Thursday, March 21, 2019

5 Top-Rated Tourist Destinations In The Texas Hill Country

5 top-rated Texas Hill Country tourist destinations blog cover image

With its stunning natural scenes and unique culture, Texas Hill Country has been recognized as a major visitor destination for those seeking an adventurous escapade. Being the second largest state in the entire country, its diversity both culturally and geographically is simply impressive.

From its historical stories, natural parks, and coastal scenery, to its culture-embedded towns and cities, Texas State is by every means an all-around destination. If you are looking forward to exploring the Texas Hill Country, make sure to check out these 5 best-rated tourist destinations.

lit shops and diners along the river

1. San Antonio River Walk

The San Antonio River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio is a city park with networked walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River. With its lined up bars, restaurants, nature, shops, public artwork, and historic missions, it is no surprise as to why it has repeatedly been top ranked as a must-visit destination in Texas Hill Country.

Explore by foot along the river’s walkway, or take a guided ride along the 15-mile urban waterway and get to enjoy the all-in-one treasure-packed San Antonio experience. Once in Downtown, you can choose to explore nearby attractions such as the King William Historic District, or shop at some of the local favorites along the river.

Just to give you a clear view of what to expect: the River Walk winds and loops below bridges in two parallel sidewalks lined with shops and restaurants, connects a series of tourist attractions such as the HemisFair Park, San Antonio Museum of Art, the Pearl, Tower Life Building, Alamo – just a mention of a few, yet with a uniquely different experience.

Admission to the San Antonio River Walk is free – which means that you have the option to spend your cash at the spots within.

the still-standing front of The Alamo

2. The Alamo

Located in San Antonio, The Alamo receives over four million visitors annually who come to see where Texas liberty began.

Most Americans are familiar with the phrase ‘Remember the Alamo’ which is used to refer to the few defenders who were slaughtered by Mexican troops in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

Today, the battlefield tour is taught by history interpreters who will guide you through the battle of 1836. You can still see where the original fort lied, and where Colonel Travis and Davy Crockett fought and heroically spent their last moments.

To get an in-depth tour, you can choose to attend the ‘After Hours Tour’ which allows you to see Alamo without any crowds. It is more personalized, quieter, and has a 45 minutes audio tour that will take you around to enjoy the sights of Alamo.

The guided tour is $15 per person and free for children below the age of eight. Military personnel (active/veteran) pay $10 per person.

a giraffe reaching down to eat food from a driver's hand

3. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Located just north of San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is designed to give you a typical African safari experience. The sanctuary has zebras, elk, and ostrich roaming through the 400 acres of land. If you are lucky enough, they may sometimes poke their heads through your open car window looking for some food.

The walk-a-bout area has a giraffe barn, Lemur Island, and other numerous opportunities for a close-up interaction with animals. In this area, some animals such as peacocks, parrots, and lemurs roam freely. You can, therefore, be guaranteed a fantastic experience even when not in the car. There’s also a designated zone for kids, the ‘Petting Barnyard’ where they can chase, feed, and cuddle baby goats and other docile furry friends.

You will need to hire a car and pay a day-long entrance fee so as to explore the Ranch. But once you are set, you can take your time through the parkland while animals such as emu, zebra, buffalo, and ostrich graze around your car – with a few of them heading to your car window for a bite. You can choose to book a one-hour guided tour with an experienced animal specialist who will point you to various animals while sharing facts about them.

calm waves on the beach

4. Padre Island National Seashore

Located just a quick drive south of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore is made up of sand dunes, grassland, beach habitats, and is home to a variety of migratory birds as well as rare sea turtles.

Because of the warm weather present all year round, its beaches are very popular with typical activities such as swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, and fishing.

Besides a weekly entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, camping on the beach is absolutely free. In addition to normal beach activities, you can also go fishing – either in the sea or the western lagoon (but with a Texas State license). However, activities in the dunes and grassland are to some extent limited so as to protect wildlife and prevent erosion.

Padre Island is home to varied bird life such as laughing gulls, geese, sandpipers, herons, and over 300 other species. The island is also home to other wildlife such as coyotes, diamond rattlesnakes, deer and rabbits living in the ruins. The endangered sea turtles are now a common sighting, and during the egg-laying season, park rangers are seen patrolling the beaches searching for any signs of activity.

5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Paulo Duro Canyon State Park is the second largest canyon in The United States and is located in the Texas Panhandle near the cities of Amarillo and Canyon. Besides the geological aspect of the location, the canyons are also home to numerous fun recreational activities.

With over 30 miles of varying trails, you can explore the canyons on foot, mountain bike, horse or cars. Other activities include camping, nature study, and birdwatching. In summer, you get to enjoy performances of the Texas outdoor musical drama in the Pioneer Amphitheater present in the park. Also, make sure to mark your trip with one of the souvenirs sold at the Visitor Center.

Although they are just a glimpse into the wonders of Texas Hill Country, these destinations guarantee any individual a memorable experience. A visit to the local visitor centers will provide with even more detailed information of your preferred destination to ensure you get the best out of your trip.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

7 Best Off-Roading Spots in Texas Hill Country

7 best off-roading spots in Texas Hill Country blog cover image

Texas Hill Country might hold many adventure titles, but when it comes to off-roading, you can as well say that it has some of the best spots in the entire country.

We took our time to craft you some of the 7 best off-roading locations in Texas. Regardless of your driving experience or your vehicle, there’s always a perfect spot for you to blend in the Texas Hill Country.

ATV rider moving through shallow muddy water

1. Hidden Falls Adventure Park

Located in Central Texas, Hidden Falls has an array of exciting trails and rock formations that will make your experience a memorable one. This spot is relatively friendly to most vehicles – but of course, that cannot be compared with an experience of an ATV or a 4×4.

With about 240 miles of terrain with varying difficulty, you can be assured of a great time, regardless of your skill level. It is, however, advisable that you fuel up before your arrival as there is no fuel service in the immediate vicinity.

If it is your first time here, I would recommend that you follow a group of drivers familiar with the terrain. By so doing, you will be able to spot the tracks that match your driving skill.

Hidden Falls also provides you with ample camping area and improved RV and cabin sites - thus accommodation should not be an issue. Should you choose the RV or Cabins, purpose to reserve one on their website before you make your trip.

heavily modified XJ Jeep crawling up a steep pile of rocks

2. Katemcy Rocks

Located in Mason, Texas, Katemcy Rocks provides over 400 acres of granite with diverse terrains for all levels of four wheelers. This spot is operated by the Kruse family and Shain Chapman and has numerous trails with many obstacles – ranging from easy to extreme.

Each year, they host several open and closed events where you get a chance to challenge yourself through the hot rocks. In addition to wheeling, you get to enjoy yourself with extra fun activities such as fantastic BBQ, great food, live music, and much more.

You can always check their official website for the lined up events and contact them if interested.

modified TJ Jeep crawling up a rocky trail

3. Wolf Caves LLC

Its history dates ages ago when wolves would dwell on these lands and den in the granite caves – thus the name ‘Wolf Caves’. Like the Katemcy Rocks stated above, Wolf Caves is also a family-run operation based in Mason, Texas.

Visit this spot and get to enjoy the thrilling firsthand experience of your wheels against its famous terrain. Its 430 acres are covered with miles of trails suitable for both stock Jeeps and heavily modified vehicles. Unfortunately, they were not allowing ATV’s, UTV, or motorcycles the last time I checked.

When it comes to accommodations, Wolf Caves has primitive campsites for you to camp in. That is further supplemented by the restrooms, showers, and air-up station to make your stay an eventful one.
If you are a pro driver looking for some challenging tracks, Wolf Caves is absolutely your place.

4. Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area

Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area is located in Gilmer, Texas and has been in operation since the year 2000. With over 1,800 acres of terrain, this a perfect spot for ATV, OHV, and motorcycle enthusiasts.

Its facilities and trails were specifically constructed to cater for motorized off-road purposes. Its trail system which was developed by the volunteer TMTC membership has been mapped and rated with appropriate signage – giving you the best experience.

There’s a challenging 27+ mile long single trail specifically for dirt bike drivers. For the ATV and OTV owners, there are miles long of scenic trails and challenging trails waiting for you to explore.
The site offers both primitive campsites, cabin rentals, and RV hookups for accommodations. You are welcome to enjoy the park’s shower facilities, remote pavilions, and the dump station.

Barnwell Mountain recreation area is open from Friday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to dusk (all in exception to bad weather).

JK Jeeps moving through a mild trail

5. Trees Ranch Off-Road

Tree Ranch offers about 5,500 acres of off-road paradise loaded with some of the most scenic and challenging trails. The ranch is located in Leaky, Texas, and is primarily an exotic game ranch.
With the ranch offering everything from extreme buggy obstacles to mild creek bed trails – there’s a spot for everyone.

Over the last few years, the ranch has been busy cutting in the more than 40+ trails and grooming them. Trees Ranch is gradually transforming itself into a family-oriented ORV park with trails that meets expectations of all levels, regardless of their skill level.

They open up for drivers on Friday and on Saturday morning, all drivers assemble before promptly setting off at 9:00 a.m. Visitors are, therefore, advised to be punctual as it would be hard to find them a group past 9:00 a.m.

6. Canyons Off Road Park

Canyons Off Road Park is nestled in a small tourist town in Texas called Fredericksburg. The park offers great trails fit for almost every truck with a roll cage and has been home to popular race events including the ‘King of the Canyons’ and the ‘WERock’. The trails are, however, considered too dangerous for four-wheelers.

The park offers around 300 acres with over 25 miles trails from which you can enjoy climbing rocks, jumping hills, and splashing through creeks and waterways.

They are open from Friday 3 P.M to Sunday same time.

7. Rocky Ridge Ranch

Located in North Texas, Rocky Ridge ranch has around 650 acres of land offering wooded trails, stream crossings, steep hill climbs, and open fields.

Its varying trails are quite accommodating and can be accessed by ATVs, UTVs, motorcycles, four wheelers, and Jeeps. Camping is allowed and you can bring along any size-trailer as there’s plenty of room available.

When not off-roading, you can also decide to go fishing in the 50-acre lake in the vicinity. Rocky Ridge ranch is open from Friday to Sunday.

They also offer weekday driving, but visitors are requested to make a call at least a day before their arrival.

Texas Hill Country is extremely popular for its numerous outdoor activities, off-roading adventures included. Besides being a major tourist attraction site, the rather rugged terrain molds Texas perfectly for off-roading. If you are an off-road enthusiast, make sure to check out these spots on your next stay in the Texas Hill Country.