What to do in Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park, 5211.7 acres, in Blanco County east of Johnson City, was acquired from private owners in 1970 and was opened to the public in 1971. It is located along the banks of scenic Pedernales River.

WARNING - The Pedernales River running through the park 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. If you are in the river area and notice the water beginning to rise, you should leave the river area IMMEDIATELY. Flash flooding is a common phenomenon in the Texas Hill Country, and park visitors are encouraged to be alert to weather conditions.

Although the Pedernales River is the focal point of the park, there are other areas of interest to hikers, nature lovers, and the general visitor. Well-marked trails pass through hills dotted with oak and juniper woodlands and provide access to more-heavily-wooded areas of pecan, elm, sycamore, walnut, and hackberry in the major drainages. Ash, buttonbush, and cypress grow on the terrace adjacent to the river.

Fish commonly caught in the Pedernales River include catfish (predominantly), bass, perch, and carp. The park is not really known as a "fishing" park, but catfishing is good after a river rise.

Wildlife in the park is typical of the Texas Hill Country and includes white-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, skunks, opossums, and raccoons. Over 150 species of birds have been seen in the park, and about one-third of these are permanent residents. Commonly seen birds include hawks, buzzards, herons, quail, doves, owls, roadrunners, and wild turkeys. The endangered golden-cheeked warbler nests in the park.

Pedernales Falls is the park's main attraction and may be viewed from a scenic overlook at the north end of the park. In this area, the elevation of the river drops about 50 feet over a distance of 3000 feet, and the falls are formed by the flow of water over the tilted, stair-step effect of layered limestone. These river limestones belong to the 300-million-year-old Marble Falls formation and are part of the southwestern flank of the Llano uplift. These layers of limestone were tilted by the uplift, then eroded long before early Cretaceous seas of the 100-to-120 million years ago covered this part of Texas and deposited sands, gravels, younger limestones, and marine fossils.

Facilities include campsites with water and electricity (special rates are available); a sponsored youth group area, which may be used by any youth group with an adult sponsor; hike-in primitive campsites (2 mile minimum; no pets allowed; no groundfires); picnic sites; restrooms with and without showers; a trailer dump station; 19.8 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails; 10 miles of equestrian trails; and 14 miles of backpacking trails.

The park has a covered bird viewing station with feeders and a drip bath. Food is provided November through March and the bath is maintained all year. The station can accommodate about 15 people. There is no charge to use the viewing station other than standard park entrance fees. This is an ADA accessible facility.

Some nearby activities include Inks Lake, Longhorn Cavern, Blanco, and Guadalupe River State Parks; Lyndon B. Johnson National and State Historical Parks, in Johnson City; National Museum of the Pacific War (Admiral Nimitz Museum) in Fredericksburg; Enchanted Rock State Natural Area north of Fredericksburg; and Aquarena Springs in San Marcos. Many wineries are in the area including the Texas Hills Vineyard.

Camping and entrance fees vary. Current weather conditions, including fire bans and water levels, can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Activities include camping; picnicking; hiking; river swimming; tubing; wading; mountain biking; fishing; bird watching (checklist available); and horseback riding. River recreation is in a limited area.

The park may be reached by traveling 9 miles east of Johnson City on FM 2766 or by traveling west of Austin for 32 miles on US Highway 290, then north on FM 3232 for 6 miles.

Pedernales Falls State Park is located at an elevation of 1197 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average July high of 94 degrees and a January average low of 32 degrees The first/last freeze are November 3/April 3; May, August, with September being the wettest months. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

2585 Park Road 6026
Johnson City, TX 78636

Phone: 830/868-7304

  • Pedernales Falls State Park Travel Q&A