Favorite Texas State Parks Near Austin – Austinot Podcast, Ep. 13

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Enchanted Rock

Click Play on the podcast player above to listen to this week’s episode of the Austinot Podcast!

Texas State Parks provide a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether you enjoy tent camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, grilling out, horseback riding or relaxing beneath the shade of your RV, there is a Texas State Park for you.

In today’s Austinot Podcast episode, we barely scratch the surface with four of our Texas State Park picks. We know there are so many more amazing locations across the state, and we’d love to hear about your favorite. For now, here are ours:

  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Located less than 2 hours from Austin near Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is one of the largest batholiths in the U.S. (a batholith is an exposed underground rock formation). Rising 425 ft. above the surrounding area, Enchanted Rock is a perfect spot for hiking and rock climbing…and stargazing! Birdwatching and camping are also popular at this park. We learned the hard way that hiking the Rock in the middle of the day in Summer is not the best idea ever, but if you schedule better than we did, you’ll have an amazing experience! 16710 Ranch Road 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624. (830) 685-3636.
  • Blanco State Park swimming area

    Blanco State Park swimming area

    Blanco State Park – An hour from Austin, Blanco State Park offers a lot considering its modest size. Tubing, swimming, fishing (free with admission to the park), grilling and camping are all great activities to do here with your family and friends. Blanco is known for its family-friendliness. This park offers a convenience factor because it’s located in the small town of Blanco with a gas station and convenience store right outside the entrance. Not only that, but tubes, kayaks and canoes are all available to rent on site. 101 Park Road 23, Blanco, TX 78606. (830) 833-4333.

  • Bastrop State Park pine trees

    Bastrop State Park

    Bastrop State Park – Ravaged by fire late last year, most of Bastrop State Park was reopened in April 2012. Only an hour west of Austin, camping, hiking, biking and water recreation are all available. This park boasts air-conditioned cabins and an 18-hole golf course. 3005 Hwy. 21 East, Bastrop, TX 78602. (512) 321-2101.

  • Pedernales Falls State Park – Pedernales Falls is definitely one of our favorite Texas State Parks so far, and is a quick hour drive from Austin. The swimming area is filled with large, smooth stones that act as underwater chairs. The water is refreshing, but not too cold. There is plenty of shade for laying down a blanket and picnicking by the water. And dogs are allowed when leashed – even in the water! (But keep them leashed; we’ve seen owners ticketed by rangers for violating this rule.) If you want more than swimming, you got it. There are fishing and hiking spots, and Pedernales Falls is a must-visit for birdwatchers who want to spot the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and indigenous rufous crowned sparrow. 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636. (830) 868-7304.
Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Other Texas State Parks we’ve visited are Lake Corpus Christi State Park, Choke Canyon State Park and Goliad State Park. They’re a bit farther from Austin, so they didn’t make our podcast episode today.

We hope to visit Guadalupe River State Park, Garner State Park and Inks Lake State Park soon. What other Texas State Parks do you recommend and why?

Visit the Texas State Parks website for all the information you could possibly want.


Photos via Flickr CC courtesy of Greg Carley, Texas Parks and Wildlife, mlhradio and Don J. Schulte.

  • Kranti

    Hey eric, This is kranti. Nice talking to you the AA event. This blog is indeed very helpful. lots of useful information for ppl like me who just moved to austin. Great work 

    • http://www.facebook.com/eric.highland Eric Highland

      @89192bce414649ea5cd018b3fdee8fcb:disqus thanks for taking the time to comment! That means a lot to me. Haha. AA people are going to thing you mean Alcoholics Anonymous! I know you mean the Awesome Austin event though.. and it was great meeting you too. Hope to see you next Thursday at BASHH.

  • http://twitter.com/matthew1stewart Matthew Stewart

    Great podcast, guys. I’d recommend Colorado Bend State Park (great hiking, VERY quiet). South Llano River State Park is nice too if you want some low-traffic tubing. Both are between 2 and 3 hours away. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/eric.highland Eric Highland

      @twitter-69778444:disqus we’ve been really wanting to go tubing but we haven’t yet. Have you also done the Guadalupe? What are your thoughts on how South Llano compares other than low traffic?

      • http://twitter.com/matthew1stewart Matthew Stewart

        It’s a shorter tubing trip at South Llano River than Guadalupe. There are some low water spots in South Llano where you can stand and walk your tube if you choose, but you can float the whole way, too. The nice thing about South Llano River is that it’s clearly marked along the way, so you have a good idea of the best places from which to embark and where to get out before you’re floating down private property. 

        It really depends what you’re looking for. If you want an all-day tubing thing, Guadalupe is probably better, but there’s less other stuff to do. When we went camping at South Llano we would go hiking, then tube the river and drop in a swimming hole to cool off all in the same area. 

        You guys do a nice job with the blog. My wife and I moved to Austin in 2010 and I’m still playing catch-up with finding all the great community blogs in the area.  Keep it up!

        • http://www.austinot.com/ Brittany Highland

          Great insight, Matthew. Thanks so much. We checked out Inks Lake State Park on Saturday and it was awesome. Glad you’re enjoying the blog – thanks for the kind words. :)

  • katmandelstein

    One more for you to go check out, Inks Lake

    • http://www.austinot.com/ Brittany Highland

      Yes, @katmandelstein:disqus! We discovered Inks Lake mid-summer last year and are already planning to get an article up as soon as it starts getting a bit warmer. Can’t wait to head out there again.

  • Chris Baker

    Does anyone know where this is …. Is 40 mikes away from Austin I just forgot the name of the place

    • http://www.austinot.com/ Brittany Highland

      Yep, that’s Hamilton Pool, @Chris Baker!