupidly of jumping into the gushing confluence of the dam’s spillway as I consumed a refreshing Mexican import. Kids being kids, my son and I tried our hand at standing on our tubes in the calmer and deeper sections of the Comal as our thoughts turned toward our next adventure at the Texas Ski Ranch.
What to Expect:
When you go to tube chute, on the Comal expect the ride to be swift, you should wear water shoes or rafting sandals to protect your feet from the concrete and uneven river bottom – the rocks and steps are covered in algae and are slippery. You can go through the tube chute as many times as you want and with a tube outfitter shuttle float the Comal several times in a day. The tube chute is not recommended for weak swimmers or children under 6. The remainder of the 2.5 mile river is pure family enjoyment. The crowd can be load and rowdy at times including some beer bong drinking college students in the shallows on long the way. So be sure to avert the eyes if some beer drinking young lady should flash the cheering crowds. You will be floating through the lush backyards and urban parks in the town of New Braunfels, so if you need to exit the river for any reason make sure you are not trespassing as the landowners are not tolerant due the the aforementioned beer drinking crowds. The Trip is a definite must do if in central Texas in August. On the up side, this is not the Schlitterbahn, this is what inspired the Schlitterbahn. My 14 year old son after a day at America’s favorite water park (we got waited in line for the MasterBlaster for 1:43 minutes starting at 10:26 am and we were off the ride at 12:11) and a day on the Guadalupe pronounced the Comal his favorite.
For more information about family adventure travel visit http://www.advenquest.com