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Garner State Park Guide — Summer Dance, Camping, and More

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

Countries Visited: 44U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Garner State Park in Uvalde County, Texas, is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The park offers a wide range of activities such as swimming, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and bird watching. It is also home to a rich cultural and natural history, with hiking trails and caves to explore.

The park attracts around 400,000 visitors annually, making it the top-ranked state park in Texas. Its summer dances are a great way to experience the local music and culture.

How To Get to Garner State Park

Garner State Park is situated in Uvalde County along the Frio River, approximately 31 miles from Uvalde town. Nearby cities include Concan, 8 miles away, and Leakey, 9 miles away. The park spans across 1,774 acres of hill country landscape and features nearly 3 miles of the Frio River.

Opening Hours and Seasons

Garner State Park is open throughout the year and welcomes visitors daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the summer months, the park tends to get crowded quickly, so it’s best to plan your visit early to ensure you make the most of your time there.

Nearest Airports

Garner State Park can be conveniently accessed via San Antonio International Airport (SAT), the closest airport option. It takes approximately an hour and a half to reach the park from the airport.

The airport offers a wide range of nonstop flights to various destinations, such as Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and San Francisco. Major airlines like Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, and United serve this airport.

Hot Tip:

Upon arrival, you will find numerous car rental kiosks that can assist you in arranging the final leg of your journey to the park.

Driving to Garner State Park

To reach Garner State Park, take U.S. Highway 83. Once on the highway, turn east onto FM 1050. Continue on this road for 0.2 miles until you reach the park entrance, Park Road 29.

Taking the Train to Garner State Park

There is no train service to this state park.

Taking the Bus to Garner State Park

While Garner State Park is a popular tourist destination, it unfortunately does not have a direct bus service. However, you can still easily access the park by taking a bus to the nearby Greyhound station in Uvalde, which is only a short distance away.

Once you arrive at the Uvalde station, you can rent a car or take a taxi and reach the park in just 35 minutes. This route is highly recommended for those who prefer not to drive long distances and want to enjoy a relaxing trip to the park without any hassle.

Getting Around Garner State Park

To fully experience the beauty of Garner State Park, it is best to combine driving and walking. There are designated areas to park your vehicle and explore the park’s attractions on foot. This allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty, appreciate the diverse flora and fauna, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

What To See and Do in Garner State Park

Garner State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. With activities like hiking, canoeing, biking, and camping, there’s something for everyone. Take a look at some of the top activities offered at this state park. 

Geocaching

Geocaching is a popular activity at this park. Visitors can embark on a modern-day treasure hunt using smartphones to locate caches hidden in various park areas. These caches can include unique rocks, logbooks for signing your name, or small trinkets for trading with friends. It’s a fun and exciting way to explore the park by yourself, with friends, or with family.

Hiking Trails

Hiking Garner State Park
Image Credit: Chase Fountain via TPWD

Garner State Park offers a variety of hiking trails with different lengths and difficulty levels. Among the most popular trails are Old Baldy Trail, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Frio River Canyon; Foshee Trail, which gives hikers access to the backcountry; and Crystal Cave Trail, providing access to the cave. Hiking is the best way to explore and experience the park’s highlights.

Miniature Golf

The park has a mini-golf course, perfect for friends and families to have fun. It’s called Stinkin’ Sweet Candy Golf and is located within the park. You can enjoy 18 holes of mini-golf all year round. The course has been recently renovated, and now it has a candy shop that serves a variety of sweet treats, such as nostalgic and unique candies and specialty sodas.

Paddling the River

One of the most exhilarating ways to spend time at the park is paddling down the Frio River on a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak. The river’s crystal-clear waters offer a refreshing and invigorating escape from the heat and hustle of everyday life. Whether you’re an experienced paddler or a first-timer, the Frio River provides a perfect backdrop for a leisurely float or an adventurous paddle.

Luckily, renting a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak is easy and convenient, thanks to the park’s concessionaires. They offer various rental options to fit any group size or budget, and their knowledgeable staff can help you choose the perfect vessel and route for your adventure. Making your rental arrangements in advance is always a good idea to ensure availability.

Bottom Line:

For a memorable and exciting way to experience the park’s beauty and tranquility, consider paddling down the Frio River. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Summer Dances

Summer Dances
Image Credit: Chase Fountain via TPWD

Garner State Park has been hosting summer jukebox dances since the 1940s. These dances are held every summer night and are suitable for all age groups. It is an exciting way to spend time with your loved ones while enjoying the park’s beautiful surroundings. However, these events fill up quickly, and seating is limited. So, make sure to arrive early and bring your own chairs to sit on.

Swimming and Floating

The Frio River is a natural gem in the hill country of Texas, offering a unique and refreshing experience for anyone looking to spend a day in the water. Whether you’re looking to swim or float, the crystal-clear waters of the Frio will provide you with an unforgettable adventure. 

The river’s waters are cool and clear, making a perfect spot for escaping the hot Texas sun. You can spend your day swimming and relaxing on the river’s banks, soaking in the surrounding area’s natural beauty. More adventurous souls can rent inner tubes or paddleboards from concessionaires and float down the river. 

The Frio River is also renowned for its picturesque scenery and diverse wildlife. While enjoying your day on the river, you’ll have the chance to spot various wildlife, including fish, birds, and other aquatic animals. 

Visitor Center

The Garner Visitor Center is on the park’s west side, specifically in the Shady Meadows camping area. This facility was constructed in the early 1970s and is scheduled to undergo renovations soon.

The center hosts exhibits that educate visitors about the local flora and fauna, the river and geology, and the park’s history. The center also features a video display room, a nature garden, and a gift shop.

Best Times To Visit Garner State Park

It’s always important to know what times of the year are better than others for certain events or activities. However, regardless of your interests, the park is always an amazing place to visit.

Best Time To Visit Garner State Park for Fall Foliage

Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of fall foliage, so don’t miss visiting this park in October. During this time of year, the park becomes a breathtaking sight as the leaves on the trees change colors, with bursts of gold, orange, and red creating a stunning display of nature’s beauty.

It’s the perfect opportunity to capture some fantastic scenery photos and soak up the cooler weather that makes the park even more enjoyable.

Bottom Line:

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or someone who loves spending time in nature, visiting this park during the fall season is an experience you won’t forget.

Best Time To Visit Garner State Park To Avoid the Crowds

Visiting the park without crowds is a peaceful experience. Most visitors come during summer, so a fall visit is less crowded. The best time to visit with fewer crowds is October. Fewer people will be around, and the temperatures will be comfortable for hiking. Plus, the park is bursting with stunning fall colors.

Best Time To Visit Garner State Park for Ideal Weather

Garner State Park Weather
Image Credit: John Bray via Unsplash

April can be an excellent month to plan a visit to this state park. The weather during this time of the year is usually mild and comfortable, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. With daily highs reaching the low 80s and lows dipping into the low 50s, visitors can enjoy the park’s natural beauty without feeling too hot or cold.

Cheapest Time To Visit Garner State Park

Visiting the park costs the same throughout the year, regardless of when you visit. However, the most cost-effective time to make a reservation for both your stay and flight to one of the nearby cities is from mid to late September. This is because school is back in session, and summer travel is usually over by then. A September trip will help you save hundreds of dollars on travel expenses.

Annual Events at Garner State Park

This park regularly offers a range of programs, including bird walks, guided hikes, and Junior Ranger events. Additionally, several annual events take place here.

First Day Hike

An exciting and active way to ring in the new year is with the annual First Day Hike event. Lace up your hiking boots and prepare for a fun-filled 2-mile hike through the park and Crystal Cave while enjoying some of the most breathtaking views.

This is an excellent opportunity to get some fresh air, exercise, and start the new year off on the right foot. Don’t miss out on the chance to explore the park’s beauty and make some unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

First Day Swim (Frio Float and Freeze)

The First Day Swim, also referred to as the Frio Float and Freeze, is a thrilling way to start the new year. Guests gather at the boathouse, equipped with their floats and swimsuits, to take the first dip of the year in the Frio River. The event concludes with an ice cream float, making for a perfect finish to a refreshing experience.

Where To Stay at Garner State Park

Numerous lodging options are available both within and near Garner State Park. No matter what kind of traveler you are, whether you prefer camping or luxury resorts, you will find a perfect fit. Take a look at the variety of accommodations offered within and near this beautiful state park.

Inside the Park

For trips to the park where you want to stay within the park boundaries, you have 3 main options: cabins, screened shelters, or camping. Regardless of your choice, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable stay within the park’s beautiful surroundings.

Cabins

Garner State Park Cabin
Image Credit: TPWD

Within the park’s boundaries, there are almost 20 cabins available for visitors who prefer a roof over their heads. These cabins can accommodate up to 6 people and are available with or without a fireplace.

A variety of amenities are provided, including a full bathroom, a kitchen for preparing meals, and central heating and air conditioning. They are located in the Old Garner region.

Hot Tip:

Visitors are required to bring their own cooking utensils, dishes, and linens. A minimum stay of 2 nights is mandatory for guests.

Camping

Garner State Park offers many camping options, with hundreds of campsites available. These campsites are located throughout the park and available in full hookup and primitive styles. The different camping areas include Shady Meadows, Oakmont, along the Rio Frio, Pecan Grove, and Persimmon Hill.

Prices for the campsites range from $15 to $35 per night. The amenities provided at each campsite include outdoor grills, fire rings, picnic tables, and access to nearby restaurants.

Screened Shelters

Visitors looking for a comfortable camping option between tent camping and staying in a cabin can choose from nearly 40 screened shelters in this state park. These shelters have electricity, fire rings with grills, indoor picnic shelters, and water access.

Each shelter can accommodate up to 8 visitors and is located in the River Crossing or Pecan Grove Camping areas.

Towns Near Garner State Park

If you plan to stay outside Garner State Park, you can choose from many town options just a short drive away. Each town has something unique to offer that will appeal to every visitor.

Concan, Texas

Concan is just 12 miles away from the park. This city offers numerous lodging, dining, and recreation options for a quiet and comfortable stay. 

Visitors to Concan can choose from several river resorts and lodges, RV parks, and private vacation rentals for their stay. The restaurants in this city are located in the resorts and lodges, serving a variety of options ranging from burgers and fries to home-cooked meals.

Concan is the perfect location for recreational activities, with numerous parks to explore, wildlife to watch, and golf courses. 

Uvalde, Texas

Uvalde is an ideal locale to pick. It’s only a 35-minute drive from the park and offers more lodging, dining, and recreation options than some smaller cities nearby. 

You can choose from contemporary chain hotels, charming bed and breakfasts, lodges, or RV parks. There are numerous restaurants to satisfy your cravings, including cafes, barbecue joints, and steakhouses.

Bottom Line:

Uvalde has a lot to offer, with activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, and shopping. Those interested in culture can also explore the city’s museums, opera houses, and art galleries.

Where To Eat at Garner State Park

Although there are no restaurants within this park, several dining options are available nearby. Whether you’re in the mood for a fancy sit-down dinner or a quick bite on the go, you can find the perfect solution just a short drive away.

Bent Rim Grill

Bent Rim Grill is the highest-rated restaurant in Leakey, Texas, located just 12 miles away from the park. This restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, including favorites such as pancakes, biscuits and gravy, tacos, and burgers.

This is an excellent place to refuel after your adventures at Garner State Park.

Neal’s Dining Room Concan

When visiting the park, stop by Neal’s Dining Room Concan, just a 13-minute drive away. This restaurant is open daily and serves delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. 

The menu includes breakfast specialties, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and freshly made salads. Customers highly recommend the fried catfish, chicken fried steak, and juicy burgers. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you’ll enjoy dining at this restaurant. 

Garner State Park Facts

Garner State Park
Image Credit: John Bray via Unsplash

1. A Newly Established Park

Establishing this park began in 1935 and was completed and dedicated in 1941.

2. Original People of the Park

The Comanche and Lipan Apache Native American tribes were the original inhabitants of this region of Texas. They chose to settle here due to the hills surrounding the area, the abundance of animals, and the river.

3. Civilian Conservation Corps

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park. As part of the program, young men lived in camps on-site and were paid a dollar a day to establish the park. This initiative helped many families survive the difficult times.

4. Several Entrances

The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the park’s original entrance in 1941. In 1968, a new entrance was opened, which had previously been an exit road but was later converted into an entryway. Additionally, another entrance was opened in 1997 off of Texas Ranch Road.

5. A Growing Park

The original park, which was opened in 1941, spanned 620 acres. Over time, the park expanded with the acquisition of new land, now covering 1,700 acres.

Final Thoughts

Garner State Park is a top-rated destination in Texas with something for everyone. From hiking, camping, and kayaking to cave exploration, it offers a variety of activities. No wonder it attracts 400,000 visitors annually. Plan your trip today and experience the best of Texas state parks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Garner State Park?

The admission fee for Garner State Park is $9 for visitors who are 12 years old or older.

How much time does it take to visit Garner State Park?

Garner State Park offers an abundance of activities and sights, making it ideal to visit for 2 to 4 days.

Are there any nearby attractions I should see during my visit to Garner State Park?

While you’re here, make sure to visit a few nearby attractions, such as the Brisco-Garner Museum, Devil’s Sinkhole, and Kickapoo Cavern State Park.

What is the busiest time of year at Garner State Park?

This state park’s busiest time is from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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