San Marcos River

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San Marcos River
Origin Aquarena Springs, Hays County, Texas, U.S.A
Mouth Guadalupe River, Gonzales County, Texas, U.S.A
Basin countries U.S.A
Length 75 mi (121 km)
Source elevation 575 ft (175 m)
Avg. discharge 236 ft³/s (7 m³/s)
Basin area 522 mi² (1352 km²)

The San Marcos River rises from the San Marcos Springs, the location of Aquarena Springs, in San Marcos, Texas. The springs are home to several threatened or endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, and Texas Wild Rice. The river is a popular recreational area, and is frequented for tubing, canoeing, swimming, and fishing.


Downstream from the headwaters of the San Marcos Springs, Aquarena Springs, and Spring Lake.

The river begins at San Marcos Springs, rising from the Edwards Aquifer into Spring Lake. Access to much of the headwaters is restricted because of the delicate ecosystem and numerous rare species. The upper river flows through Texas State University and San Marcos, and is a popular recreational area. It is joined by the Blanco River after four miles, passes through Luling and Palmetto State Park. Near Gonzales it flows into the Guadalupe River after a total of 75 miles (121 km). This course is the first section of the Texas Water Safari.


A dam on the San Marcos River at Luling.

The history and naming of the river is somewhat unclear. It may have been discovered by Alonso de León's expedition in 1689, but some scholars believe they instead had found the Colorado or Navidad rivers. The convention came to call the first sizeable river beyond the Guadalupe. However, at the time, the Comal River was often called the Guadalupe, and part of the Guadalupe often called San Ybón. In 1808, the Spanish established San Marcos de Neve, just south of present-day San Marcos. They had friendly relations with the Tonkawa Indians, but the hostile Comanche tribe forced them to leave in 1812. In 1998, the river was affected by severe flooding.

The old Rio Vista Dam, now demolished. The area was transformed into three rapids, making it a very popular recreational area

The San Marcos River Bridge near Gonzales was featured in Secondhand Lions.


San Marcos hosts many events on the San Marcos river. The Texas Water Safari [1] is an event that has ran every year since its start in 1963 that uses canoe powered only by human muscle. This event uses the San Marcos River and the Guadalupe River spanning from Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas to Seadrift, Texas, a total of 260 miles. This event is actually composed of many events including an information seminar, the safari race, a preliminary race, and another short race. Racers must take enough food and provisions to last them the distance of the race. The Texas Water Safari is billed as the "Worlds Toughest Boat Race" and runs annually on the second Saturday of June.

Another event is the San Marcos River annual San Marcos River Clean-Up [2]. The San Marcos River Clean-Up is an organized Spring clean-up of the whole river. Volunteers can either decide between cleaning the debris around the river with the usage of canoes or cooking and baking food for the annual San Marcos River Clean-Up thank you dinner that is provided for all volunteers. The clean-up is coordinated yearly by Tom Goynes, president of the Texas River Protection Association and a board member of SMRF, and is usually the first Saturday of every March.

The San Marcos River Annual Party is an event that happens every year near the end of January. This event is composed of an membership meeting, party, and silent auction. The silent auction is the main event and brings in the highest amount of donations for the San Marcos River. Volunteers can choose between helping set up and work the silent auction by taking bids, gathering donations, and setting up the auction or they can choose to help cook and bake food for the San Marcos River Annual Party annual thank you dinner.

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