Feb 19, 2022 - Things to Do

Weekend getaway: Cracking pecans in Colorado Bend State Park

Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park. Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park. Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Gorgeous limestone ranchland in the heart of Texas' pecan country, cut through by a lazy turn in the river, is the backdrop to your trip to Colorado Bend State Park, a nearly two-hour drive northwest of Austin.

What to expect: Pack the dog, the camera, the fishing rod, the bathing suit, the trail sneakers and the kids — it's time to enjoy a waterfall adventure at one of Central Texas' prettiest state parks.

Where to stay:

Plan to book a spot at the park, where riverside campsites can be yours for $10-$35 a night, depending on whether you want to be near potable water and toilets.

  • Apart from very basic cabins in Bend, just outside the state park, Lampasas is the nearest big town on the way to Austin — about a 35-minute drive from the park and a little over an hour to Austin.
  • Try booking a cottage at Tyson's Corners Retreat, where you can hang out on the front porch rocking chair while watching horses from an equine therapy gambol.
  • In San Saba, 20 miles northwest of the park, bed down at the Dofflemeyer Hotel, which sports six stylish rooms in a converted 1913 bank building.
What to do:

With 6 miles of Colorado River frontage, you can cast a line, dunk into the water or enjoy a slow kayak trip.

🏊🏽 Go for a dip in Spicewood Springs, a cascading series of crystal-clear swimming holes accessible by a short, flat trail — we once spotted an armadillo here!

🛶 Take a boat for a spin — the state park rents out single kayaks for $10 per hour and doubles for $15.

🌻 Snap a picture of your kid/dog amid the bluebonnets and other wild flowers.

🔦 Head underground on a rainy day — the state park has hundreds of caves, though guided tours have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.

What to eat:

The most common move here is to grab your camper stove and stock up with provisions in Lampasas — or fill your cooler before you leave Austin.

  • Fill up with the half-pound Around the Bend Burger — served with grilled jalapeño and onions, bacon and Swiss cheese — at the Bend General Store.
  • Make a morning run to San Saba, to gobble down the migas, steel-cut oats or a fresh cinnamon roll at Oliver and Co.

Reach in the cooler at the very small store at park headquarters for an ice cream bar.

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