Kayakers, swimmers and waders all enjoy the chutes
The river became a family-friendly community amenity and gathering place
Community members gather for the opening ceremony
Slalom paddler enjoying the San Marcos River
A kayaker surfs a wave in the San Marcos Whitewater Park

San Marcos, Texas

The completed whitewater park in San Marcos, Texas, is one of the most dramatic transformations designed by S2O Design principal, Scott Shipley. The San Marcos River has long impacted the local economy by attracting visitors to its banks and waters. In order to enhance the recreational hub, the project was tasked with rebuilding the failing Rio Vista Dam with a design solution tailored to preserve and enhance existing use by swimmers, tubers, paddlers, and spectators.

The new park provides a recreational amenity that attracts thousands of tourists and locals, and benefits the city’s economy. Tubers, paddlers, swimmers, and waders line the banks throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Design features, such as large swimming rocks in the pools and sandy beaches in the eddies, provide entertainment for the entire family. Shaded areas and picnic benches invite the community to gather together. The surfing waves, eddies, and fast jets provide fun for kayakers and tubers of all abilities.

In addition, by removing the failing concrete sidewalls and grading the river banks, the dam replacement costs were reduced to less than $500,000 from $1.8 million. The project was completed in under four months.