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Canoeing & Kayaking


Choke Canyon Lake and Rio Frio, Three Rivers, Texas, USA

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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Marilyn Kircus
  • Date Submitted: 11/2001
  • Location: Three Rivers, Texas, USA
  • Class: I in River, I - II in Lake
  • Distance Paddled: 10 - 15 miles
  • Water Level:
  • Water: Fresh, clear, cold
  • Wildlife: Frio: Wild Turkeys, Alligators, Hawks, Vultures, Deer, snakes. Choke Canyon Lake: Deer, javelina, feral hogs, lesser scaup, mallards, wigdeon, coots, pintails, cormorants, great egrets, sandhill cranes, caracaras, redtail hawks, turkey vultures, snowy egrets, great egrets, piebilled grebes.
  • Special Regulations:

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: From Choke Canyon State Park, go back to Hwy. 72, west to Hwy. 99 and north to the river. There is a large parking lot here and some people camp here as well. For the put-in in the park, just follow the signs. For Mason Point, go west on 72 from the park to Park Road 7 north east to ramp.
  • Best place for the Frio paddle is FM 99 boat ramp. Put-ins for the lake proper include the ramp inside the park and Mason Point boat ramp, just west of the park. The ramp to my favorite Frio area has been closed. It is the most western ramp on the map of the lake.
  • Fee: There is an entry fee for the park, I think $3 per person per day. If camping, the ramps are free. Check with park service for other fees. Camping is $11 for sites with electricity (I highly recommend you use these instead of the sites with just water as only a few of them are nice and almost never available.) I think the tent sites are $8/night. All sites have a maximum of 8 people and 2 cars. Other cars pay an excess car fee.
  • Description: Paved ramps
  • Parking: Paved
  • Facilities: The park itself has all the regular facilities.
  • Handicap Access:

What We Saw

This is one of my favorite places in Texas, both because I think the Frio River is so pretty with its high banks and tight little turns and the trees decorated with ball moss which looks like frilly Christmas balls, and because of the animal life. This is the western most range of the American alligator and the northern boundary for the range of Mexican bird species. I have led various trips by canoe or kayak over several years. Always birding ranges from great to fantastic to unbelievable, depending on the water level.

The first year I was there, I just took a chair out to a little inlet and sat there for over an hour listening to the sandhill cranes try to fly off in the fog and then return to wait a while. It took them three tries before then actually flew off. Raccoons returned home, walking almost past my feet. Yellowlegs called and several species of dabbling ducks kept me busy watching them. All this was before I even got on the water. One year, while paddling the uppermost part of the Frio with another friend, both in solo canoes, we came around a bend between high banks and startled three tom turkeys that were resting on a little ledge. They all flew in formation to the next S curve and then flew up to the high bank and disappeared.
Last year we paddled our kayaks past dead trees, often playing among them and sometimes having coots skittering ahead. We watched lots of egrets and herons and cormorants swimming or sitting with their wings outstretched to dry. We paddled past lazing alligators the were as wide as our kayaks and almost as long. We shared the river with lots of fishermen but all were very friendly and all slowed down for us.

The Javelinas shown at the top and the deer shown at left were in the park where we camped.

The lake (shown at right) has sometimes challenged my strength when the winds were strong. But one sunset paddle gave us silhouetted birds, a big group of feral hogs, a small island to paddle around and views of our camp from the water as well as a beautiful sunset. Another time, I couldn't take my group out because the waves were too rough for beginner skills. But we just went hiking or biking or lazed in our hammocks. And there are so many niches and crannies along the edge of the lake that it will take many more trips to see it all.
Our turn around point on the Rio Frio is pictured at left