Known as “The Jewel” of Texas Hill Country, Canyon Lake, Texas is a true gem. It’s located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, just west of San Marcos and northwest of New Braunfels. Canyon Lake is an hour from San Antonio, 3-½ hours from Houston, and an hour and 15 minutes from Austin.
It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors with its location on the Guadalupe River where plenty of wildlife such as foxes and roadrunners can be seen.
Canyon Lake has eight park areas where people can camp, picnic and engage in water recreational activities. Bank fishing is also a popular activity in these parks.
Golf enthusiasts can also find a par 72 golf course in Canyon Lake that has great views of the lake and live oak trees. There are many lodging options in Canyon Lake that work for different budgets. This charming town is a fun-filled vacation destination and offers plenty of fun, adventure and relaxation.
Things to Do in Canyon Lake
1 Take a Cruise Down River Road
Start your road trip to Canyon lake by cruising down River Road. It’s a must-see! If it’s not possible to start off your trip this way, make sure you cruise it at some point during your visit. This magnificent road runs 10 miles lined with gigantic Cypress trees and travels alongside the Guadalupe River between Canyon Lake and the New Braunfels area.
The road will take you through four river crossings, farmlands, campgrounds, ranches and so much more! It will come to an end near Overlook Park but there will be lots of outdoor activities on your way such as paddle boarding, bird watching and fossil hunting.
2 Jump in For a Swim
With three parks that have beaches, you’ll be tempted to jump in for a refreshing swim during your visit to Canyon Lake.
Unfortunately the beaches and the shoreline don’t have lifeguards on duty so be sure to bring a life jacket for your safety.
3 Visit a Local Park
With 8 parks around Canyon Lake, stop at one of them to enjoy the breathtaking views. There’s so much to do at these parks including camping, boating, biking, swimming, horseback riding, etc.
The parks also have an abundance of wildlife such as deer, roadrunners, gray and red foxes for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy.
4 Go Fishing
Canyon Lake offers some of the best fishing in the area. The largemouth bass is the most popular and most abundant sport fish but you can find others like the Guadalupe bass, smallmouth bass and various catfish species.
For more information on current fishing conditions at Canyon Lake, click here.
5 Scuba Diving and Find a Ghost Town
With plenty of hidden treasures to explore underwater, Canyon Lake is a favorite with scuba divers. Because of its visibility of about 20 feet, you’ll find cars, boats, bikes and other valuables that residents had to leave when the lake was constructed. They say you can even find an underwater ghost town.
6 Enjoy a Scenic Hike
With over 31 trails to choose from, Canyon Lake offers plenty of picturesque views and curious wildlife. The trails cover over 171 miles so you’ll surely find a trail that’s right for you.
And if hiking isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of biking and horseback riding trails to choose from.
7 Go Back in Time at Canyon Lake Gorge
Back in July of 2002, heavy rains and flooding caused a surge of water to flow over the spillway of Canyon Lake for about six weeks. This created a one-mile long gorge covering over 65 acres, providing exposure to rock as old as 111 million years old.
The gorge allows you to explore fossils and dinosaur footprints that have been undisturbed for millions of years. You’ll also find a series of pools that are fed by springs, waterfalls, and basically a new ecosystem.
8 Tour the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country & Discover Fossils
If you’re interested in learning about our state’s history, The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country has records of history going up to 111 million years back!
At the museum, you’ll find more than 200 dinosaur tracks and 28 trackways, along with a collection of fossils. Be sure to also check the collection of Native American artifacts and antique and vintage pieces from the 1800s through the 1950s.
Canyon Lake is filled with fossils and footprints that have been undisturbed for millions of years. Spend some time learning about the prehistoric fossils found in the area.
9 Christmas at Canyon Lake
If you find yourself in Canyon Lake during the holidays, you’re in for a treat. There are many Christmas events that happen throughout the season, such as a Christmas parade, a North Pole Village and a boat parade of lights.