Go Paddling on your Next RV Camping Trip

Load the canoe in your toy hauler RV

Take your toy hauler to a Texas State park, and don’t forget the canoe! (Photo by Chase Fountain/TPWD)

Our friends at Texas Parks and Wildlife suggest beating the summer heat with a canoe or kayak outing – the perfect activity for your next RV camping trip to a Texas State Park.

Paddling gets you close to nature and Texas has more than 50 marked and well-mapped Texas paddling trails offering everything from bayou, river and lake routes to adventures through salt-sprayed coastal bays. Check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife site for trail maps, photos, and a list of parks with boats for rent.

Families looking to take the RV out for a little summer fun can readily access a number of nearby paddling trails. There are seven Texas PaddlingTrails within an hour of Camper Clinic II in Buda, and at least seven inland and coastal trails near Camper Clinic‘s original store in Rockport.

“Texas communities love this program, which has experienced huge growth in the past five months,” says Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “We’ve gone from 38 trails to 55 since February and have another two dozen proposed trails in various stages of the certification process.”

Pack a kayak in your toy hauler RV

Photo by Earl Nottingham/TPWD

Just this past May, Plante says seven new trails – three on Belton Lake south of Waco and four along the Brazos River — were added to the Texas Paddling Trails roster. The 35.4 miles of Brazos River trails, known as the Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail, represents the longest continuous stretch of river trails launched to date.

Because many parts of Texas are experiencing drought conditions, it’s always a good idea to consult online specific river flow information in advance and to contact the Texas State Park you’re planning to visit for current lake levels and other water conditions. Keep in mind that water levels at some state parks, such as Inks Lake and South Llano River, remain fairly constant despite ongoing drought.

Paddling novices looking for helpful tips before heading out might enjoy this video.

Wear your lifejacket, stay safe, and start planning your next Texas RV trip with a paddle in your hand!

~G. Elaine Acker

Fun on the Water Means Staying Safe in the Boat

Family in a boatSome memories can warm your heart like summer sunshine. And that’s true for my memories of growing up on Lake Cherokee in northeast Texas. I wouldn’t trade the good times spent running trotlines for catfish with my dad, waterskiing with friends, or buzzing across the lake in the boat to my uncle’s house for anything in the world. Growing up, my sisters and cousins and I learned how to swim almost as soon as we learned how to walk, and lakes and beaches still top our list of favorite family gathering spots (spots with RV camping, of course!)

When we planned last year’s Acker Family Reunion on Buchanan, near Austin, however, we realized that with the severe drought came some unanticipated dangers. The water levels were nearing record lows, sandbars appeared where once there had been open ski water, and in many places, submerged trees loomed just beneath the surface.

Kayaks

With the low lake levels, we chose kayaks over power boats and still made lots of great memories.

We found a great place that had RV camping as well as cabins for those who were flying in. But this time, we made a decision to leave the ski, bass, and pontoon boats at home and instead found our fun in canoes, kayaks, and swimming pools. As much as I hated to miss the time on the water, I knew I’d never be able to live with it if someone had an accident during the reunion.

Fortunately, Ackers are a flexible bunch, just happy to enjoy each other’s company whether wading in the mud or splashing in chlorine.

And now, it’s hard to believe that summertime is once again just around the corner. And even though I grew up on the water, it seems like a good time to review the safety basics. That’s what National Safe Boating Week is for, I suppose: to remind us that no amount of fun and sun is worth it if we lapse into a moment of carelessness and lose someone special.

Life jackets are really the big key. I think I’ll go make sure mine haven’t rotted over the winter. And maybe I’ll get a new one. I’ve seen some stylish ones that aren’t anything close to the clunky orange ones we had as kids.  The new ones fit great and are comfortable enough to wear all the time in the boat.

Want to join me in taking the Safe Boating Pledge?

Wading in the mud.

Wading in the mud is never a bad thing!

I’m happy to say that there’s a bit more water in the lakes now than there was this time last summer. Who knows how long it’ll last, but I’ll enjoy it while we have it! See you on the water!

What are some of your favorite lake camping spots? Let me know!