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Which Boat Ramps Are Best … and Why (Plus Where to Swim and Fish)

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Which Boat Ramps Are Best … and Why (Plus Where to Swim and Fish)

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Image courtesy of Holiday Lodge on Canyon Lake, which is right next to Boat Ramp #1.

Due to overcrowding during peak seasons, getting to a Canyon Lake beach or boat ramp can be problematic.

The only way to access the lake is through parks or boat ramps. During the summer months both are packed and overcrowded. Expect long lines.

You can’t trespass on private property to reach the shoreline easement managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The “rules” about boat ramps, swimming and fishing are not always clear. Signage with clear directions and parking are just two of the many issues visitors face. At many ramps, visitors who are not towing boats park in trailered parking, which is against the law.

Enforcing rules sometimes is the responsibility of a single law-enforcement officer surrounded by dozens of cars and hundreds of visitors in 90-degree heat. Comal County is working with USACE to resolve many issues, including lack of adequate restrooms and not enough trash cans.

Comal and Canyon parks reach capacity quickly, close and reopen frequently throughout the day.

The best way to enjoy Canyon Lake? Plan ahead. And if you have elderly or not-so-agile friends and family members with you, remember there are not boat docks at every ramp.

To help visitors, we’ve added some of the unique needs and concerns identified by Canyon Lake Boat Ramps Community Alliance this year. The citizen’s group is spearheading efforts to deal with problems at the lake.

Most of the area’s boat ramps date back to the 1960s, when they were installed for the benefit of the small subdivisions that dotted the lake. They were never intended to serve tens of thousands of summer recreationists, and the rules and regulations have not kept up with the deluge of visitors.

If you are a diver, visit Canyon Lake Divers Facebook page for free advice!

Issues identified by CLBRA are included below, to help visitors decide which county ramps work best for them. All ramps are chaotic and overcrowded in the summer.

For daily updates about the status of boat ramps and lake conditions, click here.

Don’t forget life jackets! Most of the recent drownings were completely preventable, and at least two children have been thrown into the water without life jackets during boating accidents.

Know Before You Go

MyCanyonLake.com asked U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Natural Resource Specialist Samuell Price, a biologist with years of experience at Canyon Lake, for his insight into all boats ramps and fishing spots around Canyon Lake.

Price knows Canyon Lake inside and out. He created this handy map to answer all things boat-ramp-related for both USACE and county-operated boat ramps.

His responsibilities as a Canyon Lake park ranger include:

  • Overseeing the cleaning and repair of parks, daily maintenance. Managing the logistics of purchasing, arranging for tools and gear.
  • Hiring volunteers to work at the park in exchange for a six-month campsite that includes water, electricity and some hookups. All campgrounds have a sewer dump station for RVs.
  • Working with area residents who volunteer because of their commitment to keeping parks clean and functional.
  • Managing recreation in the parks and interacting with guests.
  • Checking with gate attendants, contractors, law enforcement and EMTs to make sure everybody has a safe experience in the park.
  • Installing and maintaining signs that keep people safe in the water and wearing life jackets. Signage includes posters, billboards and paintings on boat ramps.
  • Utilizing his biology expertise to look for anything out of the norm such as invasive species that come into the lake. Uninvited guests include zebra mussels and occasional aquatic plants.
  • Planning interpretive educational programs for schools, families and anyone else who requests them. Popular topics include a history of the dam, history of the area, area biology. “I’ve pretty much taught any topic you can think of.”
  • “This is just the tip of the iceberg!”

This story reflects Price’s general observations and does not include specific information about lake levels, locations, fees and hours of operation. It’s intended to give recreationalists a better idea about what to expect at boat ramps.

Fishing

  • Try Ramp 11, which sits on the Guadalupe River on the northside of Canyon Lake in what’s called both Rebecca Creek and Cypress Cove. Parking is limited. This is a site favored by locals. Great place to fish for white bass.
  • Cranes Mill Park includes the very popular Crappie Dock, also a great spot to watch sunsets.
  • Ramp 17 has good shoreline access. Popular with locals.
  • Many like to fish in the river below Canyon Dam along the Guadalupe Trail.
  • Ramp 21 has a fishing pier that’s sponsored by WORD.
  • Walk right down to the water and fish at Overlook Park.

Swimming

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises visitors to avoid swimming at Overlook Park, which has steep drop-offs. To learn more about water safety, click here. Lake Manager Javier Perez Ortiz suggests swimming at Comal or Canyon Park beaches or try Potters Creek Park (for registered guests only).

Comal and Canyon Parks are now operated by Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County. To learn more about their swim beaches, visit wordcc.com.

Boat Ramps, by the numbers

#1

Has a very small parking lot. It’s a steep ramp with just one lane. The water is deep and it has a dock. Gets very crowded very quickly in the summer. Open 24 hours. Free.

Rental companies use up too many parking spaces.

#2

Located in Turkey Cove, this ramp has approximately 20 parking space and an easy-access, single-lane ramp with a dropoff at the end. Be careful when backing down. The cove has no trees near the ramp, making it easy to safely back out. Boaters always want to know if a ramp has trees around it. Ramp has a dock, which makes it easier for families with children, lots of gear and elderly visitors to use. Open 24 hours. Free.

Rental companies use up parking spaces, hotel guests use the dock as a beach, and there is not enough parking for un-trailered vehicles.

#3-#4 (Inside Comal Park)

#3 is very shallow and closes earlier than other ramps do when lake levels are low. Open from 7 a.m. to sunset. Free.

#4 is deeper. Open from 7 a.m. to sunset. Free.

Both are good ramps to launch from. They’re wide, with plenty of space for maneuvering. Lots of parking spots. Both ramps have docks.

#5

CLOSED – Very shallow water, which makes it difficult to launch deeper boats. Plenty of parking. Closes quickly when water levels drop. Gentle slope. Open 24 hours. Free.

Clear rocks from ramp, make ramp deeper and longer, fix extreme drop-offs and holes, port-a-potty needs regular maintenance. Overflow from Comal Park can be an issue.

Ramps #6, #7 and #8

All about the same. Steeper ramps, smaller parking lots but with deep enough water for most boats to launch. Very busy in the summer. All open 24 hours. Free.

#6 -Turnaround is too small and too steep, ramp needs to be resurfaced and repair, better lighting recommended.

#7 – CLOSED. Relocate and service restroom, needs sand/rock berm about 20- to 30-feet out, end of ramp is too shallow, repair drop off at the end of the ramp, add lights. This ramp has a 2-3 ft. drop where the ramp ends. When levels are low it ‘s impossible to back in far enough to release without trailer tires dropping off that ledge.

#8 – Rocky, slippery ramp, parking lot needs to be striped and signage added.

Ramp  #9

Privately owned by a marina. It’s a very short and narrow ramp. When water levels are low, it’s not easy to launch from. Call Cranes Mill Marina for hours.

Ramp #10

Ramp with a dock, which makes it popular with boaters who have elderly family members of young children. They don’t have to get their feet wet to get into the boat. Easy to load gear. Two lanes, plenty of parking with easy access to the mouth of the river. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. $3.

Ramp #11

Sits in a neighborhood with limited parking. It’s a steep ramp that sits on a shallow branch of the Guadalupe River on the northside of the lake. Free but no dock, very popular with locals. Parking is limited. Known as both Rebecca Creek and Cypress Cove, located off Eagle Pass and FM 306. Open 24 hours. Free.

Slippery, shaded ramp. Parking lot needs to be paved and striped.

Ramp #12

Managed by the Lake Canyon Yacht Club. Member access only.

Ramp #13

Managed by Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) and is strictly for use by military personnel. Shallow and hard to launch from. Call for hours of operation.

Ramp #14

Public access, inside Jacob’s Creek Park, managed by JBSA. Sits right next to #15. Call for hours of operation.

Ramp #15

Public access, inside Jacob’s Creek Park, managed by JBSA. Sits right next to #14. Call for hours of operation.

Ramp #16

Managed by JBSA for exclusive use by military personnel. Shallow and difficult to launch from. Call for hours of operation.

Ramp #17

Also known as Little Jacob’s Creek. Open 24/7. Plenty of parking, restrooms, picnic tables and a loading dock for boats. Not inside a park. It’s a street ramp. Open 24 hours. Free.

Ramp #18

Located inside Canyon Park. Has three lanes, a dock, plenty of parking but only available when the campground is open. To use this site you must rent a campsite from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ramp #19

Managed by Canyon Lake Marina. Steep ramp. Call marina for hours of operation.

Ramps #20 and #21

Both inside Potters Creek Park. Both have docks and are easy to access by boats. Plenty of parking. #20 is exclusive to park guests. #21 is open to the public.

#22

Steep boat ramp, limited parking, no restrooms and no dock. Open 24 hours. Free.

Needs lights, fix dock, add paved parking, markstripe to show three ramp lanes, fix broken ramp concrete and repave N. Cranes Mill Rd.

#23

Plenty of parking. It’s a very good ramp with a deep spot for boating once off the ramp. Not shallow, no trees and no rocks. Open 24 hours. Free.

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2 Comments

  1. Mike March 10, 2021

    How many river miles is it from ramp 10 at Cranes Mill to ramp 11 at Rebecca Creek? I ask for paddling estimates. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Billy Earl Herrington April 12, 2021

      I did an out and back from ramp #11 today. I checked on google maps and it appears that I went aproximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the way (an estimate). It took approximately 5 hours out and back, so the trip from ramp #11 to ramp #10 should be 6 to seven hours. I think wind direction and speed are greater determinants to which direction you want to take this trip.

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