Rio Vista Park was once the site of a sloping 8-foot low-head dam with a chute in the middle that created a play hole at certain levels. The dam, which was constructed in 1904, was badly damaged in the flood of 1998 and became structurally unsound, and in early 2006, it was extensively renovated and turned into a whitewater park with artificial rapids. The new whitewater park, which opened on May 25, 2006, extended the 8-foot drop over three drops, spaced about 30 yards apart. In addition to their recreational value, the second and third drops reduce the turbulence and velocity of the water coming over the original dam (the top drop), which further protects that structure.
The top drop (about 4') is the steepest and largest, and its behavior varies with the river level:
The second drop (about 2') is shallower and creates a front-surfable, but not retentive, wave at low flows. This wave is generally at its best at < 150 cfs, when the top wave is at its worst. At higher flows, the second drop starts to wash out. There is usually an ender spot and a small wave train below it.
The third drop, AKA "The Cabana Bowl" (about 2') is more of a ledge hole. It is very shallow at low flows, but at higher flows, it becomes deep enough to give up loops. It is known to be playable even at levels (> 400 cfs) at which the top hole becomes washy.
Above the first drop is a large section of flat water, perfect for practicing flat water moves and rolls.
Because it is spring-fed, the San Marcos River maintains a consistent flow year-round. 170 cfs is the historical average, but spring flows of above 300 cfs are possible during extremely wet years. Generally, flows higher than this require a runoff event. Even during extreme droughts, it rarely drops much below 100 cfs. Except during runoff events, the river runs crystal-clear with a water temperature around 70 degrees.
During the summer months, the park is generally clogged with tubers and swimmers during daylight hours on weekends and after work on weekdays. However, the park has artificial lighting, so many kayakers prefer to play here after dark once the tubers and swimmers have left.
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Beware of park being used as a public urinal during summer months.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
This is a park-and-play waterpark. Shuttle will be via carry-up. Therefore, ignore the shuttle directions listed below. However, if you use the text entry box to enter your home or other starting address, you can get drive time/distance and directions to this location.
(While it just says "Zip", it will take "street address, city, zip" or lat/lng coordinates in almost any format.)
RV normal flow
New Rio Vista Wave 04
New Rio Vista Wave 03
New Rio Vista Wave 02
Old Rio Vista Play Spot 01
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