River Floating Etiquette

The Fourth of July brings thousands of people to the rivers of Central Texas to float downstream in tubes. I am making the pilgrimage this weekend for a little R&R on the river. We’re doing a little triple dip by hitting three rivers, in fact. The Comal, San Marcos, and Guadalupe make up the to-do list for this Fourth. With that in mind, I figured a list of some tips on river floating etiquette might serve us well.

Know The Rules of the River

This one should go without saying but you might suffer a shock at how many people don’t do research ahead of time. The Comal, for example, does not allow cans. Yet for some reason, someone always shows up with a cooler full of beer expecting no issues. Know before you go and you’ll have no issues.

I Can’t Believe I Have To Say This But Don’t Litter

It’s 2023 and we still have people who just let trash float away. Look, accidents happen – but most tubing rental places offer some type of trash net to keep you from littering. Take advantage of that. We’re pretty lucky here in Texas to have these rivers for recreational purposes. Let’s do our part to keep them looking nice, yeah?

Be Reasonable With Your Music

The invention of waterproof speakers has improved the floating of the river. I think music enriches a lot of experiences. Some nature experiences don’t require them (nobody wants to hear you blasting music on a hike) but floating a river seems like the kind of outdoor activity that gets vastly improved by the addition of tunes. I’m not telling you that you can’t listen to music on the river – just asking that you keep the volume to a reasonable level so that folks aren’t having to yell to have a conversation. Please.

Stay Together, But Don’t Block The River

It happens every year. Some massive group of floaters ties themselves together to avoid being separated. One of the tubes on the fringes gets held up and all of a sudden you have a river jam the likes of which even Sandy Gray would have feared. Staying together on the river is extremely important. You don’t want to be floating solo. Instead of creating massive pile-ups though, stick to smaller groups. You can always regroup at certain spots along the river as needed.

Drink Water – Lots and Lots of Water

The Texas Heat takes no prisoners. I enjoy a cold adult beverage as much as the next person but mixing in water is a major key. You absolutely have to stay hydrated out on the river – don’t be the person who has to be carried out of the water by their friends. Everyone will hate you if you have to be rescued.

If You Bring Certain Items They Will Be Communal

Jello shots and sunscreen – if you bring these items to the river, they are for everyone. Obviously, you can say no but floating is a communal experience. Sharing space and party favors makes up a big part of the day. You don’t have to share but it’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Courtesy Pee

You’re spending hours in a body of water, drinking for either hydration or recreation – probably both. You are going to have to go to the restroom and it is not expected of you to get out of the river. Unlike Ron White mentions above, maybe don’t paddle up to someone to relieve yourself. Just try to be aware of your surroundings. Personally, I like to get out of the tube but to each their own.

If you plan on floating the river this weekend, let us know what river floating etiquette tips we missed at Pokatok_Fest on Twitter!

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