Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country near Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park is a natural oasis just one hour west of Austin. Nestled in Blanco County, this park features over 5,200 acres nestled alongside the beautiful Pedernales River. Another incredible Texas State Park, Pedernales boasts rushing waterfalls that cascade of gigantic slabs of limestone.
Visit the park to fish, swim, camp, learn, hike, bike, kayak, or watch for wildlife! Whether you are road tripping across the state or making the drive from Austin, Pedernales Falls State Park is a must-do on any Texas adventure.
History of Pedernales Falls State Park
The area we now know as the Pedernales Falls area has been occupied or traveled through for approximately 10,000 years. Artifacts made by the Indigenous peoples of the land date back to the Archaic and Prehistoric periods. Lipan Apaches were the primary tribe at the time of arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
In the early 19th century, relentless Comanches overtook the Apaches in the area and passionately fought against white colonization. European settlement eventually happened but not until Texas became part of the United States. By the end of the century, there were almost 650 farms and ranches in Blanco Country and the population rose to 4,644.
Fast forward 100 years of ranching, farming, droughts, land development, and deep-rooted southern families, the state of Texas obtained this historic site from private owners in 1970. Pedernales Falls State Park opened to the public in 1971.
What to Do at Pedernales Falls State Park
This central Texas state park presents endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking, camping, and water sports. No matter the age or time of year, there is something for everyone to experience.
Pedernales is configured with ample hiking trails, equestrian trails, and mountain biking trails. They all vary in length, difficulty, and terrain. From a quarter-mile to 11 miles, there is a trail for all types of adventurers.
Enjoy the scenic overlook of the Twin Falls area or undertake the almost six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail, which offers a difficult hike through the mountains and canyons with the opportunity to swim along the way. The new Juniper Ridge trail is ideal for mountain biking and features 10 miles of technical, single-track riding with plenty of challenges.
Related: The Weekend Warrior's Guide to Colorado Bend State Park
The park is full of the common Texas Hill Country wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, skunks, opossums, and raccoons. Fishing enthusiasts will find bass, catfish, sunfish, and carp in the Pedernales River.
The real wildlife treat here is the over 150 species of birds that can be found in the area. If you spend some time bird watching from the various bird blinds, you may even glimpse the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. (Springtime is ideal for this spotting.)
Pedernales provides plenty of chances for swimming and boating. Hike to Arrowhead Pool where Bee Creek spills into rock-sculpted pools. You can tube, canoe, or kayak in the Pedernales River (but only in the designated swimming area or at Trammell's Crossing Trail). Please note that there is no swimming or boating allowed in the falls area.
If you make a visit to Pedernales, staying overnight is one of the most popular activities to enjoy. With 69 standard campsites and four primitive camping sites in the camping area, campers will absolutely love spending sleeping under the stars here. The standard campsites offer electricity, fire rings, a picnic area, as well as water and 30 amp hookups. Another option is backpacking to the primitive camping sites, which are a two-mile hike into a more remote area of the park.
Important Information About the Park
Once you enter the parking lot off of Park Road, make a stop at the park headquarters to check in with the rangers. Whether you are camping or just getting a day pass, it is imperative to sign in and make sure you are prepared for your visit.
As far as entrance fees go, a day-use pass is $6 per person over the age of 13. Children 13 and under are free. Camping prices range depending on the number of nights you are staying and the type of campsite you are staying at. Make reservations online to avoid showing up to a full park. Another important thing to note is that flash floods are very common in this area and you should definitely check the website or call the park to check the water levels before heading out to Pedernales Falls State Park.
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