For years, I have heard how great Garner State Park & the Frio River were. My mom went as a child, my aunt goes each year for a family reunion, and I have countless friends who flock to the cold waters of the Frio. It was time for us to check it out.
So as we planned our #darlingroadtrip in an RV this summer, we knew that Garner State Park was a must.
Garner State Park and the Frio River area that surrounds it are beautiful. Stuck out where the Hill Country stops and West Texas begins, this oasis pops up and surprises you. The lush trees, green grass, and cold waters of the Frio River completely take you by surprise. It’s no wonder it gets called “a little slice of heaven”.
We headed to Garner with one plan – to sit in the cold waters of the Frio River. We packed a few tubes, some water shoes, and a cooler full of beverages. That was all we needed, right? Nope.
Garner State Park has a large access to the Frio River, but it’s not a rapidly flowing river, like you may picture. This is like a big, natural pool to float around in, let the kids swim and play on the beach, or if they are brave enough, jump from one of the many rope swings. This is a place you spend the whole day relaxing, laughing, and having great family time.
Here are 10 Tips to Enjoy Garner State Park:
1. Bring a Tube for each person: The Frio River at Garner State Park is deep and at times I wasn’t touching the bottom. Each of us wanted to float in our own tube. You will pay a quarter of the price for a tube if you just buy your own and bring them rather than buy or rent them there.
2. Personal Floatation Devices for Little Ones: As it can be deep, it’s best to put non-swimmers in a life vest or some form of floaties. Even in a tube or float that has a bottom, they will feel much more comfortable with one on. Mom will too.
3. Water Shoes are a MUST!: Unless you like the squishy mud/leafy bottom feeling, buy an inexpensive pair of water shoes. These will come in handy when you are trying to climb out of the river to get to a rope swing too.
4. Rope the Tubes together: Most people kept their tubes together with ropes and a few carabineers. This makes it easy to float around in one group.
5. Be Brave & Try a Rope Swing: Along the river in Garner State Park are several rope swings to play on. They are on the other side of the bank from the park, and are constantly in action. My 11 year old son immediately hopped on them, but it took a day or two for mom & dad to brave it. I’m so glad we did – it was such a rush to swing out over the river and drop into the cold water. What an experience!
6. Take a Ball or Frisbee to Throw Around: I didn’t think we would actually play with it, but ended up playing hot potato and catch for a few hours. I’m so glad we brought it.
7. Consider a Floating Cooler: It’s not a necessity, but it was nice to have our cooler with us at all times as we moved up and down the river.
8. Get there early and claim your spot on the water’s edge: Depending on the day, most people arrive early and set up “camp” for the day. They brought a canopy, tables, chairs, coolers, and food. And again, had all they needed to spend the entire day relaxing in the water.
9. Take a walk past the spillway to play in the rapids: My 5 year old really enjoyed this area. We played in the low water rapids and then floated/walked down to a pool that was about waist deep. Because he was able to walk around in the water and play while touching, he felt more comfortable here. We threw the ball around and sat in the sun with the cool water rushing over us. Make sure you check this area out.
10. Get up early to Hike one morning: I am so thankful that my husband & I got up early on the last day we were there to hike up Baldy – the tallest bluff that overlooks the park. Since we were there in July, we got up early for the half-hour hike and I’m glad we did. If you hike up to right side of the bluff, it’s a pretty steep climb, but so worth it. The view from several vistas and the top are breathtaking. It reminds you just how gorgeous Texas is!
This was our view from the first vista:
And this was our view from the top:
Our family really enjoyed our time at the Frio River. We put away the electronics, our phones, our cameras, and spent quality time together. We laughed and talked and did some family bonding. Every Texan needs to spend atleast one day floating in the Frio, relaxing and appreciating this little “Slice of Texas Heaven”.
While on our #darlingroadtrip, we camped in a 2013 Jayco Redhawk Class C RV. Woody RV Rentals in Georgetown, Texas provided us with our home on wheels. They specialize in renting RVs of every size to help you have a memorable RV vacation.
We also camped at the Parkview Riverside RV Park, which we loved. Find out more about this great park here.
Find out more about Woody RV Rentals and some tips for camping in an RV here.