The San Felipe Springs is the fourth largest natural springs in Texas, and in ancient times they created an oasis on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Springs were frequented by the Texas Paleo-Indians, Spanish explorers, and American travelers in historic times. The Springs were an important resting point for persons traveling to El Paso, northern Mexico, and the California gold fields. The waters formed the foundation for the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing and Irrigation Company that founded the town of Del Rio in 1868. The Springs continue to provide the city’s water supply. Numerous parks line the banks of the Creek. A hike-and-bike trail parallels the south bank of the Creek. Several historical markers, including "Camp Del Rio," "San Felipe Springs," and "U.S. Army Camel Corps" are placed along the Creek.
Situated along the U.S./Mexico border, Amistad National Recreation Area is a major draw for outdoor recreation, including everything from boating and fishing to camping and birding. The recreation area – which features a huge man-made reservoir and comprises more than 57,000 acres – welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors in 2009.
“The lake is an international reservoir, with a buoy line marking the U.S./Mexico border,” says Greg Garetz, the park’s chief of education and resource management. “The park’s boundaries extend up the Rio Grande, Devil’s and Pecos rivers, which makes it a great place for paddlers and overnight wilderness trips.”
Indeed, the park features a great mix of open water and secluded coves, and plays host to a unique mix of flora and fauna.
“Three major eco-regions come together here at Amistad – the Chihuahuan Desert, Edwards Plateau and Tamaulipan Shrubland,” he says. “People are often surprised after driving through miles of desert when they arrive at this clear, blue lake. Boaters come up the Pecos River and see these giant limestone cliffs – it’s just a perfect area for camping, birding and exploring.”
Devils River State Natural Area The 37,000-acre state natural area consists of two units -- the original 20,000-acre state natural area, now called Del Norte, and the newly acquired 17,000-acre Dan A. Hughes Unit. At Del Norte, visitors can enjoy day hiking, primitive camping, nature viewing, mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, and fishing.
The Devils and Pecos Rivers north of Lake Amistad also offer some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the state and the Devils River is the cleanest and clearest lake in the state, flowing underground in stretches through limestone rock. The Devils is the most unspoiled river in the state as well, with no industry, communities or farming along it's route and springs bubble up all over the river. See Amistad Expeditions for your next river adventure.