In north-central Uvalde County, Texas, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, lies Garner State Park, one of the Lone Star State's most popular camping, fishing, boating, hiking, and nature-viewing spots. Backroads Reservations is proud to present a brief history and overview of this enormous and awe-inspiring park.

The early 1920s saw day trips and vacations increasing in popularity, as more people had affordable access to cars; this opened up their travel horizons broadly. Local citizens saw the potential in this, and they purchased land along the Frio River to preserve the picturesque area of the Hill Country for visitors. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), created to provide work to those hit hardest by the Great Depression, worked on developing the land into a more user-friendly park, including the addition of a pavilion and concessions building.

This land was transferred to the State Parks Board in 1936, and five years later it was officially dedicated and named for John Nance Garner. Garner practiced law in nearby Concan, and served as Vice President of the United States from 1933 to 1941 under Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1976, Garner State Park was enlarged considerably in size to its modern measurements of 1,774 acres.

Geographically, one of the best-known features of Garner State Park is Mount Old Baldy, rising 1,890 feet above the surrounding terrain. Marked hiking trails allow guests to scale the mountain; it can be a challenge if you're not exactly athletic, but if you take your time, the view from the summit is breathtaking in all directions. Be sure to make way for the local mountain goats!

A little less well-known—but no less spectacular—are Crystal Cave and White Rock Cave. These glittering caverns are easy to explore and admire; just be sure to dress appropriately for some simple but rugged rock climbing. The caves are marked with signage, but ask when you enter the park for directions; they're the best-kept “secrets” at this beautiful park.

Beyond hiking, there's plenty to do at Garner State Park. There are areas dedicated to swimming, kayaking, and tubing on the Frio River, and equipment rentals are available in the park for these activities, as well. The boathouse also rents lockers for storage of your valuables during your stay. Camping is also available, both primitive and in cabins. Shelters in the park are also available for larger gatherings.

Garner State Park also features a miniature golf course, geocaching locations, and biking trails. Their visitor center at the entrance to the park can fill you on in all the activities available, and you can even pick up some provisions and a souvenir or two. On evenings during the summer, the park pavilion is home to the evening summer dances. All are welcome, but get there early; the gates can close as early as 8:30 PM on busy nights.

Picnicking and fishing are popular activities in the park, and wildlife abounds; two rare birds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo, frequent the park during the spring and early summer months. Bald cypresses line the Frio River here, and groves of the rare Texas madrone tree call Garner State Park home, as well.

The rangers at Garner State Park are well-versed in the park's history, its wildlife and plant life, its geology, and many other topics relevant to the park and your visit. Check with the visitors center for ranger lectures and guided hikes available, or call ahead if you'd like to arrange a special ranger program for your own group.

Not in the mood to cook your own food? That's all right; Garner State Park has you covered, with the Garner Grill. It's located right in the park pavilion, and they're famous for their fresh-ingredient burgers—no frozen or microwaved patties here! Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Stinkin' Sweet Candy Shop while you're at the park, too!

As you can see, Garner State Park is no mere wide spot in the road with a couple picnic tables nearby; it's big, beautiful, and equipped with plenty to do, whether you're there for a day or a week. During your visit, don't return to a hum-drum, generic hotel room. Backroads Reservations has rentals in the Garner State Park area with views almost as breathtaking as those off Mount Old Baldy! Check out our available rentals in nearby communities like Concan and Utopia.

Garner State Park is located at 234 RR 1050, Concan, Texas 78838, and their phone number is (830) 232-6132. Reservations can be made by calling (830) 389-8900. Park hours are 8 AM to 10 PM daily, and entrance fees are $8.00 for those 13 and over (12 and under get in for free). Please call ahead for office hours, as they vary by season and park visitation volume. The park's busiest season is between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

While you're in the area, be sure to visit the Hill Country communities in the Garner State Park vicinity! Take a moment to check out our link-filled listings of what these intriguing little towns have to offer their guests:

Bandera (54 miles east)
Concan (10 miles south)
Leakey (11 miles north)
Medina (29 miles east)
Tarpley (40 miles east)
Utopia (15 miles east)
Vanderpool (31 miles northeast)

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