Canyon Lake TX, located in Comal County, is one of the best places to visit in Texas.
The Lone Star State is stereotypically associated with the desert landscapes and barren mountain scenery.
And that’s why, most visitors are surprised to know that an area as beautiful as Canyon Lake exists in Texas!
Canyon Lake is the perfect outdoor paradise for a variety of adventurous activities including hiking, camping, picnicking, biking, and scenic drives.
Popular water recreation activities include swimming, boating, and fishing.
Make a trip to Canyon Lake to admire the natural biodiversity diversity of Texas!
Where is Canyon Lake TX?
The city of Canyon Lake is located next to Canyon Lake, a reservoir on the Guadalupe River in Central Texas.
Canyon Lake TX comprises several small communities located along the lakefront.
The city makes a perfect day trip from Austin or San Antonio and is located about 35 to 40 miles from both the major cities.
Canyon Lake, TX is also an exciting weekend getaway from the Houston metropolitan area.
Also Read: Best Things to do in Texas Hill Country
Best Time to Visit Canyon Lake, TX
Canyon Lake enjoys the perfect climate year-round.
In the summer, this is the Water Recreation Capital of the Lone Star State.
Winters in Canyon Lake are mostly mild, making it one of the best winter vacation destinations in Texas.
The Corps of Engineers maintains several public parks around the shores and visiting Canyon Lake is popular in all seasons.
Things to do in Canyon Lake
With its plenty of attractions and options, Canyon Lake makes the perfect family getaway in Texas.
Find a boat ramp and launch a watercraft or stay along the water’s edge and enjoy the hiking trails and birding.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Canyon Lake, TX.
Explore the parks located along the lakeshore
There are a many parks around Canyon Lake.
The army corps of engineers manages eight park areas while Comal County maintains the rest.
Some are open for day use only while others also have campsites.
Access to the lake for swimming and boating is restricted only to the parks.
The rest of the shoreline is private property.
The most popular parks are Overlook Park, Potters Creek Park, and Canyon Park.
Canyon Beach Park has a swimming beach as does Comal Park.
Cranes Mill Park and Jacob’s Creek Park are less crowded ones to visit.
North Park which is popular for scuba diving while Guadalupe Park is good for fishing.
The parks are also perfect for hiking and picnic on the shores.
Taking the views at Canyon Overlook Park
If you can visit only one public park located along the lakeshore then we would definitely recommend the Canyon Overlook Park.
As the name suggests, this park is extremely popular for its scenic views of the lake and the dam.
The park is also the closest one located to New Braunfels and the Houston area.
It is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
The Canyon Lake visitor center is also located inside the park.
The park offers free entry to all visitors.
You can also go for a walk over the top of the dam in the park on the Verada Real Walking / Hiking Trail.
Enjoy watersports on the lake
Canyon Lake is over 8,000 surface acres of water and 80 miles long shoreline.
It is known as the water recreation capital of Texas.
Several boat ramps and marinas are located along the lakeshore in the public parks and in luxury outdoor resorts.
Boat rentals and jet ski rentals are also available at Canyon Lake Marina.
Other popular water recreation activities include wakeboarding, swimming, fishing from the banks, fishing charters, paddling, and kayaking on the lake.
You can read more about fishing at all the parks here on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
In fact, Canyon Lake is one of the best kayaking destinations in Texas.
There are also snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities on the lake.
Being on the water allows you to take in the quiet serenity of the gentle waves and the unique beauty of overhanging limestone bluffs.
Canyon Lake also has great beaches where you can just relax and swim in the water.
Fishing is a very popular activity and you can catch bass, rainbow trout, and catfish.
Hike the nature trails
A large number of nature trails are located around Canyon Lake.
The Guadalupe North Trail near Canyon Dam is a short, paved, accessible trail that is popular for fishing.
Guadalupe South Trail located at the base of the dam is a short scenic walk along the riverbanks.
This is a beautiful tranquil trail with great views.
We recommend both the above trails for beginner hikers and families.
If you’re looking for something more advanced, try the old Hancock Trail located along the north shoreline.
The trail is 3.5 mi long and is also open to horses.
Another great option is the 8.2 miles long Madrone Trail.
This challenging trail is very rocky and rugged and is poorly marked.
Along with hiking, this trail is also popular for biking. Some parts of the trail are closed during the hunting season.
Go birding or wildlife watching
Canyon Lake and its natural environment are perfect for spotting birds or other wildlife.
You can see white-tail deer coyotes foxes on nature hikes and scenic drives.
Birding in the area is very popular.
Nature trails in the lakeshore parks and the Guadalupe River Trail how to get great places to go birding.
Visitors can see ospreys, heron, terns, raptors, ducks, white pelicans, and waterfowls over the lake.
If you are lucky, you might even spot a bald eagle.
Commonly seen field birds include roadrunners, sparrows, wrens, woodpeckers, kingfishers, meadowlarks, and warblers.
For the best bird and wildlife sightings, go for an early morning or late afternoon walk.
Enjoy a round of golf
If you are an avid golfer, you will love the par 72 golf course at Lakeside Golf Club.
The course has amazing views of Canyon Lake and is an exciting challenge.
Golfing in this paradise of rolling hills, live oak trees, and panoramic vistas is an amazing way to relax on your holiday.
Tour the Canyon Lake Gorge
This limestone gorge is a mile long and up to 50 feet. It was created in 2002 due to the flooding of the Guadalupe River.
Water gushing over the spillway of Canyon Lake Dam eroded the area to expose this beautiful gorge.
The gorge was formed over a period of just 3 days and its width ranges from 130 to 200 feet wide.
The exposed rock contains over 100 million years of geological records, dinosaur footprints, and a rich spring-fed marine ecosystem.
Visitors can tour the gorge on three hours long guided tours.
The friendly guides will show you dinosaur tracks and fossils.
The tours often get sold out up to 6 months in advance.
Children under seven are not allowed on the tour.
The beautiful gorge is definitely worth the visit for nature and history lovers.
See the exhibits at Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country
With over 350 preserved dinosaur tracks, the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country is a must-visit for dinosaur lovers of all ages.
The tracks were made by dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period including iguanodons and acrocanthosaurus.
The tracks are over 108 million years old. They can best be seen from the top of the amphitheater.
The museum also narrates the pioneer history of Canyon Lake.
Here you can read about the communities of Hancock and Crane’s Mill that were completely submerged after the creation of the reservoir.
You can see historic artifacts such as vintage farm equipment, telephones, and mailboxes.
You will also find several exhibits dedicated to the native American people that were the earliest settlers of the area.
The Heritage Museum is an amazing place to visit and provides a great educational experience for the kids.
Also Read: Best Things to do with kids in Texas
Explore the communities around Canyon Lake
Several small communities are located on the shores of Canyon Lake.
These make the perfect destinations for exploring on foot.
Here you can find amazing local eateries, shopping and antiquing, unique tourist attractions, and loads of fun.
Enjoy a meal at the Startz Cafe in Startzville or enjoy the live music at Silly Rabbit Salon.
In Canyon Lake, get coffee at the funky and artistic Kafekali & Bakery.
The Wildflower Artisan Bakery is also a great place to eat and also has a pretty mural about Canyon Lake.
Canyon City is another great place.
This is where Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park is located.
The Preston Memorial Library in Canyon City is a wonderful library with lots of character.
The outdoor area is also great and has a playground and butterfly garden to enjoy for visitors.
We love dining at Granny D’s while in the city.
Drive the scenic River Road
The scenic River Road is located along the banks of the Guadalupe River and is a must while in Canyon Lake, TX.
The road connects New Braunfels to Canyon Lake. It is lined with cypress trees and is a very beautiful place.
This historic road has four river crossings as twists and turns its way along the river banks.
Along the road, you will find a variety of attractions including restaurants, tubing and river rafting outfitters, hotels, cabins, and glamping options.
Driving along this winding road is an amazing experience.
The drive is 13 miles long and one of the best scenic drives in Texas.
The road will take you straight to Overlook Park from where you can have your first view of the lake.
Attend a concert at Whitewater Amphitheater
The Whitewater Amphitheater is a beautiful concert venue located on the Guadalupe River.
Set on the eastern banks of the river, this outdoor amphitheater has hosted some of the top country music bands in the country.
Whitewater Amphitheater holds concerts from April through October.
The venue is really well laid out and attending an event here by the riverbanks is a delight.
It also has good food and picnic tables.
It is an amazing experience to see Texas Country artists perform in front of the crowd.
Go wine tasting at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
Early Spanish settlers brought grapevines to the Texas Hill Country.
Since then the plant has flourished in the unique weather of this area.
Today the Texas Hill Country is one of the famous wine regions in the country.
One of the best places to enjoy Texas wine in Canyon Lake is Dry Comal Creek Vineyards.
The vineyard is beautiful and charming and has a lot of mature live oak trees throughout the outdoor seating area.
Their wines are really excellent.
The winery also organizes special events like grape stomping.
This is definitely one of our favorite romantic things to do in Canyon Lake, Texas.
Have fun at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Hill Country is an amazing camping vacation destination for the entire family.
Here kids can enjoy themed weekends and activities while at the same time enjoying camping.
Other amenities like swimming pools and golf cart rentals make a stay here very enjoyable.
Enjoy the nature walk at James C Curry Nature Preserve
James C Curry Nature Preserve located in Canyon Lake is a great place to go for a nature walk.
The loop trail is 0.9 miles long and is great for families.
The short hike has excellent views of the surrounding hills and wildlife.
It has an elevation change of 160 ft and is of moderate difficulty level.
Scuba dive Canyon Lake
Did you know that you can even scuba dive in Canyon Lake?
This is one of the deepest lakes in Texas and a favorite in the state for scuba diving.
The dive site located in the North Park of the lake has decent visibility and quite a few things to see.
Other dive sites are located in Comal Park and Overlook Park.
Canyon Lake Adventures, located near Canyon Bend Rd, has scuba diving lessons.
River tubing the Guadalupe
One of the most popular things to do in Canyon Lake on a hot summer day is to tube down the Guadalupe River.
The river is calm and always perfect for river tubing.
The float trip takes about 2 to 3 hours and is an amazing experience.
The Horseshoe Loop section of the Guadalupe River in Canyon Lake is one of the most popular areas to float.
Most of the river tubing outfitters are located in New Braunfels.
You can bring along a picnic and a cooler and make a fun outdoor day out of it.
Go hunting for bluebonnets in spring
Canyon Lake is located in the Texas Hill Country, which makes it an excellent place to watch Texas’s state flower, the bluebonnet.
Visit Canyon Lake in March and April and you will find the countryside carpeted with these beauties.
Visitors can also see other brilliant wildflowers including blue sage, daisies, primroses, and Indian paintbrushes.
Enjoy fall colors along the lake
Canyon Lake is one of the best places in Texas to see fall colors.
Simply go on a drive around the lake or on the scenic River Road and you will find spectacular bursts of fall foliage.
Spanish oak trees, bald cypress, and cottonwoods create splashes of yellow, orange, and reds on the landscape.
Another great way to enjoy the colors is by sailing or kayaking on the blue water.
Spend Christmas in Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is a great place to spend the holiday season in Texas.
Several events are held in the community.
The highlight is the beautiful parade of lights on the Lake.
In this parade, you will see decorated boards caroling in the water.
Other events include the North Pole village and a Christmas parade.
Related: Best Places to spend Christmas in Texas
Things to do near Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake’s location in the beautiful and scenic Texas Hill Country makes it a wonderful place to base yourself and explore the nearby highlights.
You will find a variety of historic places and scenic attractions just a few hours away from Canyon Lake.
Here are some of the best things to do near Canyon Lake.
Spend a day on the water in New Braunfels
New Braunfels, a German town, can be easily seen on a day trip from Canyon Lake.
Here you can float on the Comal River or Guadalupe River or enjoy a fun day at Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
There are many other things to do in New Braunfels including historic and cultural attractions.
The city also has a children’s museum and zoo for families.
Also Read: 10 Best German Towns in Texas
Visit the Gruene Historic District
Located within New Braunfels, you will find the Gruene Historic District.
It is home to Texas’s oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall.
The 19th-century building is mostly preserved in its original status and still has advertisements from the 1930s around the stage.
Apart from seeing this historic building and the surrounding historic district, visitors can also enjoy a show, dance, and have a drink.
The dance hall has excellent acoustics and attending a show here is an amazing experience.
Enjoy the nature in San Marcos
San Marcos, located half an hour away from Austin, is the perfect destination for nature lovers.
Here you can go hiking on nature preserves, chase waterfalls, go canoeing or kayaking, and just enjoy the stunning Texas Hill Country scenery.
Visit the Alamo in San Antonio
You can easily see the two major attractions of San Antonio: the historic Alamo and the San Antonio Riverwalk on your Canyon Lake family vacation.
Check out the city’s museums and have a relaxed Tex-Mex meal on the riverwalk while you are here.
Take a tour Natural Bridge Caverns
If you love geology and interesting rock formations, then you should definitely visit Natural Bridge Cavern.
This is the largest commercial cave in Texas.
Visitors can see the caverns on a guided tour. They have two tour options: Discovery and Hidden tours.
On the tour, you will be able to see a variety of stunning rock formations like the natural bridge, stalactites, stalagmites, flow stones, popcorn ceilings, and more.
It is always warm and humid inside the caves.
The attraction also has zip lining, mazes, and obstacle course for kids.
Also Read: Best Bat Caves in Texas
Go hiking at Guadalupe River State Park
One of the best state parks in Texas, Guadalupe River State Park, is also located to the west of Canyon Lake.
There are many hiking trails within the park and almost all of them have diverse scenery.
This is also a popular place to go kayaking, camping, and river tubing.
It is a wonderful place to get away from busy city life. Stay at a campground and enjoy the amazing surroundings.
Cruise along Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive
Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive is a famous loop road in the Texas Hill Country.
It is 51 miles long and has amazing views of the limestone ridge known as Devil’s Backbone.
The road starts in Wimberley and ends in Blanco and goes through Canyon Lake.
The most popular spot on the scenic drive is known as Devil’s Backbone Overlook on Farm Road 32.
From here you can admire picturesque views of the area.
Then have a drink at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern and enjoy the live music.
Go for a swim in Wimberley
Wimberly, located in Hays County, can be easily seen together with a visit to Canyon Lake.
Wimberley is mostly famous for its two swimming holes in Jacobs Well and Blue Hole Regional Park.
The downtown is also very pretty with lots of historic buildings, quaint shops, and lots of murals.
Enjoy nightlife in Austin
Austin, the capital of the Lone Star State, is one of the most vibrant cities in Texas.
Combine your outdoor trip with an urban getaway in Austin.
Enjoy the nightlife on Rainey street, eat at the food trucks, see the views from Mount Bonnell, and tour the Texas State Capitol building.
Where to stay near Canyon Lake
Various types of lodging options are available near the Canyon Lake area.
From hotels, motels, cabins on Canyon Lake, vacation rental, campgrounds for tent camping, and RV parks, the area has it all.
You will even find several glamping options including treehouses and tipis.
Yogi Bear Shelly Stone Park is also located in Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country.
Canyon Lake is definitely one of the jewels of the Texas Hill Country.
It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature in the Lone Star State.
We hope you liked our guide on things to do in Canyon Lake Texas.
Did we miss any popular attractions? Let us know in the comments.