Ultimate Guide to Camping at Garner State Park

If you’re looking for the perfect outdoor getaway, look no further than the stunning Garner State Park. Nestled deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country, this picturesque park offers the ultimate camping experience for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

With its crystal-clear rivers, towering limestone cliffs, and abundant recreational activities, Garner State Park is the ideal destination for a memorable camping trip. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a novice, this comprehensive guide will provide all the information you need to maximize your camping adventure at Garner State Park. From the best campsites to insider tips and must-see attractions, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Ultimate Guide to Camping at Garner State Park

Camping at Garner State Park: Location and Overview

Location of Garner State Park

Garner State Park is located in the Texas Hill Country, about 30 miles north of Uvalde and 90 miles west of San Antonio. It sits on the banks of the crystal-clear Frio River, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and lush vegetation. This popular state park spans over 1,700 acres, offering a variety of outdoor recreational activities for visitors of all ages.

General Overview of the Park

Garner State Park is known for its natural beauty and is often called the “Crown Jewel” of the Texas State Park system. The park features diverse landscapes, including towering limestone cliffs, dense forests, and rolling hills. Visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. With its picturesque scenery and abundant recreational opportunities, Garner State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Camping Options

Campground Options

Garner State Park offers various campground options to suit different camping preferences. The park features four main campgrounds, each with unique features and amenities. These campgrounds include:

  1. Pecan Grove: This campground is situated along the Frio River and offers campsites with water and electric hookups. It is perfect for RV camping and provides easy access to fishing and swimming spots.

  2. Live Oak: The campground provides campsites with water and electric hookups near the park entrance. It offers a more secluded and peaceful camping experience, surrounded by oak trees and ample shade.

  3. Shady Meadows: As the name suggests, this campground offers plenty of shade from the Texas sun. It is near the playground and has campsites with water and electric hookups.

  4. Rio Frio: This park’s largest campground

    is located near the river. It offers a mix of campsites, with and without hookups, allowing

    RV and tent camping. The Rio Frio campground also features showers and restrooms for added convenience.

Primitive Camping

For those seeking a more rustic experience, Garner State Park offers primitive camping options. There are designated areas within the park where visitors can set up their tents away from the main campgrounds. These primitive campsites do not have water or electric hookups, but they provide an authentic back-to-nature experience with beautiful surroundings and a peaceful atmosphere.

Group Camping

Garner State Park also provides group camping facilities for larger gatherings. The park has four group campsites available for reservation, accommodating up to 60 people each. These campsites have picnic tables, grills, tent pads, and nearby restroom facilities. Group camping at Garner State Park is an excellent option for family reunions, scout troops, and other organized outdoor activities.

Reservation and Availability

It is strongly recommended to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons and weekends. Reservations can be made online through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s reservation system or by calling the park office. Availability varies depending on the time of year, so be sure to plan ahead to secure your preferred camping dates. Walk-in camping may also be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but availability is not guaranteed.

Facilities and Amenities

Restrooms and Showers

Garner State Park offers well-maintained restroom facilities throughout the park, including the main campgrounds and picnic areas. These restrooms are clean and conveniently located, providing modern amenities such as flush toilets and sinks. Additionally, some campgrounds have separate shower facilities where visitors can freshen up after a day of outdoor activities.

RV Hookups

For RV campers, Garner State Park provides campsites with water and electric hookups. These hookups allow RVs to have access to essential utilities, making the camping experience more comfortable and convenient. The Pecan Grove, Live Oak, and Rio Frio campgrounds all offer RV hookups, so visitors can enjoy their RV camping experience while exploring the park’s natural wonders.

Picnic Areas

Garner State Park offers numerous picnic areas throughout the park, providing the perfect setting for a family outing or a relaxing lunch in nature. These picnic areas are equipped with picnic tables and grills, allowing visitors to enjoy a delicious outdoor meal surrounded by the park’s scenic beauty. Whether you’re planning a small picnic or a larger gathering, Garner State Park has plenty of picnic areas to accommodate your needs.

Swimming Areas

One of the highlights of Garner State Park is its swimming areas. The park boasts a stunning mile-long stretch of the Frio River, where visitors can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. The most popular swimming area is the riverfront near the main entrance, known as “the dam.” Here, visitors can cool off under the Texas sun while enjoying the picturesque surroundings.

Hiking Trails

Garner State Park offers a variety of hiking trails that cater to different skill levels and interests. From leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, there is a trail for everyone to enjoy. The park’s trails take hikers through diverse landscapes, including forests, rocky terrain, and scenic overlooks. The Old Baldy Trail is a must-try, as it leads to the iconic Old Baldy summit, offering panoramic views of the Frio River and the surrounding hill country.


Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to cast their lines in Garner State Park. The Frio River is home to various fish species, including bass, catfish, and sunfish. Anglers can try their luck from the river banks or venture out onto the water with a kayak or canoe. Whether you’re an experienced angler or new to fishing, Garner State Park provides a serene and picturesque setting for a day of casting and reeling.


Boating is a popular activity in Garner State Park, with the Frio River providing a scenic waterway for exploration. Visitors can bring their own kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards, or rent them from local outfitters. The calm waters of the Frio River are ideal for leisurely paddling, allowing boaters to take in the park’s stunning beauty from a different perspective.

Wildlife Viewing

Garner State Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers. From deer and squirrels to various bird species, visitors have the opportunity to observe and appreciate the park’s rich biodiversity. Keep your eyes peeled as you explore the trails or relax at your campsite, and you might just spot a magnificent creature in its natural habitat.

Park Store

Garner State Park has a park store located near the main entrance, where visitors can find various camping essentials, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. Whether you forgot to pack a camping essential or you’re looking for a unique souvenir to remember your trip, the park store has you covered. It’s a convenient place to stock up on supplies or find a memorable memento to commemorate your time at Garner State Park.

Ultimate Guide to Camping at Garner State Park

Tips for a Successful Camping Trip

Plan and Make Reservations

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable camping trip at Garner State Park, it’s best to plan ahead and make reservations, especially during peak seasons. The park can get crowded, and campsites fill up quickly. By making reservations in advance, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your camping spot is secured and waiting for you.

Pack Appropriate Camping Gear

It’s essential to pack the appropriate camping gear for your stay at Garner State Park. This includes a tent, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and food. Don’t forget to bring essentials like a camping stove, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Plan for the weather conditions by packing appropriate clothing and rain gear if needed. Having all the necessary camping gear will ensure you have a comfortable and well-prepared camping experience.

Arrive Early

If you want to snag a prime campsite, it’s advisable to arrive early, especially during busier times. By arriving early, you increase your chances of securing a spot in your preferred campground and getting the best location within the campground. Remember to check the park’s check-in time and plan your arrival accordingly.

Follow Park Rules and Regulations

To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors, it’s essential to follow the park rules and regulations. These guidelines are in place to protect the natural resources, as well as the well-being of both visitors and wildlife. Familiarize yourself with the park’s rules regarding camping, swimming, fishing, and other activities to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

Keep Your Campsite Clean and Safe

Maintaining a clean and safe campsite is crucial for a successful camping trip. Dispose of trash properly in designated receptacles and follow Leave No Trace principles. Store food securely to prevent attracting wildlife, and keep your camping area organized and free of hazards. By practicing good campsite hygiene, you contribute to the preservation of the park’s pristine environment and ensure a pleasant experience for yourself and others.

Be Aware of Wildlife

While Garner State Park is teeming with wildlife, it’s important to remember that these are wild animals. Respect their natural habitat and keep a safe distance. Do not feed or approach wildlife, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and pose risks to both humans and animals. Observe wildlife from a distance and appreciate the beauty of nature without interfering with its delicate balance.

Bring Water and Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial when camping, especially in the Texas heat. Bring an ample supply of water for drinking and cooking, as well as reusable water bottles. Pack electrolyte drinks or powder to replenish essential minerals lost through sweating. Remember to drink water regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty, to prevent dehydration and ensure your well-being throughout your camping adventure.

Dress for the Weather

Texas weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to dress appropriately for the conditions. Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack clothing suitable for the expected temperatures. Dress in layers, so you can easily adjust to changing weather conditions throughout the day. Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

Explore Nearby Attractions

While Garner State Park offers a plethora of recreational activities, there are also nearby attractions worth exploring. Take the opportunity to visit nearby towns, historical sites, or other natural areas in the Texas Hill Country. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region or discover hidden gems that complement your camping experience. Garner State Park’s prime location makes it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area.

Enjoy the Night Sky

One of the most magical experiences at Garner State Park is the opportunity to admire the night sky. Far away from city lights, the park offers incredible stargazing opportunities. Sit back, relax, and marvel at the vastness of the universe as you witness the brilliance of stars, constellations, and perhaps even a stunning meteor shower. Don’t forget to bring a blanket or a chair to fully enjoy this awe-inspiring display.

Popular Activities in Garner State Park

Swimming in the Frio River

Swimming in the Frio River is a favorite activity among visitors to Garner State Park. The calm, crystal-clear waters provide the ideal respite from the Texas heat. Whether you opt for a leisurely swim or choose to float in an inflatable tube, the Frio River offers endless hours of fun and relaxation.

Dancing at the Garner Dance Pavilion

Garner State Park is famous for its summer dances held at the iconic Garner Dance Pavilion. During the summer months, the pavilion comes alive with music and dancing, attracting visitors from near and far. Put on your dancing shoes and join in on the fun as you twirl under the stars to live music.

Tubing on the Frio River

Tubing is a popular way to explore the Frio River and enjoy a leisurely float along its gentle currents. Many visitors rent inflatable tubes from local outfitters or bring their boxes to enjoy this classic Texas Hill Country activity. Relax, soak up the sun, and let the river carry you as you take in the breathtaking scenery.


Garner State Park offers a variety of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re a novice hiker or an experienced trekker, you’ll find a course that suits your abilities and interests. Lace up your hiking boots and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature as you explore the park’s diverse landscapes and discover hidden gems along the way.

Boating and Kayaking

Bring your own canoe or kayak, or rent one from a local outfitter, and embark on a peaceful boating or kayaking adventure on the Frio River. Glide across the calm waters, surrounded by the park’s scenic beauty, and take in the sights and sounds of nature as you paddle along. Boating and kayaking provide a unique perspective of Garner State Park and allow for a closer connection with the natural environment.


Fishing is a favorite pastime in Garner State Park, with the Frio River offering excellent angling opportunities. Grab your fishing gear, cast your line, and try your luck at catching bass, catfish, or sunfish. Fishing in the pristine waters of the Frio River provides a tranquil and rewarding experience for anglers of all ages and skill levels.


Garner State Park is a haven for birdwatchers, with its diverse habitats attracting a wide variety of bird species. As you explore the park’s trails and natural areas, keep an eye out for colorful songbirds, majestic raptors, and fascinating waterfowl. Binoculars and a field guide will enhance your birdwatching experience as you spot and identify the park’s feathered residents.

Wildlife Photography

The abundance of wildlife in Garner State Park offers excellent opportunities for wildlife photography. Capture the beauty of deer grazing in open meadows, squirrels darting through the trees, or birds soaring above the Frio River. Exercise patience, respect the animals’ space, and capture breathtaking moments that will preserve the memories of your camping trip.


For cycling enthusiasts, Garner State Park provides scenic biking trails that wind through the park’s stunning landscapes. Enjoy the beauty of the Texas Hill Country as you pedal along the park’s paved roads or designated mountain biking trails. Biking is a fantastic way to explore the park and immerse yourself in its natural splendor while enjoying a thrilling and invigorating activity.


Garner State Park’s location far from city lights makes it an exceptional destination for stargazing. On clear nights, the sky comes alive with countless stars, planets, and other celestial wonders. Bring a telescope or simply lie back on a blanket as you soak in the beauty of the night sky. The absence of light pollution allows for incredible views and a truly awe-inspiring experience.

Best Time to Visit


Spring is an ideal time to visit Garner State Park, as the park comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and blooming trees. The weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from mild to warm. Spring is also an excellent time for birdwatching, as migrating birds pass through the park on their journey north, making for fantastic spotting opportunities.


Summer is the busiest season at Garner State Park, as families flock to the park to enjoy the full range of recreational opportunities. With long, sunny days, visitors can swim in the Frio River, participate in summer dances at the pavilion, and indulge in various water sports. It’s important to note that temperatures can get hot during the summer months, so be prepared with sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.


Fall is a breathtaking time to visit Garner State Park, as the foliage transforms into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors. The crisp, cool air provides an invigorating backdrop for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. Fall also offers the chance to witness the park’s wildlife preparing for the winter months, as animals engage in mating rituals and migrate through the area.


Winter brings a different kind of beauty to Garner State Park, with a quieter and more serene atmosphere. The park’s tranquil nature provides the perfect setting for peaceful walks, birdwatching, and introspection. Although temperatures can drop, winter camping enthusiasts can cozy up around a campfire and enjoy the peacefulness of the park during this less busy season.

Nearby Accommodations

Hotels and Resorts

If camping is not your preferred accommodation option, there are hotels and resorts located near Garner State Park. These establishments offer comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and convenient access to the park. Stay in a cozy hotel room or relax in a luxurious resort, and enjoy the best of both worlds – the beauty of nature at Garner State Park and the comforts of a comfortable lodging facility.

Cabins and Vacation Rentals

For those seeking a more rustic experience with added privacy, cabins and vacation rentals near Garner State Park are excellent choices. These accommodations offer a home away from home, with fully equipped kitchens, cozy living areas, and private outdoor spaces. Immerse yourself in the peaceful natural surroundings while enjoying modern conveniences and the comforts of a cabin or vacation rental.

RV Parks and Campgrounds

If you’re an RV enthusiast or prefer camping with a little more comfort, there are RV parks and campgrounds near Garner State Park. These facilities provide full hookups, spacious sites, and additional amenities such as laundry facilities, recreational areas, and convenience stores. Stay at an RV park or campground and enjoy the convenience of having water, electricity, and sewer hookups readily available for your camping needs.

Safety and Rules

Campfire Safety

When camping at Garner State Park, it’s crucial to practice campfire safety to prevent accidents and protect the park’s natural resources. Only build fires in designated fire rings or grills and keep flames at a manageable size. Never leave a fire unattended and completely extinguish it before leaving your campsite or going to sleep. Remember to check the park’s fire safety guidelines and always comply with any burn bans or fire restrictions in effect.

Wildlife Safety

While wildlife encounters can be thrilling, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and the well-being of the animals. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching them. Respect their natural habitat and avoid behaviors that could stress or harm the animals. Follow the park’s guidelines for interacting with wildlife and always remember to prioritize safety and conservation.

Water Safety

When participating in water activities at Garner State Park, it’s essential to prioritize water safety. Whether swimming, boating, or tubing, always wear a life jacket and ensure that it fits properly. Stay within designated swimming areas and be aware of water currents and depth. If boating or kayaking, familiarize yourself with the park’s boating regulations and follow them to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Hiking Safety

Hiking in Garner State Park can be a rewarding experience. Still, taking necessary precautions to ensure your safety is essential. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and carry essentials such as water, a map, and a first aid kit. Stay on designated trails and be aware of your surroundings. If hiking alone, inform someone of your plans and estimated return time. Additionally, check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.

Park Rules and Regulations

Adhering to the park’s rules and regulations is paramount for a positive camping experience at Garner State Park. Observe speed limits, respect quiet hours, and keep pets on leashes in designated areas. Follow all parking signage, exercise caution around wildlife, and dispose of trash in designated receptacles. By following the park’s rules and regulations, you contribute to the preservation of the park’s natural resources and ensure a safe environment for all visitors.

Fees and Permits

Entrance Fees

Garner State Park charges entrance fees to access the park. These fees apply per person and per vehicle and help support the maintenance and conservation efforts of the park. It’s essential to check the park’s website for current fee information, as rates may change over time.

Camping Fees

Camping fees at Garner State Park vary depending on the type of campsite and the season. Electric and water hookup sites generally have higher prices compared to primitive campsites. The park also offers discounts for Texas residents, seniors, and disabled individuals. It’s recommended to check the park’s website or contact the park office for the most up-to-date camping fee information.

Permits and Reservations

Some activities at Garner State Park may require permits, such as group camping or special events. It’s advisable to check the park’s website or contact the park office in advance to inquire about any necessary permits or reservations. For camping, it’s highly recommended to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred campsite and dates.

Planning Your Trip

Packing Checklist

Before setting off on your camping trip to Garner State Park, creating a packing checklist is crucial to ensure you have all the essentials. Some items to include on your list are camping gear (tent, sleeping bags, camping stove), cooking utensils, food, water, clothing appropriate for the weather, toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, a first aid kit, and any necessary medications. Pack any additional items specific to your preferences and needs to make your camping experience comfortable and enjoyable.

Campground Selection

With multiple campground options available at Garner State Park, it’s helpful to research and select the campground that best suits your camping preferences. Consider factors such as proximity to amenities, desired level of privacy, availability of RV hookups or primitive camping, and access to swimming areas or hiking trails. By choosing the campground that aligns with your needs, you can enhance your overall camping experience.

Weather Conditions

Checking the weather conditions before your trip is essential for proper preparation. Texas weather can be unpredictable, with temperature fluctuations and occasional storms. Stay informed about the forecasted temperatures, chances of rain, and any severe weather warnings. Pack appropriate clothing, gear, and supplies based on the expected weather to ensure your comfort and safety throughout your camping adventure.

Park Maps and Resources

Familiarize yourself with Garner State Park’s layout, trails, and amenities by obtaining park maps and resources. The park’s website typically provides downloadable maps that outline the park’s trails, camping areas, and points of interest. Study the maps in advance to plan your activities, identify potential hiking routes, and locate facilities such as restrooms and picnic areas. Having a clear understanding of the park’s layout will enhance your navigation and overall camping experience.

Trip Itinerary

Creating a trip itinerary can help you make the most of your time at Garner State Park. Identify the activities and attractions you wish to experience, the trails you want to hike, and the locations you like to explore. Consider the length of your stay and allocate sufficient time for each activity, allowing for breaks and relaxation. An itinerary provides structure and ensures you don’t miss out on any of the park’s highlights.

By following these planning tips, you can maximize your enjoyment of Garner State Park and create lifelong memories of your camping adventure in the Texas Hill Country.

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