Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Park Pick: Along the River

One of the state’s earliest parks, Blanco beckons with historic CCC structures.

By Kate Boysen

Visitors flock to Blanco State Park in the warm summer months to enjoy the cool, spring-fed waters, but what is there to do once the temperatures drop? The trees might be bare, the water chilly and the air crisp, but you’ll find plenty to explore beyond the banks of the Blanco during the winter months.

Blanco State Park was just the seventh state park in Texas. Meandering through the 105-acre park, the river showcases limestone terraces, majestic bald cypress trees and our state’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) history.

Fairfield Lake

Water flows over one of the park's dams.

Blanco was one of the first parks in Texas to receive a company of CCC enrollees. Company 854 built the park’s roads, two dams, bridges, campsites and other facilities in just 11 short months from 1933 to 1934. The park designers took their inspiration from the landscape. Limestone helps the structures blend in with the surrounding area and gives the impression that they might be growing from the river’s rocky banks.

The central built feature of the park is the open-air pavilion. The native stone and timbers make the building look right at home on the hillside.

The pavilion can be rented for events or reunions throughout the year. Below the pavilion is one of the CCC-built dams that creates cascading falls and summer water fun. Visitors enjoy other features throughout the park, including stone picnic tables, benches and grills.

Explore the park further and you will find two signature CCC designs unique to Blanco: the stone chair and the long table. The stone chair is a hidden gem that originally commanded expansive views over the park and river. Today, you can take a guided hike with a park ranger to discover the seat hidden by oaks, junipers and cedar elms. The long table sits on the west end of the park in a grove of pecan trees with a great view of the river and limestone terraces. The table is an impressive 70 feet long, making it the longest CCC-built stone table in Texas.

Reserve the table for your next large group event.

When the winter doldrums begin, remember an adventure awaits you at Blanco State Park. The park sits in the Texas Hill Country, only an hour’s drive from San Antonio and Austin. Join a park ranger on a hike or explore the CCC-built structures on your own. For more information, call (830) 833-4333 or go to tpwd.texas.gov/blanco.

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