Dinosaur Valley State Park

Here’s a video to serve as a preview to our trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park on 1/11/14. It was a fun day minus the cedar pollen (more on that later).

Garner State Park

Park #34 on our quest to visit all the Texas State Parks and Historic Sites was Garner State Park.

It was very cold and started to rain when we arrived to the park. Even with the conditions we enjoyed the unique features of this park. The Frio (pictured above and below) is frequented by many during the summer for tubing activities. You wouldn’t want to do that in November. Besides being really cold, there’s also very little water.

Check the visitor’s center in the center of the park for path tags, wildlife viewing suggestions, and other park souvenirs. The main office at the entrance is for entrance fees ONLY and don’t forget to take a number on the way in.

There is plenty for the whole family in this park. There is a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a miniature golf course (seasonal and weather-permitting), camping, hiking, swimming and tubing (seasonal), and much more. You can see why this is one of the more popular parks.

November at Lost Maples

Our 34th park was Lost Maples State Natural Area. We headed out early from Austin to beat the crowd…and then found that we were the only ones crazy enough to brave the weather.

lost maples and path through park

It was 32 degrees and muddy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

There were many maples that still held their leaves, but many of the trees were bared during the recent storms. This was definitely one of the most colorful parks that we have visited so far.

There were also some interesting formations at the park like Monkey Rock.

Can you see it? How about now?

The view from the top of the East Trail was definitely worth the climb.

About that climb…1.5 miles straight up a rock staircase. It was challenging, but it paid off.

Lost Maples SNA Foliage Report

Check out the foliage report at TPWD for the latest on the maples at Lost Maples.

Also a great video on the TPWD Youtube channel.

Hill Country Natural Area Pt 2

After the hike at the “falls” (see pt 1 of our trip to HCNA) we headed to the other end of the park.

This is the old ranch house at the park.

The Bar O Ranch House from the late 1800s
You can almost see the parking area off in the distance. That parking is at the Equestrian Camping Area on the map.

This hill is the same height as Enchanted Rock so it’s a pretty good climb, but worth it for the great views.

To get to this spot park at the Equestrian Camp Area. Take path 1 to 5a, to 5b. The trails are marked fairly well, but if in doubt take the path leading up. 6 goes around the hill and 5b looks like a staircase (below) so it’s pretty obvious which is 5b which leads to the top and some amazing views.

5b

Another great park in Texas and I highly recommend a visit. Like I said in my other post on this park take lots of water with you. There’s no fill station or park store to get more water. If you find yourself short on water drive back into town and get more.

Hill Country Natural Area

After a morning hiking at Guadalupe River State Park we headed out to Hill Country Natural Area for the afternoon. If Guadalupe River State Park is dry then there needs to be a new word to describe the conditions at Hill Country Natural Area.

Here are the falls at the NE end of the park.


Here…I’ll zoom in to where the water is supposed to be:

Yes, I said falls as in waterfalls. I was standing where the falls are supposed to…fall. Apparently this used to be a good catfish hole. The park ranger used the words “a couple of weeks ago,” but I think he might have been sippin’ on the hooch. There was no trace of water. Anywhere.

There is no park store and nowhere in the park to get water. You must pack it in. There weren’t many at the park so it was very quiet, but that also means you’re on your own and there may/may not be a cell signal while you’re out on the trail. Keep that in mind and stay safe.

Honey Creek State Natural Area

The picture below is a good summary of our trip to Honey Creek. We arrived at the park at 10:00 am.

from http://myfreedom2roam.com/Camping/HoneyCreekStateNaturalArea/index.html

Saturdays at 9:00 am really is the only time the public is allowed to enter Honey Creek Natural Area. Fieldtrips may be the other way, but I’m not sure.

Maybe next time…

Here’s someone else’s post about the Natural Area that is very informative.

Guadalupe River State Park Visit

We went out to Guadalupe River State Park on a recent outing. I knew this park would be dry, but when I saw the flow rate posted at the park store I knew it was worse than I thought. The sign said “0 feet/second.”

There’s no tubing, very little to swim in, and if you’re fishing, bring the small hooks.

It wasn’t more than a few inches deep on avg through this area. Upstream was a little better, but it wasn’t a long stretch of waist-high water and then back to near dry conditions.

Above you can see where the water has carved into the rock along the river. This was probably a good 25 feet lateral and 15 feet above the current water level. Did I mention the river was low?

Old Tunnel State Park

One of the newest state parks in Texas is the Old Tunnel State Park. The main attraction here is the bat emergence nightly from May to October.

Open year-round from sunrise to sunset for general use.

Bat viewing nightly May through October. The trail to the lower viewing area is closed each evening. Monday through Wednesday evenings the trail and lower viewing area are not open to the public. On Thursday through Sunday evenings, the trail will only be open to those visitors who pay admission to view the bats at the lower viewing area.

For the most up-to-date emergence information, call the toll-free information line at (866) 978-2287.”

Plan your visit ahead of time and find a place for dinner close by. It is a bit out of the way and “out in the middle of nowhere” off of Old Fred Road and Old San Antonio Road. If you spot Old Fred that’s just a bonus.

 

Mission Rosario State Historic Site and Archaeological Site

After Goliad State Park we stopped by what is left of the Mission Nuestra Senora Del Rosario State Archaeological Site.

You can see more of the site on Google than you can by actually going because there is really nothing left. As far as the park rangers at Goliad knew there are no plans to restore Mission Rosario at this time.

The sign (pictured below) reads:

Missionaries from the college of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas founded Nuestra Senora del Rosario in 1754 for the coastal Karankawa tribes. The extensive cattle ranching operation begun by sister mission Espiritu Santo also supported Mission Rosario. However, the mission indians periodically abandoned the mission when supplies were short. By 1807, it was combined with Mission Refugio nearer the coast. Mission Rosario was officially closed in 1831 as part of earlier secularization orders.

Today, the largely undisturbed site of the Spanish Colonial mission provides unique opportunities for scholarly research. Through carefully controlled excavations, the archaeological process will bring to light new information about the Native American and Spanish inhabitants of the late 18th-century Texas.

If you are interested in getting behind the fence you must contact TPWD and arrange for an official visit. There is nothing to see so don’t go through too much trouble unless you are looking to do research.