I’ve been to Paradise Canyon in the Summer, Fall, and Winter – and every time was divine. Our tradition is to camp there in February and invite all our friends to swim & paddle there in July.
Here’s why it gets a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars and some pro-tips on how avoid finding yourself without a table in the shade.
Clean, calm water: 4 out of 5 stars
It’s calm for toddlers, deep for adults, clean, cold and fresh. The upper section is full of big rocks to jump off of into the water. The middle section is a big reservoir for swimming and some simple kayak fishing.
Why 4 stars? This isn’t a paddle trail or a place where you can “get lost exploring.” It’s a really big private park, not a lake. About 3/4th of the water is great to play in, but there is a small section with lots of vegetation that isn’t good to swim or even paddle around. It divides up the park’s water features into a two parts so it’s not the easiest to paddle or play end-to-end.
Waterfront and beach: 5/5.
Clean, soft grass, steps with railings into the water, curbed waterfront, and lots of big shade trees. Awesome place to veg and tune-out the kids arguing about whose turn it is to inflate the paddle board.
(Shameless plug – We’re renting inflatable Stand-up Paddle Boards with electric pumps for $40/day or $60/weekend. Check out our rental page here to dial up your experience.)
Lots of it and all close to the water or camp sites. Parts are bumpy or not the most clear to navigate.
Picnic and day-use area. 4/5
They put a lot of effort into making sure there is shade, grass, and places to sit.
And the tables… So. Many. Tables. Hundreds of tables. But you can’t just use any table you’d like; We ALMOST got to the end without a catch…
(Pictures during the winter off-season)
Why a 4 out of 5? There are a few things to know about this place…
Things you better know before you go:
Tables are by reservation only – that’s why every single one of them are numbered. Be very sure to reserve a table for any busy holiday or 3-day weekend not just for the table but because it guarantees you a nice spot. EZ Ups and canopies are not allowed on the prime real-estate center lawn, so if you find yourself arriving late in the day on a busy weekend, you might get stuck without a close spot in the shade.
You can bring grills or canopies, but no music or dogs, and a few other rules. Between COVID or any weather issues, be sure to check their website to see what the “rules du jour” are.
This is one successful for-profit operation – they have all kinds of rental gear, food, or other things to sell. They don’t have any lack of creativity finding things to up-sell or rent to you:
Cell reception isn’t great there. Coordinate your directions or meet-up plans beforehand with those friends who are unlucky enough to be on T-Mobile.
Bonus! Camping there in the off-season is fantastic.
Paradise Canyon is one of the best places near San Antonio for camping. Any Texan knows the State Parks are the main game in town – most of them are great, but others are a little lacking when it comes to camping. Private campgrounds are really hit-or-miss, but this is the best little place around. If you plan your trip during a time when there aren’t a lot of people (generally between November through February) it’s totally awesome.