Garner State Park Entrance Sign Texas

Where is Garner State Park

Tucked away along the Frio River, Garner State Park is located in the Hill Country region of Texas. The park is one of the most popular state parks in Texas, and consistently sees crowds of visitors descending upon it during the summer season when the weather and river are optimal. Most visitors arrive at Garner State Park to recreate upon the Frio River and camp throughout the park. However, visitors of Garner State Park also have access to hiking trails, ranger programs, and a miniature golf course. The closest settlement to the park is the unincorporated community of Concan. Garner State Park resides 93 miles west of San Antonio and 169 miles southwest of Austin. 

How Large is Garner State Park

Garner State Park covers over 1,400 acres. The park is mostly covered by the Frio River, east Texas woods, and hill country. The park is home to two notable tree species; the bald cypress and Texas madrone. Groves of bald cypress, which can grow up to 120 feet and live for up to 600 years, line the Frio River. The few individual Texas madrones found in Garner State Park are spread throughout its acres. In the summer months, the Garner US State Park campground gets as much of a workout as does the Frio River. The park’s several campgrounds possess a total of 377 campsites. Hiking trails in the park total over 16 miles, and the park provides access to about 2.9 miles of the Frio River. 

Garner State Park Weather

The weather of Garner State Park varies throughout the year. However, constant winds cool and moisten the park consistently. In summer, temperatures in the park meander between 65- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park average between 35- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest days of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August. The coldest days arrive at Garner State Park in January and February. On average, the park sees about 50 days of rain per year, and about 26 inches of precipitation per year. Snowfall in Garner State Park is very rare, but occasionally does occur in December through February.

Fall Scenery at Frio River Garner State Park Texas

When did Garner State Park Become a State Park

The land that is referred to as Garner State Park today was originally set aside during the Great Depression as a project to restore public morale and provide work to men that had been laid off. The land was acquired by the state of Texas from 1934 through 1936, and officially designated as Garner State Park in 1941. The state park was named for John Nance Garner; a former vice president of the United States and a local lawyer who operated out of Concan. In 1976, Garner State Park’s total area doubled as 790 acres were purchased and added to the park.

Things to do in Garner State Park

Garner State Park provides its visitors with an endless amount of outdoor recreation. The park’s most popular adventures are listed and outlined below: 

Floating on the Frio

The primary crowds of tourists and locals flock to Garner State Park in the summer, our State Park Visitors Guide suggests taking a float trip on the Frio which is the perfect way to escape the Texas heat. With summer temperatures ranging from 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the Frio River always is refreshing and true to its name. Bonus tip: take an extra inner tube and line it with a net or other lightweight platform that can hold a cooler full of refreshing drinks and snacks. 

Swimming & Boating  

While the Frio River is too shallow for a gas-powered boat, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards are perfectly suited to navigate its waters. Garner State Park even runs a rental service where visitors can rent kayaks, canoes, inner tubes, and other personal watercraft. Visitors not looking to rent a kayak or inner tube can still experience fun on the Frio by going for a refreshing swim.

Fishing on the Frio

Freshwater anglers visiting Garner State Park will want to make sure they bring along their rods, reels, and tackle boxes. The three main species present in the Frio River are largemouth bass, perch, and channel catfish. A valid Texas state fishing license is required for all anglers fishing within Garner State Park that are over the age of 16.

Hike The Old Baldy Summit Trail

The hike to Old Baldy Summit is short but strenuous. Views from the summit offer visitors an eagle eye perspective on the park and its surrounding area. The hike to Old Baldy Summit is .5 miles long and ascends a canyon that lies near the Frio River. The best time to hike the trail is near dusk to enjoy a rewarding sunset.

Hike to the Old Entrance Road Overlook

What was once an entrance road to Garner State Park, now provides current visitors with an exceptional hiking experience. The Civil Conservation Corps paved the old entrance road back in the 1930’s. Visitors hiking to the overlook will follow the old entrance road until they are offered a beautiful view of the Frio Canyon below.

Summer Dance

A tradition that started back in the 1940’s, the summer dance sees groups of people gather and dance away the night around the park’s concession stand on summer nights. Visitors looking to experience the tradition should arrive at the park early as the parking lot normally fills quickly during these seasonal events. 

Hit the Links

Garner State Park manages and maintains its own miniature golf course. The course is located near the banks of the Frio River and offers visitors a chance to test their skills against one another. Putters and golf balls can be rented from the park’s concession and rental stand. 

Camping in Garner State Park

Garner State Park is the most popular Texas State Park for overnight camping. In the summer season, the park’s campground fills frequently before noon. Visitors looking to camp in the park should make a reservation through the park’s website months prior to their trip. Camping reservations can also be made by phone. 

View of Cypress Trees in Garner State Park Texas

When to Visit Garner State Park

A visit to Garner State Park is best planned for the summer months. Yes, crowds in the summer can be staggeringly large. However, there is a reason everyone descends upon the park during the season. The contrast present between the Frio’s colder temperatures and the Texas sun makes a refreshing float on the river that much more desirable. Also, the crowds of people present on the river adds to the park’s charm as it appears everyone has been invited to a party by mother nature herself. The park’s hiking trails, fishing opportunities, dance nights, and miniature golf course are also best enjoyed during the summer.

Every trip outdoors requires a bit of packing and planning, and a successful trip to Garner State Park requires a specialized set of equipment. Below List of Parks details an outline of the essentials. 

Water, Snacks, & Drinks

Water, snacks and various other drinks are essential for a great float trip on the Frio River in Garner State Park. High energy snacks and extra water is recommended for visitors who are planning to embark down one or more of the park’s hiking trails. 

A Freezing Cooler 

Water, snacks, and other drinks are great, but if you don’t have a cool place to store them your trip to Garner State Park will be over pretty quickly. Visitors looking to float the Frio will especially want to bring a cooler full of ice with them to store all of their food and beverages. However, campers and hikers can also benefit from having a cooler in their camp or back in their vehicle waiting for them after a long day on the trail.

Swimsuit & Extra Clothes

Most visitors to Garner State Park will at least want to take a dip in the Frio River. Swimsuit and extra clothes are a must pack.

Hiking Boots & Water Shoes

Garner State Park is one of the only state parks in the country where water shoes may be more important than hiking boots. Bringing both is the best way to be prepared for all the park has to offer. 

Fishing Tackle  

Anglers who are visiting Garner State Park will want to bring all of their freshwater fishing gear to target the river’s fish populations. 

Camping Equipment

The best way to make sure you have all of the necessary camping equipment packed in your vehicle before leaving for the park is by utilizing and creating a camping checklist.

Fall Season Frio River at Garner State Park Texas

Where to Stay in Garner State Park

Visitors looking to camp within Garner State Park should make reservations for one of the park’s campsites or cabins online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Individuals who are looking to ditch their campsite for a night or stay in a hotel for the entire duration of their trip should search for options in San Antonio. The city is 93 miles and an hour and half drive away from the park but contains an expansive list of hotels and other lodging establishments.

Food Near Garner State Park

The closest food to Garner State Park is located in Concan. However, visitors looking for additional options or a vast culinary scene will want to visit San Antonio. The city is constantly buzzing with south Texas culture and cuisine. Garner State Park also manages a concession stand near the Frio River where visitors can grab a snack or drink to hold them over on the drive to the city. 

Views of Hiking Trails at Garner State Park Texas

Airports Near Garner State Park

The closest airport to Garner State Park is located in San Antonio, Texas. The airport is about an hour and a half drive away from the park. Other airports in Texas are located in Austin, Dallas, and Corpus Christi.

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