During one week in the summer of 2002, more than 34 inches of rain fell in the upper watershed of the Guadalupe River, setting off a torrent of floodwater that carved a perfectly fascinating geological wonder—the Canyon Lake Gorge—out of the earth.
The flood roared through the Hill Country northwest of New Braunfels, tearing away soil, ripping up huge trees, crumpling houses and sending a rush of water from swollen Canyon Lake over its spillway for the first time since the reservoir was completed in 1964.
The historic flood sliced open the ground below the spillway, creating a gigantic 64-acre Gorge and exposing ancient, cretaceous limestone, fossils and even dinosaur footprints 110 million years old.
It is a textbook example highlighting Hill Country geology and the exposed Trinity Aquifer, clearly showing faults, fractures and seeps in the limestone. Limestone layers created from an ancient sea are visible, and visitors admire waterfalls and springs where the aquifer is exposed.
The Gorge is a real-life classroom in which visitors learn how the aquifer’s underground permeable rock cavities soak up, store, and move rainwater that many in Central Texas depend on for drinking water and irrigation.
Geologists and oil company representatives come to study the faults and fracturing of the Gorge’s limestone.
And the Gorge gives Tour Participants an opportunity to explore dinosaur tracks and perfectly preserved fossils, exposed for the first time in millions of years. Fossilized sea urchins are so perfectly preserved that one can see the spines and the minute seams along the creatures’ bodies. One can even see fossilized ocean ripples in the limestone.
Students embark on unique field trip exploring Canyon Lake Gorge
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The Canyon Lake Gorge is open to the public for guided tours only. Each 3-hour tour is led by a volunteer certified Gorge Preservation Society Guide with assistance from trained Docents.
Public and group tours are available to ages 7 and up only. Chaperones are required for ages 7-20: Ages 7-10, one adult for every child, ages 11-15, one adult for every three children and ages 16-20, one adult for every five teens.
No pets are allowed. No rock or fossil collecting are allowed on Gorge tours.
Walking through the Gorge can be physically demanding, and is not recommended for people with heart conditions, bad knees, ankles or in poor physical health.
Restrooms are located at the top, half way on the tour and at the bottom of the Gorge.
Good walking shoes and bottled water are required. Everyone is encouraged to bring a backpack so that their hands will be free.
Types of Tours Available
For the protection of the Gorge and public safely, the Canyon Lake Gorge is open for Guided Tours Only.
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The Gorge Preservation Society (GPS) is a local citizen's group whose mission is to promote the enjoyment and conservation of this unique natural phenomenon by encouraging responsible, quality access opportunities through academic partnerships, economic initiatives and citizen involvement.
The GPS has partnered with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help achieve this goal. Join the GPS as we continue to develop resources, long-term plans, and promote educational endeavors.
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Canyon Lake/Sattler OFFICE / Mailing Address
2075 FM 2673, Suite D
Canyon Lake, TX 78133
Office Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
N 29.86304 W 098.18750
© 2009 - 2018 Gorge Preservation Society