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What To Do in Garner State Park, TX: Camping, Hiking & More

January 8, 2024

Garner State Park is located two hours outside of San Antonio and offers incredible views of Texas Hill Country, rocky cave formations and a river perfect for floating or paddling. The park opened in 1941 and visitors have been climbing Mt Baldy, dancing in the dance hall and camping beneath the stars ever since.

Most of the park sits within a river valley, but the canyon walls make for challenging and rewarding hikes. You’ll even find activities like mini golf here, so be assured that you will not get bored by spending a few days visiting this incredible Hill Country gem. Keep reading to discover all of the best things to do in Garner State Park!

Lydia sitting on the edge of a rock looking out at the Frio River on the Mt Baldy trail
The View from Mt Baldy

Please make it a priority to Leave No Trace when exploring the outdoors. This includes leaving nothing behind, respecting wildlife, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting those around you, planning ahead and traveling on durable surfaces. For more details, read about the seven principles at

Where to Stay in Garner State Park

Cabins Near Garner State Park

Several large trees growing out of or near the Frio Water. The trees have orange fall foliage.
The Frio River

Garner State Park offers campsites, screened shelters and cabins to stay within the park. It is a really popular place to camp, so book your spot in advance. The campsites are a perfect way to stay close to all of the exploration.

You can also find a variety of cabins in the surrounding area. The Inn Between is a really great option for unique cabins just five minutes outside of the park. The cabins are super colorful and a lot of care has gone into them. To be closer to the town of Concan and the Frio River, check out Neal’s Lodges or River Oaks Resort.

Camping in Garner State Park

Camping is a widely popular thing to do in Garner State Park, there are 6 different camping areas! There are full hookup sites for your RV, campsites with electricity and campsites with water for pitching a tent. Some of the camping spots have waterfront views of the Frio River. Prices range from $15 - $35 nightly and bookings open up 5 months in advance.

The Best Things To Do in Garner State Park

The Best Hiking in Garner State Park

Some hikers going down the Mt Baldy trail with an amazing view of surrounding hills.
The Mt Baldy Trail

Garner State Park offers 16 miles of trails and some of the best hiking in Texas Hill Country. Check out my favorite trails in Garner below.

Hike Mt Old Baldy
A view looking down at the Frio River in Garner State Park
The View from Mt Baldy

The hike to the top of Mt ‘Ol Baldy reaches an elevation of 1,849 feet. It is only a half mile to the top on a map, but the entire trail is a steep and strenuous climb. I saw people of all ages doing the climb, but it might not be for everyone.

The views at the top make the effort worth it - you can see for miles from all directions. The view looking down at the Frio River, slightly before reaching the top, is my favorite. The water of the Frio is an aqua blue and in the fall, red trees border the river. From near the top of the trail, you can take the Foshee Trail to connect to more areas of the park or go back down the way you came.

There is a huge pile of rocks and a flag pole at the top of the mountain, so you’ll know you’ve made it!

Hike to Crystal Cave
Looking at the Crystal Cave, which you climb down into from a rock face.
Crystal Cave

You’ll find Crystal Cave up in the hills after another strenuous climb. It is worth the effort because the cave is about 30 feet deep, covered in crystals and you can climb inside! It’s dark inside, but shine a flashlight around and see the twinkle of crystals.

It was really cool to climb into a natural cave without a guide, I felt like an explorer. However, it was unfortunate to see graffiti. Please be respectful to the park so that people can continue to enjoy it for many years.

The Crystal Cave was really cool to experience, but it only has space for a few people. Be sure to be patient and go in one household at a time during Covid-19.

A great view of Mt Baldy and the surrounding hills from the Bridge Trail in Garner State Park.
The View of Mt Baldy from the Bridges Trail

There are a couple different routes to get to the cave. I took the White Rock Trail, Bird Trail and Bridges Trail and connected over to the Crystal Cave Trail. The White Rock Cave Trail features a smaller cave that doesn’t have crystals but is still interesting. The Bird Trail is the most difficult with an intensely steep climb. The Bridges Trail offers beautiful views of the valley and a view of Mt Old Baldy.

More Hikes in Garner

There are many other amazing hiking trails in Garner too! The Ashe Juniper Trail, the Campos Trail and the Frio Canyon Trail are all great trails to consider as well.

Float on the Frio River

Lydia standing on rocks next to the Frio River with fall foliage in the background.
The rocky area next to the water

The Frio River is a refreshing place to cool off in the summer months at the park. The park offers rentals of floats, paddle boards, kayaks and paddle boats to explore the water. You can also take a walk next to the Frio River and enjoy the views (it is especially beautiful in the fall!).

For a great place to take photos, look for the small dam near the campgrounds. Just south the dam, there is a rocky area right at water level that you can walk on. The spot has a stunning view of trees with Mt Old Baldy in the background.

Other Activities in Garner State Park

The jukebox inside of the Dance Hall at Garner.
The Dance Hall

One unique thing about Garner is that they have a dance hall with a jukebox! The park has been hosting evening dances in the summer since the 1940’s when the park first opened. Visit on a summer evening and dance the night away when the pandemic is over!

The park also offers mini golf and a candy shop with a variety of treats. Stinkin Sweet Candy Shop serves a variety of nostalgic candy with unique sodas. They even serve Dublin Bottling Works Soda!

Another activity in Garner is fishing. You are allowed to fish for free without a license in Texas state parks!

Nearby Garner State Park

Here are some other things to do near Garner State Park during your visit!

Visit Concan, TX

After a day in Garner, it's worth a visit to the nearby Hill Country town of Concan! Concan is the closest town to Garner, located about 10 minutes south of the park.

Ice Cream in Concan

One of the best things to do in Concan is enjoying a refreshing treat. Visit the Frio Float in Concan for Blue Bell ice cream, candy, cupcakes and more. It’s a really cute shop with a colorful interior full of chandeliers.

The exterior of the Frio Float ice cream parlor.
The Frio Float

I recommend calling ahead before visiting the Frio Float. It was closed when I tried to visit even though google and their Facebook page made it seem like it would be open!

Float the Frio River

Looking at the dam going across the Frio River in Garner State Park
The Frio River in Garner State Park

If you visit during the summer, consider spending a day floating down the Frio River. The town of Concan has a couple of river access points where you can enter the water and go on a floating trip. If this concept is new to you, the idea is that you float down the river on a hot summer day while enjoying cold drinks and great company. It is a really popular activity in this area!

The banks of the river are private property, so you can only enter and exit at certain areas. Multiple businesses in Concan offer tube rentals and shuttle services for your trip. Check out Neal’s or Frio River Outfitters to rent your tube, shuttle ride or both. The Frio River Outfitters website has a great map where you can see all of the access points and decide where to start and end your trip!

Visit Lost Maples State Park

Colorful red, yellow and orange foliage at Lost Maples State Natural Area.
Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples is one of the closest state parks to Garner and also worth a viist! If you’re visiting in autumn, I highly recommend visiting Lost Maples State Natural Area while you’re in the area. It is a 40 minute drive away and you can read all about it on my blog post.

Final Thoughts

Garner is a gorgeous Hill Country park that deserves a place on your Texas bucket list! Whether you plan to camp, cool off in the Frio River or hike up the hills, Garner has something for the whole family.

For more Texas outdoor travel guides, check out these blogs:

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