For those that haven’t heard you can now reserve your spot at our state’s parks using the online reservation system. This is great for those parks that are difficult to get to and then you do get all the way there and see the dreaded “park full” sign. Not any more. You can now reserve a day pass to popular parks like Enchanted Rock and not worry about there being space when you get there. Plan ahead though as parks are filling up faster than ever.
Some state parks in Texas got some much-needed rain this weekend. The pictures below are all from facebook posts from the parks. The location is in the caption below each picture.
On a recent trip out West I had the opportunity to visit a special park in Northern California. Muir Woods National Monument is a “Tree Lover’s Monument” as John Muir said in the early 1900s when he bought the land. He would later donate it to the newly established National Parks System.
It is normally $7 to enter the park, but I was there on a free weekend.
Wear/bring shoes that are appropriate for slippery, muddy, wet, and potentially long uphill trails (more on that later).
We left San Francisco and arrived at Muir Woods about 25 minutes later. We arrived early and it was a good thing we did.
The limited parking lots fill up quickly. You are probably going to have to park some distance away and hike up to the park.
It’s worth it.
Pictures don’t really do the park justice and I’m not nearly a good enough writer to come close to describing the sites and sounds.
It was a little difficult to take pictures. My GS4 did not like the odd lighting of the park.
And here’s one with people for a reference to the size of some of these trees.
Now, for the helpful hints part of the post. The ocean view trail is long, narrow, muddy, rocky, steep, and a great challenge. Enter at your own risk. Don’t blame me if/when you make it to the top and realize it’s too foggy to actually see the ocean. 🙂
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.
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?
April 27th we visited Government Canyon State Natural Area.
This relatively recent addition to the parks system is a combination of so many parks in Texas it’s almost too good to be true. There’s a prairie of wildflowers, canyon trails, lookouts to view the Texas Hill Country, Dinosaur tracks (yes, really), and much more.
This is another park that you may encounter an unfriendly creature or two.
Mind the warnings and you’ll be fine. Oh and as the park ranger said, “Don’t pet or feed fluffy.”
The visitor from up north somewhere did not find that joke funny. I hope he remembered what she said though.
About two miles down the Joe Johnston route you’ll find a trail off to the left that leads to some old ranch buildings. It is rather snakey back in there so go at your own risk.
If you make it back to the path…just kidding
When you make it back to the path continue on down the trail, but keep an eye out for a relatively unused trail off to the other side of the trail.
This path takes you down to a creek bed with some nice picture opportunities.
It was difficult to capture in the picture, but a lot of the vegetation is growing with the flow of the creek. Obviously this creek bed fills up with any rain so be careful and mindful of the weather on the day of your visit.
Keep going past Twin Oaks trail and Caroline’s loop and you’ll make it to the bottom of the bluff.
Here you’ll find many picture opportunities including dinosaur tracks.
I would go see these earlier rather than later as they are completely unprotected and will probably not stay this pristine for too long. Remember, this park was private land for many years and only so many people have had the pleasure of visiting the park. Around the tracks you’ll also see some blackberries, butterflies, trees/fern growing out of rocks…
and…a bee hive! (sorry, no pictures. It would’ve been blurry anyways as we were running at that point.)
Continue on the trail up the hill and before you get to the Zizelmann Homestead you’ll see quite an amazing site.
Right in the middle of the park is a naturally occurring Spanish Moss growth that just takes your breath away.
You go from this:
(read the sign at the trees for more info)
Continue up the trail and you’ll see the Zizelmann House.
There’s not much to see as they’ve protected the house like it was some fossilized dinosaur…oh never mind.
If you follow the fence around the house and brave the steep trail down, past the spider webs, over the snakes, and…
Wait. Let me me stop you here. Don’t risk it. It’s really not worth it. There are some springs at the bottom of the hill. You can’t see the spring though. You just see a nasty, still pool of water with bees (yes…again) and very little else. The spring is a sensitive area and you can’t/shouldn’t explore it too much. Again, take my word for it. It’s not worth a twisted/broken ankle.
This is the best picture I could get of it.
If you really want to see a nice spring flowing in a state park check out Pedernales Fall State Park and the Wolf Mountain Trail there.
Continue on up the trail and you’ll get to the top of the bluff. At the bottom of this is the dinosaur tracks. Take my word for it. Don’t look over the edge. Because of the angle, you have to actually lean out over the cliff to see the tracks. Just trust me, again, and know that they’re there.
Continue on Overlook trail until you get back to Joe Johnston Trail. Then you can head on back to the headquarters and parking. There’s no water along the trail and you can get lost if you’re not careful. We had a signal for most of the hike, but we were told of a story by the ranger that explained how important water can be. They recently had to send out a search party for a man who got away from his group and was lost for over 4 hours. There’s over 12,000 acres at this park and it’s easy to get turned around if you venture off the trail.
Another important reminder of this park is that sections of the park are only open for parts of the year.
The Protected Habitat area is only open from September to February. I’ll definitely be back here in September as there were pictures of caves, caverns, sinkholes, creeks, and more back at the headquarters. Maybe I’ll see you there.