Thursday, April 16, 2020

5 Best Places to See Dinosaur Tracks in and Around the Texas Hill Country

5 Best Places to See Dinosaur Tracks in and Around the Texas Hill Country

One thing not many know about Texas—it’s one of the best spots to see dinosaur tracks. If you think there’s nothing left of the dinosaurs, you’re in for a treat. We’re happy to let you know that you can still catch some epic dinosaur tracks and footprints, some as big as 5 feet wide. That’s right—you don’t need to be a paleontologist at a remote dig site to get a closer look at dinosaur tracks.

Dinosaur tracks are known as “trace fossils,” or fossilized evidence of previous life. These fossils are what have given us clues to the past habits of dinosaurs, and help us estimate their massive size and stature. Though they appear in stone today, dinosaurs a hundred million years ago weren’t leaving their footprints directly in solid stone. At the time it was mud, and over time it became solid rock, leaving behind the footprints we can see today.

The Texas Hill Country, a region of central and south Texas, is the perfect location for spotting dinosaur tracks. Because of the region’s soft limestone hills, heavy rainfall periodically uncovers new tracks throughout the Texas Hill Country, making it a dinosaur-enthusiasts’ paradise.

Here are the 5 best places in and around the Texas Hill Country where you can get up close and personal with actual dinosaur tracks:

forest with a river running through it

1. Dinosaur Valley State Park

First on our list is, of course, the state park that is named after the famed dinosaur tracks, Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas. The park welcomes guests with two full-scale models at the entrance,  one a Brontosaurus and the other a Tyrannosaurus Rex. There’s plenty to do in the park, including hiking, horseback riding, and camping along the dinosaur tracks.

Before humans existed, Dinosaur Valley served as a “dinosaur highway” where both herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs roamed for food and prey. The tracks were discovered in 1908 after heavy flooding, over a hundred million years after their creation. Today, you can walk in the fossilized tracks of Acrocanthosaurus (a cousin of the T-Rex) and sauropods. The tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park were the first proof that sauropods, which grow up to 70 feet long and weighed over 40 tons, walked on all fours.

pavilion covering dinosaur tracks

2. The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country

Between Austin and San Antonio, the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country boasts over 200 footprints at 28 different tracks. At over 25 acres, the museum hosts plenty of prehistoric-themed attractions. To find fossils from over a hundred million years ago, do a guided tour of the grounds, and while you’re at it, check out the dozens of tracks on the flatlands and compare the size of your foot to that of a dinosaur’s.

Whereas heavy rains can expose new tracks, some tracks already exposed to the elements can erode completely. That’s why the Heritage Museum is dedicated to protecting the exposed tracks from further erosion, providing coverage to some with a roof covered pavilion.

If you’ll be making a visit to the Heritage Museum, bring your history knowledge full circle and stop by the Native America exhibit to learn about the ancient people who migrated to and inhabited the land through the 1800s.

birds eye view of forest and trails

3. Government Canyon State Natural Area

If you’re up for a hike, don’t miss out on the Government Canyon State Natural Area. Scientists believe that up to 20 different types of dinosaurs have passed through the area, leaving tracks throughout the miles-long stretch of the park. As a designated natural area, preservation of the natural environment in the park’s twelve-thousand acres is a priority.

Hit one of the hiking trails for the day or reserve a walk-in tent at one of the campsites. But be warned, the full hike is 5 miles (2 ½ miles each way). Though some parts of the trails are rugged terrain, park rangers are there to help you choose a trail that’s suitable for your group. Remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, wear sturdy shoes, and to plan ahead for the right weather conditions!

rocks and pools

4. The Witte Museum

If hiking isn’t for you, make a stop at the Witte Museum in Brackenridge Park, in San Antonio, which pays homage to these prehistoric beasts in every way seemingly possible. With fossilized dinosaur footprints, bones, interactive displays, and a life-size Tyrannosaurs-Rex skeleton, The Witte Museum delivers in terms of prehistoric artifacts. In recent years, the museum has expanded to include a giant Quetzalcoatlus Northropi—one of the largest animals to ever fly. As wide as a small airplane, the Quetzalcoatlus had a 36-foot wingspan.

If you’ll be visiting from out of town, be sure to also stop by the Witte’s exhibit on South Texan Heritage, where you can see historical artifacts from Texas’ history and its wildlife. And lastly, finish off your visit with a stroll through the garden.

metal cast dinosaur footprint

5. Canyon Lake Gorge

What could make a gorge even more impressive? Dinosaur tracks and millions of year-old fossils, that's what. Back in the Cretaceous era when the dinosaurs left their tracks, the gorge wasn’t yet formed. In fact, it was only exposed in 2002, when torrential rain caused a dam to overflow, flooding and carving away the sediment within the gorge to create the canyon formation and reveal plenty of prehistoric fossils and dinosaur tracks.

The Canyon Lake Gorge delivers with its dramatic scenery, rocky terrain, waterfalls, and pools. For a knowledge-packed hike, opt for a guided tour of the gorge that dives into the historical and geological aspects of the site. Take a walk in the mile-long limestone gorge, and you’re sure to find some evidence of the prehistoric world.

dinosaur fossil

There we have it, the top five spots to catch dinosaur tracks in the Texas Hill Country. If you’re visiting Texas, it’s easy enough to fit one of these locations in your itinerary. And who knows, maybe you’ll even find newly discovered tracks!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Getting Married in Texas Hill Country, Stress-Free

Get married in Texas Hill Country, Stress-Free

If you have planned or are currently planning your wedding, you know how stressful it can be. The road from engagement to walking down the aisle is not always a clear one. There are a lot of decisions to be made, from major investments down to the smallest details, and it can quickly get overwhelming. However, you want to be sure you enjoy your day and can look back on it fondly.

Whether you are a local or considering a destination wedding, Texas Hill Country is a great fit for couples regardless of budget or desired atmosphere. There are options to suit the needs of any couple, ensuring that your special day is exactly what you envision and is as stress-free as possible. From ranches to state parks to golf courses, every couple can find what they are looking for in the heart of Texas Hill Country.

bride and groom embracing beneath tree

Tip #1: Choose Your Venue Wisely

Many popular event venues will book multiple functions per day or per weekend in order to maximize their profits and the use of the space. So, if you have a Saturday wedding, you may be squeezed in between the timelines of the events on Friday and Saturday. If you are looking to avoid some of the stress associated with set-up and tear down, aim for a venue that allows you to rent for the full day or entire weekend. This means that you will not be as rushed, can take your time to set up and clean up, and can create your own timeline. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life; do not let someone else’s event take precedence over yours or cause you to feel stressed.

groom proposing to a bride

Tip #2: Prioritize Natural Scenery

Your venue is the biggest decision you will make during wedding planning, dictating how the rest of the day looks and feels. It will also have an impact on your choices in linen, color scheme, flowers, and décor.

Texas Hill Country’s mild climate all year long makes an outdoor venue a great choice. You can also consider doing some parts of the wedding—like the ceremony—outdoors, and the rest indoors. An outdoor venue means that you need to bring in minimal décor; the scenery and landscaping will add so much to the atmosphere and to your photos. You may not need to rent lighting if you are holding a majority of the celebration outdoors, saving you money and hassle. There are plenty of beautiful golf courses in the Texas Hill Country that would make stunning backdrops for your wedding.

Choosing your flowers and color scheme will also get easier if you know the venue already has a lot to offer. Bringing in less décor also means less cost to you. Just be prepared with a poor weather plan in case Mother Nature has different ideas about your big day.

Tip #3: Saturday is not The Only Option

Most weddings are typically held on Saturdays, giving guests plenty of time to travel to and from the area and giving you time to set up, tear down, and relax. However, it is not a hard and fast rule, and you can easily rearrange the stereotypical wedding weekend timeline to your plans.

If you have many local guests or are planning a true destination wedding that will require extensive travel regardless of the date, consider a Friday night or Sunday afternoon affair. Choosing a non-traditional day will give you more venue choices since they are less likely to be booked on those days. You may still want to look at a full-weekend venue rental (or at least a two-day rental) as mentioned in Tip #1 to reduce your stress where possible. Many weddings take more than a year to plan, so the day of the week should not be an issue as long as you give your guests plenty of time to coordinate logistics. Laid-back couples seeking a less formal or structured affair will appreciate having their wedding on a not-so-typical day of the week,

Another bonus: you may save some money since venues often go empty on Fridays and Sundays, and usually lower rental costs to make those days more appealing.

open green field and blue sky

Tip #4: Think Local

The Texas Hill Country is ripe with entertainment options, recreation opportunities, local dining, and boutique shopping. To save costs and reduce your stress, consider leaning heavily on local vendors. It gives you the opportunity to support small businesses, reduces shipping time and costs, and ensures that all of the pieces of your event will work well together. If your vendors are already familiar with your venue, it will save you the headache of trying to coordinate it all.

When picking your flowers, reach out to a local florist who knows your venue and can recommend things that are in season. Visit a local boutique for all of your formalwear needs and save on the cost of shipping items across the country. If your venue does not already include catering, consider the catering options available from local farm-to-table restaurants. Instead of flying in a hairstylist or makeup artist, ask around to see who is highly recommended near your venue.

Instead of the typical Sunday brunch following a wedding, consider an activity that can only be done in the Texas Hill Country: zip-lining, hiking, or horseback riding. These activities would also make great suggestions to distribute to out-of-town guests as they look to fill their time.

wood cart in flower field

Your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life, and the end result of all of your planning should be exactly what you have always wanted and have dreamed of. It can also be an incredibly stressful time due to financial strain and all of the decisions that need to be made. As you are picking a destination for your special day, keep in mind the need to keep it as stress-free as possible—making the Texas Hill Country the perfect place.

Monday, March 9, 2020

How to Plan the Perfect Texas Hill Country Retirement

How to Plan the Perfect Texas Hill Country Retirement

If you or someone you know is thinking about retirement, you have probably been considering a wide variety of destinations. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, such as climate, cost of living, transportation options, entertainment options, and distance from family and friendsand it seems like no destination checks all of the boxes.

Just because you are retiring does not mean you cannot be open to a new and exciting experience. Your retirement years can be filled with a new lifestyle, new opportunities, and the chance to start hobbies or projects you never had time for before. You can take the time to travel and explore. You can spend quality time with family and friends. All those things that you didn't have time for when you are working are now yours to experience.

green hills at dawn

If your retirement is well-planned, like it is for many of the baby boomer generation thanks to easy access to financial planners, retirement accounts, and online services, the opportunities are endless as to where you may end up. If you are looking for a warm southern climate with plenty of living options—whether it is a condo in the city or a senior community in a small town—Texas Hill Country provides a peaceful haven worth considering, even if you have never considered yourself a Texan. Made up of 21 unique cities divided into nine regions, Texas Hill Country was recently voted one of the top places to retire by Forbes magazine.

flowers beside wooden fence

Where Should I Live?

If you enjoy the outdoors and would like access to fresh air and beautiful scenery, Castroville, Barton Creek, and Horseshoe Bay may be the locales for you. There is plenty to do, keeping your daily routine fun and interesting. Castroville, just 15 miles outside San Antonio, is a historic town filled with local dining, parks, boutique shopping, walking tours, and historic buildings begging to be explored. Barton Creek is a suburb of Austin, boasting diverse neighborhoods and a unique urban-suburban mixed feel. Horseshoe Bay is a rural-suburban town with an atmosphere perfect for quiet walks, stargazing, and more.
Whether you want to rent or buy your home, there are plenty of options, although more residents opt to buy in these areas. Real estate prices are very reasonable compared to the national average. There are also plenty of senior and retirement community options with numerous amenities, security features, recreation options, and an outstanding quality of life. No matter where you decide to settle down in Texas Hill Country, you will enjoy its bustling economy, mild climate, low crime rates, cost of living just below the national average, median home price, and walkability. The Milken Institute also ranks many of these areas highly on their list of best cities for successful aging.

elderly couple looking at paperwork

What if I Want a Job?

If you are interested in launching a new career in your retirement years, whether part-time or a new full-time venture, these are some of the fastest-growing cities in Texas with economic growth to match. There are plenty of things to do in the area, with more popping up every day, so you are sure to find a part-time or full-time opportunity that suits your needs and skill set. Opportunities in entertainment and recreation especially are endless.

older couple walking golf course

What is There to Do?

If you would like to spend your retirement years in the great outdoors, Texas Hill County provides plenty of options. If you enjoy just taking in the quiet beauty of nature, you may enjoy bird watching or fishing at one of the local lakes. There are also many state and city parks in the area perfect for biking, walking, or spending time with your dog.
If you are a golfer, Texas Hill Country offers numerous golf courses of varying difficulty. The mild climate means it is perfect golf weather all year round. The more adventurous can sign up for horseback riding lessons, trail rides, or historical tours to get to know the area better and learn a new skill. A visit to a dude ranch makes a good day trip. And if you're looking to fly high, Wimberley Zipline Adventures is a well-known stop for those seeking a thrill among stunning Texas scenery. If you are a history buff, check out one of the museums in the area: the Bandera Natural History Museum, the Fort Croghan Museum, and the Kimble County Historical Museum. If the family comes to visit, consider a trip to the McKenna Children’s Museum. Texas Hill Country is also home to plenty of live music, local bars and restaurants, live theater, and concerts; no two nights out will ever be the same and you will always be able to find something to do on the weekends.

older couple walking hand in hand

Are There Things to Do in the Summer?

When the weather gets warmer, consider spending time on the golf course or in one of the parks. You can also sign up for float trips, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing adventures to keep cool and tour the region. If you consider yourself a foodie with a taste for something new, check out one of the dozens of wineries in the area for a day full of tastings. If you are planning an event, many of these spaces are also happy to host. No matter where you are in your retirement planning—whether you have just started thinking, have considered some ideas, or are ready to take the plunge—do not count out moving to Texas Hill Country. There is something for everyone from all walks of life, but there is a reason this region is especially popular among retirees. You can continue your active lifestyle, try something new, or decide to take it slow, and ultimately never run out of things to do. The cost of living is reasonable, the quality of life is high, and this region is ever-expanding. Make a visit to Texas Hill Country and it will make a strong case for being your home during your retirement years.

Monday, February 24, 2020

11 of the Best Wineries in the Texas Hill Country - Part 2

Hello wine connoisseurs! We’re back to finish our list of 11 of the Best Wineries in the Texas Hill Country! The Hill Country is a geographical sweet-spot with a climate that allows grapes to thrive in the rich Texas soil. If you’re in town, check out a few of these wineries during your stay.

Missed the first blogpost? Read about the first 5 wineries on our list.

people tasting wine in wine cellar

6. Spicewood Vineyards

Considered one of the largest vineyards in the Hill Country, Spicewood Vineyards was founded as a winery that only produced wines from grapes grown on the estate. Today, they strive to adhere to that tradition. These vineyards started with 17 acres of grapevines and nine of those acres are still producing excellent fruit on vines that are more than 24 years old. Now the vineyard boasts 32 acres and grows several varieties, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tempranillo.

grapes on the vine

7. Ron Yates Wines

This family-owned and operated winery produces exquisite Spanish, Italian, and Rhone-style wines from estate-grown grapes. They recently opened a tasting pavilion that also offers a large outdoor porch where you can enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing. The owner, Ron Yates, is a specialist in Tempranillo, therefore, he plants that grape extensively in his vineyards along with Graciano and Petite Sirah grapes.

wine bottles and glasses by vineyard

8. Calais Winery

Benjamin Calais’s winery doesn’t just bear his name but the name of his hometown in France as well, Calais. Benjamin started his winery in Hye, Texas in 2008 because he enjoys winemaking and had a desire to create and share outstanding wines. This winery is built into the side of a hill, in the tradition of a “wine cave." This keeps the space naturally cooler. Benjamin Calais makes old-world wine with a new-world flair. Calais Winery offers two wine tasting experiences: Tasting in the Cave where you can taste wine at the tasting bar with intentionally limited space to encourage conversation and learning; and the Winemakers Table where you will reserve your place at the farm table and experience wine tasting with French winemaker, Benjamin Calais.

rolling hills of a vineyard

9. Flat Creek Estate

Flat Creek is more than wine tasting. It’s an experience. The estate covers 80 acres of Texas land. The estate offers wine tasting, winery tours, and a menu offering everything from hors d’oeuvres and cheese to wood-fired pizzas, to three-course wine-paired chef’s menus. There is even an 18-hole disc golf course on the estate that offers two playing options: a challenging professional level and a fun, less intense level. The Wine and Food Hall is a beautiful space for enjoying food and wine, sampling new wines, or socializing with friends over appetizers and a bottle of wine. The former tasting room has been turned into the Market Hall. This hall offers fantastic views of the winery production area or a Port Room set up for private groups. There are gift items available, as well as a patio for relaxing with a glass of wine. If you’re looking for a short getaway, you can stay overnight at the Vintner’s Quarters that offers lots of sleeping space, as well as a kitchen and living area. There is also a bistro on the estate.

couple drinking wine in vineyard

10. Becker Vineyards

Becker Vineyards is a large, beautiful estate. There are 56 acres with several vineyards. There are also acres of grassy lawn perfect for a picnic. A field of lavender offers delightful fragrance and beauty. The Lavender Haus is a replica of a barn at the Lyndon B. Johnson Settlement in Johnson City and is used for wine dinners, festive luncheons, birthday parties, group wine tastings, and more. The Verandah is a large patio that offers outdoor wine tasting. The winery is a reproduction of a 19th century German stone barn. Becker Vineyards produces red, white, and rosé wines that are sure to please you.

11. Pedernales Cellars

Run by a sixth generation Texas family, Pedernales Cellars has been producing Texas grapes since 1995 to make their exceptional Spanish and Rhone Style wines, including their benchmark Tempranillo and Viognier. Pedernales Cellars offers 145 acres of land with incomparable views of the Texas Hill Country. Their wine tasting menu offers six selections designed to give you the full range of what this winery has to offer.

This is just a sampling of the many wineries in the Texas Hill Country. These wineries offer beautiful, relaxing, intimate settings where you can please your palate with their award-winning wines, most of which are made from Texas-grown grapes. Some of them have great spots to bring a picnic, others offer on-site restaurants, and some of them also offer venues that are perfect for a birthday party or wedding. If you enjoy wine tasting or a good glass of wine with dinner or a picnic, come to one of the beautiful, unique wineries in the Texas Hill Country and experience the taste of Texas.

Monday, February 10, 2020

11 of the Best Wineries in the Texas Hill Country - Part 1

11 of the Best Wineries in the Texas Hill Country

Are you a wine connoisseur or do you simply enjoy the taste of a fine wine with dinner? Do you think the best wines come from Napa Valley? The Texas Hill Country has become a popular wine tourism destination as well, offering some award-winning, palate-pleasing wines. The Texas Hill Country boasts so many wine estates and vineyards that there is only enough space to feature eleven of them here. Whether you live nearby or choose to come to the Hill Country on your vacation, you won’t be disappointed in the red, white, and rosé wines here.

vineyard fields and trees aerial view

1. Driftwood Estate Winery

Located in Driftwood, Texas, this winery and vineyard show their Texas pride in their fine wine offerings made from Texas grapes. Driftwood Estate Winery stands on a bluff with a stunning view of its vineyard grapevines as well as the Hill Country. Enjoy tasting any of the six wines on their tasting list in the tasting room or enjoy a glass of wine while roaming the winery grounds. You may also choose to sip your wine with one of the tasty items from the newly-opened on-site bistro.

Vineyard and estate aerial view

2. Fall Creek Vineyards

Named after the breathtaking 90-foot waterfalls located at the north end of the ranch, these vineyards had an interesting beginning. In 1973, Ed and Susan Auler took a trip to France with the intention of purchasing some French-bred cattle to cross with their herd of Angus in the Hill Country. However, they had recently become interested in wine, and though Ed was practicing law, he had also taken over the operation of his family’s ranch and wanted to find a way to increase its profitability. Their trip to France became an education in French wines, food, and culture, and in 1975, they began their vineyard with a test plot of a quarter acre that grew into seven-and-a-half acres by the late 1970s. Then they began purchasing the 400 acres that have become Fall Creek Vineyards. In the mid-1980s they increased their wine education with help from experts in Napa and Sonoma. Ed and Susan began as wine-growing pioneers in the Texas Hill Country and have grown their vineyard and winery to now include two tasting rooms in two different locations, Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, Texas and their second location in Driftwood, Texas. All their wines are made from Texas-grown grapes.

courtyard with chairs, tables, and tree

3. Signor Vineyards

Signor Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas is a result of the friendships of three generations of two families, the Signors and the Weisingers. Signor Vineyards is located in the Texas Hill Country where the Pedernales River meets Grape Creek and is known as the most beautiful winery in the Hill Country. The tasting room is located in a former residence. After a tasting, why not purchase a bottle of the wine you found most palatable, spread a blanket under the shade of one of the oak trees, and enjoy your own picnic lunch while feasting your eyes on the 135-acre property.

grapes on the vine

4. Grape Creek Vineyards

Come taste the wines of Grape Creek. They have won over 200 medals in just the past two years. This 100-acre estate offers winery tasting rooms and a restaurant in a Tuscan Villa. You are certain to feel as though you have entered a part of Italy while standing in Fredericksburg, Texas. Grape Creek owner Brian Heath recently opened another tasting room, “Heath Sparkling Wines,” in a very modern building with a spectacular view of the rows upon rows of grapevines used to make Grape Creek’s wines. At Heath Sparkling Wines, experience Euphoria, a Chenin-Blanc elegant sparkling wine with characteristics of white peach, honeysuckle, and subtle citrus zest.

5. 4.0 Cellars

This unique tasting room is a combination of three wineries: BrennanVineyards, a 37-acre vineyard in Comanche, Texas that produces world-class wines recognized in international competitions; Lost Oak Winery of Burleson, Texas, known for its award-winning Merlot; and McPherson Cellars, which has been in business for over 40 years and promotes Mediterranean and Rhone Valley varietals in Lubbock, Texas. They offer three wine tasting experiences: the Signature Tasting Experience where you can choose from three tasting menus that give you the opportunity to taste six wines; the Texas Cheese and Wine Experience which features five artisan Texas cheeses from Veldhuizen Cheese Company along with five 4.0 wines specifically selected to complement the cheeses; and the Private Texas Chocolate and Wine Experience which pairs four award-winning chocolate truffles with four carefully selected 4.0 wines.

You can't miss with any of these wineries! We’ll finish our list next blog post. Stay tuned!

(read the rest of the 11 wineries)

Monday, January 20, 2020

Nine Stunning Hikes in the Texas Hill Country

Nine Stunning Hikes in the Texas Hill Country

The Balcones Escarpment—a cracked and weathered rock wall extending in an arc from Del Rio to Waco. This is central Texas, a land of hills, limestone bluffs, and sharply sloped canyons. Its initial appearance gives the impression of a seared land, but upon further inspection, one finds underground springs flowing across the region, forming beautiful rivers and refreshing streams.

This incredible land offers a vast array of beauty to explore, from nearly treeless plains to secluded canyons and stair-like trails leading to breathtaking views from Texas hilltops. Here is a list with brief descriptions of nine hiking trails in the Texas Hill Country you will want to check out.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (21 miles east of Marble Falls)

This four-mile, round-trip hike traverses grassland before rising in a progression of rugged zigzags. You will climb 260 feet above the creek bottom. When you reach the creek crossing on this trail, be sure to stop and take in the beauty of the waterfall. If you visit this area in autumn, you will want to watch for migrating monarch butterflies.

Deer on rocky ridge

Lost Maples State Natural Area (47 miles southwest of Kerrville)

Here is an area famous for its extravagant exhibit of colors in autumn, but these scenic trails lure hikers year-round. This 4.6-mile round-trip hike is relatively challenging with its rugged hills and deep canyons. It runs along the border of the Sabinal River and peaceful streams.

If you start on the East-West trailhead, you will pass through groups of Uvalde Western Sugar Maple trees. At the fork, go left and cross Can Creek (in the fall, you may want to take the East Trail to see some of the park’s best autumn colors, as red oaks and Uvalde Western Sugar Maples turn to warm reds, yellows, and oranges). After Primitive Campsite D, you’ll begin a steep 220-foot climb to a savanna, where you can bask in 360-degree views of the wavy wooded landscape before descending into Mystic Canyon.

man with raised arms outside of tent

Colorado Bend State Park (27 miles west of Lampasas)

A 4.4-mile round-trip hike allows you to experience the scenic views of the famous falls. If you start north on the Tie Slide Trail, this rugged path crosses through open grasslands, rocky surfaces, and a variety of hardwoods and juniper trees. It offers views of the Colorado River valley. The short path to the Tie Slide overlook will awe you with a panoramic view of the river.

If you continue south on the Tie Slide Trail, you will run into the Gorman Falls Trail where, if you head east, the sound of rushing water will intensify as you make a mildly steep descent over smooth limestone. Upon rounding the corner, your eyes will feast on the view of a 70-foot waterfall tumbling from a limestone cliff over moss-covered mineral formations.

Guadalupe River State Park (13 miles west of Spring Branch)

A family-friendly hiking trail that is 3.9 miles round-trip, this offers a fantastic view of the park’s rolling terrain, and you can end with a leisurely walk along the Guadalupe River. Feel free to dangle your feet in its cool, spring-fed waters. You may also choose to stop at the Discovery Center to learn about the park’s natural features.

hiking couple examining map together

Milton Reimers Ranch Park (30 miles west of Austin)

This 2.2-mile round-trip hike takes you into a canyon more than 70 feet deep. Along the way, you will experience beautiful native plants and trees, scenic views, cliffs, and the Pedernales River. But, be careful! The canyon trail is very slippery. You will also travel through stands of bald cypress and sycamore trees. Be sure to listen for the chirp of canyon wrens as you pass vines of mustang grapes, beautyberries, and Turk’s caps.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (13 miles north of Fredericksburg)

Rock domes, cedar elm mesquite, live oak trees, massive boulders, and a crumbling granite hill will be the highlights on this four-mile round-trip hike. If you’re an Old West fan, the names of some of the sights along this trail will appeal to you: Turkey Peak, Freshman Mountain, Buzzard’s Roost, and Echo Canyon. You may even choose to camp overnight to stare at the vast expanse of stars. The greatest sight on this trail is the Enchanted Rock—a huge dome of sparkling pink granite rising 425 feet above the surrounding countryside.

backpacking with dog beneath stars

Hill Country State Natural Area (12 miles southwest of Bandera)

Only 2.3 miles round-trip, but a nearly 400-foot climb makes this trail a favorite among equestrians. The park even provides a list of horseback guides for your convenience.

Pedernales Falls State Park (44 miles west of Austin)

This longer hike, 7.8 miles round-trip, is another popular equestrian trail. This trail offers scenic views, a variety of trees, including Texas Persimmon and a duck pond, where you will want to watch for deer and other wildlife. Don’t miss Pedernales Falls!

hiking couple holding hands through tallgrass

Garner State Park (30 miles north of Uvalde)

This mere 3.4-mile round-trip hike offers scenic views and includes Painted Rock and the Frio River. You won’t want to miss the original 1930s stonework entrance gate that was hand-laid by workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). You’ll also find a historic dance pavilion. Be sure to bring a flashlight to explore the park’s cave.

Whether you’re a native Texan, a transplant to Texas, or a Texas visitor, you won’t want to miss some of the fantastic sights along these trails. No matter if you’re an avid hiker, an occasional hiker, a beginning hiker, or an equestrian enthusiast, the Texas Hill Country has something to offer you. There’s a hike for the family, as well as sights for photographers or people who love animals, nature, plants, stars, or the great outdoors. The Texas Hill Country has something to offer everyone. When you’re planning your next vacation, if you’ve never been to Texas consider spending time exploring the great outdoors in one of these natural parks.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Nine Reasons To Hunt In Hill Country Texas

Nine Reasons to Hunt in Hill Country Texas

The amazing scenery and the breathtaking wilds of Hill Country Texas are a sight to behold. The Frio River and the safari-style hunts will have you chasing legendary whitetails across the fields. You'll definitely want to return for more. With that being said, here are nine of the reasons you should choose Hill Country as your next big game destination.

1. The Top Five

Hill Country sits at number three on the top five regions within the state of Texas for big game hunting. There are many places you can hunt in Hill Country, whether that be public or private land, and they all offer a good variety and density of big game for hunting. Many choose to hunt with an outfitter as the bucks are typically plot fed and raised to maturity for optimal scores. Many regions within Texas offer outstanding hunting and outdoor recreation. The fact that Hill Country is at the top five should say it all.

man with hat pointing rifle

2. Big Game Density

Hill Country has a very high deer density, offering better odds and results on your hunt. When you
choose an outfitter to accommodate your hunt, you can see an average of two hundred
deer in a day’s hunt. That is an impressive statistic compared to other hunting locales and destinations. With there being a deer on every thirteen to fifteen acres, you are bound to find that buck you want.

a doe and a fawn in the grass

3. Hunt In Style

To increase the odds of getting that trophy on your wall, go with an outfitter and get the
complete hunting experience. Most outfitters in the Hill Country offer traditional hunts such as blind box hunts and safari-style hunts. Many outfitters in the area can accommodate everything from a single hunter to many, so go ahead and bring the family along with you. Additionally, most outfitters are in proximity to a town, providing ample activities in your downtime.

A doe beneath tree branches

4. There’s More Than Hunting

If you decide to bring your whole family, there may be some other things that you would like to do while visiting. Enjoy a day outdoors with your family! Visit Garner State Park and swim, canoe, or fish for the day. Or stop in one of the small towns along your way. You are sure to find good food and good people. With so many different adventures in Hill Country, you and your family are sure to enjoy the trip.

two stags with antlers

5. The Kids Can Hunt Too

The legal hunting age in Texas is seventeen, making it the ideal choice for bringing your son or daughter with you to share in the hunt and make some lifelong memories. Passing on the knowledge and traditions of safe and ethical hunting can be important lessons for children. Your child will see big bucks in early mornings and keep that hunt in their memory for the rest of their lives.

man pointing rifle skyward

6. Traditional Texas Hunting

Blind box hunting is a staple in Texas. It is one of the most successful and fun ways to hunt. The
anticipation and excitement of waiting to see that buck come across your field of view are exhilarating. Another great way to hunt in Texas is safari-style hunting. Taking most of the hiking and labor out of the equation allows you to focus on the thrill of the hunt. Both styles of hunting are very popular among hunters in the area and are offered at nearly all outfitters in Hill Country.

deer in misty tallgrass

7. Better Odds

If you use an outfitter, there are many reasons that you will have a more successful hunt. One of those reasons is baiting. Many states don't allow baiting, but it is legal in the state of Texas, and it will increase your chances of getting that trophy buck. Aside from baiting, most outfitters raise their bucks on plots where the deer can feed in safety until they reach a sizeable maturity. Outfitters are very stringent on how they raise their whitetails and only let their hunters harvest when the time is right. All this increases the likelihood of a successful hunt.

deer on a plain at dusk

8. Public Land

There is plenty of public lands to be hunted in Hill Country. While most people will opt for the guided hunts, there is still plenty of fun to be had using public lands as well. Before you plan your trip, we recommend putting your name in a drawing for a hunt in Balcones Canyonland’s Hunting Area. This area offers a good density of whitetail deer, and because it is a lottery drawn tag fewer people will be hunting it.

hunter and hunting dog

9. So What Does It Cost?

You will find that the cost of hunting in Hill Country is reasonable. Most outfitters charge an average of $3250.00–$8500.00 for trophy whitetail, depending on the score. Most outfitters also offer other packages for two does or exotic animal life that they have on their property. Typically, outfitters will waive things like daily outfitter fees if you are on a more expensive hunt as well. When you consider that you are lodging and food needs are usually met by the outfitter, this is very affordable.

While there are many places all over the country that you can hunt, and they all have their
advantages and disadvantages, Hill Country Texas is one of the most beautiful and statistically successful hunting destinations that you can visit. In years to come, you'll be able to sit beneath your mounted trophy whitetail and share stories of your hunt in Hill Country.