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28 Awesome Things to do in Canyon Lake, Texas

Canyon Lake TX, located in Comal County, is one of the best places to visit in Texas.

Lone Star State is often 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 looks spectacular at sunset
Canyon Lake looks spectacular at sunset and is one of our favorite places to visit 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!

Canyon Lake looks stunning in all seasons
Canyon Lake looks stunning in all seasons

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 is a great day trip from New Braunfels along the scenic River Road
Canyon Lake is a great day trip from New Braunfels along the scenic River Road

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.

Canyon Lake is one of the most popular water sport destinations near san Antonio, Texas
Canyon Lake is one of the most popular water sport destinations near san Antonio, Texas

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. 

Guadalupe State Park has stunning fall colors in November
Guadalupe River and Canyon Lake area look stunning in fall

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 at Canyon Lake, TX.

Canyon Lake Overlook Park views from the walkway
Canyon Lake Overlook Park views from the walkway

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 other Canyon Lake parks have campsites.

Access to the lake for swimming and boating is restricted only to the parks.

The parks around Canyon Lake are great for a fun day out with the family
The parks around Canyon Lake are great for a fun day out with the family

The rest of the shoreline is private property. 

The most popular parks are Overlook Park, Potter’s 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.

Picnic table on the shores of Canyon Lake near San Antonio, Texas
Picnic table on the shores of Canyon Lake, San Antonio, Texas

North Park which is popular for scuba diving while Guadalupe Park is good for fishing.

The parks are also home to many Canyon Lake hiking trails and have plenty of picnic sites right 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. 

Be sure to see the Canyon Lake Dam at Overlook Park
Be sure to see the Canyon Lake Dam at Overlook Park

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.

Walking over the dam walkway at Overlook Park in Canyon Lake is great fun
Walking over the dam walkway at Overlook Park in Canyon Lake is great fun

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.

Marina at Canyon Lake, Texas
Marina at Canyon Lake, Texas

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.

In fact, Canyon Lake is one of the best kayaking destinations in Texas.

Water recreation on Canyon Lake is very popular during the summer
Water recreation on Canyon Lake is very popular during the summer

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.

A day out on the sun on the beach is one of the popular family activities near Canyon Lake, TX.

Visitors fishing from the banks of Canyon Lake
Visitors fishing from the banks of Canyon Lake

Fishing is a very popular activity and you can catch bass, rainbow trout, and catfish easily from a fishing dock or from a boat. 

You can read more about fishing at all the parks here on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

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 near Canyon Lake Dam
Guadalupe South Trail near Canyon Lake Dam

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 Canyon Lake hiking trails for beginners and families.

The south side trail also goes near the hydro electric power station
The south side trail also goes near the hydro electric power station

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.

Visitors fishing from the banks of the Guadalupe River near Canyon Lake
Visitors fishing from the banks of the Guadalupe River near Canyon Lake

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. 

Deer at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet Texas
You can easily see deer in the area

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. 

Guadulupe River is also a great birding destination in Texas
Guadalupe River is also a great birding destination in Texas

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, making it one of the top Canyon Lake attractions.

Go fossil hunting in the Canyon Lake Gorge

This limestone gorge is a mile long and up to 50 feet.

Located near Startzville, the limestone gorge was created in 2002 due to torrential rains and the subsequent flooding of the Guadalupe River.

Water gushing over the spillway of Canyon Lake Dam eroded the area to expose this beautiful gorge. 

Canyon Lake Gorge near New Braunfels was exposed after flood waters from the dam eroded the landscape
Canyon Lake Gorge near New Braunfels was exposed after flood waters from the dam eroded the landscape

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.

Canyon Lake Gorge tours are a great way to see fossils and dinosaur tracks in the eroded landscape
Canyon Lake Gorge tours are a great way to see fossils and dinosaur tracks in the eroded landscape

The friendly guides will show you dinosaur tracks and perfectly preserved fossils.

The tours often get sold out up to 6 months in advance.

Children under seven are not allowed on the tour.

Visitors taking tour of the Canyon Gorge
Visitors taking tour of the Canyon Lake Gorge

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.

Docent explaining about the dinosaur tracks at the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country near Canyon Lake
Docent explaining about the dinosaur tracks at the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country near Canyon Lake

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.

See variety of other prehistoric fossils including mastodons mammoths and sabertooth cats inside
See variety of other prehistoric fossils including mastodons and mammoths at the museum

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. 

Life-size dinosaur sculptures at the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country
Life-size dinosaur sculptures at the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country

Also Read: 28 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.

There are several charming communities surrounding Canyon Lake Texas
There are several charming communities surrounding Canyon Lake Texas

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.

Wildflower Cafe in Canyon Lake, Texas
Wildflower Cafe in Canyon Lake, Texas has an amazing mural

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.

Granny Ds is always a good choice for delicious meals
Granny Ds is always a good choice for delicious meals

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 scenic River Road near Canyon Lake is one of the most beautiful drives in Texas
The scenic River Road near Canyon Lake is one of the most beautiful drives in Texas

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. 

The river is very popular for river tubing in Texas in summer
The river is very popular for river tubing in Texas in summer

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. 

Views of the Guadalupe River from the River Road
Views of the Guadalupe River from the River Road

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. 

Hiking trails along the shore at Canyon Lake
Hiking trails along the shore at Canyon Lake

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.

Texas Hill Country is famous for its wineries
Texas Hill Country is famous for its wineries

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.

Winery tours are educational and fun
Winery tours are educational and fun

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.

Yogi Bear resorts are great fun
Yogi Bear resorts are great fun

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.

Greetings from Canyon Lake mural in Texas Hill Country
Greetings from Canyon Lake mural in Texas Hill Country up close

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.

Excellent views from Overlook Park Canyon Lake
Excellent views from Overlook Park Canyon Lake

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.

Scenic Guadalupe River in Central Texas is perfect for floating, tubing, and kayaking
Scenic Guadalupe River in Central Texas is perfect for floating, tubing, and kayaking

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.

Along the way you will see Horseshoe Falls, one of the best waterfalls near Canyon Lake, TX.

Most of the river tubing outfitters are located in New Braunfels or along the River Road.

You will find plenty of places to rent tubes and other gear along the Guadulupe River in Texas
You will find plenty of places to rent tubes and other gear along the Guadalupe River in Texas

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.

Gorgeous Bluebonnet fields In The Texas Hill Country
Gorgeous Bluebonnet fields In The Texas Hill Country

Visitors can also see other brilliant wildflowers including blue sage, daisies, primroses, and Indian paintbrushes. 

Taking a road trip in the area in spring is one of our favorite Canyon Lake things to do.

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.

Guadalupe State Park is one of our favorite fall travel destinations for vibrant colors in Texas
Guadalupe River area is one of our favorite fall travel destinations for vibrant colors in Texas

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.

Christmas Holiday Lights boat parade on the Gulf Coast
Christmas Holiday Lights boat parade

However the beautiful parade of lights on the Lake is the highlight of Canyon Lake activities at Christmas.

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

Find a picnic table along the lake and enjoy serene views
Find a picnic table along the lake and enjoy serene views

Things to do near Canyon Lake TX

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.

The countryside around Canyon Lake offers stunning scenery
The countryside around Canyon Lake offers stunning scenery

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.

Downtown New Braunfels is a charming place to take a stroll
Downtown New Braunfels is a charming place to take a stroll

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, the Canyon Lake New Braunfels road trip will take you along the scenic River Road.

Also Read: 10 Best German Towns in Texas

Visit the Gruene Historic District

Located within New Braunfels, you will find the Gruene Historic District.

Oldest dance hall in Texas in Historic Gruene
Oldest dance hall in Texas in Historic Gruene

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. 

The dance hall has excellent acoustics and attending a show here is an amazing experience. 

Beautiful buildings in Historic Gruene
Beautiful buildings in Historic Gruene

Apart from seeing this historic building and the surrounding historic district, visitors can also enjoy a show, dance, and have a drink.

Enjoy the nature in San Marcos 

San Marcos, located half an hour away from Austin, is the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Historic Hays County Courthouse in Downtown San Marcos Texas
Historic Hays County Courthouse in Downtown San Marcos Texas

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.

Historic Alamo Mission in San Antonio Texas
Historic Alamo Mission in San Antonio Texas

Learn about the history of Texas at the Alamo.

This Spanish mission is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Check out the city’s museums and have a relaxed Tex-Mex meal on the riverwalk while you are here. 

Street access to the San Antonio River Walk in front of Casa Rio Restaurant
Street access to the San Antonio River Walk in front of Casa Rio Restaurant

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.

Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio Texas
Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio 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.

Kids can feed zebras at the Natural Bridge Caverns Wildlife Safari
Kids can feed zebras at the Natural Bridge Caverns Wildlife Safari

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 trails within the park and all of them have diverse scenery – these are some of the best trails for hiking near Canyon Lake.

Guadalupe River State Park is a great place to swim hike fish picnic and camp
Guadalupe River State Park is a great place to swim hike fish picnic and camp

This is also a popular place to go kayaking, camping, and river tubing.

Bank fishing and bird watching is also popular here.

It is a wonderful place to get away from busy city life. Stay at a campground and enjoy the amazing surroundings.

Fall colors on the Guadalupe River State Park near Canyon Lake
Fall colors on the Guadalupe River State Park near Canyon Lake

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.

Devils Backbone Scenic Drive has panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country
Devils Backbone Scenic Drive has panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country

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 Blue Hole is a popular swimming hole in Wimberley
The Blue Hole is a popular swimming hole in Wimberley

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.

Ann and Roy Butler Boardwalk Trail is one of the best places to visit in Austin Texas
Ann and Roy Butler Boardwalk Trail is one of the best places to visit in Austin Texas

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. 

Texas state capitol building in Austin is a must visit attraction
Texas state capitol building in Austin is a must visit attraction

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. 

Canyon Lake is one of the best places to visit in Texas
Canyon Lake Canyon, TX is one of the best places to visit in the state

If you are visiting this region of Texas, Canyon Lake is an essential stop.

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.

Lesley

Friday 14th of October 2022

Wow! I live here & you make it sound like a fantasy world. Sadly I live in the world of reality & while there are fun things to do, some of your descriptions are woefully inaccurate & outdated.