An aerial view of the gorge that visitors are able to tour post-2002 flood. Submitted photo 

You had better get your reservations booked because The Gorge Tours are filling up quickly. That is the message from Jaynellen Kerr, the manager of the GBRA-managed Canyon Lake Gorge Office. The disastrous 2002 flood that wreaked havoc for many in the Guadalupe River floodplain, is turning out to be a big benefit for the area.

As some readers may not know, after 34 inches  of rain deluged the River’s upper watershed, up to seven feet of water poured over the 1,280-foot-long overflow spillway at the rate of 67,000 cubic feet per second and carved out a geological wonder. The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority has been guiding more than 33,000 people into the 64-acre gorge ever since.

“Right now our focus is on programs dedicated to children, not only in the immediate area but further afield, as well,” explained Kerr. 

In the program named “The Power of Water,” the gorge staff leads fifth graders into their outdoor classroom. The field trip includes a tour of the GBRA hydroelectric power plant and the Canyon Lake Dam then shifts to various stations in the gorge. At these outposts, guides teach the students about weathering and erosion, fossils, discovering microscopic organisms in the water lab, the food chain, the Guadalupe River Basin, landforms in a watershed, the water cycle, using a GPS device to observe ecosystems and water quality testing.

“There were 2,300 kids that went through the program recently,” said Kerr, “an increase of 1,300 over the previous year.” 

After an extensive trial period, “The Power of Water” is now open to all school districts with 24 listed so far, including districts: Comal, Northeast (San Antonio), Seguin, Judson, San Marcos and Harlandale. Kerr added that the outdoor classroom field trips have shown to improve student performance on the STARR tests, and “...that the children lose interest in their phones!”

The gorge is available to individuals and groups for guided educational tours by Certified Volunteer Gorge Guides. The three-hour tours lets visitors see for themselves the dinosaur tracks, waterfalls cascading into turquoise pools, ancient beaches turned into stone and canyon walls that are overflowing with fossilized remains of creatures from millions of years ago. Tours are only $10 per person for ages 7 and up, and are by reservation only.

To experience and explore the gorge contact the Sattler office at 830-964-5424 Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or www.canyongorgetours.com.

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