Friday February 22 Through Thursday February 28, 2019
Nearly every year, Garner State Park is generally recognized as Texas’ most visited park. As such, the park is often crowded beyond belief with extremely long check-in times for campers. Bathrooms and showers are often in disrepair and nearly always filthy, even in the off season. Interactions with park personnel in terms of how rules are enforced and interpreted give the impression that general visitor unruliness is often an issue.
The park is a wonderful place to hike and view wildlife in the off season. The scenery is beautiful. The pristine Frio River runs through the park and is always cold (even in the summer) and always flows (even in droughts) making this an ideal summer floating destination. The cypress trees along the river are beautiful.
On this visit, for the first time, we saw and heard quite a few turkeys. We nearly always saw turkeys at the bird blind near the Nature/Education Center & Gift Shop run by Friends of Garner State Park.
For the last four visits to this park, we have been assigned a campsite in the Shady Meadows Camping Area even though we keep asking for the Live Oak Camping Area. While Shady Meadows sites are shaded, they tend to flood when it rains and this was a rain year in South Texas. Fortunately for us, it didn’t rain during our stay. Perhaps now that the State Park system allows reservations to specific spots, we won’t have this park “deciding” which campsite we are assigned in the future.
Over the past fifteen plus years camping in this park, we’ve hiked most of the trails. This visit, I did a little hiking along the Frio Canyon Trail, an old ranch road in parts and an electric utility easement in other parts. This particular trail is mostly flat with few inclines. Other trails in the hills are quite strenuous with some astounding scenic views.
The season for Garner starts in March when Texas schools go on spring break. Since we were in the park in February, all the nearby services were closed for the winter season. The closest grocery shopping and laundromats were in Uvalde, a 30 minute drive south from the park.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!