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Brazos River in Texas

Trip Overview

Brazos River - from Whitney to Waco

This stretch of the Brazos from Lake Whitney dam to Waco is clear water, easy paddling, and beautiful sights and wildlife and excellent fishing for a weekend trip. I have made this trip dozens of times and some stretches, hundreds of times over the last 20 years.

Excellent for largemouth, smallmouth, striped and white bass. Also excellent for panfish, channel cat, yellow cat, carp, buffalo, spotted gar and a few alligator gar. Some very large striper get out of Lake Whitney, along with several largemouth over 9 lbs., and smallmouth up to 6 lbs. Flyfishing is good, along with baitfishing and trotlining.

I have seen the following birds: bald eagles (winter), redtail hawks, falcons, kestrel hawks, kingfishers, blue heron, whooping crane, many species of owls, bluebirds (not talking jays), turkey, quail, and many species of ducks and geese, and smaller birds I can't begin to name.

Mammals include deer, fox, beaver, muskrat, bobcat, puma, coyote, and raccoons.

You will see very few houses, and much of the river is unchanged from a thousand years ago. There are some beautiful, high limestone cliffs, springs and creeks flowing in, and also many caves to explore. You will find ammonite and sea urchin fossils everywhere, along with many types of corals, shells, fossilized bones and petrified wood.

After most any rains the flow is great. During long dry spells when Lake Whitney is down there will be some areas where the water is only a few inches deep and dragging is necessary, but the bottom is rock or gravel. On most days or when Whitney is full, the dam is open and it is a free ride to Waco flowing 5-10 mph the whole way, except for a few wide spots where a headwind will give you a workout.

The depth averages between 2-5 feet most of the way. There are some deep holes 12-20 feet deep in several areas. The depth goes up and down about 3-4 feet daily between low flow and when they generate. Check with Lake Whitney Corps of Engineers regarding river flow.

There are a few fun, narrow class one downhill rapid stretches and a couple of tricky ones where trees are fallen and you have to get over, under or around them.

The Spanish explorers named it Los Brazos de Dios, or "the Arms of God". The Brazos is the longest river in Texas and flows nearly 1200 miles from headwaters in New Mexico to the gulf. Some of the oldest human remains in North America were found here in the caves near Spivey Crossing. These homo sapiens were 13,500 years old and buried in the caves along the river about a mile down from the FM 2114 bridge. Many arrowheads and artifacts have been found all along the river.


There are many caves and gravel bars to camp on.

I have a small cabin to rent and private camping which will be available before summer 09 on my ranch in China Spring near Wortham Bend, about 1/2 mile from the north end of McLennan County where it meets with Bosque and Hill Counties. Bring food with you.

Ridell's Camp is on the Gholson side of the river, about 5 miles from Waco on the East side of the river. Feel free to call me at 254 723 2231 for info.




It is about 1 hour South of Dallas or Ft. Worth, and 2 hours north of Austin.


You can put in below Whitney dam on the NE side of river, off of HWY 22. You can put in about 10 miles downstream at Dick's place ( where FM 2114 crosses the Brazos between the towns of West and Laguna Park. The will allow you to pay to park or rent canoes there. The next takeout is in downtown Waco at McLennan Community College marina, a few hundred yards upstream (to the right) from where the Brazos hits the cliffs in Cameron Park in Waco, joining with the Bosque River, or you can go under I-35 and take out at Ft. Fisher or the Baylor marina.


any Texas map

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip