Blanco State Park Offers River Adventures Close to Home

Alex Reichek hops in a Jeep and travels about an hour to enjoy swimming, sun and a picnic

Story and photographs by Alex Reichek
Austin Day Trips: Blanco State Park

Alex Reichek’s blog, Chekmark Eats, is filled with recommendations on where to dine, drink and experience the best of her home Austin, New York City where she lived after UT for eight years, as well as discoveries made on her travels around the world. This summer, with COVID-19 changing up everyone’s plans, Reichek is exploring the Texas Hill Country and sharing her day-trip escapes with Tribeza readers. Be sure to visit Chekmark Eats and follow her on Instagram.

With Barton Springs and Deep Eddy Pool still closed, I’ve been on the hunt to find natural pools and rivers where I can accomplish my usual weekly swim. In the summers, I usually travel somewhere abroad, make a stop in NYC and always have friends’ weddings, so I’ve never had the down time to explore the Texas Hill Country and all of its glorious parks. My friend, New Waterloo Pastry Chef Amanda Rockman, luckily bought a Texas State Parks Pass this summer, and we have been exploring places I’ve never even heard of until now. One Friday afternoon we took off in her teal Jeep Wrangler with the wind blowing our hair vigorously on the highway (and also adding to a safer COVID-19 precaution) and drove to Blanco State Park.

Alex Reichek (right) of Chekmark Eats took the trip with her friend and New Waterloo Pastry Chef Amanda Rockman.

The lovely drive is a little over an hour from Austin, and as you pass all the trees, hills and the small town of Blanco, it brings your mind to a calm place and feels like you really are on a mini-vacation. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and immediately jumped on the one-mile, shaded Caswell Nature Trail to work up our appetite. We then laid our towels and belongings on a picnic table to reserve a space and took our innertubes that were luckily outfitted with a cooler to the river.

It’s pretty shallow along most of the way, and the river goes on for a mile with dams and waterfalls spilling over depending on the amount of water that day. Beware, it’s not like tubing on the Guadalupe or San Marcos, which are usually packed with people and flowing rapidly. It’s more like hanging in a quiet, easy-going pool that is spring-fed. This provides cool enough temperatures with beautiful trees such as Ashe Juniper, Pecan and Bald Cypress.

We ate our camp-style peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, my favorite homemade celery and date salad, cherries and then soaked up the sun near our floating turtle friends. Every other sentence was, “I think this is my favorite Texas State Park already!” We really enjoyed the water all to ourselves that Friday morning and loved the company of a few families from afar and kids jumping from the white limestone ledge into a shallow “pool” area. I asked the kids if I was too big to jump into the mini area and decided to do it anyway when they said I was! 

I’d recommend Blanco State Park (named after the white limestone) to anyone of any age, a group of friends, for a date and for a family day. You can even stay overnight in their camping area. All I know is that being in that hot Texas sun, swimming freely and enjoying almost free fun is all I ever need to make me feel like a star and that I’m doing just fine.

We made a reservation with her Parks Pass which grants free access. Be sure to make a reservation in advance either way. Without a pass, it’s $5 online for adults and free for 12 and under. Book in advance here or call 512.389.8900.

Blanco State Park is located at 101 Park Road 23 in Blanco, Texas


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