If packing a lot of equipment and staying overnight are not in the cards for you but you’d still like to have a Texas state park experience, give Blanco State Park a try. This 104-acre park is located on US Highway 281 in Blanco, about 50 miles west of Austin. (The address is 101 Park Road 23 but use 29 Main Street, Blanco, TX, for GPS.) The primary feature of the park is the beautiful Blanco River.
Blanco State Park opened in 1934. You can read more about the park’s history here.
The Civilian Conservation Corps helped create the infrastructure for the park during 1933-34, including this pavilion.
Before jumping in the water, we wanted to explore the Caswell Nature Trail (shown on this park map).
The trail has its own parking area and this picture shows where to enter.
There is some shade on the trail, which is under 1/2 mile long.
When you are halfway along the trail, look for this access point heading down. Your return trip is closer to the river.
Check the events calendar for trail walks with a master naturalist. We had just missed one scheduled for the previous day.
After we finished the trail, we headed toward the eastern section of the park to explore the river. Many families were enjoying picnics and activities along the riverbank.
We then walked back toward the western side of the park, which is visible when you driving along US Highway 281. This area has a dam and a “pool” (pictured below). While the water in the pool is very shallow, the water above the dam is pretty deep. Trees along the riverbank provide some shade when you swim in that area.
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Blanco State Park is easy to get to and easy to enjoy, too!
Outing Time: About 2 hours (not including driving to Blanco) but you definitely could stay longer.
Outing Distance: About a 1/2 mile
Blanco State Park is open 8 am – 10 pm for day use visitors. Office hours are 8:15 am – 4:45 pm. To pay the entry fee for day use after 4:45 pm, look for the “iron ranger” which is a red steel post that says “pay here.” It’s on your left as you drive in, on the side of the headquarters building. The admission fee is $4 per adult. Kids 12 and under are free.
There are no lifeguards on duty at Blanco State Park. Make sure to bring your children’s swimming safety gear as well as floats, inner tubes, hats and sunscreen.
Pack plenty of snacks and drinks, especially water. There are several picnic areas throughout the park so you can bring a picnic along if you’d like.
Pets are allowed must be on-leash.
Tube and canoe rentals are available at the park.