Guadalupe River State Park is a charming natural oasis in Texas, featuring one of the best swimming holes in the Hill Country. RVers enjoy lots of water sports on this section of the Guadalupe River. The river winds along the northern edge of the park, alternating between tranquil waters and roaring rapids.
Guadalupe River State Park is more than a natural swimming area. There are also over a dozen miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. Other activities include geocaching and birding. This park also offers plenty of parking for large vehicles and a number of full-hookup RV camping spots.
A quick grammar lesson here. “Guadalupe” is pronounced like “gwad-a-loop.” With a little practice, you'll fit right in on a trek through the stunning and serene Hill Country. The peak season is during the summer, so you'll want to watch out for crowds in case the park reaches daily capacity since rangers will close it off to new visitors for the day.
Guadalupe River State Park is a perfect RV destination year-round, with sunny summer days and mild winter temperatures. This state park offers the balance of enjoying the solitude of nature, while still being close enough to the hustle and bustle of Austin and San Antonio.
RV Rentals in Guadalupe River State Park
Transportation in Guadalupe River State Park
From San Antonio, the state park is off U.S. 281 Highway 46. If you are coming from Austin, you'll take U.S. 290 west to Highway 281. Local roads within the park are easy to navigate and provide access to nature trails, the camping areas, and the interpretive center. There are no driving restrictions for trailers and RVs, so you should find it easy to get around within the park.
For a rather small park, there is lots of RV parking. There is some parking around the Painted Bunting loop trail. There’s even more parking near the Rust House, where there is also an RV dump station. Most of the parking is adjacent to the Guadalupe River’s main swimming area, which provides easy access to the Interpretive Center, Discovery Center, and wildlife viewing area.
Campgrounds and parking in Guadalupe River State Park
Campsites in Guadalupe River State Park
Cedar Sage Camping Area
The Cedar Sage Camping Area features 37 campsites that provide water and electricity hookups. Most of the sites are on three loops which are near a restroom and shower area. You'll enjoy convenient access to hiking trails and beautiful views of the river. You can grill dinner on the fire pit and enjoy a quiet picnic at the picnic table at your campsite. Campsites will provide you with a quiet spot underneath the shade of enchanting woodlands. The maximum length permitted for a trailer or RV is 20 feet. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Turkey Sink Camping Area
The Turkey Sink Camping Area features 47 sites on a single loop with hookups for water and electricity. A walking trail connects the two ends of the loop, where there is also a restroom and shower facility. This campground is a bit more isolated, as it is right next to the park’s eastern boundary, so you'll love it if you're looking for a secluded spot. You'll still be within walking distance to some nature trails and nice views of the river. You can cook and dine with ease thanks to the fire pit and picnic table provided at your site. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at Guadalupe River State Park.
If you want to park your trailer and pitch a tent you can stay in one of the nine walk-in primitive campsites at the park. These tent campsites overlook the rapids and are near a restroom facility. Potable water is easily accessible near the restrooms. You can still cook and dine right at the campsite as fire pits with grills and picnic tables are provided. No electricity is provided at these campsites. Most of the sites are paved, underneath the shade of majestic woodlands.
Since Guadalupe River State Park is located just north of San Antonio there are plenty of private RV parks and campgrounds to choose from if you wish to stay outside of the park. Private campgrounds may offer the luxury of modern amenities like swimming pools and wireless internet. The benefit of private campgrounds is that you can choose what type of accommodation you are looking for, whether you want a rustic experience or a luxury atmosphere. You'll still be within driving distance of all the outdoor adventures waiting for you at the park.
Seasonal activities in Guadalupe River State Park
Swimming, Wading, and Tubing
Most people come to Guadalupe River State Park for one of these three things. The area near the parking lot is ideal for wading and swimming. Much of the river is rather shallow and all of it is quite tranquil. There are also two designated picnic areas near the shoreline. To the west and east, the river moves a little faster, which provides excellent conditions for tubing. Make sure sure you pack a swimsuit and sunscreen during your RV road trip to the Hill Country!
The Bald Cypress Trail is a great spot for a half-mile nature hike right next to the river. These easy trails are more like unpaved sidewalks, which are ideal for people with young children or those with mobility impairments. The Bald Cypress trail is also one of the most accessible trails in the park, as it runs from one parking area to another in a relatively straight line. The Cedar Sage Trail is another easy half-mile route that connects with the Bald Cypress Trail, so many folks do them both at once. As the name implies, is much more forested than Bald Cypress. The trail also leads to the Discovery Center, which is a very popular park attraction.
Guadalupe River State Park visitors do not need fishing licenses to fish from shore. Plus, you can rent fishing equipment, like tackle boxes and poles. The trout are almost always biting. Even inexperienced anglers can walk away with a three or four-pound fish. Fly fishers often catch 20-inch fish that weigh six or eight pounds! Cold water tumbles into this stretch of the river from the nearby Canyon Creek dam, so trout can thrive here all year long. Plus, every November the river is stocked with over a thousand rainbow trout from the nearby A.E. Wood fish hatchery. When angling, be sure you account for the river’s current and use some kind of spinner bait.
If you want to go canoeing during your motorhome vacation to Texas, this state park is a great spot! Lots of people take their canoes from the parking area west to the park boundary. The water here is mostly tranquil, though it is a little choppy in some spots. For those looking for a more of an adventure, the area east of the parking area features more challenging rapids. Check with the rangers regarding water levels before you set out.
If you're bringing your bike in your trailer you're in for a load of riding opportunities at Guadalupe River State Park. You can coast on many of the park trails, such as the three-mile Painted Bunting Trail. Other shorter trails offer scenic views of the river. You can get in your exercise while enjoying the beauty of the Hill Country all around you.
Guided Walking Tours
On most weekends you can take a guided walking tour of the adjacent Honey Creek State Natural Area that leaves from the Rust House. This area is one of the most biologically diverse parts of the Hill Country. The nine different types of soil support a number of different plants. That diversity attracts a variety of different animals, such as jack rabbits and deer. In the creek waters, especially around the creek canyon, many different types of fish and turtles are clearly visible. Keep a sharp eye out for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
At just under three miles, the Painted Bunting Trail is the longest one in the park that is open to horseback riding. Named for the summer songbirds which often nest in the trees overlooking it, Painted Bunting Trail is a beautiful route to enjoy the thrill of riding on horseback during your RV trip to Texas. It loops through the park interior, so parts of it are quite rugged.
Visiting the Discovery Center
The Discovery Center is a mini-museum at the end of the Cedar Sage Trail, featuring lots of hands-on exhibits. It’s also a good place to learn about the history of Guadalupe River State Park. Waco, Karankawa, Tonkawa, and other Native Americans lived in this area for several thousand years before the Spanish arrived just before 1700. The Texas Revolution began at nearby Gonzales on October 2, 1935. Flooding was a serious problem in this area until the Army Corps of Engineers completed the Canyon Dam in 1964. Private individuals deeded the Park’s land to the state ten years later. History enthusiasts will love learning more when you park your camper and head into the Discovery Center.
Wildlife and Nature Viewing
You can spot one of the most prominent limestone bluffs in the park at the end of the Barred Owl Trail. Most people can traverse this easy trail in about ten minutes, so you have lots of time to enjoy the serenity of the Overlook. Barred owls, also known as hoot owls, are one of the most common birds in North America that you can spot in the park. If you bring your binoculars in your motorhome you might also see a myriad of other native wildlife in the park such as coyotes, bobcats, and armadillos.
Temperatures in the winter are often quite mild, so you can still enjoy a scenic hike during the off-season. This is a great time of year to explore the park area north of the river, which is almost completely undeveloped except for a historic home and a number of multi-use trails. If you are looking for a challenge you should consider trekking out on the nearly two-mile-long Bamberger Trail. As perhaps the hardest hike in the park, it's almost mountain-climbing in some places.