Staying Safe on the San Antonio River: Kayaking Safety

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Two kayakers paddle down the river.

Adventure awaits along the San Antonio River!

Whether you plan on kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding for an entire day or an hour, the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) has paddling trails to satisfy all! You can find more information on the five paddling trails maintained by the River Authority here. While out enjoying your water-full adventure, safety is paramount. Read on to learn about some kayaking safety tips used and recommended by the River Authority’s Recreation Team and more information on safe kayaking along the river.

Coffee mug and kayaking or paddling equipment looking out towards river.

Paddling Rules to Remember

  1. Wear a properly fitted PFD. “PFD” stands for “personal flotation device” (or “people floatin’ doohickey”). These can include a life vest, life jacket or preserver. Make sure it fits snugly and won’t come off if you end up in the water.
  2. Stay Informed. Read up on essential information about river conditions before you go, such as water flow and current weather. (Learn how to Check River Conditions below!)
  3. Dress Appropriately. The correct clothing helps prepare for your time on or in the water. For example, long sleeves are a great way to reduce the risk of severe sunburn. Although we hope you do not capsize and end up in the water, having shoes on will protect the bottoms of your feet should they touch the bottom of the river. This is especially helpful in high fishing areas where hooks and other fishing gear may be stuck at the bottom of the river.

Kayak shoot near San Antonio River

How to Check River Conditions

  1. Head to the Current Conditions page on our website.
  2. Scroll down to the “Flow Conditions” chart where you can see the flow volume and the time the flow volume was taken at each site. You can also click on each individual site number to see more in-depth information about each site.

When looking at river conditions, be weary of fast flowing water, high-level water, and your own abilities as a paddler. Checking the weather can help with determining whether the flow will be higher than normal due to rain. Use your best judgement and don’t enter the river if you are unsure of your own ability to safely travel downstream.

Dam near Roosevelt Park

Don’t Forget These Essentials

Check before you go! Checking the weather can help keep you safe from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Although some parts of the San Antonio River may be shaded, it is a good idea to always wear sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Be sure to take water with you on your adventure and do not forget the hydration begins at home! So, remember to hydrate the day and night before as well. Bug spray is also recommended while paddling, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitos tend to be buzzing around.

Swimming in the San Antonio River?

The water in the San Antonio River may look very tempting to jump into especially on sweltering summer days however, swimming in the San Antonio River is not recommended, and presently, swimming or wading in the San Antonio River in Bexar County is prohibited by a City of San Antonio (COSA) ordinance. There is some hope that this might change in the future. The River Authority is working with COSA officials and employees to determine the potential for swimming and wading in the river. Meanwhile, you can check the E. coli bacteria conditions on the Current Conditions page.

Tune into the Blog this Friday for Part 2 of Staying Safe on the San Antonio River where we discuss two organisms you should be mindful of while recreating on Texas rivers and lakes: cyanobacteria and harmful amoeba. Stay Safe and we’ll see you on the River!

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Acequia Trail Notice

The Acequia trail will have heavy traffic near MROC starting May 22nd until further notice. The SAWS Acequia project will be bringing in crews to work on the lift station site and across the street. There will have flaggers to stop traffic, please use caution. 

SASPAMCO Paddling Trail

The SASPAMCO paddling trail is open from River Crossing Park to Helton Nature Park.
*Please Note: Paddling Trail from Helton Nature Park to HWY 97 is still closed due to blockages. 

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