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Photos in the July 2016 issue

The Year of state parks

Welcome to our 2016 series: The Year of State Parks. Each month’s cover and lead story will feature one of Texas’ iconic state parks. An accompanying State Parks List will focus on parks across the state that offer similar attractions and activities. This month, we feature Garner State Park and a list of parks with great swimming holes.


This Month's Features

Garner State Park: Paradise Found

It’s the 75th anniversary of the most iconic summer hangout in Texas.

By Melissa Gaskill

A grainy old family movieshows my 4-year-old self standing on the dam at Garner State Park, falling backward on purpose into the clear, refreshing water. Over and over and over.

Patient man, my father.

That was the first of my many trips to the park, famous for the Frio River, Old Baldy and summer jukebox dances. I started bringing my own children here early on, and we shared many a long, lazy float down the river. In those clear, cool, mostly shady and shallow waters beats the literal and figurative heart of Garner.

The Frio officially begins at the junction of its east and west forks north of the park. It flows southeast across Uvalde County and through the park, later joined by the Sabinal River just before entering Frio County, and by the Leona River shortly before leaving the county. The Frio travels 200 miles, picking up the Atascosa River and a handful of creeks and filling Choke Canyon Reservoir before joining the Nueces River a mile south of the aptly named town of Three Rivers. Its drainage area totals 7,310 square miles.

(read more)

Bringing Back the Blanco

Residents, experts face challenges to restore the river after historic 2015 floods.

By Robert Currie

There are folks living along the banks of the Blanco River who can still hear that sound when they close their eyes and let their minds drift back to the 2015 Memorial Day weekend. It was like nothing anyone had ever heard before. It resonated in their bones.

A rumbling wall of water, unseen in the middle of the night, rose 20 feet in one hour, reaching a record 44.9 feet at its peak. At 1 a.m. Sunday, the normally placid Blanco nearly equaled the flow of the mighty Mississippi as it flows through St. Louis. It was the worst Blanco flood in recorded history, a monster that swept away 12 people, hundreds of homes and several bridges and low-water crossings — causing more than $100 million in damage to the tiny Hill Country hamlet of Wimberley and its neighbors.

As residents from San Marcos to Wimberley to Blanco emerged at dawn to check on the receding waters that Sunday morning, they faced a shocking sight, never seen before. The iconic, majestic cypress trees that once lined the riverbanks — some more than two centuries old — were missing limbs, cracked in half or worse … just gone. The Texas A&M Forest Service estimates the total number of cypress and other tree species damaged or destroyed in the flood at almost 12,000 trees.

(read more)

Natural Connections

National parks, state parks share many historical ties.

By Russell Roe

With the National Park Service marking its 100th anniversary this year, Americans are celebrating what’s been called "America’s best idea." As Texans join the celebration of wild lands and historic sites, they can note the numerous and sometimes surprising connections between national parks and our own Texas state parks.

The shared mission and historical ties between state parks and national parks run deep and wide.

“In all cases, national parks and state parks have been set aside because there is something special about them,” says Walt Dabney, who spent 30 years working for national parks and 11 years as director of Texas state parks.

The two park systems have been connected in ways you might not realize. One of our national parks used to be a Texas state park. Another state park came tantalizingly close to becoming a national park. Dozens of Texas’ early state parks were designed by National Park Service architects, and they reflect a direct architectural lineage to the rustic building style found in the national parks.

(read more)

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2015 Hunting Forecast

This year's rains have brought bright prospects for fall hunting. TPWD experts tell us just how good it might be for deer, dove and more in this digital-only magazine extra.

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Keep Texas Wild

It's not just for kids. If you like nature-related topics in an easy-to-read format, you can find three years of our popular Keep Texas Wild issues and the teacher resources to go along with them.

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