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Life’s Better Outside at Garner State Park

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Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

By Lisa Fitzsimmons

Few places in Texas can claim the title as “most visited” but Garner State Park, with its clear, spring-fed river, CCC-built cabins, and the nightly summer dances gets to claim the title of being the most visited overnight state park.   Garner State Park is located thirty-one miles north of Uvalde, Texas in the small resort community known as Concan; just off Hwy. 83 on FM 1050.  The park is nestled in the foot hills of the Texas Hill Country alongside the cold waters of the Frio River.

Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

Photo: tpwd.texas.gov

Each summer the park is filled to capacity with campers, hikers, water enthusiast and yes, even dancers; you see, the summer dance on the concrete Pavilion is a rite of passage for most Texas teens.  The historic slab has been hosting dances ever since the CCC boys cranked up an old juke box hoping the local girls would hear the tunes and come do the boogie-woogie with them after a hard days work of constructing, what would soon become, the most popular spot in the State Park system.  Each night, hundreds of moms, dads, teens and everyone in between gather at the Pavilion to line dance to traditional songs such as Rockin Robin, Whip It and crowd favorite, Puttin On The Ritz.  But it‘s not all line dancing; there is the Bunny Hop, The Whip, and the belly-rubbin Two-step that bring new romances together with country classics like Pop-a-top and one or two George Strait signature classics.

Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

Photo: havingfuninthetexassun.com

Garner State Park was built from 1936 – 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at the height of the depression and war years by young men helping to support their families.  Named after John (Cactus Jack) Nance Garner, former Vice-President to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the park opened to the public in 1941, encompassing 320 acres of prime hill country real estate.  In 1976, the park acquired 790 more acres, and again in 2009, the back side of “Old Baldy” was purchased, rounding out the size of Garner to 1774 acres of publically owned land to enjoy your favorite outdoor activity in.

Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

Photo: tpwd.texas.gov

Besides the draw of the summer dance, Garner is filled with family-packed activities you could only expect in the Texas Hill Country.  The icon park has 418 reservable sites that include 17 rustic cabins (but not too rustic, they come equipped with air conditioning these days), 37 screened shelters, 125 water- only tent sites, and 239 water/electric rv sites to meet everyone’s need.  The park also has a group day-use screen shelter for large picnics and an overnight group facility that sleeps 40 people, bunk-bed style, with an air conditioned dining hall for reunions, weddings, or corporate escapes.  Garner also has over 15 miles of hiking trails, free fishing, geo-caching opportunities, putt-putt golf, a park store, a park gift store, a visitor’s center, and the new Garner grill; a remodeled airstream food truck that boost. “Fat Free Can Take a Hike.” If the cold water of the Frio isn’t enticement enough, the park also rents floating tubes and shuttle, kayaks, paddle boats and paddle boards to lure you into the clear, refreshing waters of the Frio.

Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

Photo: tpwd.texas.gov

“Life’s better outside,” is the Texas State Park and Wildlife motto and what better place to be outside than at Garner State Park.  The park is home to native white-tail deer, raccoons, skunks, rabbits and an array of birds, including the colorful but elusive, Golden-Cheeked Warbler.  The exotic spotted Axis deer can also be found year around throughout the park, in abundance!  The park plays host to several species of Oak , Mesquite, and Cedar trees, as well as the majestic Bald Cypress that line the banks of the river.   Life is certainly better outside if all these nature activities await you and what better time to visit Garner than this summer after all the spring rains!  But remember, the Texas heat can be brutal this time of year, so be sure to hydrate and play safe.

Lifes better outside at Garner State Park

Photo: tpwd.texas.gov

More information about Garner and all other Texas State Parks, go to their website at tpwd.texas.gov.  Even if you missed out on your rite of passage at fourteen, it’s never too late to go to Garner State Park but remember, the Frio is not the lazy river; it does not go in a circle (yes, this has happened)!