Frequnetly Asked Questions
How does the shuttle work and what does it include?
You will come to our location (6793 Texas R2 Del Rio, TX 78840) at your scheduled time to meet one of our shuttle drivers who will help you load your gear into our vehicle and trailer. They will shuttle you to your designated river drop off location. After your float, they will pick you up at your scheduled time and bring you back to your vehicles. Boat rentals are not included but may be added at an additional cost. Each shuttle is designated for your group alone. We do not double book shuttles. This is not a river guide service.
How does the shuttle with water taxi work and what does it include?
You will come to our location (6793 Texas R2 Del Rio, TX 78840) at your scheduled time to meet one of our shuttle drivers who will help you load your gear into our vehicle and trailer. They will shuttle you to your designated river drop off location. Depending on water level you will paddle to around mile 37-38 where Amistad National Park concessionaire, Lake Amistad TCS, takes over. They will tie up your boats behind their motor boat. You will hop on their boat and travel about 45 minutes to Rough Canyon Marina and then be transferred back to your vehicles. Boat rentals are not included but may be added at an additional cost. Each shuttle is designated for your group alone. We do not double book shuttles. This is not a river guide service.
How do I go about booking a trip?
It's best to call us first to see if we have shuttle availability for your planned dates. We will pencil you in for 24 hours so you can call Texas Parks and Wildlife at 512.389.8901 to see if they have permits available and reserve them (if required). In order to get an access permit, they require you to know where you are shuttling in, shuttling out, where you are planning to camp, who's in your group, and that you have booked your trip with a shuttle service beforehand if you are going into the State Natural Areas. Once you have reserved your permits and booked with us, you can pay the deposit by using our PayPal link. In order to book the water taxi service, full payment is also due at time of booking. Please also print and sign our waiver form. We prefer to have everyone's signature before returning it to us, but as long as at least the trip planner has signed and returned it to us before your shuttle date, that is fine. You can mail it or you can scan and email it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When should I reserve my trip dates with you?
The sooner the better. We do our best to accommodate everyone's dates up to the last minute if we are available, but during our peak season (April-Oct) we often are booked 3-5 months in advance. So try to plan early. We require that you book at least 5 days in advance. Currently, TP&WD is only giving out permits 5 months in advance so we can not book a trip further out than 5 months unless you choose to paddle from Baker's Crossing and utilize the water taxi. This trip does not require permits.
I'm coming to town the night before my trip. Where should I stay?
This depends on what best interests your party. The easiest and best option, in our opinion, is to stay at one of the lake view trailers offered by Ruthie's Rentals. Ruthie's is located across the street from us making it the most ideal spot. Prices start at $130/night, but tell them you are an Amistad Expedition client for a 10% discount. For an affordable hotel, we suggest the Ramada Inn Del Rio. It has a restaurant and bar convenient for your last supper. The Ramada is about 25 minutes from our location. If you prefer roughing it, Rough Canyon Marina, located inside the Amistad National Recreation Area, is an ideal camping spot and is a two minute drive to our location. Last, is the Who Cares B&B. Marlene runs this rustic, low-key B&B perfect for many paddlers. If you stay here you will enjoy a great breakfast to get you in gear for the trip ahead. Let us know if you stay at the B&B because as an added bonus, we will pick you up from here. All options require reservations.
When do the shuttles run?
Mon-Fri we try to drop off or pick up our patrons before 8:00am or after 4:00pm. Sat-Sun any reasonable time. Schedule your times with our shuttle booker, Nicki.
How long is the shuttle drive and water taxi?
The shuttle drive to Baker's Crossing is approximately 1.5 hours via highway. The shuttle drive to Del Norte SNA is approximately 1.5 hours via bumpy ranch roads. When getting off the river in Blue Sage or Dan A. Hughes SNA, the shuttle drive is about 45 minutes back to your vehicles. The water taxi to Rough Canyon is about 45 minutes. A friendly reminder, most trips require going through a Border Patrol check point with drug sniffing dogs.
How many people can you shuttle at once?
The shuttle drivers have crew cab pickup trucks or suburbans which can fit 5 somewhat comfortably, 6 tightly. If you have more than 6 in your group, we would be required to take two vehicles which would double the price of the shuttle. The water taxi can also shuttle up to 12 but is an additional $50/person after 6. If you have 7 or more it would require two separate trips. No more than 12 are permitted on the river a day if you plan on touching any of the State Natural Areas. There is no minimum.
What if I just need a pick up from the river?
We can do this, but at the end of your trip, if we have to take you back to your vehicle at the launch site it will be the same price as if we took you to the river on your launch day. Additionally, you will most likely be leaving your car parked in a public location during your trip verses parking it at our more secure location. Last, you would need to get everyone in your group to sign our waiver and send it along with a copy of your permit to us before your trip. This is normally taken care of during your shuttle to the river.
What if I need to cancel/reschedule?
Cancellations between 5 months-24 hours before your shuttle meet time:
Shuttle deposits are not refundable after submitting deposit payment.
If cancellation notice is given sooner than 24 hours before your shuttle meet time, shuttle deposits will be held for up to six months to reschedule and complete a trip during that time.
If you reschedule and cancel again you will forfeit your deposit.
This info applies to each booked shuttle.
Kayak deposits are not refundable or transferable at anytime.
Cancellations within 24 hours before your shuttle meet time:
If cancellation notice is given for shuttle or kayak rentals within 24 hours of your scheduled meet time, paddlers will be responsible for the full shuttle & rental amount.
There are no partial day kayak rentals or early return discount/refund.
What type of boats do you suggest for this float & where can I get them?
We love our Jackson Cruise 12 Angler kayaks and Jackson Coosa kayaks. Being between 11'-12' long, 70lbs. and holding up to 375lbs. with gear, they are the perfect size boat for the river with ample storage. You can rent them from us at $65/day. If you don't have a Jackson, we suggest a similar quality, sit-on-top kayak for fishing and paddling purposes because they have sufficient storage and straps, they sit higher on the water and are easily entered into from the water or shore. You may also choose to canoe the river, but consider water levels when deciding because they may cause you to portage more. If you'd like to rent canoes try calling Gerald at 830.703.0089. You are always welcome to bring your own too.
What comes with the kayak rentals?
With our kayaks you get the kayak (either Coosa or Cruise 12 Angler), paddle, extra paddle, hi-low elite seat with under pocket storage, and life-jacket. Any extra accessories like a drag chain, tie off ropes, fishing equipment, etc. must be brought by the paddler.
Should I tip my shuttle driver?
Our shuttle drivers are generally in the vehicle around 5 hours per paddle group. During this time they do their very best to educate you on everything river related. You have plenty of time to ask them as many questions as possible. If you feel that they were friendly and have done an exceptional job providing the service, a tip is always appreciated but never required.
Do I need permits to float the river?
Yes, but with a few exceptions. A Devils River Access Permit (DRAP) is required for all river trips which access Devils River State Natural Areas and/or designated paddler camps. The cost of a DRAP is $10/person. You can get these permits by calling Texas Parks & Wildlife
(512) 389-8901. Each paddler is required to bring a copy of their DRAP (including the signed Conditions of Permit page) and an extra one is required to hand over to your shuttle driver. The exceptions to this rule is if you plan on paddling from Baker's Crossing to Blue Sage, to meet the water taxi around mile 37-38, to Rough Canyon Marina, or you plan on taking out on private land.
Can Amistad Expeditions obtain permits for my group?
Sorry, no we are not allowed to get permits for your group because we are not actually going on the trip with you. TP&WD requires that the group leader call and get the required permits.
Do I need permits to camp on the river?
Most likey, unless you are staying on islands or on banks below the river gradient boundary. Camping fees apply at Mile 12 Paddler Camp, San Pedro Point - Del Norte SNA, Mile 20 Paddler Camp, and Mile 29 Paddler Camp - Dan A. Hughes. These primitive river campsites are open seven days a week for paddlers with advance permits to utilize on their way downriver. Only one-night stays are allowed per party. The camping permit cost $5/person/night and can be purchased by calling Texas Parks & Wildlife (512) 389-8901.
When should I get my river access & camping permit & how will I receive them?
The sooner the better. Currently, TP&WD is only giving out permits 5 months in advance so if you plan on touching either SNA or designated paddler camps we can not book a trip further out than 5 months. Keep in mind only 12 access permits are given out for each day. Be sure to reserve your dates with us before calling Texas Parks & Wildlife. They require that you do. Once you have scheduled your shuttle with us & Parks, they will email you a link in which to download your permit. Please bring the appropriate number of copies of your DRAP with you: one for everyone in your group to take on the river and one for us to hand over to TP&WD.
River & Camping Questions:
What part of the river would be best for my ideal trip time frame?
The average kayaker paddles approximately 7-8 miles on the Devils River per day. So keep this is mind while planning your trip.
To get in a good, relaxing trip with some fishing we suggest for:
Baker's Crossing-Del Norte SNA: 2-3/days, 1-2/nights (15 miles)
Baker's Crossing-Blue Sage: 3-4/days, 2-3 nights (25 miles)
Baker's Crossing-Dan A. Hughes SNA: 4-5/days, 3-4/nights (30 miles)
Baker's Crossing-mile 37-38 to meet Lake Amistad TCS's water taxi to Rough Canyon Marina: 5-6/days, 4-5/nights (37-38 miles depending on water levels)
Baker's Crossing-*Rough Canyon Marina: 5-7/days, 4-6/nights (47 miles)
Del Norte SNA-Dan A. Hughes SNA: 2-3/days, 1-2/nights (15 miles)
Del Norte SNA-Blue Sage: 1-2 days, 0-1/night (10 miles)
Del Norte SNA-mile 37-38 to meet Lake Amistad TCS's water taxi to Rough Canyon Marina: 3-4/days, 2-3/nights (22-23 miles depending on water levels)
Del Norte SNA-*Rough Canyon Marina: 4-5/days, 3-4/nights (32 miles)
*we highly encourage paddlers to get out no further than the tip of the Dan A. Hughes SNA-mile 38. After mile 38, the river basically turns into a lake. It becomes very wide with lots of head wind which makes it a long, hard 9 miles. Rough Canyon is also a self shuttle area.
The trip we suggest most often is between Del Norte-Dan A. Hughes SNA. Here you will find most of the fun rapids, great fishing, and of course Dolan Falls which you wouldn't want to miss.
ALERT: Unfortunately, Dan A. Hughes SNA will be closed Feb 2020-Aug 2020 (TBA). Therefore, we will not have access to the park for shuttles. Consider a trip from Baker's Crossing to Del Norte SNA, Baker's Crossing to Blue Sage, Del Norte to Blue Sage or utilize a water taxi via Ruthie's Rentals to Rough Canyon Marina. This can all be set up through us.
What part of the river has the most ideal water flow?
Also keep in mind water flow in between launch sites. During months of drought, Baker's Crossing to Del Norte SNA can be a long haul due to low water levels. This can mean miles of portaging. However, years with plentiful rain this may not be much of an issue. The best water flow and the trip we suggest most often is between Del Norte-Dan A. Hughes. Check out the National Weather Service River Forecast Center to see the current water flow. In our opinion, a flow of 200 CFS at Pafford Crossing is the most ideal. This is the absolute best flow but it doesn't happen often. At 140CFS or a little less you can have a very enjoyable trip.
Where can I camp on the river?
Overnight camping is available at Baker's Crossing for free.
There are four other designated paddler camps along the river:
Mile 12 Paddler Camp
San Pedro Point - Del Norte SNA
Mile 20 Paddler Camp
Mile 29 Paddler Camp - Dan A. Hughes SNA
Camping at the Blue Sage take is NOT allowed
These require advance purchased permits. You are only allowed to spend one night at each of these five spots while traveling down river. We do not give specific coordinates or locations for other camping spots due to the high volume of traffic on the river, but you can also set up camp on islands within the river or below the river gradient boundary along the river bank. These areas, can become extremely dangerous if the river begins to flood. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that most of the land along the Devils River is privately owned, so please respect private property by not trespassing or littering, and keep noise levels to a minimum. Landowners are well known for calling on any paddler that is trespassing. Under Texas Penal Code (§30.05), criminal trespass occurs when one enters property after receiving notice not to enter. Notice includes verbal notice, a fence, sign(s), purple paint on posts or trees, or the visible presence of crops grown for human consumption. To better understand river gradient boundary laws, take a look at Texas Parks and Wildlife's description.
When is the best time to paddle the river?
It all depends on the focus of your trip. Early spring to mid-summer and early to late fall are generally best for pleasant weather and a relaxing paddle. Strong head winds on the last 9 miles of the river and hot temperatures can become your biggest obstacles during summer months. A dip in the river can easily fix this though. If your focus is fishing, the Devils offers good fishing for small mouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, and carp. The river is especially well known for its small mouth bass fishery. As the water heats up, so does the fishing. Anytime the water is between 72-85 degrees, the smallmouth fishing is fantastic! Check out the National Weather Service River Forecast Center for forecasted weather conditions before your trip so you can be best prepared.
Is there cell phone service on the river?
No, there is no cell phone service anywhere on the river, but that's part of the joy of being off-grid in nature, right? That being said, you may want to bring a satellite phone if you are concerned with reaching home or help.
What type of lures work well on the river?
We often suggest Wacky Worms, jerk baits, small grubs, and spinnerbaits. Though the river conditions change, and therefore what lures work, we've found that soft plastics generally work best. The more realistic the better.
River Rules & Ethics:
What am I required to bring on the river?
Permits a.k.a. DRAPs (including signed Conditions of Permit page) for trips that require them. Each person in your group needs each on them at all times. An extra DRAP is required for your driver to give to park staff
WAG bags (human waste bags with gelling component)
Trash receptacles (not regular trash bags. They need to be heavy duty like potato, onion sacks, or Up2U bags.)
Other items that are encouraged:
Water filtration system
Rope/tie-downs for securing gear and boat
Satellite phone (we do not rent them)
Minimalist sleeping/camping gear
Minimalist food preparation gear
Flashlight, headlamp, or small lantern
Cheap fishing equipment
Closed-toe water shoes
What am I not allowed to bring on the river?
Glass of any sort
Other items that are highly discouraged:
Large heavy cooler (like big Yetis)
Larger hatchets or machetes (you are not allowed to cut down wood while on the river)
Dogs (they too can trespass and are required to be on a leash while in the SNAs or paddler camps)
Huge tents for each person (camping space is limited)
Expensive fishing gear (items easily get broken)
Anything that you won't be comfortable carrying the entire trip down the river
What should I do in case of an emergency?
Your best legal bet would be to send part of your party to one of the State Natural Ares to reach help. Landowners along the river may be forgiving in a dire emergency, but we suggest not to test them unless 100% absolutely necessary.
Are fires allowed on the river?
Ninety percent of the time, there is a fire ban in the county. Do not expect or plan for it to be lifted during your float. Even when the ban is lifted it is almost impossible to get firewood because most firewood is located on private property. You can not chop trees, brush, or limbs down while on the river. The only fires permitted in the State Natural Areas or the designated paddler camps are containerized fires for cooking. The most telling signs of trespassing are fire rings so please respect the ban and landowners' properties. Take a look at Texas A&M Forest Service to get an updated burn ban status.
Can I fish on the river?
Absolutely! The Devils offers great fishing for small mouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, and carp. The river is especially well known for its small mouth bass fishery. The usually crystal clear waters make seeing and being seen by fish very easy. More people canoe and kayak the Devils River to fish than to run the whitewater rapids and falls alone. Though, be aware, catch and release is required for both small and largemouth bass. For more info and tips on good catch and release practices or local fishing regulations visit Texas Park and Wildlife
What are some good river ethic practices?
It is important to pack out everything that you pack in. This means leaving absolutely no trash behind including cigarette butts, water bottles, cans, fishing equipment, cooking items, leftover food, and even human waste. WAG bags are the best use for human waste disposal and are required while on the river. Onion sacks, potato sacks, and Up2U bags make great trash receptacles for everyday trash. The Devils is pristine so please, please, please help us keep it that way. Try using the rule of thumb to leave it cleaner than when you arrived. Read more about proper river ethics at Leave No Trace.