I snuck off to Blanco State Park this morning, to dangle a toe in one of my favorite swimming rivers in the area.
The park, like all Texas State Parks, is currently operating under a reservation-only system. To get in, you’ve got to go online, reserve a slot in advance, and print out your registration forms (or save them on your smart phone).
I booked my spot two weeks ago. Other parks, such as Pedernales Falls State Park and Guadalupe River State Park, fill up even farther in advance. Face coverings are required inside all park buildings, and visitors must maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone not in their group.
But officials are only filling parks to half capacity, which means once you get in, you’ll have plenty of space to spread out.
At Blanco, you can sign up for either a morning slot or an afternoon slot. We took a morning spot – which means you can arrive as early as 8 a.m., and stay until the park closes at 10 p.m. if you want – and encountered only a handful of folks on the east side of the park. (The west side is more popular with families and picnickers, but the west side has a better stretch for swimming, I think.)
We brought along paddleboards and swim goggles, and spent a few hours gliding up and down the river. It’s fun to play on the dam, too, where you can lean under a natural shower of water or jump off the top into the pooling green water below.
When you’re done, curl up on a towel beneath towering cypress trees and listen to the breeze ruffle through cottonwoods. Ducks waddle along shore, and a series of covered picnic tables makes a great spot for a meal. The 105-acre park hugs a mile-long stretch of river.
Admission to Blanco State Park, 101 Park Road 23, is $5 per person (free ages 12 and under), or free with a state parks pass. For more information, go to https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/blanco.
There’s plenty of room to spread out beneath the cypress and cottonwoods at Blanco State Park. Pam LeBlanc photo