What We Did
Permanently preserved 4,700+ acres near San Antonio.
Protect San Antonio’s drinking water while providing recreation opportunities for the fast-growing city.
Northwest of San Antonio lie untouched rolling hills, covered by thick oak-juniper-mesquite woodland trees, colorful meadows of native grasses, wildflowers, and sunbaked cacti. This unique natural system is Government Canyon State Natural Area.
Government Canyon protects over 12,000 acres of land and provides unparalleled access to nature, with 40 miles of trails, campsites, and more. A vast underground river called the Edwards Aquifer flows just below Government Canyon. More than 1.5 million people rely on the Edwards Aquifer for fresh, safe drinking water. The 180-mile-long underground reservoir is the largest single rechargeable aquifer in the United States.
“The Edwards Aquifer is our lifeblood,” stresses Jason Corzine, a former staffer for the city-owned San Antonio Water System and project manager for Trust for Public Land. “Protecting this resource is critical to the city’s future.” An estimated 15 to 50 million acre-feet of water are stored in the honeycombed karst—a limestone formation—which also serves scores of smaller Texas communities. During the 1980s, concerned citizens, public water agencies, and wildlife organizations feared that residential and commercial development would forever change Government Canyon.
Dedicated community members launched efforts to protect this area permanently and contacted Trust for Public Land. With the help of multiple partners, TPL purchased the 4,717 acres in 1993. Since then, Government Canyon State Natural Area has continued to grow, and today it spans over 12,000 acres. The area offers a treasure trove of natural beauty, with tall oaks dripping with Spanish moss, cliffside seeps emerging with ferns, and craggy bluffs providing views of downtown San Antonio. The area is enhanced with lush riparian zones dense with sycamore and willow, and bands of ancient limestone.
Government Canyon welcomes visitors to enjoy hiking, picnicking, primitive camping, birding, horseback riding, mountain biking, 40 miles of trails, and an eco-friendly visitor center and classroom. “[The] recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer is a large component of what we’re about here at Government Canyon,” says John Koepke, Texas Parks and Wildlife ranger. “But it’s not just recharge of the aquifer. I think you’ll find that when you come out and walk our trails, listen to the birds, look at the wildflowers, take in a gorgeous sunrise or sunset from one of our overviews, you’ll find your own spirit and soul recharged.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Image Gallery
Government Canyon State Natural Area Facility Map