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Our usual far flung national park road trip is likely scrapped. I'd like to make as many Texas river frolics as possible. I'm pretty ignorant about the most fun swimming holes and float areas down that Frio/Nueces/Sabinal area. My kids (8 and 10) are decent swimmers, although I suspect they will prefer running water over shallow rocks to calm and deep holes. That may be me projecting my fear of slimy river bottoms, I dunno. 

What are your favorite places to go? What are worth fighting the crowds and what out of the way places are worth exploring? 

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I don't think there's going to be any place without crowds honestly.  We've been going to Guadalupe river St park.  Their entry limits have kept it quiet, and since state Park don't allow alcohol it keeps the crazy drunks away.  But my kids are still little and are happy to just splash in the shallow water.

My wife was looking at this https://friorivervacationrentals.com/lodging.html

Thinking about renting a house/cabin for a couple of days.  They should all have private access.  

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I nabbed a couple of nights in June at a place with shared Dry Frio access, and am sharing a bigger house with SIL and nieces on West Frio north of Leakey just before school (hopefully) returns. But I can easily take off more days and pop down a time or two. Plus when we they are there for a week I am willing to brave a popular float with some of the kiddos. 

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If your'e going to be in the area anyway, hit up Lost Maples.  Some great hiking and some ok water, depending on recent rains.  But the actual swimming options are better outside the park.

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I've had about 3 weeks of reservations at Garner for the weeks after the 4th of July, for many months now.  Glad to see they didn't cancel any of mine for "distancing" purposes.

 

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for swimming holes - garner, blue hole, hamilton pool, barton springs, christoval, balmorhea.  there's a city park in kerrville that has nice swimming in the guad.  the ingram dam, near there, is also a great spot.  there used to be a private campground on the blanco in wimberly called little arkansas that was a badass spot.  

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Posted (edited)

Been going on and off to that area since the mid 80s. As a kid, that's a great place to spend a week in the summer.

We were just at Neal's in Concan over Memorial Day weekend. The area has been in a drought. The Frio is flowing but any long float will involve a lot of walking. There are spots along the river that are waste deep, some areas even neck deep. Just depends on where you are on the river.

If you don't have immediate access to the Frio from your property, then your options of public pay parking spots with river access is going to be CROWDED. That area is crowded as shit during the summer. Most park and pay lots will have a fuckton of people with canopies, coolers and chairs along the river bank. Keep in mind those property lines are river front limited before you are on someone else's private property. Rightly so property owners down there take the private in private property pretty seriously. Be ready for everyone's speakers trying to blare over their neighbors. If you can find a little stretch of the river not overrun with people, it's glorious.

I read that Garner is limiting overnight camping spots to enforce social distancing. Awesome that you got reservations, especially this late in the year. IMO the day campers ruined Garner. That place is a clusterfuck now. But hopefully the limitation on camping and day camping numbers improves the experience. Too bad the nightly pavilion dance isn't going on. That's a wonderful right of passage for kids. 

Edited by crash_davis

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Yeah I'm really hoping they severely limit day passes for Garner through the summer.  That's going to be the best and easiest way to ensure at least some semblance of continued social distancing.

 

 

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Definitely do lost maples. You can even do some fishing in the pond next to primitive camping section C, although the rainbow trout they stocked are probably dead by now with the heat we've had. There's still some bass and large catfish in that pond. 

I'd also stop at Lost Maples Cafe in Utopia for some buttermilk pie. Helllllll yeahhhhhhhhh

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Re Garner, what follows is based on normal summer days. Not sure if or how this applies with the limiting of people.

There is what we call Old Garner and New Garner. Old Garner are the campsites from the Pavilion to Old Baldy to Rock Beach. Old Garner also includes the campsites around the original entrance but that area sucks because you're far from the river. The stretch of river front from Old Baldy to Rock Beach is hella crowded with day campers. Avoid that area like the plague. If it's your thing, it's worth it to put up with that area because there's a big ass tree that you can climb and jump from. That river area is probably the deepest in GSP. The damn area can be deep, just depends on if/when they dredge that area of all the river rocks.

The newer parts are the 3 campgrounds when you take a left at the T coming into the park. I forget their names. The river front in those areas will be crowded but very manageable because the day campers do not have easy access to that stretch of the river. I recommend staying in one of those 3 campgrounds.

The other great thing to do is to hike. Hike early in the morning because it gets hot as fuck when the sun beats down on you. You can hike to Crystal Cave but the crystals were removed back in the 60s when people used to break them and take them home. It's about a 30 minute hike one way from parking at the Pavilion. The other hike is to the top of Old Baldy. Halfway up veering to the the left is IceBox Cave. That's the OG term from the people back in the 60s. The new term is Refrigerator Cave. It's a huge crack about 30 yards into the face of Old Baldy. Halfway up Old Baldy, It's about a 10 minute hike from the main trail up Old Baldy. Inside the cave, you have to walk sideways most of the way through the "cave". Flashlights are a MUST. When it wasn't so popular, we'd play a game where we placed a tennis ball deep in the cave and someone else had to go into the cave without a flashlight to find it. Now there's usually a line to get in the cave. Go early.

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15 minutes ago, StruggleBus said:

Definitely do lost maples. You can even do some fishing in the pond next to primitive camping section C, although the rainbow trout they stocked are probably dead by now with the heat we've had. There's still some bass and large catfish in that pond. 

I'd also stop at Lost Maples Cafe in Utopia for some buttermilk pie. Helllllll yeahhhhhhhhh

You can also go to the city park in Utopia and swim in The Sabinal. The Sabinal is dammed at the park so it's a small lake/big ass pond. There's also a tall ass tree that you can climb and jump from. The locals float the Sabinal because it's about 1/100th as crowded as the Frio. Just need to arrange access to the river for take out. 

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I personally have never been to The Laurel Tree outside of Utopia but have had it recommended multiple times by all sorts of people out here

http://www.utopiagourmet.com/

IT IS BYOB! so take that into consideration.

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I know it is a little further out but pics of Camp Underwood look fantastic


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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This topic is germane to my interests. I've been perusing the VBRO's for Camp Wood, Texas this morning and there's some super amazing (and pricey) looking places. My family and by sister in law's family are sharing a house in Hunt, Texas, the weekend after July 4th. Really excited, and close enough to do many of the things on this thread. I'll be curious to hear from anyone here how the crowds are at Garner and Lost Maples when they visit this summer, so please keep us posted on this thread. 

God I love the Hill Country. 

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Plans thus far:

• Swam, kayaked, and SUP on Lake LBJ this week for a bit. My in-laws have a place in Grabite Shoals in the water. May go back soon hit the Slab near Kingsland early on a weekday soon while the Llano is flowing. 

• Will walk the South San Gabriel off 183 next week on a weekday, before the summer dries it up. Dino tracks and wading.

• Got a cheap place for a couple of nights on the Dry Frio in June. Just me and the family. Already have day passes for Garner and Lost Maples. 

• Day pass for Guadalupe River State Park for late June.

• Locked up 3 nights near Hunt on the Guad for July.

• Got 5 nights on the Frio near Leakey in August.  Splitting it with my sister in law. The cousins have a ball together. Will do day trips and passes from there.

• Still pending: Perdanales SP and Colorado SP. Maybe Blue Hole in Georgetown. Been meaning to check out Hancock Springs in Lampasas (currently closed for out of county residents). May pass up the Wimberly area swimming holes this year. I figure they may be too crowded. Ditto for Guad and Comal near NB. Might check out Devils Watering Hole. Not sure if the kids would hime to Barton Creek greenbelt places (and they might be busy). 

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Zubers River Camp (formerly Magers) is right across the Frio from Garner. You can cross at the dam and get over to Old Baldy if that's your schtick.

Much nicer place to camp than the actual park that has 9:00 curfews and prohibits displays of alcohol consumption.

 

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Lunch and swam a Utopia Park. Very nice.

Got a cheap cabin on Dry Frio. Nice swimming hole 4 to 5 ft deep. Perfect for my kiddos. Kids even enjoyed neighbor goats which I didn't even think to mention to the. Garner day passes on the way out on Tues. 

Didn't being enough beer.  Dry precinct. 

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