Sunday, May 18, 2014

South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas…

South Llano River State ParkSouth Llano River State ParkWe moved west from Fredericksburg over to South Llano River State Park in Junction, Tx on Wednesday and I was really looking forward to the peace and quiet this state park had to offer. After all the socializing with the family it was time for some quiet and solitude… Boy did I get what I wished for!

South Llano River State Park is a beautiful state park along the South Llano River.  It is located about 5 miles south of town and Interstate 10 so we figured this would be the quiet place I was looking for …  We discovered it was going to be quieter than we thought as we found we could get absolutely no Verizon internet service here and a total of zero (yes that is ZERO) over the air TV channels. Toss in an intermittent 1X Verizon cell phone Vermillion Flycatcher service and we are for the most part cut off of the electronic world that we have been accustomed to.  Looks like we will make a few visits to the McDonalds on Interstate 10 for some internet café time…especially since I need to finalize a plan for our stay during the Memorial Day weekend looming ahead.

Another challenge we found upon setting off to pick out a site in the camping loop was that a quarter of the loop was taken over with a large group tent campers predominantly kids aged 10 to 12. So much for quiet solitude..  Nevertheless we committed to spending four days here along the South Llano River to explore the western reaches of the Texas Hill Country. Despite the rowdy children we could see from the park map that there are several hike and bike trails with several bird blinds marked upon the trails.  The birding is excellent here as we saw immediately after setting up and relaxing at our shaded picnic table.

A vermillion flycatcher family was nesting in the tree on our site and in our “backyard” a water trough for the birds had been provided by the park.  I spent a couple hours entertained by the different species visiting the water trough. Later we took a short hike on a trail adjacent to the campground where we saw deer, armadillos and our first glimpse of the Llano River.  We quickly decided that despite the challenges we could enjoy experiencing the wildlife, birding and the trails by day and the movies and books we have collected as our nightly entertainment.

Vanderpool to Leakey road     Vanderpool to Leakey road

The next day I decided to take Sharon into a part of the Texas Hill Country she had never been. It would take most of the day since my plan was about a 150 loop taking in the towns of Leakey and Vanderpool along with a short hike in Lost Maples State Park. It is always surprising to visit this part of the Hill Country because of the elevational changes as the road between Leakey and Vanderpool more resembles mountainous roads found in New Mexico or parts of Colorado. Thus it is very popular with motorcycle enthusiasts on the weekends but as one sign attested it is not a completely safe road to travel via bike….

Scimitar-horned oryx Addax

Axis DeerElk

Also in this part of Texas there are numerous wild game ranches that are have spent a lot of money on fencing to keep all the exotic wildlife contained. These ranches are set up to offer wild game hunts for those with lots of extra money. Sad as it is this is big business in this neck of the hill country. The benefit to us the casual traveler through these hills is the occasional spotting of wildlife not often seen in Texas without paying a visit to a zoo.

Lost Maples State Park     Big Toothed Maples

We spotted lots of different wildlife, enjoyed the back roads of the Texas Hill Country and thoroughly enjoyed our day driving  this 150 loop. Throw in a short hike along the enchanting trails in Lost Maples State Park and it capped off a perfect day. Two more days of this peace and quiet are ahead especially since I discovered the kids were all leaving today…


  1. The overlook walk at SLRSP is a nice comfortable walk with a good view. I also really like the Tex-Mex at LaFamilia in town.

    1. agree with both the walk and the restaurant recommendation as both were great... I am still a few days behind the blog due to lack of internet...

  2. Wonderful park. We haven't stayed there yet, though it is on the list. Even though we haven't stayed, we have hiked and bird watched. First time I saw a vermilion flycatcher was there, sitting on top of a thistle. Gorgeous birds! We also saw a flock of wild turkeys snakes swimming across the river and enjoyed sitting in bird blinds to glimpse some other avian visitors.

  3. I love your first picture. What a beautiful place, especially once the week-end warriors head for home. I always experience withdrawal whenever we are cut off from all electronics. Makes me realize how addicted I really am. Very sad about the wild game parks.

  4. Wow, that sounds like a beautiful park. We would love it there although not having internet access would probably drive Kevin a bit nuts too.

    We love the Texas Hill Country, and look forward to going back and exploring it some more.

    Enjoy your solitude!

  5. Dang we blew right past you yesterday. Love the vermillion flycatcher.

  6. I am hoping to do some camping at the Texas State Parks next winter, so I am enjoying your description of the parks. The kids took me to Lost Maples for my birthday last fall, it is a beautiful place to hike.