Garner State Park
|Garner State Park|
|Location||Uvalde County, Texas|
|Area||1,420 acres (5.7 km2)|
|Governing body||Texas Parks and Wildlife Department|
Garner State Park is a state park in the community of Concan, Texas located in Uvalde County, Texas in the United States. Garner State Park, in the Texas Hill Country, is the most popular state park in Texas for overnight camping. It often fills by noon in peak parts of the season. The park is popular with campers and local residents for its activities on the Frio River and the dances held nightly during the spring and summer.
In the beginning of the 1930s, the park was originally made to save a piece of the hill country for the public and to give men, suffering from the depression, work. The land for Garner State Park was acquired in 1934 through 1936. In 1934, the Texas State Parks Board approved the location for a future state park, and the Texas Legislature provided funding for state parks. The Civilian Conservation Corps made the park’s original improvements, which included a large pavilion and a concessions building. The property was conveyed to the State Parks Board in 1936, and it opened as Garner State Park in 1941. The park was named for John Nance Garner, former Vice-President of the United States who lived and practiced law in the Concan area. The park's size more than doubled when 790 acres (320 ha) were added in 1976.
The area came about millions of years ago in the Cretaceous age when the Edwards Plateau was formed when a section of land was lifted 2000 feet along a curving fault. It is now located on the southwestern edge of the plateau in the sub-region Balcones Canyonlands. Today, high mesas, limestone cliffs, deep canyons, and clear blue streams fill the terrain.
The area has rich vegetation due to the canyons angles from southeast to southwest as well as prevailing winds which cool and moisten the area.
The bald cypress trees line the Frio River and can grow to 120 feet and live up to 600 years. They get their name from how long their leaves are gone, since they drop in the fall and don’t bloom until late spring. The bald cypress help the Frio River by slowing down floodwater and trapping sediments and pollutants. They also provide great nesting places, food, and shelter for the wildlife at the park.
The Arbutus xalapensis, also known as the Texas madrone, is a rare tree that only grows about 20 to 30 feet. The trunk has red, inner bark and peels in thin sheets of orange and brown. White bell shaped flowers bloom in spring, and produce red and orange berries.
There is plenty of wildlife in the park such as deer, squirrels, raccoons, turkeys, skunks (lovingly called security by the staff), and other animals. Two endangered species of bird nest in this park.
The golden-cheeked warbler are birds that only nest in the mixed Ashe juniper and oak woodlands of Central Texas from March to July. They feed on insects and spiders from trees and use spider webs to help build their nest and are endangered because of their loss of nesting habitat.
The black-capped vireo are extremely small birds that also nest in Texas in the spring but from April to July. They make their nests in low shrubs but are endangered because of the destruction of their habitats by grazing, clearing and fire suppression.
Housing and facilities
Visitors require a reservation made in advance due to the popularity of the park. Visitors may choose between a tent/RV site, a screened in shelter, or a cabin. Inside cabins, some have fireplaces, all have kitchen facilities and indoor plumbing. If a campsite or screened shelter is chosen, there are public restrooms and showers that are available to all park guests to maintain hygiene.
During the day, the famous Garner Grill is open next to the big pavilion. Even though it does take a while to get food, it’s always cooked fresh. There is even a new souvenir cup style every season that can be collected. Please be advised, the Grill is open everyday during the summer but is closed during the off-season, typically October through February.
The gift shop is also open to buy souvenirs like jewelry, boots, toys and other neat items. Even customized apparel with the park's name on it is available. When the gift shop is closed however, there is an online gift shop that is updated regularly to buy from as well.
Many activities at the park include hiking, nature study, picnicking, canoeing, fishing, paddle boat and kayak rentals (spring and summer), bicycle riding, and miniature golf.
Day Use Visitors
Garner State Park is the most sought after park in the Texas State Parks system. Due to such high demand, a Day Use reservation is highly recommended during the off-season months of October to February. During the high demand on-season months of March to September, Day Use reservations are required before coming out to the park in order to guarantee your entry.
In order to get more involved in learning more about the park, there are ranger programs to sign up for. In ranger programs, park rangers teach students about the nature, history, and traditions of the park and let campers participate in geology programs and can be led on nature hikes.
Volunteers can help by keeping the park clean by maintaining trails, renewing habitats, becoming a park host or leading educational programs.
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