San Antonio River Authority logo

San Antonio River Basin Guide

Please click on the map below to open a link to the San Antonio River Basin Guide, a map that shows the location of over 70 nature parks and cultural/historical points of interest throughout the San Antonio River Basin.

The San Antonio River originates in San Antonio, Texas. On the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word, waters bubbling up from the Edwards Aquifer form the Blue Hole, the historic headwaters of the San Antonio River. The waters of this mainspring join with those of Olmos Creek and with springs throughout the Brackenridge Park area, and all together, the water of the San Antonio River flows south from its birthplace, through the city, and into South Texas. As the river flows towards the Gulf Coast, it is fed by 4,186 square miles of watershed and joined by the Medina River and creeks with lyrical Spanish names such as Alazán, Leon, Salado, San Pedro, Conquista, Cibolo, Ecleto and Escondido. The full course of the River flows 240 miles through Bexar, Wilson, Karnes and Goliad counties then becoming the county line separating Refugio and Victoria counties before converging with the Guadalupe River which finally spills into San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) firmly supports the health and quality of life benefits of nature-based recreation. SARA’s goal is to increase the availability of this type of recreation throughout the San Antonio River Watershed by working with citizens to develop park resources along rivers and creeks in the basin and by collaborating with other government entities to promote the use of and connections between recreational facilities that encourage citizens to enjoy the natural resources of the area.

Ecotourism is also making its mark throughout the San Antonio River Basin, with birders, hikers and river paddlers coming to basin communities to pursue their interests. All the more reason to protect, preserve and promote the river basin habitat.

SARA also promotes the cultural based recreation opportunities found throughout the basin. Archaeological excavations have produced evidence that the first human habitation along the San Antonio River occurred as long as 12,000 years ago. The first documented arrival of Spanish explorers occurred on June 13, 1691 when members of a Spanish expedition named the river in honor of Saint Anthony. Throughout the 1700s, development of what is now the City of San Antonio occurred alongside five Spanish Colonial missions established near the river. In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed the San Antonio Missions as a World Heritage Site. The San Antonio River Basin Guide points out not only where the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Sites can be found, but also numerous other points of cultural interest throughout the basin along the historic routes connecting San Antonio to La Bahia and Goliad that were part of the Camino Real and other historic sites important in the history of Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas.

Hard copies of the San Antonio River Basin Guide can be found at SARA’s Main Office in San Antonio or a map can be mailed to you by submitting your request via email at SARA’s Contact Us webpage.