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“Our FAVORITE camping destination” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Garner State Park

Garner State Park
234 RR 1050, TX 78838
(830) 232-6132
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Ranked #376 of 2,000 Attractions in Texas
Type: Parks, Outdoors
Attraction details
Austin, Texas, United States
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Our FAVORITE camping destination”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013

An awesome place to go camping! The Frio River (meaning cold) which is mostly spring fed is the main attraction at Garner. There is plenty of swimming, rope swings and when Texas is not in a drought there is tubing. They have putt putt golf, nightly dances under the oak trees, hiking, paddle boats, kayaks and new to the park is paddle boarding. The water levels vary; you can usually find a place on the river that works for all members of the family. There are some beach like areas for smaller children and deeper areas with rope swings for the older kids. This is a river so there are drop offs and if your child cannot swim I would recommend sometime of floating device, a pool noodle, floaties or a life jacket. That's all the good stuff, the bad part about this park is it is no longer a secret and is very crowded during the summer months to the point they close the park when it reaches capacity. You must make reservations a year in advance for the summer months and it is not easy to get one, in fact it has become too hard to land a reservation in the summer. However if you can go on a moment's notice you can probably get in when someone cancels. There are two parts of the park New Garner and Old Garner, Old Garner is the more favorable of the two, but getting a reservation again is very difficult. If you can bypass the summer altogether that is your best bet, if not be prepared spend a lot of time online fighting for a reservation. The park has water sites, electric and water, and some of the new sites have electric, water and sewer. All sites have a fire ring/BBQ pit and a picnic table, bring a table cloth. Some tables are 6' while others are 8'. There are also cabins and screen shelters. There is a store and a grill in the park for those items you forgot or run out of, but it's expensive (store not grill). Garner is an hour from any large town, so go to the grocery store before coming or you will be paying out the nose for the items you forgot. There is a small grocery store in Leaky which is about 10 miles from the park, but again it's expensive. The thing you MUST, MUST not forget is water shoes, I would bring 2 pair for each family member as the river is solid rock and I don't mean one or two rocks, it's more like millions. Walking in the water without shoes is pure torture. The other thing you should prepare yourself for is the wait to check in; again in the summer it is super busy. If you come during peak times you will wait more than 3 hours to check in EVEN though you have an online reservation. My advice to you come early or late to check in, when I say early like 6-7am and camp out in the parking lot. They open the office at 8am and at this time you can pull a number, then you have to wait until they call your number. This will still take you 30 mins to an hour. The other option is to come late in the afternoon; they stay open until 4:30pm. In addition to your camping fee you will have to pay an entrance fee for each member of your family. Adults are $7 and kids are free under 12 years of age, if you have teens you are better off buying a park pass, you can get them online or you can buy one when you get to the park, they are $70 and if you’re staying more than a few days it will pay for itself as you get one and half nights (camping fees) free, plus free admission to the park for everyone in your vehicle. The pass is good at all Texas State parks for one year. We stayed a week in a 30ft RV, they do have dump stations. If you have kids, have them bring their bikes, lots of park roads to ride them on and the scenery and wildlife are beautiful. There is lots of shade in the park, as with any park some sites have shade while others don't, so bring a canopy just in case. The drought is sadly taking a toll on the hundred year old oak trees. With the masses of people this park draws please clean up after yourself; bring bags down to the water with you to dispose of your trash. The rangers work very hard to keep the park clean, but it is very difficult with this many people. I find myself pick up trash while swimming. Here is some advice for the bathrooms/showers, bring either water shoes or flip flops to wear in the shower as the floors are gross sometimes. If you are a woman I would bring a shower caddy to have a place to put your shampoo, soap, face wash etc...If you are a man you can probably survive without one. Most of the time the water in showers is luke warm, rarely hot.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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100 reviews from our community

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English first
The Woodlands Texas
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Awesome Hiking”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

Great hiking here at Garner. One that was especially good was hiking up Old Baldy to the "Ice Box" cave. River very low so hiking was a good alternative. They do have a couple of rope swings in some deeper areas of the river and kids love that. Didn't stay at the cabins, but went inside a couple of them. Very nice and the ranger said they have all been redone and that everything is new.

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“A gazillion rope swings!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013 via mobile

This park is beautiful with plenty to do. There's rope swings in a nice swimming area, hiking, crystal cave.
They don't charge for kids at the entrance. We hung out there for 2 days swimming, paddle boarding and rope swinging because the rest of the river was too low to float.

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pearland, Texas
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Family Tradition for years”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2013

This park located about 90 miles west of San Antonio has been a family tradition for years, making the trip atleast once a year since 1994. Our family loves this area and this park. "Busy in the summer" is selling it short. It packs the people in to the point where they actually have to deny entry to day-use people. Making reservations during the summer months requires 11 months in advance to get a campsite with water and electicity. The area is simply stunning, and the river never fails to cool you off. You may not have enough water for a tubing float trip but you can always find a cool spot to just sit and cool off. This is due to the draught Texas is going through for the last few years. The dances every night in the Pavillion in the summer are always crowded with young and old alike. This year we attended with a group of friends as large as 22 people for 7 nights. Awesome times and lasting memories were made. Our group had been as large as 38 people just a few years ago, but conflicting schedules and reservations later in the year than normal held us up this year. The park also has several miles of gtreat hiking trails. Everyone should climb Mt. Baldy atleast once when attending, to see the sunrise. I have came to this park for over 40 years, only missing 4 years when i was in my teens, and have made the last 19 in a row. There will be a year 20, and well beyond. "I'll be back again next year! " just like the song says.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
93 reviews 93 reviews
30 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
“Hot time on the scenic Frio River - bring your boots!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

The scenery is great and the evening dance is fun.
We had a great time hiking through the beautiful landscape as well as floating on tubes down the Frio River.
The beautiful native limestone and cypress dance pavilion is the oldest CCC (the Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps) constructed dance pavillion in a state park still used for dancing. The dance floor is packed by 9 p.m. so we arrived with our four year old around 8 p.m.
The cafe and gift shop stay open late. The Country and Western music was great with a mixture of classics and current C&W music.
The swimming area on the Frio River is large and fun.
The RV sites are large, but stay away from the stinky and busy bathrooms.
The campground is a little loud for tent camping since the park rangers don't do a good job enforcing the quiet hours. Thank goodness we were in an RV, but the little girl next to us camping in a tent said she and her mother couldn't sleep because of the noise.
The Visitor Center run by the Friends of Garner State Park was very nice with some great nature activities for children going on hikes.
Another deficiency is that Texas state parks don't allow you to reserve specific sites unlike Army Corps of Engineers parks and others.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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