Pedernales Falls State Park-A Summer Time Paradise

Published in the La Vernia News on June 11, 2015

Flint Rocks and Falls on the Pedernales River

The Falls

Everyday Journeys

 Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

        Pedernales Falls State Park, 80 miles from La Vernia, occupies almost 5,200 acres in Blanco County, eight miles east of Johnson City, Texas. Before this land was acquired from private owners in 1970, it was the Circle Bar, a working cattle ranch. In 1971, the park was opened to the public.

        Rocks in the park have a history going back more than 300 million years; its very name is a Spanish term for “flint rocks.” One of the earliest recorded events in this area was a proposal to the Spanish Government in 1750 by a Spanish Missionary to establish a new mission site for the Lipan Apache Indians who lived along the Pedernales. The earliest settlement on the Pedernales River was Johnson City, founded in the late 1870s.


      The Pedernales River rises from springs in the southeastern corner of Kimble County near the city of Junction and flows northeast for 106 miles, crossing Gillespie, Blanco, and Hays counties, finally joining the Colorado River before emptying into Lake Travis in Travis County. It can go from a placid stream to a raging torrent, collecting and moving rainfall along its route, creating deep canyons and ravines into the resistant rock, washing away the shale and limestone. The most spectacular part of the Pedernales is when it cascades over these limestone formations at the “falls.”

State Park Sign


      In addition to picnicking, swimming, wading, and fishing, there are19.8 miles of hiking and mountain biking plus 14 miles of backpacking trails. There is also a 10-mile horseback riding trail. This rugged trail is rocky with some steep slopes, and requires riding experience. You must bring your own horse; water troughs are located at the trailer parking area and at the midway point of the trail.

Northern Cardinal at Bird Blind

     The camping area offers 68 campsites with water and electricity, fire rings, bar-b-cue pits, showers, and bathrooms. Hike-in primitive camping is also available in one area along the river. No open fires are allowed here, but the use of a small propane stove is. If you are just visiting for the day, there are day-use facilities close to the designated swimming area with parking, picnic tables, bar-b-cue pits and restrooms.

      The falls are the main attraction and may be viewed from a scenic overlook at the north end of the park. Although the park is not known for fishing, catfishing is good after a river rise. Wildlife within the park includes white-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, and an array of other critters.

Bird Blind at Pedernales

     What many visitors come to see are the birds. Over 150 different species have been seen in the park and one-third of them are permanent residents. To the north of the Park Headquarters off the main park road, is a protected bird blind area. Here you can sit and watch a wonderful array of bird species in their natural habitat. One of our favorites was the male Northern Cardinal (sometimes simply called a redbird) because it is so easy to spot with its bright red plumage and sweet song. It is a quiet and relaxing place and about the only man-made sound you will hear is the clicking of your camera.

Pedernales Falls State Park

 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636 (830) 868-7304  Reservations (512) 389-9800


The Pedernales River can flash flood with little or no warning. The water in the river can rise from a placid stream to a raging torrent in a few minutes. The recent rain in late May this year actually closed the park for two days. If you are in the river area and notice the water beginning to rise, you should leave the river area immediately.

From this bird blind in the park, visitors can spot more than 150 bird species; approximately one-third of these are permanent residents.



        Park store at the headquarters building office offers ice, snacks and souvenir gift items for sale. Interested in geocaching? There are over 20 caches within this park.  Pedernales Falls participates in the annual Outdoor Family Workshops offering families an opportunity to learn how to camp. This year’s workshop begins at 9:30 AM on November 14 and ends at noon the following day. Camping gear, including tents and cots are provided. All you have to bring are sheets, blankets, pillows, food and drinks and a desire to learn more about how to camp. There will be classes in fire building, outdoor cooking, and geocaching. This is a wonderful and inexpensive way to introduce the joys of the great outdoors to families. Total costs for this weekend is $65.00 for a family up to six. No pets are allowed for this event. There are 18 spaces available in the water and electricity camping area, but reservations must be made. For more information go to the website listed below and click on “activities” on the top bar, and then click on “Texas Outdoor Family.”


       Check the website for various fees, upcoming programs and weather conditions. Don’t forget to use your Texas Park Pass for great discounts.  Have an incredible time!

Pool beneath the Falls
Pedernales Falls State Park
Steps leading to Falls
A Rocky River

   © Harry Perez 2012