Medina Lake shows how Texas is both unique and fantastic… but only if you embrace and enjoy its differences from other places in the country.
So let’s review four places to paddle on or near Medina Lake that are all very different from each other.
Part 1 of 4: Medina Lake Park
Clean, calm water: 4 out of 5 Stars.
There are boats on the lake, and some days can have a bit of wind. Would you want to jump and play in the water? Yes! Almost all of Medina Lake is clean, clear water. It’s a play-with-the-kids in the water kind of place where the beach and water meet with a gradual incline without a sharp drop off.
Waterfront: 4 out of 5 stars –
(with an asterisk. It depends on the water level)
The water level can rise and fall drastically over a few short years, which adds an element of mystery on what the lakefront water will be like.
Parking: 4 out of 5 stars
You can pull right up to the water, but depending on the water level it can be a bumpy last little bit. This place is designed to accommodate a water level rising and falling dozens of feet – so given the circumstances it’s okay.
Day-use area: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s plenty of space, but it’s always rocky space. No grass or many things provided by the park – this is a BYOStuff kind of place. There are some tables, trash cans and things, but on a busy day you need to bring anything you want to use. At least you can drive up to where you want to be, and generally have the space to make your fun 🙂
Part 2 of 4: Joe’s Place Marina and Resort
Joe’s place is a privately owned and operated stay-and-play kind of area. Rather than pay one up-front fee, you pay for things a-la-cart – you’ll pay little amounts for the different things you want to do there. You might prefer a “lake day buffet,” instead of a-la-cart. Photos of their price sheet are at the bottom of the page. Whatever you prefer, just know this place is almost never packed except for big holidays like 4th of July. Even on most holidays I don’t think they get to capacity because people from the area describe this place to me the area’s best-kept secret.
The quality of the water: 4 out of 5 stars
Would you want to jump and play in the water? Yes! Almost all of Medina Lake is clean, clear water, and this area is no exception. It’s a play-with-the-kids in the water kind of place where the beach and water meet with a gradual incline without a sharp drop off.
Why not a 5? The water level can rise and fall drastically over a few short years, which adds an element of mystery on what the lakefront water will be like.
The surrounding waterfront: 4 out of 5 stars:
Is it easy to put-in and take-out anywhere? Yes – paddling around is easy. If you paddle far away and try to take-out you’ll be on someone’s private property, so be mindful of where you launch and land. The area is nice but constrained – there are well-marked places for playing in the water whereas your public park waterfront is all free-game. Launch a kayak or paddle board from the same general spot.
There’s fresh sand beaches on the waterfront, and they even do scuba diving certifications there.
The parking & accessibility to the waterfront: 3 out of 5 stars
Can you find enough close parking? Yes, it’s fine – nothing special compared to some rare parks out there where you can park almost right by the water.
It’s about a 200-300 foot walk to the water. For ‘yaks and SUP’s, plan to launch/unload then park, or bring a wagon / kayak wheel truck. But if you reserved a covered picnic table area the parking is super close to those.
The picnic & day use area: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Plus you can camp overnight.
Is it easy to enjoy the day there with friends and family? Yes – but like other private marinas and parks you’ll be a little closer to your neighbors on those rare “busy” days. If you’re a non-committal person, you’ll have to get over that and book your spot on the busy holiday weekends.
It’s a friendly place for fishing, paddling, picnicking, fire pits and all the things that make lake days fun.
Even better, you can stay overnight with the tent camping areas plus a few cabins and RV spots you can book. Like most Texas State Parks, the camping spots don’t have a ton of space between your neighbors. That’s par for the course at most places to camp within an hour of San Antonio.
Oh! I almost forgot! There is tons of shade with all the big old tree’s. That’s a huge plus.
So to recap – It’s a hidden gem… but a different kind of gem. A great place for friends and families to have fun, but expect to pay for the things you want a-la-cart instead of a flat entrance fee. Plan for it – don’t worry about it once you arrive – just enjoy!
So why not a 4 or 5 star day-use rating? Five stars are reserved for the hands-down best-in-Texas places in all aspects. Joe’s is a good place. There’s nothing bad about it, it’s just not the place you drive 1,000 miles to experience – it’s above average: a 3.5 out of 5.
Part 3 of 4: Paradise Canyon
Check out my separate post about Paradise Canyon
with tons of photos
Clean, calm water: 4 out of 5 stars
Waterfront and beach: 5/5.
Picnic and day-use area. 4/5