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Canyon Lake Texas: full guide for your getaway

Canyon Lake Texas is also known as “The Jewel” of the Texas Hill Country and is one of the state’s most popular attractions.

It is considered by the locals and tourists a true gem located on the Guadalupe River.

The lake is perfect for a long list of outdoor activities, including water activities, and people rush here to spend quality time with their beloved ones.

While walking along the trails, you might spot foxes, white-tailed deer, roadrunners, and other wildlife.

The park around the lake is split into eight areas, and visitors can camp, boat, swim, and picnic here.

There is even a 72 golf course near the lake, which offers stunning views of the lake and the nearby oak forest.

Canyon Lake provides many options for lodgings, including hotels, lodges, cottages, motels, cabins, vacation rentals, bed & breakfasts, RV parks, and campsites.

Canyon Lake should be on top of your list if you are looking for a great place to spend a fun holiday in nature!

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What is Canyon Lake 

This amazing lake is considered the Water Recreation Capital of Texas and lots of tourists and locals rush here to spend a day in nature.

The reservoir construction began in 1958 and was finished in 1964. The reason why this reservoir was built is to provide flood control and water supply for the communities located in the area.

Today, the reservoir is a very popular recreational attraction, but the US Army Corps of Engineers still manage it.

Water activities like scuba diving, swimming, fishing, and boating are also extremely popular in the area.

Canyon Lake Texas
Canyon Lake Texas

Where is Canyon Lake Tx

Located almost half the distance between Austin and San Antonio, the reservoir is an extremely popular destination, especially during summer.

The lake is just an hour’s drive from these two cities on I-35 or US 281, on the eastern part of Guadalupe State Park.

Here you will find beautiful beaches, many places where you can stay overnight, plenty of parks and much more.

The largest cities closest to Canyon Park are San Marcos and New Braunfels.

In my opinion, Canyon Lake and its surroundings are too beautiful and big for a day trip. Consider spending here at least a weekend, if not a whole week.

Best time to visit Canyon Lake Texas

The Central Texas location of the lake translates to a wonderful climate all year round.

Winter comes with cool temperatures, perfect for hiking and a short bath, while summer days are long and hot.

The crystal waters are perfect for cooling off and practicing water sports if you are that person.

I cannot say that is a bad time to visit this lake, as you can find something interesting to do all year round.

canyon lake texas Overlook Park beach
canyon lake texas Overlook Park beach

Things to do at Canyon Lake Tx

In this article, we put together the 15 most interesting activities you can do at and around this lake.

All these activities are perfect for a family getaway or a couple escape.

Cruise the River Road

The stunning River Road is not just a way to move quickly around the lake but a destination in itself!

The road goes along the river and sometimes passes above the shore, this stunning route is something you should not miss when visiting Canyon Lake.

Take your time, admire the beautiful Cypress trees along the road, and feel the breeze from the river.

Lake Canyon overview
Lake Canyon overview

You will pass near ranches, farms, and campgrounds, through tunnels and live music venues.

Book some extra time to stop along the road and admire the view and if you feel hungry, try one of the restaurants on the road.

The road ends when you arrive at Overlook Park, a beautiful and secluded swim beach, perfect also for picnicking and hiking.

Explore at least one park near the river

A good starting point in exploring the river’s shores is to explore one of the many local parks in the area.

There are 8 parks built by the US Army Corps of Engineers around the lake.

Each of these parks are great for biking, swimming, hiking, camping, boating, horseback riding, and arrow hunting.

These parks are also great places to spot wildlife, and here you can spot foxes, deer, roadrunners, and an impressive number of bird species.

Go swimming 

The crystal clear waters of the lake are perfect for swimming and bathing, especially on a hot day in summer.

There are designated places where you can swim along the lake, so we advise you to bathe only in the designated places.

canyon lake texas Overlook Park beach
canyon lake texas Overlook Park beach

My favorite swimming places in Canyon lake are North Park, Comal Park, and Cranes Mills Park.

None of the swimming places around the lake have lifeguards on duty, so you will swim at your own risk.

For this reason, I strongly recommend you bring safety gear, including life jackets, if you know you are not a good swimmer.

Some of the swimming areas and beaches from the lake are accessible only after paying a fee.

The one which I know it is with free access is Overlook Park.

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Catch the largest fish from the lake

Fishermen, this is heaven on Earth for you so hurry up and catch the biggest fish from the river!

Canyon Lake Texas is home to an impressive number of fish species, including 5 species of bass.

As you might guess, the reservoir is home to Guadalupe bass, an endemic species with delicious meat.

Fishing Guadalupe River Canyon Lake
Fishing Guadalupe River Canyon Lake

The best time of year to catch the bass is during the spring and summer months, but before going fishing, check the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for fishing conditions.

Beware that you need a fishing license if you want to fish in the reservoir, even from the shore.

Go hiking

This fantastic reservoir is perfect for outdoor activities, especially during spring and autumn when it is not that hot outside.

There are plenty of hiking trails in the parks along the lake, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

The landscape is breathtaking, and some hiking trails go deep into the forest, so you can observe wildlife.

Keep an eye on the rocks near you these are packed with fossils from the Native American people who used to live here.

Explore the Canyon Lake Gorge

Canyon Lake Gorge appeared in 2002 when this part of Texas flooded.

The waters spilled over the reservoir dam for almost one month and a half and created 1-mile long gorge.

Rocks that have millions of years old come to the surface, so walking along the gorge is like traveling back into the past.

Canyon Gorge
Canyon Gorge

This canyon is definitely one of the best places in Texas to search for fossils and wild creatures.

We took a guided tour of the gorge to learn more about the flood and how it impacted the environment.

Go fossil hunting

As you probably guessed, this part of Texas is packed with prehistoric fossils, and the Canyon Lake area is not an exception.

The fossils have millions of years old and are from an era when there was a large prehistoric sea.

Fossil near Lake Canyon
Fossil near Lake Canyon

The flood I was talking about earlier brought to surface rocks more than 110 million years old.

You will find here footprints and fossils from animals long gone.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the local museum that hosts an impressive collection of fossils discovered in the area.

Visit the Natural Bridge Caverns

The area around Canyon Lake Texas hosts one of the largest known commercial caverns from all across Texas, the Natural Bridge Caverns.

The cavern is located about 30 minutes from the lake and is the perfect destination for a day trip.

The cave is extremely beautiful; here you can see formations specific to the underground world.

Take a guided tour to explore the cavern and book extra time for outdoor activities like climbing and zip rail.

Natural Bridge Caverns San Antonio Texas
Natural Bridge Caverns San Antonio Texas

Don’t forget to pay a visit at the Discover Village to dig after your own fossils and gems!

All these activities come with a price that varies depending on the date and time of your visit.

We strongly advise you to check their official site to see more information about fees and available slots.

Perfect your tan at Comal Beach Park

My favorite park from the Canyon Lake area is, without any doubt, Comal Park from Comal County, located on the southern shore of the reservoir, right near Startzville city.

This park has them all, but you have to pay an entrance fee to visit it.

There are restrooms, boat ramps, picnic areas, many playgrounds, hiking trails, and fishing areas.

Canyon Lake Comal Beach
Canyon Lake Comal Beach

And finally, there is the beach, a beautiful beach where you can put on a fantastic towel and perfect your tan after swimming in the lake.

The park is open each year between April and the end of September and generally is more crowded during weekends.

So if you want to have this park and its fantastic beach only for you, go during the weekdays and early in the morning.

Visit the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country

Heritage Museum of Texas is where you should go if you want to learn more about pre-historic history.

The museum is located between Sattler and Startzville on FM 2673.

A short hiking trail goes to the museum, and I strongly advise you to take some time to observe nature and the wild animals in the area.

Wildlife near Canyon Lake Texas
Wildlife near Canyon Lake Texas

Keep an eye on the trees to spot colorful birds and unique vegetation.

In the museum, you will spot more than 200 dinosaur tracks created more than 110 million years ago.

There are also available guided tours, a good opportunity to learn more about the history of the Texas Hill Country area and the dinosaurs that once lived here.

Go for a wine tasting at local Vineyards

There is no better place for a wine tasting than the area around Lake Canyon Texas.

You will find high-quality products with no added sugar, tannins, acid, or sulfites here.

A wine tasting is exactly what you need after a hike or a day on the beach, and Texas Hill Country has plenty of options.

Wine tasting near Lake Canyon
Wine tasting near Lake Canyon

The most visited winery from the area is Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, followed by La Cruz De Comal Wines.

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards produces wine from 100% Texas grapes, and I must say, it is one of the best wines I have ever tried.

Besides the wine-tasting experience, you can try the wine by the glass or the bottle.

This beautiful winery hosts several events, so you might consider it if you are searching for a beautiful outdoor space for a family event.

La Cruz de Comal Wines are located close to New Braunfels and produces the most natural wines I have ever tried.

Both wineries are worth a visit and a tasting session because of their high-quality products and beautiful location.

Ride a tube down the Guadalupe river

The best place for spending a day in the water with your friends on a tube is the eastern part of Canyon Lake.

Each day, from 10 in the morning till 6 in the afternoon, Guadalupe River is open for business.

Floating on Guadalupe river
Floating on Guadalupe river

Rental cabins offering water sports experiences and equipment are open to the public.

You can bring your own tube and float along the river, or you can rent one, but make sure you don’t miss the experience.

Nothing is more relaxing than floating on a tube and admiring the beautiful shores!

Try the outstanding golf course

Oh yes! Canyon Lake area offers everything you could imagine, including a beautiful golf course.

Lakeside Golf Club is my favorite, offering an 18-hole golf course with stunning views of the Texas countryside.

Hit the ball gently and make sure you book some extra time for a drink in their 19th Hole Bar and Grill, located close to the last hole.

See the Texas Hill Country from above with Wimberley Zipline Adventures 

Canyon Lake Texas surrounding, offers a lot of options for spending a whole week in the area, including this fantastic zipline.

After you get enough of the beach, sun, museums, and hiking trails, head to the Wimberley Zipline for some adrenaline.

You will try ten different lines, which are between 150 and 900 feet in lenght and as high as 100 feet.

The tour generally last about 1 hour and 30 minutes or 2 hours, and the price is around 100 USD per person.

Zipline near Canyon Lake
Zipline near Canyon Lake

You have included the training, equipment, parking, bottled water, and a guided walking tour at this price.

At the end of the tour, you can drink a soda, a beer, or a cider to calm down and review the whole experience.

The zipline is located about 40 minutes drive from the lake, so book here about half a day for a complete tour.

Go scuba diving

Canyon Lake in Texas is a great place for scuba diving, so people from all over Texas rush here to practice their favorite sport.

The waters are perfectly clear and offer good visibility, exactly what scuba divers are looking for.

More than this, these clear waters, allow you to easily spot the local plants and animals that live in this water.

Scuba diving on Canyon reservoir
Scuba diving on Canyon reservoir

If you dive in the right place, you will spot boats and cars sunk in the reservoir.

The highlight of the underwater world is the ghost town submerged under the lake.

This town was evacuated and then flooded when the reservoir was built, and today it is the area’s main attraction.

Canyon Lake Texas hotels

There are plenty of options for your overnight stay around the lake, but you should book in advance to secure the best price.

Among my favorite places to stay near the lake, which is not a campsite, are:

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort is a beautiful resort with a sun terrace and pool, a good restaurant, and a fitness center. The rooms have air conditioning flat TV and the bathroom comes with free toiletries and a hairdryer.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort at Canyon Lake
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort at Canyon Lake

Canyon Lakeview Resort is another good place for your vacation at Canyon Lake. The resort offers cabins and lodge suites, making it perfect for a family vacation.

Hideout on Horseshoe is a property that offers guests bungalows and villas with all the amenities you need. It is a great place to relax and get close to nature.

Canyon Lake Texas camping

My favorite spot for camping in the Canyon Lake area is definitely Cranes Mill Park.

This beautiful park is located on the southwestern shore of the reservoir along a peninsula.

It is the perfect place to watch a summer sunset and spend the night in a tent.

This campsite offers its visitors 30 RV sites and 34 tent places, with docks to fish on and a huge outdoor space.

The tent spot can be with or without electricity, while access to showers is included in the camping fee.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.