Hazards of the river

Colorado River Trail

​Know the potential dangers before going on a trip

Gentle and peaceful as it often appears, the Colorado River below Austin is a major river with natural and manmade hazards that must be respected. Here are warnings to review before beginning a river trip:

  • Low water dams near Garwood, Lane City and Bay City are too hazardous to cross under any circumstances. Instead use portages clearly marked by LCRA.
  • Those traveling to the Gulf of Mexico face potential hazards from motorized traffic. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises small boats to avoid the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
  • When approaching a hazard or rough water, it is permissible to go ashore to study the possible hazard. Portage to safety if boating would be dangerous. Learn more about using private land.
  • Stay alert for stumps, snags and other objects that could pose a potential hazard, particularly in swift water. Look for a V-shaped pattern on the surface of the water. Often, this wrinkled water signals the presence of potentially dangerous objects below.
  • In fast moving water, keep your boat pointed downstream. Avoid turning the boat broadside.
  • If you capsize in swift water, stay with your boat, float feet-first downstream on your back until you can swim to shore.
  • When loading or unloading your boat, standing on the upstream side will keep your legs and feet from being pinned between the boat and the rocks or vegetation.
  • Watch for tree limbs and other objects in the river that water can pass through. The force of the current can push a boat into this area and cause it to capsize.
  • In an emergency, remember all riverside counties have 911 service.


Where are we?
When traveling by water, knowing your location can be challenging. Look for river-mile markers placed at public river access points by LCRA.

Carry maps or guides. Make a note of major land features – bends in the river, feeder creeks and overhead powerlines. These are marked on detailed maps found in the Lower Colorado River User's Guide.