When I turned onto Park Road 11 and approached the entrance to Palmetto State Park, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never been there before and being that it was a gray winter day, I wasn’t sure if the trip would have much to offer. I was so completely wrong.
You have to drive almost 2 miles on the park road before reaching the park office. About half a mile in, I was sold. Around one mile in, I had fallen head over heels and took the photo you see above. And that was just the drive there.
Palmetto State Park is located in Gonzales, Texas (about 70 miles east of San Antonio) and if you are a regular driver on I-10, it is easy to find since the turn off for the park (Hwy 183) is the same as for Buc*ees near Luling (see also: giant Texas gas station of awesome, complete with beaver mascot). The entrance to the park is just about 2 miles down the road from Buc*ees, which is nice since campers don’t need to travel terribly far for extra provisions.
Palmetto State Park contains a wide array of plant and animal life. The park get its name from the dwarf palmetto (seen above) which can be found in abundance throughout the grounds. The park has also been noted as a birding hot spot, as more than 240 species of birds have been observed within the park boundaries.
There is something for everyone at this park with activity options ranging from paddle boating and fishing to hiking and camping. The park offers over 5 miles of hiking trails that Jackson and I enjoyed exploring a great deal. I highly recommend this park as a great family hiking destination, because the trail paths here were quite smooth and easy to walk and would work well even with an all terrain stroller.
One particular highlight of our park visit was seeing the Civilian Conservation Corps Refectory. In 1933, shortly after Roosevelt was elected, the CCC gave jobs to thousands of unemployed young men and sent them across the country to build recreational facilities and plant thousands of trees in an effort to enrich the public’s life by encouraging time spent outdoors.
From 1934 – 1937 two companies of men from the Corps helped shape Palmetto State Park into the beautiful facility it is today. The Refectory is perhaps the crowning structure from their time spent in the park, and it is fascinating to see since the stone walls appear to just come up out of the dirt because of the method in which they were built.
Though it now has shingles, the roof was originally thatched with over 35,000 Palmetto leaves, which were brought in from across the state.
After learning the rich history behind this beautiful building I felt especially grateful that it still stands for park goers to enjoy today.
Even on a still, somewhat rainy winter afternoon, Palmetto State Park was truly breathtaking. I fell so in love with the park while we were there that I have decided we will return when the weather is warmer for a weekend of camping. I can’t wait to see how the vegetation changes seasonally and would love to enjoy some water activities with Jackson as well.
Day admission to the park is just $3 for anyone 13 or older. Kids are FREE, which I love!
For more information on Palmetto State Park or to plan your trip visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/palmetto
You can also make park reservations by calling (512) 389-8900.
1 park down, 92 to go!
Disclosure: I covered all admission and travel expenses to visit this state park. This post is not sponsored in any way.