Touring the Texas Hill Country on Only a Single Tank of Gas

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Tony Maples Photography


Today’s average cost for a gallon of gas in the Texas Hill Country (based on statistics from is $2.39. So with that in mind, at an average mpg of 20 (based on statistics from and plenty of top-notch road trip plans to make in the area, it’s time to see where a tank of gas will take you. Doing the math, based on the statistics noted above, here are some great stops to make when touring the Texas Hill Country on a single tank of gas.

A Beautiful Start to the Texas Hill Country

Touring the Texas Hill Country on a Single Tank of Gas

Photo: Facebook/Nello Palermo

Beginning your tour of the Hill Country at San Marcos, via Ranch Rd. 12, you’ll notice a stark contrast to the otherwise rolling hills of the area, where the Balcones Fault creates a limestone escarpment. From here, go left onto FM 32 and begin traversing the Devil’s Backbone, which is the name for the ridge separating the Guadalupe and Blanco River basins. There’s a lookout area for picnicking along this route, which allows travelers to get a glimpse of the Wimberley Valley, officially welcoming you to the Hill Country.

Blanco and Johnson City

Touring the Texas Hill Country on a Single Tank of Gas

Photo: Facebook/Bill Newman

The next part of your tour takes you to the town of Blanco via Route 281. A stop at Blanco State Park is not only beautiful but can also be refreshing to those looking to cool off by its dam. Word has it that some fantastic Texas barbecue can also be found here. Then, it’s onward to Johnson City, heading north on 281, which changes to Route 290. The former hometown of President Lyndon B. Johnson is also home to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site, the Texas White House, and Pedernales Falls State Park.

Willow City Loop

Touring the Texas Hill Country on a Single Tank of Gas

Photo: Facebook/BackRoads of Texas Via Joe Davis

If you want the real-deal Texas Hill Country (minus billboards), then head north on Route 281 from Johnson City and turn left onto Farm Road 1323. This winding road travels over rolling hills and the lush Pedernales River basin. For approximately 22 miles, you’ll stay on this route until you make your way into Willow City. Picking up the Willow City Loop (an 18-mile drive that winds its way along Coal Creek), you’ll witness some of the prettiest parts of the Texas Hill Country this tank-of-gas-trip has taken you on. You’re now entering the Llano Uplift.

Enchanted Rock and Llano

Touring the Texas Hill Country on a Single Tank of Gas

Photo: Facebook/Dejan Vladic

The Willow City Loop ends at Texas Highway 16, which provides access to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – estimated to be more than one billion years old. Since receiving its state natural area designation, the park visitor count jumped considerably, making fair-weather days somewhat of a challenge for those wishing to ascend it. Depending on arrival time, you should be able to gauge the state of the parking lot to determine whether an entry is feasible. If you’re not a fan of crowds, simply carry on heading north on Texas Highway 16 to Llano. Located on the banks of its namesake river, Llano has a historic courthouse at the center of its shopping square. Known for its deer count and great barbecue (mutually exclusive), a visit to any one of its well-known institutions for such sustenance will have you completely satisfied!

The End of the Tank-of-Gas-Tour!

Touring the Texas Hill Country on a Single Tank of Gas

Photo: Facebook/Patty Vredevelt

From Llano, drive back down Texas Highway 71, which will take you through Horseshoe Bay, Spicewood, then Bee Cave and onward to Austin. On this route, you can visit vineyards, roadhouses, and the Bee Cave Sculpture Park (paying tribute to local artists and the history of the town.) With that, drive on to Austin and the end of touring the Texas Hill Country on a tank of gas! Hope you enjoy this trip!