Devils River State Natural Area

Critical Paddler Information & Map

A Devils River State Natural Area Access Permit (DRSNAAP) is required for all river trips which access Devils River State Natural Area units. The cost of a DRSNAAP is $10. Contact the TPWD Customer Service Center at (512) 389-8901 to obtain a DRSNAAP and camping permits, and to learn about commercial outfitters. Read an overview of the Devils River State Natural Area Access Permit. 

Things You Should Know Before Paddling the Devils River

  • Do not attempt to paddle the Devils River unless you are an experienced paddler in good physical condition with wilderness paddling experience; are well prepared; and fully understand the river challenges, hazards and river-use etiquette.
  • All property adjacent to the river, except for Baker’s Crossing Paddler Access, both units of Devils River SNA and Amistad Nationall Recreation Area, is private property. Camping or traveling on private property without permission is trespassing. It is not uncommon for private land owners to file trespassing charges against trespassers.
  • The Devils River can flash flood from rains that fall over 50 miles away or on tributaries. It can become dangerous and life threatening VERY QUICKLY.  
  • Camping on islands can be extremely dangerous if flash flooding occurs.
  • While the river water clarity and quality is excellent, take proper water treatment precautions before drinking.
  • Carry abundant DRINKING WATER OR WATER TREATMENT CAPABILITY. MAINTAIN GOOD HYDRATION!
  • Searing summer temperatures and  can cause severe sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion. Bright sun, reflection and exposure can cause severe sunburn. (Sunburn is the leading reason why paddlers interrupt their trips to seek help.) 
  • Strong headwinds are extremely common and can be challenging, even to the fit and experienced paddler.
  • In the winter, cold fronts can cause temperatures to drop 40-plus degrees in minutes!
  • Venomous snakes are common along the river.
  • There are many dangerous obstacles in the river. Some of the more notable ones include:
    • Low concrete-and-steel bridge approximately ¼ mile below Baker’s Crossing (low clearance)!
    • Low water concrete crossing at 9+ miles ... hydraulics! Slip hazard!
    • Sycamore Shoot Rapid/Game Warden Rock at 12+ miles
    • Dolan Falls at 15+ miles; DO NOT TRY TO RUN!
    • The Cascades/Three-Tier Rapids at 17+ miles 
    • Dandridge Falls Rapids at approximately 23 miles. Tie your gear down EXTRA tightly, as many paddlers lose it here.
    • All rapids/boulder gardens have potential for foot/ankle/leg injuries. BE SURE OF YOUR FOOTING!
  • Wear tough, closed-toe water shoes. Aqua socks or open sandals are not adequate.
  • Carry a first-aid kit that contains items to treat serious wounds in an isolated water environment.
  • Secure all gear within your craft so that WHEN your canoe or kayak is upside down in the river, nothing will float away.  
  • Cell phones don’t work in the Devils River corridor. For safety, carry satellite communications ... BUT BE PREPARED FOR A LONG WAIT!!
  • If you are doing a one-day trip, plan at least for overnight, with food/water/emergency ration supply for an extra day or two.
  • Long pants that cover your ankles and long sleeve shirts and wide-brimmed hats are highly recommended to provide sun protection.
  • In case of emergency while on the river, contact the Val Verde County Sheriff's Office:  (830) 774-7513.

River Etiquette:

  • Human waste is a serious problem and a serious health hazard to the river. A WAG Bag (Waste Alleviation and Gelling Bag) should be carried and used. There are multiple commercial WAG Bags available. 
  • Pick up litter, even if it is not yours.
  • If camping at the state natural area, a permit is required.
  • Carry heavy-duty trash bags/containers for trash. Stow your trash bag inside your vessel so that it will not get ripped, snagged, or cut, causing you to lose your trash into the river. Plastic bags alone do not make adequate trash bags.
  • No glass; please respect the river. Broken glass is a forever hazard and impact.
  • Noise travels a long way on water. Please respect private landowners and other paddlers who don’t want to hear you travel down the river or at your camp.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and do not become someone else’s problem. Rescue could be days away!
  • RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY – DO NOT TRESPASS!
  • Secure food items and trash from critters at night. Raccoons are common and can get into many receptacles.

Recommended gear list:

in addition to your usual camp gear and food, include the following items: (This list is not intended to be comprehensive!):

  1. Portable toilet/WAG Bag for human waste
  2. River map showing mileage
  3. Insect repellant - depending on time of the year, consider mosquito netting
  4. Sunscreen and clothing to protect from the sun
  5. Broad-brimmed hat
  6. Sunglasses (might consider taking two pairs)
  7. Rope/line - at least 20 feet for dragging kayak/canoe, plus rope/straps/line to secure items in vessel
  8. Life jacket/PFD (personal flotation device)
  9. Food and water
  10. Water purification capability
  11. Watertight/heavy-duty bags (dry bags) for gear
  12. Pocket knife
  13. Bail bucket/sponge (you will get a lot of water in your craft)
  14. Duct tape (don’t leave home without it!)
  15. At least two headlamps or flashlights
  16. One extra paddle per two boats

 Devils River Paddler Map

Paddler Map image
Devils River Paddler Map

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