Y’all it’s that time of year and the city of Houston is ramping up for it’s annual Buffalo Bayou Regatta! I participated in the race last year and had so much fun that my boyfriend is literally flying home from Germany that weekend so we can do it again. Let me tell you 10 fantastic reasons why you should hop on this bandwagon and sign up for the Buffalo Bayou Regatta.
This post originally published in 2019, but has been updated with 2020 information.
Quick Facts about the Buffalo Bayou Regatta
- Date: March 7, 2020
- Time: 7:30am-2:00pm
- Starting Line: 7700 San Felipe (1/4 mile west of Voss)
- Finish Line: Allen’s Landing (1001 Commerce Street at Main Street)
- Cost: $50
- Website: click here
Check out our segment on CW’s Morning Dose:
10 Reasons to Register for the Buffalo Bayou Regatta
- It’s Houston tradition. 2020 will mark the 48th year that the regatta occurs–same age as the Houston Marathon! It used to be called the “Reeking Regatta,” before Buffalo Bayou Partnership took it over. It’s the largest canoe/kayak race in Texas and one of the top 5 in the US! There even a guy that has done the Regatta every year (except for one) and his name is Reid Shipp. If you’re lucky you’ll see him–he’ll be there this year–he always wears an Arkansas Razorback hat.
- You’ll get lost in nature. Get ready to see an angle of Houston that you’ve never seen before! For real, as soon as you hit the water you’ll be whisked away into the peacefulness of the bayou and you won’t even realize that you’re in the middle of the 4th largest city in the United States. For all your friends who think Houston a flat concrete jungle, they’ll be sure to be proven wrong! The race shows paddlers a different perspective of Houston and highlights Houston’s outdoor opportunities. Get ready from stellar Downtown views as well.
- The water speed is pretty safe. The bayou flows pretty slowly and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership actually works with the Army Corp of Engineers to release water from the Addiks and Barker Reservoirs to get some flow. This year, they are estimating the flow to be about 300 CFS for the race.
- The water is cleaner than you think. The water gets its reddish color from the red clay in the Houston ground–similar to the color of Galveston Bay. You’ll likely see lots of wildlife out and about, like alligator gar! If you see a stream of bubbles popping up in the middle of the water, it’s likely that its a 4-6 foot giant fish! No alligators thought. The water in Buffalo Bayou is brackish– so half salt water and half fresh water, which alligators don’t like. You might see the occasional shark though…
- 15 miles is excellent exercise. Kayaking engages all sorts of muscles from abs to arms and shoulders. Depending on how intense you are about completing the Regatta, it’s going to take some time. In 2018, it took my boyfriend and I about 3 hours to finish. The race starts at 9am, but people are in the water well into the afternoon.
- There is a competitive and non-competitive division. A lot of people use the Buffalo Bayou Regatta as a practice for the Texas Water Safari which is a 260-mile kayak race from San Marcos to Seadrift (Texas Coastline). But if you’re not super competitive, don’t worry! With the right supplies, that brings me to my next point…
- It’s a party on a boat. We did the non-competitive race last year (and were literally like the last boat to enter the water), and we had so much fun making friends with everyone we passed. The best boats had speakers and cases of beer. One even had a handle of
rumpirates water. Make sure you plan a stop at “Mimosa Point”. Pro tip: bring lots of water! And a trash bag to collect anything you bring onto the water. Don’t litter!! But definitely don’t be afraid to have a good time!
- You can practice before the race!! Did you know you can rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards and explore Buffalo Bayou? If you’re feeling a little nervous about being in a kayak for an extended period of time, feel free to rent a boat with Buffalo Bayou Adventures inside the Lost Lake Visitors Center and get some time out on the water. Read our posts on kayaking tours here and renting paddle boards here.
- It’s easy to rent a kayak or canoe for race day. Obvi you can bring your own if you have it, but you can also rent them before the race. Here is the list of vendors. They’ll take care of bringing the boat to the starting location, providing you with life jackets and paddles, and hauling the boat out of the water at the end of the day. No need to borrow a friend of a friend’s truck on race day to lug a canoe!
- You can bring a partner!
MiseryKayaking loves company! Get a tandem kayak or canoe if you’re nervous about completing the race by yourself. Having a buddy on board also ensures that you can spend plenty of time taking pictures, posting to Instagram, and creating time lapse videos. I may or may not have done that for the first six miles of the trip. (Watch the video below and tell me that it wasn’t totally worth it.)