Garner State Park
Learn the proper way to two-step!
Garner State Park is Texas’s most visited park. Unlike many of the Hill Country state parks, Garner offers an incredible list of amenities, making a visit more like a theme park than a park.
George Straight helped make this area popular by singing about learning to swim in the old Frio River (All My Ex’s live in Texas). B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs wrote the Garner State Park Song in the ’60s and later performed at the park many times. Local bands still play today, but if not there is always the jukebox. Kids and teenagers say that the Garner State Park Dance is a must, which is every night during the summer season from 8 to 11pm. Offseason the dance schedule varies, but is usually held on Saturday of Easter weekend, Monday through Saturday during Spring Break and every Saturday in May. After Memorial Day the dance is every evening through the third weekend in August, then Saturdays and Sundays until Labor Day, and Saturday of Columbus Day weekend.
The park store is fully stocked, with everything from groceries and worms to swimsuits and snorkels. Miniature golf, an amphitheater, country-western dancing at the dance hall/concession, paddle boat rentals, a laundry room and concession stand are just a few in the list of activities. Rentals are seasonal and end on Labor Day, so if you’re a winter or early spring visitor remember to bring your own. As with all Texas State Parks, there is no open consumption of alcohol permitted.
The park is 1,420 acres and has 11.1 miles of hiking trails. Visitors love exploring Garner’s hiking trails and climbing “Old Baldy”. There are several scenic overlooks and a nice mountain bike trail, which isn’t too groomed. The trail goes uphill North from the river, Granny shouldn’t go but the kids can make it with a few stops along the way. There is also a paved bike trail if the rougher trail isn’t for you. The Foshee Trail is the longest and possibly most scenic trail in the park. You can also look for ice box cave. Bats can be found there from around April to August. Pets are allowed on the hiking trails (on leash), but they are not allowed in the water here. Fishing is allowed, but with all the people in the summer there’s not much around. Winter fishing is optimum!
A Little History
With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the nation faced a debilitating unemployment crisis. More than half of the young men under 25 years of age were out of work, so President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide employment opportunities. The program put young men to work developing state and national parks, as well as rehabilitating forests and controlling soil erosion. Civilian Conservation Corps Company 879 constructed the park between 1935 and 1941. June 1, 1941 marked the grand opening and dedication of Garner State Park, named after former Vice President John Nance Garner, a local son.