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 along 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. Some other fun things to do at the park include geocaching and birding. This park also offers plenty of parking for large vehicles and several 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
Just under a mile north of San Antonio, in the small town of Spring Branch, this state park is off US-281 and TX-46. If you are coming from Austin, you'll take US-290 west to US-281. If coming from further out, Interstate 10 will get you to the park from anywhere in the north, south, east, and west. Interstate 35 will also get you there from the east, and you can also use Interstate 410 from the south.
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. However, some of the roads may be a bit narrow, and there may be low hanging branches to look out for. It is best to drive slowly to watch for other campers, kids, and wildlife who may be crossing the roads.
For a rather small park, there is lots of RV parking. There is some parking around the Painted Bunting Loop Trail. There is even more parking near the Rust House, where you will also find 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 Campground
The Cedar Sage Campground 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 several of the 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. These campsites will provide you with a calm spot underneath the shade of enchanting woodlands.
In addition, the amphitheater is just a short walk down Cedar Sage Trail, where the park hosts interactive learning opportunities during the peak season. The maximum length permitted for a trailer or RV in Cedar Sage is 20 feet. You are welcome to bring your pooch as long as you keep it properly restrained and supervised at all times. Reservations can be made up to five months in advance.
San Antonio KOA
The multiple award-winning, family-friendly San Antonio KOA campground has been delighting travelers for over 50 years and boasts over 300 sites. The campground is located in a historically and culturally significant part of Texas with easy access to the Salado Creek Greenway, Seaworld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Alamo, Paseo del Rio/Riverwalk, and much more. A city bus stops directly outside the campground. On-site amenities include cable and Wi-Fi, a tour shuttle, laundry facilities, a year-round swimming pool, fishing, bike rentals, a dog park, Chuckwagon breakfast, and pizza and wings cooked to order.
Fredericksburg, Texas KOA
If you like your road trips flavored with wine and German culture, Fredericksburg, Texas, is the place to be. Whether you're here for the monthly Fredericksburg Trade Days, Luckenbach live country music, art galleries, fine dining options, shopping, or historic architecture of the Texas Hill Country, this pet-friendly Fredericksburg, Texas KOA offers a serene refuge amidst all the action. You’ll find premium patio sites offering up to 100-foot pull-throughs with full hookups and up to 50-amp service. The grand old oak trees perfectly shade the sites at the Fredericksburg, Texas KOA. Wi-Fi and cable TV are available to stay connected, or you can just relax by the campground pool.
Wagon Ford Campground
If you want to leave your trailer in the parking lot 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 each site has a fire pit with a grill. No electricity is provided at these campsites, but there are lantern hangers to illuminate your camping area as well as picnic tables to set up dinner or an outdoor-board game.
These sites are close enough to the rapids that you can listen to the water rushing as you fall asleep. Most of the sites are gravel and are underneath the shade of majestic woodlands. Your fur babies are welcome too. However, they should be kept on a leash under six feet long and supervised at all times. Reservations are needed and can be made up to five months in advance.
Turkey Sink Campground
The Turkey Sink Campground features 47 sites with hookups for water and electricity. These sites can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 24 to 58 feet in length, but check with the reservation page online for more details about length limits as some longer spaces may have tighter entry points. 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. Pets are welcome, but you must restrain them and keep them supervised at all times during your stay. Reservations are needed and can be made up to five months in advance.
Seasonal activities in Guadalupe River State Park
If you're bringing your bike, 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. The .5-mile Oak Savannah Loop Trail is easy biking through the woods, and the Barred Owl Trail is a 0.8-mile moderate ride that takes you along the cliff overlooking the river. If you like a little adventure, you can get in your exercise while enjoying the beauty of the Hill Country all around you.
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.
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, creating conditions where trout can thrive year-round. An added bonus? 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 spinnerbait.
The Bald Cypress Trail is an excellent spot for a half-mile nature hike right next to the river. This easy trail is more like an unpaved sidewalk, which is 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 hike them back to back. As the name implies, this trail is much more forested than just bald cypress trees. The trail also leads to the Discovery Center, which is a very popular park attraction.
Swimming, Wading, and Tubing
Most people come to Guadalupe River State Park for either swimming, wading, or tubing, and for water lovers, perhaps all three! 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 you pack a swimsuit and sunscreen during your RV road trip to the Hill Country.
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 an excellent 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, and the Texas Revolution began at nearby Gonzales on October 2, 1935. Flooding was a severe 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. The offseason is an excellent time of year to explore the park area north of the river, which is almost entirely undeveloped except for a historic home and several multi-use trails. If you are looking for a challenge, you should consider trekking out on the nearly two-mile-long Bamberger Trail, which is the hardest hike in the park; it's almost mountain-climbing in some places.
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 jackrabbits 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 trail in the park that is open to horseback riding. Named for the summer songbirds that often nest in the trees overlooking the trail, the 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. For a shorter walk, try the 0.5-mile Oak Savannah Loop Trail, which takes you and your equestrian friend through the restored oak forest.