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Photo by Carlos Alfonso

Colorado River


Rising in the high plains of the Llano Estacado, the 862-mile Colorado is one of the longest Texas rivers and the longest flowing entirely within state borders. The Colorado River originates in the Permian Basin, then flows through Hill Country and fills the famous Highland Lakes reservoirs (Buchanan, LBJ, Inks, Travis and Lady Bird Lake). Several iconic Texas rivers feed the Colorado, including the Concho, San Saba, Llano, James, Pedernales Rivers and Barton Creek in Austin. At the edge of Austin, the river flows over Longhorn Dam and continues freely to Matagorda Bay at the Gulf of Mexico. Along its way to the coastal plain the river flows through several natural regions and important agricultural areas, including rice farms and heavy industry.

Quick Info

LengthUp to 12 runs between 6 and 43 miles
Class (I-VI)I-II+
Minimum Flow
Ideal Flow
Maximum Flow
Current River ConditionsUSGS: SanSaba190, Austin, Bastrop, LaGrange, BayCity
Put-in mapsSee featured runs below
Take-out mapsSee featured runs below
BoatsCanoes, kayaks
Season Year round
HighlightGood camping, good fishing

Launch Site Maps

Paddling Trails and Descriptions

El Camino Real Paddling Trail [6 miles, 1.5-4 hours]: Bastrop

Wilbarger Paddling Trail [14.3 miles, 4-8 hours]: Bastrop

Columbus Paddling Trail [6.5 miles, 2-5 hours]: Columbus

Conservation and Threats

Rapid growth and urbanization throughout Travis County is pushing higher quantities of water and sediment into the Colorado River through increased impervious cover and disturbed surfaces. Excessive amounts of dirt often wash into the river from landscapes that have recently lost their native vegetation and natural cover. Point-source pollution may be entering the Colorado where chemical spills, sewage leaks, and other accidents occur. Non-point source pollution is taking place where pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are washing off yards and fields into the creeks that feed the river.

Natural Features

The free-flowing Colorado River here is a wide, slow-moving stream that embraces gorgeous scenery through remnants of rich bottomland hardwood and oak forests and the blackland prairie of central Texas. Numerous sandbars and islands in the river create a number of opportunities for overnight camping (please respect private property) and several access points provide for a variety of trip styles. Popular day trips are highlighted for two Paddling Trails at Bastrop (TPWD “Bird City” designation) and at Columbus.


The most common fishes of the Colorado River are Striped bass, Largemouth bass, White bass, Guadalupe bass, Blue catfish, Flathead, Small Buffalo, Freshwater drum, Crappie, Rio Grande Cichlid, various Sunfishes, Spotted and Longnose gar, Alligator gar (record 150 pounds).

AN Notes -Other Access:
-Mile 0 access: Little Webberville Park (30.229489, -97.518956)
-Mile 5 access: Webberville Park (30.209036, -97.499518)
-Mile 19.0 access: FM 969 boat ramp (30.167788, -97.403291)
-Mile 32.5 access: Bob Bryant Park (30.121805, -97.337651)
-Mile 33.5 access: Fisherman’s Park (30.111960, -97.325099)
-Mile 39.9 access: Lost Pines Recreational Trails (30.079648, -97.316014)
-Mile 60.8 access: Vernon Richards Riverbend Park (30.0179277, -97.144475)”