For a great RV getaway, try Blanco State Park. It’s not quite the heart of the Texas Hill Country, but it’s definitely the lungs or the kidney. The RV camping is good, and it’s only a short drive from big hubs like Austin and San Antonio.
Early on, Native Americans and Europeans alike gathered here at the spring-fed Blanco River, as it was one of the few constant water sources in the area. In 1933, area ranchers donated a little over 100 acres to the state, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) arrived a few months later. In fact, Blanco State Park was one of the first of many CCC parks in Texas. Workers from Company 854 labored for almost a year to build its bridges, roads, picnic areas, dams, and other facilities.
The main attraction of the park is its majestic waterways and waterfalls that cascade down like magic over rocky terrain. These waters are the perfect spot for aquatic recreation like boating, swimming, and fishing. Central Texas rivers are prone to flash floods, and you can even see the scars from a large flash flood that occurred in 2015.
While the park is small, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. Today’s visitors can take part in a wide range of water activities along with hiking trails and some breathtaking scenic overlooks. The summer is typically in the 80s or 90s, while the winters are mild, usually in the 40s. Pleasant weather year-round makes Blanco State Park a perfect spot for an RV vacation any time of the year.
Blanco State Park is located near both San Antonio and Austin, making it a prime spot to park the campervan for an afternoon or weekend. The park entrance is just off of Highway 281, making it easy to reach even for those with big rigs. The city of Blanco is located just north of the park and is a great place to stock up on supplies and gas up the Class A before heading into the park.
While the park is small, there are a few local roads that make it easy to navigate to where you need to go from the campground to the picnic areas. These roads offer scenic views of the Blanco River since it flows right through the park.
For a small park, Blanco State Park has plenty of RV parking. There are two nice-size lots on the west side of the park near the major picnic areas. The same is true of the three picnic areas on the east side of Highway 281. Additional parking is also available near the RV campsites.
The Blanco State Park Campground offers 42 sites that can accommodate tents and RVs. The facilities at each site vary, with some offering full hookups and others offering electric and water hookups only. Every site is pet-friendly, but maximum site lengths vary greatly -- with one site accommodating rigs up to 120 feet. You can cook up some delicious food at your campsite's grill or fire pit and enjoy a meal on the picnic table. The campground is close to showers, restrooms, and a dump station.
If you are bringing the kids on your RV trip, they will love being so close to the playground. You can choose a shady spot under the trees or an open spot under the sun, and some sites offer front row seats to stunning views of the Blanco River. Some sites offer a shade shelter for extra comfort. An insider tip is to pick a spot away from the highway so you won't be bothered by the traffic noise. The campground is open year-round, and reservations can be made up to five months in advance.
Blanco State Park is close enough to Austin and San Antonio that it's easy to find a private campground if you prefer. You can choose a private campground or RV park with the amenities you are looking for from cable television to swimming pools. The benefit of choosing a private accommodation is that you can find the right atmosphere you are looking for, from a rustic to a more luxurious experience.
There are also a number of other state parks nearby for those that prefer camping in a more natural setting. Pedernales Falls State Park and Guadalupe River State Park are around 40 minutes from Blanco State Park, both of which offer dozens of water and electric hookups for RVers. Those looking for full hookups should head south to Guadalupe River State Park, as Pedernales Falls only offers water and electric sites.
This is Texas, and it’s basically a violation of the state constitution to only offer one kind of picnicking experience. So, here at Blanco State Park, there are several:
Charcoal grills are usually available at these picnic areas as well.
While powered boats are not allowed in Blanco State Park, canoes and kayaks are definitely okay. You'll love coasting along the water overlooking the scenic bluffs and falls. Single and double kayaks are available for rent at the park store if you didn't tow your own behind the Sprinter. The best boating area is between the east side dam and the eastern edge of the park. It’s a little quieter and more scenic there. Children under 13 must wear life preservers, and so should everyone else.
After you park the travel trailer and set up camp, stretch your legs on one Blanco State Park's trails. The Pumphouse Trail begins near one of the picnic areas and ends at a beautiful scenic overlook. It’s rated easy, which basically means it’s an unpaved sidewalk, and most of the trail is ADA-compliant. The trail runs along a beautiful bluff overlooking the Blanco River, offering a chance to see lots of birds and other wildlife.
The Blanco is a spring-fed river, so water levels and temperatures are pretty consistent all year long. Most of the river is fairly shallow, so it’s an excellent place to swim for the whole family. There is never a lifeguard on duty so pay close attention to the signs. If you're looking for something a little more adventurous you can go tubing. You can bring your own tube along in the teardrop, or rent one at the park store.
Since rangers stock this area in the winter, there are ample opportunities to fish for trout at Blanco State Park. Sunfish are usually biting as well, and there’s no limit as to size or number of fish. Other species you can catch include largemouth bass, catfish, and white bass. You do not need a license to fish from shore in a Texas state park; in fact, you don’t even need to bring your own gear along in the Airstream. Rods, reels, tackle, and other loaners are available at the park store. Shore fishing is allowed everywhere except for the low water crossing. Also, anglers must always yield the right-of-way to swimmers.
Throughout the year, Blanco State Park offers regularly scheduled ranger programs. You can do it all -- from taking a kayaking class or going on a guided hike to fishing with a ranger and going bird watching. Attending one of these programs is a great chance to talk to a ranger and learn about the natural history of the park, and its also a great way to get the young ones out of the motorhome and interested in nature.
The Blanco State Park gift shop is adjacent to the park headquarters on the north side of the river. The store has a wide range of items, most of which are uniquely Texan. You'll find plenty of souvenirs to remember your RV vacation for years to come, and you can also rent tubes, canoes, and other watercraft at the store. When you’re finished shopping, drift over to the park headquarters for a quick look at how things work behind the scenes.
Grab your GPS-enabled device, a pencil, a bit of geocache swag, your sense of adventure, and then go hunt for buried treasure. There are treasure spots scattered throughout the park, but you'll have the best luck near the river and along the trails. Find the hidden treasure box, remove the prize, give yourself a virtual smiley face, sign the logbook, replace the prize, and keep hunting. This is an interactive and thrilling way to get out of the motorhome and explore the park.
An RV vacation to Blanco State Park wouldn't be complete without seeing the gorgeous waterfall of the Blanco River. The falls are located almost in the center of the park, which makes sense because the waterfall is the park’s most popular spot. Surprisingly, it never gets terribly crowded, even on holiday weekends. The waterfall is more like very large stair steps with water cascading over them, so it’s a very tranquil place where you can relax and take in the views.
This one-mile easy loop trail is on the other side of the Blanco River from the Pumphouse Trail. Hikers get a very nice view of the main CCC park dam, which is one of the most under-viewed attractions at the park. Be prepared to stay awhile, because the dam forms a very nice swimming pool. So if want to stretch your legs and get out of the camper, the Caswell Nature Trail is a great spot to do so.