- Parks & Recreation
- Rivers & Parks
- San Marcos River
San Marcos River
City Park River Entrance
170 Charles Austin Dr.
6AM - 11PM
San Marcos River
The San Marcos River bursts forth from the Edwards Aquifer through 200 spring openings at the bottom of Spring Lake in the heart of San Marcos, Texas. The river provides a refreshing playground for swimming, canoeing, and tubing. The San Marcos River winds through over 130 acres of parkland. The upper 3.8 miles of the headwaters provides habitat to eight endangered and threatened aquatic species, including the San Marcos Fountain Darter, Texas Blind Salamander, the San Marcos Salamander, the San Marcos Gambusia and Texas Wild Rice. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts that indicate that the area around the Springs is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America by human beings, dating back more than 12,000 years.
Rio Vista Park River Exit
555 Cheatham St.
There are no lifeguards on duty. This is a natural river and does not loop or circle back around.
The float will last roughly an hour from City Park to Rio Vista Park depending on the flow rate, where you enter and exit the river, and the number of tubers in the water. Once you reach the falls at Rio Vista Park you should exit the river.
Tubing with Your Own Tubes
Personal tubes are allowed on the San Marcos River. Tubers may begin their float at City Park and exit at Rio Vista Park. Shuttle rides back to the park are not available to those choosing to tube on their own unless you purchase shuttle service through a local vendor. The walk from Rio Vista Park to City Park takes approximately 10-15 minutes. You can expect to encounter rocks, wildlife, and other natural elements in the water and very hot sidewalk/pavement on your walk back. Proper footwear is recommended.
Tubing with a Tubing Outfitter
Lion's Club Tube Rental is currently the sole tubing outfitter located on the San Marcos River within the city limits. They are located within City Park. They offer tube, life jacket, and storage box rental, in addition to shuttle service and air service. They are available to answer any of your river-related tubing rental questions or concerns. If you are interested in donating to the River Parks Improvement Fund, you can do so through their online reservation portal.
Canoeing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding
Personal canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are allowed on the San Marcos River or you may rent one from an outfitter. View the map for river access points. You can expect to encounter rocks, wildlife, and other natural elements in the water.
Check out the videos below to optimize your SMTXperience!
Parking is free and is available in City Park, Juan Veramendi Historical Plaza, Rio Vista Park, Ramon Lucio Park and along CM Allen Parkway.
- Alcoholic beverage consumption/display prohibited (Sec. 58.033)
- No smoking or e-cigarettes/inhaled vapor devices (Sec. 58.035)
- No glass containers (Sec. 58.034)
- No styrofoam containers (Sec. 58.042)
- Motorized vehicles prohibited beyond parking areas (Sec. 58.032)
- Animals are to remain restrained at all times (Sec. 22.015)
- All wildlife and habitat protected (Sec. 58.040)
- Parking in designated parking spaces only (Sec. 58.032)
- Parking for park users only (Sec. 58.032)
- No fire wood collection (Sec. 58.037)
- Vending or sales prohibited without permit (Sec. 58.039)
- Park curfew 11:00pm to 6:00am (unless posted otherwise) (Sec. 58.029)
- Propane grills only (Sec. 58.041)
- No charcoal or wood grills (Sec. 58.041)
- Limit 1 grill per fixed picnic table site (Sec. 58.042)
- Limit 1 shelter or tarp per fixed picnic table site (Sec. 58.042)
For a complete list of all Park Ordinances visit Park Ordinances.
If you have questions concerning a citation please contact the San Marcos Municipal Court.
- Do I need a reservation to visit a river park?
- Is there a cost to use the park or river?
- Is there a cost to park?
- Is overnight camping allowed?
- Are barbecue pits allowed?
- What are the park hours?
- Where do I start tubing at the river?
- Where is a safe location for children to use the river?
- Does the river go in a circle?
- Should I wear a life jacket?
- How long is the float?
- Should I be aware of wildlife?
- Is alcohol allowed in the parks?
- Is alcohol allowed on the river?
- Are cans allowed?
- Are there cabins available for rent?
- Can I kayak or canoe the river?
- Can I fish on the river?