It’s Texas. It’s summer. It’s hot. What to do? Get in the water and cool off.
One of the most popular family recreation areas is on the San Marcos River — it’s exceptionally clear and a cool 72 degrees all year long — and the folks at the Lions Club Tube Rental will help float you on your way.
Plus, all profits go to community charities.
Here’s the deal: you go to the Lions’ facility in City Park in San Marcos, get outfitted with an inner tube and any other items you might need like snacks or water or a waterproof case to hold you wallet and keys, walk down to the river, plop in and take a leisurely float for the next hour on the most beautiful river in Texas, and hop aboard the shuttle bus at Rio Vista Dam and ride back to your car.
Simple and relaxing.
The river is fed by Aquarena Springs, just up river from City Park, making this section a very pristine one to float. But understand that floating the San Marcos River isn’t like the floating the Guadalupe River. On this section you’ll find neither rapids nor hoards of people. If you want just the right amount of white water thrills, you’ll find them at the end of the ride at optional tube chutes at the dam itself and one just below it.
It’s a family-friendly float: simple and relaxing.
And don’t worry about droughts. Other rivers wither during droughts, but not this section of the San Marcos. Rising as it does from springs fed by the Edwards Aquifer, the San Marcos River provides a reliable flow of water and would probably be the last river in the area to run dry in the case of a severe drought.
“Glen Longley started it all back in 1976 out of the back of his cattle trailer to raise money for the club,” says Mike Rhoades, co-chairman of Lions Tube Rental with John Schramm.
They eventually moved from the trailer into a building at the park. That burned down in 2009 and the tube rentals operated out of a temporary building for two seasons until the Lions leased space in the huge, new park recreation building in 2011. Two years ago, the Lions acquired the busses that provide shuttles from the end of the float back to the facility.
What started out as 20-40 tube rentals a day has grown to 800-850 rentals a day. Mike says the Lions see about 100,000 people in a season with 70 percent bringing their own tubes.
One thing the Lions do to prevent congestion on the river is that they’ll air up 1,000 tubes in a day and not put more than that in the river at any one time, Mike says.
One price gets you unlimited shuttles so you can keep floating all day long if you’d like.
The Lions employ about 40 people to keep the rental operating smoothly - mostly students - according to George Laktas, rental president for the past eight years.
Their shop has river shoes, waterproof cases, t-shirts, floats, tubes, sunglasses, river bags, bobbers, coolers, koozies, waterproof cameras, goggles, water pistols, hats, sun screen, swim vests, ice, water bottles, lip balm, swim fins, snacks, sodas, Gatorade, and water.
They also rent life vests and offer compressed air for personal floatation devices.
So you can have fun and relax and know you’re helping worthy organizations in the area at the same time.
“I look at it like missionary work,” Mike explains. “We’re raising money for the needy.”
Indeed — they’re raising lots of money each year for more than 100 charities such as various scholarships: the San Marcos River Foundation, the Greater San Marcos Youth Council, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Shelter, Hays County Area Food Bank, scout groups, the local Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, American Heart association, the Texas Lions Camp, the Texas School for the Blind, leader dogs for the blind, and the Lions’ various eyeglasses and eye care programs.
“This is a very fun job,” says president George Laktas.
San Marcos Lions Club Tube Rental is open seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s located at City Park, 170 Bobcat Drive, off Charles Austin Drive in San Marcos. For more information, call 512-396-5466 or visit the web site at www.tubesanmarcos.com.