Headwaters of the San Antonio River

IMG_8814The Alamo and the River Walk are two of the first things that come to mind when people think of San Antonio. Neither would have occurred without the San Antonio River.

The Headwaters of the river are located in a protected 53-acre sanctuary established by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who came to San Antonio in 1869 to care for victims of a massive cholera epidemic. The sanctuary is free and open to the public.

The Native people called the spring Yanaguana, a Coahuiltecan word that means Spirit Waters, and it once gushed 20 feet into the air.

San Antonio now has the Mission Reach and the Museum Reach of the River Walk. The Sisters have named this segment the Spirit Reach.

IMG_8808According to signage on site, the San Antonio River begins a little south of the Blue Hole, which is often dry because of on-going drought. When the Edwards Aquifer’s level is 676 feet above sea level or more, the spring is visible.

On the day my husband and I visited, I understood how the spring got its name. The crystal-clear, blue water was breathtakingly beautiful. Despite the heat of the noonday sun, peacefulness radiated from the site.

IMG_8825Located near the center of San Antonio on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word, 4503 Broadway, this sanctuary provides city-weary visitors a chance to meander along trails and connect with mighty oak trees, native plants, and wildlife that includes more than 100 species of birds.

The sanctuary also provides volunteers an opportunity to restore the ecosystem health of this sacred space. Parking is ticket-free on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays near the University of the Incarnate Word’s baseball fields. Look for the sanctuary entrance near the Headwaters’ toolshed (GPS: 29.4698, -98.4708). Walk toward the main campus and across a footbridge to see the Blue Hole, which is to the left, beyond a sand volleyball court.

The Headwaters sanctuary is a non-profit Earth care ministry of the Sisters. For more information, call (210) 828-2224, ext. 280.

For even more ideas of fun things to do and see in San Antonio, visit Barnes & Noble, The Twig, Whole Foods, Half Price Books on Broadway, Costco, Sam’s and Hudson News to purchase “100 Things To Do in San Antonio Before You Die” by yours truly. ¡Viva San Antonio!


6 thoughts on “Headwaters of the San Antonio River

    1. What a great article and focus on San Antonio’s most important resource!
      This quiet, serene area is just as much a part of the Riverwalk ambience as the
      restaurants, nightclubs, etc.

      Thanks so much for your wonderful blog,

      1. Thanks, Irene! It makes me happy that you enjoy my blog. Please let your family and friends know about it! For those on Facebook, they can like my page to stay in the loop. Cheers, Denise

  1. I’m so glad you focused some attention on this wonderful treasure, Denise. I must remember to take time to enjoy it again on my next SA visit.

Comments are appreciated! (So are shares.) Thank you!