Public and private river rights in Texas

Frequently asked questions

The Colorado River is one of the major rivers in Texas. So, the public has the right to boat, swim and fish in its water without hinderance. In turn, landowners have the right to enjoy his or her private property without trespassing, poaching, littering, or other abuse by river users. Both boaters and landowners have the responsibility to obey all laws and conduct themselves with proper regard for the rights of others.

Here are answers to questions about river rights along the river:
Where can I access the river?
Where can I camp?
Are the banks of the river privately owned?
May someone owning land adjacent to the river obstruct navigation?

Q. Where can I access the river?
A. Typical access is from the right of way of public road crossings, a public boat launch area or public park. The Colorado River is accessible through LCRA parks, education centers and public right-of-way boat launches. A map of the Colorado River Trail shows some of the public access points downstream of the Highland lakes.

There is no general right to cross private property. If the private landowner forbids access, you are trespassing if you go on private land. Always know where the next public access is located.

Q. Where can I camp?
A. In general, it is best to camp at public parks. It is permissible to camp on an island or gravel bar in a riverbed, although that can be dangerous. Do not camp or access private property without the landowners permission. Keep noise to a minimum and leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.

Q. Are the banks of the river privately owned?
A. Almost all the land outside of the riverbed is privately owned. However, if a boater encounters a hazard, a log jam, low-water dam or some other obstruction, the boater may get out and scout for a safe route, or may portage if boating would become dangerous. Such intrusion on private land should be kept to a minimum.

Q. May someone owning land next to the river obstruct navigation?
A. No. For more information on the rights of river users and landowners, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-800-252-8011.