Summer is here in Austin and we’re already starting to feel the heat. For those of you new to the area, it’s only going to get hotter. But there’s good news. Early summer in Austin is one of the best times of the year to break out the picnic basket and get your outdoor time in.
At the Austinot, we love state parks. The parks within a day’s drive of Austin are some of the best in the entire country. Each state park is unique, and every time we write an article we share tips on what to bring, what not to bring and what to expect. Click here to check out related articles on state parks.
One of the parks we visited recently was Blanco State Park. Whether you’re looking for camping, swimming, hiking, fishing or boating, Blanco State Park is a great choice. There is one drawback which I’ll talk about toward the end of my article, but first the good stuff.
Blanco State Park is a small – but active – state park. Set on 105 acres, it offers RV sites, primitive camping sites and even screened shelters for hot summer days. Blanco is a perfect spot for kids and families. It boasts a large grassy area for picnics and BBQs, with multiple shaded areas.
Swimming at Blanco State Park
A grassy field is co-located with the water feature. The water is fed by natural springs which keeps the temperature around 68 degrees, even in the heat of the summer. However, the swimming area receives direct sunlight, so you won’t be cold hanging out in the water. The main water area is near a dam which separates a shallow wading area from a much deeper area for advanced swimmers and those with floatation devices. There is also a “swimming pool” beside the dam. The water is a good depth for children, so the pool is a relatively safe place to let your kids splash around.
Don’t worry if you forget your tube. The Blanco State Park ranger station will rent one to you for a nominal fee. Floaties aside, the nice thing about this park is that there’s something for you to do regardless of your swimming skills.
Oh, and the deeper area has a rope swing over the water, which is a ton of fun.
Blanco State Park Fishing and Hiking
If you’re interested in hiking and nature study, Blanco State Park offers two small trails to explore. They are perfect for the beginner or families who want to expose their small children to this outdoor activity. The first trail is a half-mile hiking trail. The other is .2-mile nature trail which follows the river and is sure to be a hit with the littlest of explorers. It isn’t uncommon to see armadillos on this little trail, which makes for great photo opportunities.
Fishing is one of the more popular activities at Blanco State Park. The park rangers have a store where you can get all the equipment you need for free, as part of their Learn-To-Fish program. Keep in mind that you don’t need a fishing license to cast your line within the boundaries of any state park. Blanco is known to have bass, catfish, rainbow trout and – one of my personal favorites (and a great eating fish) – perch.
One Drawback to Blanco State Park
The one drawback of the park is that it’s located right off of U.S. Highway 281. It doesn’t create the pleasant vista of some of the other state parks we’ve been to and there can be a lot of road noise. But depending on your perspective, it’s also convenient because you don’t have to drive far off the beaten path to get to the park.
In summary, Blanco is perfect for families with small children, the budding hiker and nature student, and those wanting to spend a day fishing or having an informal family BBQ. If you don’t mind the road noise or lack of a pristine 360 degree view, then this state park might become one of your favorites.
My Top 3 Reasons Why Blanco State Park Should Be on Your Austin Summer To-Do List
1. Fish for free and you don’t need a fishing rod, tackle or a fishing license.
2. There is a a shallow area and a deep area for swimming, which makes it great for people of all ages.
3. The grassy area is perfect for picnics, BBQ and just laying out in the sun. Not all state parks have such an expansive grassy area.
I recommend you bring: Aquasocks, flotation devices, picnic or BBQ food, a frisbee or other field-appropriate toy, a blanket and sunscreen.
For more information on Blanco State Park, see the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife official website.
Hope you enjoy Blanco State Park! Please comment and let me know if you have any questions.
What is your favorite place to go in or near Austin during the summer?
Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Website and Matthew High photographer.