To Travel. To Write. To Explore.

A Sense of History at Garner State Park

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Life As I Witnessed It, To Write. To Travel. To Explore. | 4 comments

Garner State Park, to date, remains one of the top three favorite campgrounds I’ve resided.

Anxiety weaved thoughts of what have I gotten myself into, please let there be a place I can turn around as I drove the steep, narrow road leading over a hill to the original campground area. The last campground I had stayed in had narrow roads, much like I was traversing, with parking spaces too short for my seventeen foot camper and tight roads challenging to maneuver. The further I drove up the hill, the deeper panic set in. Why did the reservationist at the park visitor’s center tell me I should go to the Oakmount Camping Area? What hell did she get me into? I begged “the boys” (my oldest son and father, both deceased), “Please, please help me find a place to turn around so I don’t get trapped like the last place. Please, please I want to have fun and enjoy this journey.” Cresting the hill I was awe-struck by the beautiful face of Old Baldy.

Old Baldy is one of the alluring features of Garner State Park. It’s as if someone sliced down the middle of the mountain, allowing the river to entice large boulders downstream to expose the inner makings of the hills in the region.

The closer I approached the mammoth before me, the less I noticed my surroundings until I followed campground road bend and was now viewing the crystal clear waters of the Frio River. All fear and anxiety of what could be evaporated and I slowed the truck to a crawl as I was consumed with the beauty before me. Oh, this is my kind of place, I thought. I thanked “the boys” for leading me to this state park. Now all I needed to do was find a site to camp with a view of the luscious river and bare hillside face!

My curiosity to explore the building structures the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built in the 1930’s inspired me to waste no time getting settled into my site. What I have failed to mention in the previous paragraphs was the other emotions I felt when I rolled down the hill into this area. I could feel the excitement of tradition of families vacationing here for generations and the anticipation of visiting with friends and family they come here to see annually. I could feel the joy, playfulness energies of previous visitors. For a moment I was teleported to the family reunions my grandmother hosted when I was a young child in her side-yard garden. It was that reminiscent type of energy welcoming the broken woman I was during that part of my journey.

I walked under the canopy of pecan trees to the historical building that captivated my attention. I learned that in 1937, the CCC began construction on the heart of the park, the combination building, known as the Pavilion and dance floor. Once completed, the park held dances on the terrace during the summer months. Originally bands played their music to sway the hips and inspire toes to tap to the rhythm of those within ear-shot. The colorful jukebox housed in the tower section of the pavilion now broadcasts its songs via loud speakers onto the dance floor. There is seating along the outer rim, opposite side of the terrace, that overlooks the Frio River. 

I could spend hours writing about all the elements of Garner State Park that makes this a must-visit campground. In another post, I will share with you my experiences on the hiking trails that takes climbers up an elevation of 500 feet, the caves and panoramic views.

Until then, I will shall put pen to paper as I travel and explore…

Visitor Tips:

  • Plan to explore the pavilon and dance floor
  • Bring good hiking shoes for the trails
  • This park has six campgrounds, four are open year-round
  • Campground has a gift shop, retail store and laundry facilities
  • Remember your camera


Websites for the curious:

Garner State Park
Garner State Park History
Texas CCC Parks – Garner State Park



Insights on the Civilian Conservation Corp

(Amazon affiliate links)

Have you been to Garner State Park? Please share your experience in the comment section below. 

To Write. To Travel. To Explore.

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