by Crystal Gottfried
Thousands of water recreation enthusiasts are expected to crowd into every available cabin, room, campsite, park, and RV spot at Canyon Lake and along the Guadalupe River for the long Labor Day holiday weekend.
Despite news reports about the long-standing drought, and lower than usual water levels on the lake and river, people are still flocking to the water, which makes area restaurants, businesses, lodgers, and outfitters looking forward to this four-day weekend that is a traditional summer-wind-up for tubers, boaters and campers from all over.
As of Monday, Aug. 28, the water level in Canyon Lake was at 903.17; just about 6 feet lower than the normal elevation of 909 feet, mean sea level.
According to U.S. Corps of Engineers Park Ranger Judy Scott, outflow to the Guadalupe river and evaporation worked together during this hot, dry weather to drop the lake level. The lack of rainfall and high temperatures means that a few more tree stumps are poking up out of the lake water nearer the shore line, but the deeper areas are still cool and teeming with fish.
The Corps’ park rangers are monitoring their parks with swimming areas because the lower water levels mean that the nice sandy beaches that were created for swimmers are now well away from the water. But Scott said that isn’t stopping people from coming to play in the water.
“It’s not dangerous, but we now have possible drop-offs close to shore that weren’t there before,” said Scott. “People just have to pay more attention now.”
The water release rate on the Guadalupe River was set at 55 cubic feet per second. Tubers who continue to visit the area during the drought say that even though the river is slower-moving, the water is cool and refreshing, and they’re “still having lots of fun.”
Debbie Drum, owner of Drums’ Lakeview Resort – Lodge & Cabins near Cranes Mill Park, said that her prevalent thought for this Labor Day Weekend was, “Oh, how I wish Texana-Land were completed and open!”
Texana-Land is part of a major renovation and expansion of the Drum’s entire resort into a water fun park that was started last year. It became apparent midway through the Lodge project that it was going to have huge overruns in time and costs, so they pulled back on the Texana-Land project temporarily to supplement the Lodge completion schedule. Now the Lodge is finally finished, reopened and booked up for the Labor Day Weekend.
Amanda, at The Hideout on the Horseshoe, said that their new cabin facility located on FM 2673 along the Guadalupe River is completely booked for the Labor Day holiday weekend as well.
“We are featuring live music with the Mike Skinner, The Handsomes and Wideawake playing for our guests every evening, Saturday through Monday,” she said. “Our guests can enjoy the music, get their tubes and float from WhiteWater Sports and have a great time at the river the whole weekend.”
Also while floating lazily down the Guadalupe River, you might catch Denton businessman Al Greer, also known as the “Hot Dog Man,” and his wife, Ellen, as they hand out grilled hotdogs to folks as they pass by the Rainbow Campgrounds.
The Greers have come to camp along the banks of the Guadalupe River on River Road for years. They say that on a regular long holiday weekend, thousands of people will float by their spot.
About four years ago, the Greers brought hundreds of hot dogs, buns, brisket and ribs with them, and began a tradition of cooking and feeding the tubers as they floated by.
“We decided to do this just for the fun of it,” said Greer while watching hundreds of people playing in the river. “We get to meet a lot of people and everyone appreciates getting a hot dog for free.”
Along with the music, great bar-b-que brisket, restaurants for every kind of taste, family picnics, and “getting wet,” at Canyon Lake or in the Guadalupe River, visitors this weekend can find peace and solitude while taking a nature hike along the Guadalupe Park River Trail.
This fantastic hiking trail, a “mission” of the Lindheimer Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists organization, is a natural habitat for native plants and wildlife, about 1.2 miles long, that winds along the Guadalupe River Corridor.
Nature enthusiasts can stay cool along the mostly shaded walking paths, and pause to rest on benches along the trail, all the while enjoying the informational highlights provided by the Master Naturalist at more than thirty marked posts.
For a special treat this weekend, take the family to the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country, for a true slice of Texas hill country history. This “gem” of the Canyon Lake area is one of the most unique and interesting attractions to be found – dinosaur tracks! More than 400 authentic dinosaur footprints are among the items on display at the museum property located on FM 2673 between Sattler and Startzville.
Jill Lawless and a host of volunteers will keep the museum open from 1-5 p.m. everyday during the holiday weekend, so history buffs and the “kids” can see these huge paleontological discoveries, as well as a host of other hill country artifacts and historical documents from this area.
Canyon Lake has two marinas, one north and one south, on the lake if you’d like to try your hand at boating or sailing.
Visitors bringing their own boats or jet skis can choose from 18 open boat ramps to put in. The Corps of Engineers manages 14 boat ramps from their public parks, and 4 boat ramps that are managed by Comal County are still open for boat launching.
Maps of the lake area, highlighting boat ramps, public parks, restaurants, and lodging and campgrounds are available everywhere around the area and at the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce on FM 2673 between Sattler and Startzville.
As an additional day-trip experience for history lovers, Lady Bird Johnson narrates home movies from the era before electrical power came to the Texas Hill country in a new exhibit entitled, “Power to the People: The electrification of rural Texas” which opens on September 2 at the LBJ Library and Museum in Johnson City, about a 45-minute drive north on Hwy 281 from Canyon Lake.
This special exhibit tells the story of how Texas was “electrified” in the late 1930’s and 40’s, one of the most dramatic statewide events of the twentieth century. Visitors will learn how Lyndon B. Johnson’s efforts to bring “lights” to the countryside and can view vintage artifacts such as a large lighted art deco sign from Pedernales Electric Cooperative and vintage REA demonstration appliances. The exhibit runs until May 28, 2007.
There is something going on for everyone who plans to spend their Labor Day holiday weekend here in the Canyon Lake community.
According to Debbie Drum, most of her guests spend at least one day floating on the Guadalupe River.
“Some guests visiting with us will come with their boats and watercraft; others come just for the peace and serenity, and the quiet joy of feeding the deer,” she said. “We are blessed with one of the most beautiful settings in the Hill Country.”