Perfect Spring Getaway to Garner State Park
Spring in Texas is glorious especially if it’s been a wet winter. The sun breaks out and warms up the air then the wildflowers start to bloom painting the roadsides a carpet of color. Celebrate the season with a road trip through the Texas Hill Country, here’s what to do for the perfect spring getaway to Garner State Park.
Float the Frio
It might be named the Frio River but it’s not that cold. Grab some tubes, a kayak or a SUP board for an afternoon float to see the century-old cypresses.
Rent tubes inside Garner State Park at the park store. Or find an outfitter, like Andy’s on River Road, that will drop off and pick you up for your float trip.
Andy’s Outfitters is located at 21488 U.S. Highway 127 in Concan.
The state flower of Texas blooms along the highways during the Spring, usually late March through early April. People stop and pose with the dainty blue flowers, pets included.
Since all roads leading to Concan are scenic roads, find patches of bluebonnets along with Indian Paintbrushes and Evening Primrose. Enjoy the scenery along U.S. Highway 83 then take a side trip to the town of Utopia along Ranch to Market Road 1050 (RM 1050).
Take a Horseback Ride
Ride a horse to help another horse at Elm Creek Stables. All proceeds from the rides help feed and house the rescue horses at theFrio Canyon Horse Rescue.
The Elm Creek horse handlers pair the perfect horse for everyone in your group. And the hour-long ride offers picture perfect Texas Hill Country views.
Located at 31611 N U.S. Highway 83 in Concan. Call ahead for times and reservations. No experience necessary.
Garner State Park
Looking for the most popular state park in Texas, well Garner State Park is it. Dedicated in 1941, it’s named after Jack Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the Vice-President of the United States from 1933-1941.
Developed by theCivilian Conservation Corps(CCC), the CCC built the rock buildings and cabins in Garner. The CCC was created by President Roosevelt during the depression. And theCCCemployed young men to build park infrastructure during the 1930s.
Garner State Park offers 1,774 acres with activities like miniature golf, hiking up Old Baldy orfloating along the Frio River in a paddleboat or kayak.The fun centers around the original park concession building that offers a souvenir store along with a grill in an Airstream trailer. Under the shade of bald cypress trees, couples dance the night away on weekends.
Find335 campsites, 37 screened shelters and 17 historic stone cabins for camping. Garner also features aplayground, a butterfly garden with native plants and an interpretive center.
Located 10 miles north of Concan, Texas, at234 RR 1050, Garner provides 2.9 miles of Frio River access.Admission is $8 for adults and kids under 12 get in free.
Where to Eat near Garner State Park
Sometimes gas stations offer crazy good food in Texas.
Concan General Store–Offering gas and the basics for a picnic along with coolers full of drinks. But the house-made chicken salad sandwiches are a treat. Sink your teeth into thick, homemade bread covered with chicken salad so good it could take center stage at a bridal shower.
Located at 23269 U.S. Highway 83 in Concan.
Lost Maples Café–Tacos aren’t just reserved for Tuesdays. So head the Lost Maples Café and find homey favorites in a building from 1904. I recommend the kitchen sink breakfast taco. Orsample a burger or sandwich basket.
Doesn’t matter it’s breakfast, you can still get a slice of house-made pie. Findapple, cherry, the meringues—chocolate, coconut and lemon along with local faves buttermilk and pecan.
Located at 384 Main St. Utopia. Open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Laurel Tree–Make it an evening to remember with some fine dining in a picturesque dining room. Enjoya seasonal and locally-sourced menu by Chef Laurel Waters. Waters, a French-trained chef paired with culinary experience from Provence, blends French technique with Texas tastes.
The Laurel Tree is open for lunch and dinner on Saturdays only. Located at 18956 N. 187 in Utopia.
Stripes Convenience Store–Another hidden gas station treasure, sample one ofits breakfast tacos, aTex-Mex staple. Located in the back of Stripes, head to the Laredo Taco Company.
Located across Texas, and at 2815 East Main St. in Uvalde.
Where to Find Live Music
Don’t let the fun die after dragging the tube out of the river. Find several places in the Concan area offering live music.
Garner State Park–Since the 1940s, the Saturday night dances are a must from spring through fall on popular weekends. Head to the parkconcession building to dance under the trees and twinkling lights.
House Pasture Cattle Company–Find a solidline-up of Texas-sized acts at the outdoor venue with covered dance area. Features picnic tables, a grassy area and an indoor bar.
Located at 2 River Road in Concan. Gates open at 5 p.m. with shows starting at 9 p.m. All ages venue. Live music spring through fall, most weekends.
The Historic Leakey Inn–This intimate venuefeatures live music on Saturday nights. Make it an evening with house-made soups and sandwiches. Beer and wine available with indoor and outdoor patio seating.
Located at 527 S. Highway 83 in Leakey, north of Concan. Open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where to Stay near Garner State Park
Visitors can find cabins up and down the Frio River and the surrounding small towns. Though I recommend staying in the the historic cabins inGarner State Park.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression, the cabins offer rustic charm and some feature fireplaces. Bring bedding for the beds and everything you need to cook. Check out to see if a burn ban is in effect for the county that will forbid campfires.
Know Before You Go
- Cell service is spotty at best. So pick up a map at the Uvalde Visitor Center at 21170 Highway 127 in Concan.
- Reservations for popular summer weekends book up ONE year in advance for Garner State Park.
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