By Maleesa Johnson
Lemur watching and wakeboarding await students less than 20 minutes away from campus at the BSR Cable Park.
The BSR Cable Park opened last summer and is part of the growing Barefoot Ski Ranch. The owner, Stuart Parsons, built the place out of his passion for water sports. Prior to opening the park, he was a competitive barefoot water-skier for 20 years.
“Cable parks just started popping up,” Parsons said. “I think there are about 13 in the United States, so I just decided I was going to build one. I’ve got the place to do it, and it gives people something to do.”
Baylor alumnus Ary Wellborn has visited the cable park twice this fall and experienced wakeboarding for the first time. He said if it weren’t for work, he would have gone out there more by now.
“It’s really enjoyable,” Wellborn said. “It was my first time that I had ever been wakeboarding, but I have had snowboarding experience in the past. They’re really nice about helping you get up and they’ll show you how to get up and start. Then once you have that down, they will send you to the large lake.”
In addition to time on the water, the price of admission includes instruction from experienced wakeboarding staff.
“It took a couple times of getting ripped off the deck and dragged through water with my mouth open to get it down, but they’ll help you out.” Wellborn said.
Parsons started in the water sport business by buying property where he built private ski lakes for boats. According to BSR Cable Park’s web site, the main ski lake has 3,500 feet of water and two 2,700-foot lakes that can handle multiple skiers. The water of the main lake surrounds an island where five lemurs swing from tree to tree.
“We had national barefoot championships for two years and we had the 2012 World Barefoot Championship,” Parsons said.
“That was kind of a long-term goal, to have about 20 different countries come to our place. So it kind of evolved into ‘what else can we do out here to grow the sport?’”
The sport is growing at Baylor with the Baylor Wake Club. The club has teams that compete, but not all members of the club attend competitions.
Austin senior Reagan Strickland, the president of the club, said they have practiced at the cable park.
“The cable is more friendly for beginners because the cable is higher up than the boat is, so it pulls you up more out of the water,” Strickland said. “It’s also a little bit cheaper, so you don’t have to pay for the gas or the boat.”
Specials are often advertised on the BSR Cable Park Facebook page. These include girls-ride-free every Thursday and college specials. Monday through Friday for this month and October, college specials include $20 for two hours including equipment, $30 all-day passes, first timers ride free and bring a friend to BSR and you ride free. The Fun lake is $7. These specials are Monday through Friday, September and October. Another special includes $70 a month ride all you want, excluding weekends.
The cable park is one of many additions to Parsons’ property. The cable system has a tower with a 60-horse power motor. This motor pulls the cables in laps around the lake. There are enough cables to allow seven riders at one time. Parsons said this opens up the sport to more people because they do not have to pay for the added expenses of owning and operating a boat.
BSR Cable Park has equipment ready to rent out to customers who do not have their own. This includes helmets, life jackets and beginner or advanced boards that can be rented for different time intervals. Likewise, admission passes are available for two hours, four hours or all day.
“Even a two-hour pass is worth it,” Wellborn said. “That’s the minimum amount of time you can go for and that’s really all you need. You’re going to be really sore and tired anyways.”
For a more relaxing time, the property also has a lazy river. According to the website, it is the world’s longest lazy river. It costs $20 per person for an all-day pass. Cooler tubes can be rented for $5.
“It’s real popular with the little kids,” Parsons said. “The whole place is really family oriented.”
The Barefoot Ski Ranch also has the BSR Bar and Grill, a hot tub, sand volleyball pit, cabins and a pavilion that can be rented out. The hot tub costs $5 per hour and the pavilion can be rented for $100 for an hour. Half day and all day rentals of the pavilion are also available for $400 and $700 respectively.
“We were just voted cable park of the year,” Parsons said. “That was a really big honor. You can see the hard work. The vision is becoming reality and we’re getting the kudos for it.”
Parsons still has more visions for the ranch. He said he hopes to someday have a giant slide and zip line course.