Garner State Park: The Complete Guide

Beautiful Bright Orange Fall Foliage on Cypress Trees Surrounding the Clear Frio River, Texas.
Richard McMillin / Getty Images
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Garner State Park

Address
234 RR 1050, Concan, TX 78838, USA
Phone +1 830-232-6132

Garner State Park offers the quintessential Texas summer experience: floating, two-stepping, rope-swinging, grilling, and swimming. The park is one of the most visited in the state attracting generations of Texans for decades to camp out and enjoy the icy Frio River. The park's natural beauty is remarkable, from the lush hills and sun-bleached limestone cliffs to the crystal-clear waters of the Frio, thronged by lofty cypress trees.

Things to Do

With the Frio River winding through idyllic, rolling Hill Country terrain, Garner State Park is easily one of the prettiest parks in Texas, with lots to see and do including a 2.9-mile stretch of the Frio River and idyllic Hill Country Terrain. Aside from simply cooling off in the river, tubing and kayaking are popular summertime activities. When it's cooler out, you’ll see more people hiking, birdwatching, and biking.

If you can, try to visit for the iconic Summer Dance, which has been a tradition at Garner since the 1940s. On balmy summer evenings, seemingly the whole campground gathers at the park’s concession building to dance to jukebox tunes. In addition, families with children will appreciate the kid-friendly infrastructure here, like playgrounds, paddle boats, mini-golf, and ice cream shop.   

Water Sports

The mighty Frio is king at Garner, and floating the river is definitely a Texan bucket-list item. During the summer months, the park concession rents tubes and runs shuttles up to the FM 1050 bridge. On that note, you can also rent paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards, and kayaks from concession, or bring your own.   

Best Hikes and Trails

Although most people come to Garner to be on the river in some capacity, there are several miles of trails and points of interest in the park. Check out a trails map before you go, and consider doing one of the following hikes:

  • Old Baldy: A challenging but short hike to the top of Old Baldy offers excellent views of the park and surrounding countryside. 
  • Blinn River Trail: More of a leisurely stroll than a hike, this 0.5-mile trail takes you along the banks of the Frio. 
  • Crystal Cave Trail: Challenging in some places, this 0.6-mile hike leads to a 30-foot-deep cave.
  • Ashe Juniper Trail: This 2.5-mile trail provides stunning vistas of the backside of Old Baldy. 
  • Frio Canyon Trail: A little under 3 miles on relatively flat ground, this lovely trail is both hiking- and biking-accessible.  

Where to Stay

Overnight visitors can stay in cabins, screened shelters, or campsites. Large groups can rent the screened shelter or group campsite. Note that Garner is divided into two sections: Old Garner and New Garner (both of which are along the Frio). Old Garner is the Pecan Grove and Oakmont areas, which are considered to be the most sought-after because there are concessions (open seasonally) and recreational activities like a grocery store, paddle boats, mini-golf, and more here. New Garner includes the Live Oak, Cypress Springs, Rio Frio, Shady Meadows, River Crossing, and Persimmon Hills areas, which are all more secluded from the concessions/activity area.     

  • Camping: In Old Garner, Oakmont has water and electricity; Pecan Grove has water. In New Garner, Persimmon Hill and Rio Frio are water-only, while Live Oak, River Crossing, and Shady Meadows have water and electricity. There are also full RV hookup sites in Shady Meadows. 
  • Cabins/Screened Shelters: There are 13 cabins with fireplaces and four cabins without a fireplace. These book up much more quickly than campsites and there a minimum of a two-night reservation is required on all cabins. 
  • Group Camping: If you have a large group, you can opt to stay at the Group Camp (Cypress Springs), a dining hall with five bunkhouse shelters, or at the Group Hall, which is in the Shady Meadows Camping Area. The former can host 40 people per site and the latter can host 64.  

How to Get There

The park is located in Uvalde County, about 30 miles north of the town of Uvalde. For the most scenic route from Austin, get on TX-1 Loop S and then merge onto US-290 W. From here, you’ll take Hwy 16, I-10 W, TX-41 W and US-83 S to FM 1050 in Uvalde. Total drive time from Austin is roughly three hours, without stops—although if you take this route, there are several stops worth checking out, from the shops in Fredericksburg to the many Hill Country wineries along the way.

Tips for Visiting 

  • Reservations are highly recommended for camping, cabins, and day use, as the park often reaches capacity. Book as early as possible, and reserve your passes online to guarantee entrance. 
  • Entrance fees at Garner State Park are $8 daily for people 13 years and older, and kids 12 years and under get in free.
  • If you’re just planning to visit for the day, take note: When the park reaches its maximum capacity, it will close to day-use visitors; closures are very common on holidays and Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Arrive early (before 10 a.m.) and have alternate plans in case the park is full. 
  • Time your visit with the Summer Dances, which are held nightly throughout the summer from Memorial weekend through mid-August. 
  • If you plan to visit multiple Texas state parks in one year, you may want to consider getting a Texas State Parks Pass, which is good for one year and includes unlimited free entry to 89 state parks for you and your guests. 
  • Before you go, call the park for current river conditions if you plan to float or otherwise be on the river.
  • Wear water shoes if you plan on going swimming or floating.
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Garner State Park: The Complete Guide