Texas River Country
South Texas' Hill Country is world-famous for its classic vistas and panoramas which rekindle memories of the Old West and cowboys, settlers, and pioneers. But a short drive to the west will bring visitors to another part of Texas, equally as beautiful, yet not quite as well-known: the River Region.
For outdoor opportunists, nature lovers, and fanatics of fishing, festivals, and fun, the region has a number of attractions, parks, and rich cultural sights that should appease all appetites. Any time of the year is a good time for a visit, as the winters are never too cold, the rain is rare, and summer heat can be beaten with a dip in one of the many rivers cutting through the area.
Located in Uvalde County, about 85 miles west of San Antonio on Highway 90 is the namesake of the county, the city of Uvalde. Featuring tree-lined streets, the Leona River cutting through the center of town, and Fort Inge, Uvalde is the jumping off point for the surrounding activities in the region.
One of the most popular rivers is the Frio River, and its clear, quick waters are popular with locals and tourists, who can rent floats, tubes, and kayaks for relaxing daily trips downriver. The town of Concan, located half an hour's drive up Highway 83 from Uvalde, is full of outfitters for the Frio, as well as restaurants and lodgings. Garner State Park, just 7 miles further north, is not only Texas' most famous and most visited park, but another place along the Frio where visitors and families can enjoy the peaceful serenity of the river.
Along with the Frio, the Sabanal River is another of South Texas' beautiful natural wonders. The towns of Utopia and Sabinal are two small town offering a laid-back peek into some of the history of this region. Both towns have a number of historic buildings, restaurants, and small museums offering displays of the Native Americans who first lived in the area, as well as the settlers, and the geological and natural history of the region. The Lost Maples State Natural Area contains the only maple forest in the state, and is a gorgeous place to visit in the fall as the leaves change through a kaleidoscope of colors.
Although any time of the year is fine for a visit, there are several festivals and events that are put on each year that should be kept in mind when planning a trip. The following are a few of the more popular:
· Nature Quest: Held in two sessions, one in sping and the other in fall, visitors can learn about the native plants, wildflowers, and animals in the region from experts. Nature Quest features programs of field trips, lectures, workshops, and seminars as well as birding expeditions. The spring session is held in April and September 14-16.
· Bicycle Classic: For active visitors and biking fanatics, the third weekend of each October offers riders a choice of a number of routes of differing difficulties and skill levels. The Classic offers participants rest stops every ten miles, maps and support services, and nightly dinners and socials. All proceeds are donated to local scout troops, fire departments, and EMS groups.
F4-Fall Fly Fishing Festival: October 26-28 brings this interesting festival which offers programs for learning fishing techniques, as well as educational programs related to the different species in the area. It also brings opportunities to test one's mettle against the fish in the rivers.
Many people think of South Texas as mostly an arid desert, but a trip to the river region will quickly dispel any such notion. For outdoor enthusiasts, the region offers diverse means for enjoying the clear, clean waters of Texas' River Region.