Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Five of the best state parks near Main Campus

Allana Llabres
McKinney Falls State Park

UTSA is located within an hour of some of the best views of the Texas Hill Country. All of the following have their daily rates; alternatively, you can get a State Park pass for $70 that covers all parks and recreation facilities for a year after purchase. The Outdoor Recreation Center at the UTSA Recreation Center allows students to check out kayaks, hiking equipment, camping equipment or even just small essentials like a backpack that can be helpful when visiting any of these parks.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Although not a state park, Government Canyon is only 20 minutes away from campus. It is an excellent introduction to Texas’ state park system and is a great park for hiking and biking. One of the park’s coolest features is dinosaur tracks that visitors can get extremely close to. The park also features a backcountry with numerous historic windmills and gorgeous overlook views. Government Canyon is almost always empty, or at least feels empty because of its over 12,000-acre size.

Guadalupe River State Park

This park is about a half hour away from campus. The Guadalupe River has the perfect temperature for swimming and the flow is perfect for kayaking. The park can become packed on the weekend, especially during lunchtime and the afternoon, but if you go around sunset on a weekday, the park is silent except for the native fauna. Unlike the other parks on this list, Guadalupe has little to no cell signal throughout most of the park. The park has few trails, but the water bodies are its main attraction.

Hill Country State Natural Area

This park is about an hour away from campus and offers classic hill country views. It has a lot of rugged terrain and is the perfect park for trail running. Horses, armadillos and turkeys are often seen in this park. Hill Country State Natural Area does not have a backcountry but has an extensive trail system and multiple scenic overlooks, one of which is the highest in the Texas Hill Country. Trails here are extremely rugged, more so than the others and visitors can get tired fast, so bring a water bottle.

Blanco State Park

Blanco State Park is about 45 minutes away from campus. There are no hiking trails, but the crystal blue water is amazing to swim in. It is like a less crowded and bigger Barton Creek. There are numerous waterfalls and it is arguably one of the more picturesque parks in the San Antonio area. Blanco makes for a great day trip with friends in the summer months.

Inks Lake State Park

Arguably the best on this list is Inks Lake. Located in Burnet, this park has everything. There are numerous bodies of water, nine miles of trails and the best rock faces to watch a Texas sunset from. Think of it like a combination of all of the above parks. Although not in the hill country, you will never get a bad picture from this park. Inks Lake features the iconic Devil’s Waterhole with ledges about 40 feet up from the water level. There is no lifeguard, so it is recommended that only experienced divers and swimmers partake. This park requires a reservation due to its popularity, but this also means it will not be insanely full since they cap the number of people in the park. Finally, this park has a birding spot built by Texas Master Naturalists. Bring binoculars and watch herons among other native fauna.

Texas is well known around the country for its parks. The Parks and Recreation Department urges all visitors to respect the “leave no trace” set of wilderness ethics when visiting any natural areas. Although only five parks are listed above, there are over 1.4 million acres of protected areas from fisheries to parks. Go explore them all.

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About the Contributor
Allana Llabres
Allana Llabres, Social Media Manager
Allana (she/her) is a first-year Medical Humanities major at UTSA. Beyond graduation she plans to attend the UT Health School of Dentistry. When she’s not doing homework you can find her making jewelry or hanging out with friends. This is her first semester with the Paisano.

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