This Texas State Park Is A Great Destination For Incredible Water Adventures

A state synonymous with sprawling landscapes and a spirit as big as its territory, Texas draws in millions of visitors each year with its unique blend of Southern charm and Western heritage. A place where barbecues smoke under wide-open skies, country music floats through the air, and cowboy boots tap to the rhythm of bustling city streets, Texas is where rugged charm meets honky-tonk tradition, and then some. From soaking up history at the Alamo in San Antonio to the vibrant music and food scene in Austin, the southern state is all about diverse experiences and unforgettable adventures. And it doesn't stop there.

Tucked away in the Texas Hill Country and just under 2 hours from San Antonio, Garner State Park is an epic destination that you simply can't miss. Spanning a whopping 1,774 acres, it's also one of the most-visited state parks in Texas — with more than half a million tourists stopping by in 2022 alone. A natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers, the park offers plenty of activities year-round for all types of travelers to enjoy.

So whether you're planning a family camping trip, looking to escape the buzz for a quiet solo nature retreat, dreaming of casting a line for the catch of the day, or simply looking forward to hiking along the 16 miles of scenic trails with breathtaking views, Garner State Park is practically paradise on earth.

Hitting the water in Garner State Park

One of the most popular water activities in Garner State Park is cruising along the famous Frio River. A 2.9-mile journey, visitors can choose between navigating the waters aboard inflatable tubes, stand-up paddle boards, or kayaks — most of which are available for rent at the park's concession during the busier summer months. Keep in mind, however, that motorized boats are strictly prohibited, so leave the jet-ski at home for this one.

Shallow and crystal-clear, the river is ideal for families — including young children — who want to enjoy a safe experience outdoors. However, the park's swimming safety guidelines suggest that you never swim alone, wear a life jacket if needed, and always stay alert to your surroundings. Accidents are rare, but it's always best to be prepared.

Aside from getting in the water, Garner State Park is also a popular destination for local and out-of-state fishing fanatics — particularly anglers — due to its calm waters and excellent visibility. With dedicated fishing areas available inside the park, catches are restricted to a maximum of five fish per person, and the best time to head out for a successful fishing session is at daybreak. The park's most sought-after catch? Rainbow trout.

Other activities for your visit

If water sports aren't your thing, Garner State Park also offers plenty of on-land activities too. First, there's hiking. Some of the most popular trails within park limits include the Blinn River Trail, a 0.5-mile stroll along the riverbank; the hike up Old Baldy for aerial views of the park; and Crystal Cave Trail, a 0.6-mile trail that'll take you deep into a 30-foot cave. All of these are suitable for amateur and professional hikers, and can be a great way to sweat it out before jumping in the river for a much-needed cool down.

Visiting during the summer? Don't miss the park's Summer Dance! Held nightly from June through mid-August, 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., visitors gather by the Concession Building for a night of dancing along to some of their favorite tunes on the jukebox. Just make sure you arrive on time in order to secure parking — up to 300 people can show up during peak season.

To enjoy everything Garner State Park has to offer, general admission tickets are available for $8 for visitors 13 and older, while younger campers can enter free. Once inside, campgrounds are available for rent starting from $15 for a basic site with water, and up to $35 for full hookup RV sites. Whatever you choose, nothing will beat waking up to the natural beauty of Garner State Park.