While there is a lot to love about San Marcos (and we mean A LOT) exploring the crystal-clear San Marcos River is always at the top of the list. The spring-fed river stays 72-degrees year-round, perfect for adventures whenever strikes your fancy. Whether you're looking for a calm and peaceful paddle or adrenaline-fuelled white water run down the falls, you're in for a great SMTXperience.

About The River

The San Marcos River bubbles to life right in the middle of town at The Meadows Center. The Edwards Aquifer comes up through more than two hundred springs in the lakebed. The water then flows from Spring Lake and through San Marcos before joining forces with the Guadalupe River and flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. The San Marcos River is home to seven endangered species, including the San Marcos Salamander and Texas Blind Salamander. A unique, and endangered, feature of the San Marcos River is the Texas Wild Rice, which grows solely within about a mile and a half range of the San Marcos River. The long underwater grass helps clean pollutants out of the water, which we certainly appreciate. 

Boy alone in kayak on calm riverTips

While there's no wrong time to enjoy the San Marcos River, paddlers can enjoy the river all to themselves when tubing season isn't in session. Or, head out for a morning paddle in the summer when most folks don't start showing up to the parks until it starts to get a little hotter. (7-10 am is usually a good window)

If you're looking for a peaceful, easy paddle, head to the upper San Marcos River that flows through town and avoid the rapids at Rio Vista Park. If you're in for a more rugged paddle, the lower San Marcos River may be more your scene with its stronger currents and murkier waters that make for excellent fishing if you're interested. And, adrenaline junkies with an interest in white water kayaking will love the Rio Vista Falls in the off-season. 

Helpful Tips

  • San Marcos is full of natural beauty and we really want to keep it that way - take what you bring and dispose of trash properly
  • Bring your beverages in a reusable container and adhere to the cooler size limit per the new 2024 reusable container ordinance
  • Remember, it's a real river! You're going to want to bring along life vests.
  • S-U-N-S-C-R-E-E-N, seriously
  • Stay hydrated! Bring plenty of water as fun in the sun can be quite dehydrating
  • Leave glass and styrofoam at home
  • Wear shoes that are strapped firmly to your feet 
  • Don't bring anything to the river that you don't mind losing
  • Stick to public access points
  • The San Marcos River does not go in a circle... 

Unusual Paddling Adventures

Glow Tour

Looking for a truly one-of-a-kind San Marcos River adventure? You're going to love a glow tour! Paddle SMTX, Get Up and Go Kayaking, and The Meadows Center offer nighttime tours in clear kayaks with LED lights underneath, allowing you to see beneath the surface in a (quite literally) whole new light. Paddle SMTX and Get Up and Go Kayaking glow tours explore the in-town stretch of the San Marcos River, while The Meadows Center tours take place at Spring Lake and are scheduled on a limited basis.


SUP Yoga

Clear your mind and strengthen your body with SUP Yoga! The hour-long yoga class is taught on paddleboards in the river at 9 am on Sunday mornings. The class is friendly to all fitness and flexibility levels for vinyasa style flow. Refresh with a quick dip from your board after your final sun salutation. The class is available for ages 13+ and boards must be reserved by the Friday before your session.


Texas Water Safari

Extremely advanced paddlers may be interested in putting their skills to the test for the Texas Water Safari. Considered the “World’s Toughest Canoe Race,” the Texas Water Safari is a 260-mile-long canoe and kayak race from Spring Lake in San Marcos to the city of Seadrift on the Texas coastline. Paddle enthusiasts not competing can come cheer on the racers at San Marcos' riverside parks as they embark on their thrilling journey. 

Paddling Outfitters

Get Up and Go Kayaking

  • 170 Charles Austin Drive
  • (512) 348-6793

Experience illuminated night paddling in the pristine, crystal-clear waters of San Marcos…

Olympic Outdoor Center

  • 602 N I-35
  • (512) 203-0093

The Olympic Outdoor Center is an adventure company focused on bringing the best…

Paddle with Style

  • PO Box 512
  • (512) 749-2350

**By reservation only please call (512) 749-2350** Paddle With Style's mission is to…

Paddle SMTX

  • City Park
  • (512) 400-6259

Experience the San Marcos River like never before, with a guided Paddle SMTX Glow Kayak…

Spencer Canoes

  • 9515 FM 1979
  • (512) 357-6113

Choose from paddling trips planned to accommodate beginners or intermediate skill levels…


  • 701 Cheatham Street
  • (512) 648-9592

SUP SMTX offers year-round paddleboard rentals to anyone looking to experience the…

Texas Canoes and Kayak

  • (512) 749-2350

Texas Canoes & Kayaks is a branch of Paddle With Style. In 2009, Paddle With Style began…