Destination – Texas State Parks – Part II

Destination – Texas State Parks – Part II

South Llano River State Park – Visited November 20th.

We were going to get kicked out of Pedernales Falls as they were already booked for the weekend.  Somehow we were able to book the Thursday and Friday night before Thanksgiving week at South Llano River State Park, but then we had to leave as it was full until after Thanksgiving weekend. 

Turns out this park is a winter turkey roost.  The Park blocked off the roosting area and the Rangers kick everyone out of the roost between 3:00 PM to 10:00 AM so that the critical roosting area is not disturbed which might cause the turkeys to abandon the area.  We did see a few dozen turkeys heading into the roost at sunset.  How do they know!!!  

We hit this park pretty hard during our short two-day visit.  We completed a long hike that covered most of the park, taking in low land canyons to high desert overlooks. 

Fawn Trail Overlooking the turkey roost – South Llano State Park

We hung out in a couple of bird blinds and roamed through the turkey roost.  This is a nice quiet park in a great setting.  Plenty of trails for hiking and mountain biking and the river looked great for kayaking and fishing.  I hope to be able to come back and explore the park more.

Seminole Canyon State Park – Visited November 22nd

Next up, Seminole Canyon State Park.  This State Park is at the east end of the Big Bend Country area of Texas.  The park sits along the Seminole Canyon and the Rio Grande/Amistad Reservoir. 

If you are set up to do a little boondocking, this park has several awesome “primitive” sites for RV’s.  If you have solar then these would be perfect.  There are plenty of biking, hiking and nature activities within a short walk from the camp site to keep you busy for several days.  At only $8 a night, including access to fresh water and waste tank dumping, these sites are perfect for cheap extended stays. 

Our $8 sunrise – Seminole Canyon State Park

We were greeted every morning to this most welcome sunrise.  A nice cold front had come through the day before.  This was our first night with below freezing temperatures since we started our journey and the sun helped to quickly warm things up.

One of the must do hikes is the Canyon Rim Trail.  The trail as you can guess follows the Seminole Canyon rim down to the Rio Grande.  Bring plenty of water and some snacks as you need to complete the entire seven mile hike to get the full experience. 

This particular area of the Rio Grande contains sheer cliffs along the shore making you wonder why Trump would even need to build a wall!

Canyon Rim Trail – Seminole Canyon State Park
Canyon Rim Trail – Seminole Canyon State Park
Canyon Rim Trail – Seminole Canyon State Park

Also included in the park is a pictograph site contained in a rock shelter just below the visitor center. 

Ancient Pictograph Site – Seminole Canyon State Park

This is a guided tour only.  The hike is only about 2 miles round trip.  It is pretty cool to see ancient graffiti that is now protected for historical significance.

Ancient Pictograph Site – Seminole Canyon State Park

Davis Mountain State Park – Visited December 1st

From Seminole Canyon we would begin a week-long journey to visit Big Bend National Park. 

Lonely Camp Site – Davis Mountain State Park

After Big Bend we decided to take in Davis Mountain State Park on the way out heading towards Tucson.  Davis Mountain State Park sits at about 5000 feet altitude and I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to visit this area in December,  the snow was coming and our trailer is only set up as a three season at best.  The plus side, we had the campground pretty much to ourselves.

It’s a beautiful park, but unfortunately, the only nice day of our visit was the day we arrived.  We had enough time to set up and drive up to the top of the mountain to take in the views.  After that, the weather came in.  We had to deal with cold rain and some snow that would also put a damper on our Star Party at Mcdonald Observatory.  We did get out of the mountains before the heavier snow hit. 

We had broken our main house electrical connector the first day in Big Bend and since Davis Mountain State Park is still in the middle of no where, we have not been able to locate repair parts.  It was a bad time to be without a solid power source.  Luckily, I kept my old trusty K-mart car battery charger from my college days and was able to keep the batteries somewhat charged.  With the below freezing temperatures the furnace load quickly depletes our house batteries.  It was a good test to see if we could adapt to issues.

The Davis Mountain State Park would be our last state park visit in Texas.  Despite the bad weather, we had a great time.  We decided to give their coffee and birding program a try.  We were way out of our element, but we were glad we decided to participate. 

Me with fellow Michiganders Andrew and Ranger Tara.

Not only did it get us out of the trailer, but we met some great people. We got to meet the awesome Park Interpretive Ranger, Tara, who led this event and a birding hike we did the following day.  We learned a lot about the local birds and birding in general, plus we learned quite a bit about the area.  Turns out Tara is also a fellow Michigander.  Not surprisingly, the only people who showed up for the cold, rainy bird hike were from Michigan….Michigan Tough!!!

 

The park has an awesome lodge that was built back in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) days.  Saturday nights are movie nights at the lodge.  We took full advantage of it to get into a nice warm place for a few hours!

Indian Lodge – Courtesy of Davis Mountain State Park

The conditions were not optimal to visit the area.  We were really looking forward to the star party at the observatory.  As I mentioned, the Big Bend Country is in the middle of nowhere.  Light pollution from cities is non-existent.  The night skies have been incredible since we left Austin.  It would have been amazing to catch a clear day for the star party.

Our departure from Davis Mountain State Park completed a month-long journey through Texas.  We’ve met some wonderful people, seen some amazing places, hiked many great trails and ran into some cool wildlife.  I love Texas and I look forward to spending much more time exploring it down the road.

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