Our Water’s Cleaner Than Yours

There’s a tradition here at Texas State University to take the Glass-Bottom Boat Tour at Aquarena Springs in your University Seminar class as a freshman. Now, as a junior, I took another tour on the glass-bottom boats in my Honors course.

It was wonderful to revisit Aquarena Springs, especially because a lot had changed in the last few years. What was once an old, run-down amusement park and tourist attraction with broken down old buildings that had begun to encroach upon the river now looked like a beautiful and natural lake that actually belonged in the environment.

I always enjoy spending time outdoors and seeing animals and nature, especially when I’ve got my camera with me…

The day began off a little interesting as we were to meet at Aquarena Springs and all the available passenger seats had been taken. Taking that into consideration, I decided to bike the mile and a half trip, which just happened to be mostly uphill both ways.

Only in the Hill Country can your trip be uphill both ways!

Worried I’d be late, I was surprised to find that I had actually arrived first and was eager to begin the trip. While waiting for everyone to arrive, my classmates and I took in the beautiful environment that surrounded us and began taking photographs. There was an interesting sign on the edge of the lake with adorable little ducks on it. All the girls wanted a photo with the cute duck sign. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was trying to say, but it sure was heart-warming in the cold weather.

Once everyone had arrived, we took our seats on the boat and began to set out. Our tour guide began to guide the boat out into the lake as the Director of the Aquarena Center stood up front taking pictures of our class for advertisement use later. We are a pretty good-looking bunch. 😉

Once the boat had ventured out into the waters, everyone was drawn to peer through the glass lining bottom of the vessel. Through the clear glass and the clear waters, everything could be seen.

The San Marcos River is known for being one of the most, if not the most, clear and clean rivers in all of Texas. It is spring-fed from the Edwards Aquifer, and the waters that trickle and bubble out of the springs are often of higher grade than city regulations for tap and drinking water. Of course, once the springs feed into the river and come in contact with plants and animals, other influences affect the water and downgrade it a bit, but the source is extremely pure. I wish that I could drink directly from the springs and taste such pure water, but, apparently it’s a dangerous feat.

It was said that a man once took the glass-bottom boat tour at Aquarena Springs and was so intrigued by the purity of the spring water that he lept off the boat and dived into the water. He swam to the bottom of the lake and grasped onto the rocks in order to bring his mouth to the gushing springs and take a drink. Apparently, the water rushes so forcefully that he almost drowned from the sudden intake of water.

That’s quite an adventure just to get a sip of water!

The tour guide that guided us along our experience with Clear Lake and drove our boat around the waters was very knowledgeable and helpful. She shared her knowledge of the San Marcos River and directed us to points of interest beneath the depths. Explaining the history of the river and how it has changed and impacted the environment over the years, she explained many facts about the waters that I did not know before. I especially enjoyed hearing her facts about the plants, animals, and wildlife that lived within the area.

There were several moments within the trip in which an animal would swim past the glass and surprise us. I was intrigued by the gar that we saw, along with the many giant fish. Our guide explained that it’s illegal to fish in Clear Lake above the dam, so once the fish grow too big to be eaten by the snowy egret, the largest bird to inhabit the area, they have no more predators to worry about. At one point, a large school of fish glided underneath our boat drawing interest from my peers and me.

There were also many turtles around the area, sprawled out among the rocks and logs as they tried to soak up the sunlight to warm their cold-blooded bodies. Some of the turtles had climbed atop of each other as they fought for the best sunlight. It’s amusing to see turtles balancing on top of one another.

Our tour guide continued showing us about Clear Lake as she explained the scientific studies that were going on and the opportunities that Aquarena Springs offered. While Clear Lake is generally protected by law, it is possible to scuba dive if certified under special circumstances, and of course, the glass-bottom boats are always up for a tour.

Aquarena Springs often pairs up with Texas State University in order to protect the endangered species of the San Marcos River and to study the environment in order to better understand it and all its benefits.

After we had explored just about everything within the small lake, checking out the bubbling springs and the most interesting side-notes, our tour guide began bringing the boat back into the dock. The photographer thanked us for the photos as we thanked our tour guide and the other staff members who helped us along our tour.

With a group photo, our class came to an end.

If only I hadn’t had another class to run to, I would have loved to check out the aquatic museum center they had!


Aquarena Today


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