BLANCO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Texas acquired the land for Pedernales Falls State Park from private owners in 1970, with the hopes the state would protect the area’s natural beauty, according to “A History of the Pedernales Falls Area, 1850-1970” by historian John J. Leffler.

Pedernales Falls

  • 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City
  • ~1 hour from Austin
  • $6 day fee, additional fees for overnight stays
  • 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Today, the 5,212-acre park provides an array of outdoor activities, including swimming, camping, paddling and trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

A day fee of $6 per person is required, but children under 13 years old enter for free. The park staff recommend making a reservation prior to visiting.

For overnight camping, there are 69 campsites with electricity and water, and a primitive camping area reachable via a two-mile hike. The campsites require a $20 fee and the primitive camping area has a $10 fee.

Swimmers cool off in the Pedernales River. (Chase Fountain/TPWD Photo)
Swimmers cool off in the Pedernales River. (Chase Fountain/TPWD Photo)

One of the must see places in the park is the Pedernales Falls Overlook at the north end of the park. It provides a vista to how the Pedernales River carved through rock to create a small canyon. The falls itself flows over tiered limestone “steps” for roughly 3,000 feet.

Depending on the level of the Pedernales River, visitors can use canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and tubes on most of the river. However, these activities are not permitted near the falls.

The swimming area takes some effort to reach; the park’s website calls it a “strenuous” quarter mile hike, part of which takes visitors on steeps rock stairs.

A golden-cheeked warbler sits in a tree. (Chase Fountain/TPWD Photo)
A golden-cheeked warbler sits in a tree. (Chase Fountain/TPWD Photo)

The park has plenty of trails for hikers, including a 5.5-mile loop hike to a scenic overlook. All trails at the park are open to hikers, but they must yield to horses and bike riders.

For equestrians, the park has two trails: a 3-mile loop in the north and an 11.4-mile loop in the south. Mountain bikers can give the 10-mile single track Juniper Ridge Trail a try.

The park has maps of the trails on its website.

Each year from March to July, the park becomes a temporary home to the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered bird. The warbler is an especially Texas creature, as it will only builds nests in the state’s oaks and Ashe junipers.

The warbler and other animals can be viewed from the park’s bird blind. Near the blind is a butterfly garden as well.

This story is part of a KXAN series highlighting Central Texas activities — you can see our full list on our “Central Texas Things to Do” page. Do you have an idea of something we should profile? Email us at