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Taking in geologic masterpieces at Pedernales Falls State Park

As part of our series on Central Texas’ state parks, we’re breaking down the history and top attractions at Pedernales Falls.

Pedernales Falls, with pools of blue water, looking toward hills in the distance

Some of the limestone at Pedernales Falls is 320 million years old.

Photo by ATXtoday

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Texas State Parks, we’re visiting eight state parks in Central Texas.

We asked you which park you wanted us to visit next, and your votes are in: buckle up, we’re going to Pedernales Falls.

History

This park, which is about one hour outside of Austin, was acquired by the state in 1971, but there’s 10,000 years of history behind that date.

Indigenous peoples settled the land dating back to ~9,500 BC, with Lipan Apaches and Comanche competing for the area as late as the early 1800s.

White settlement didn’t arrive until after Texas joined the US in 1845. By the late 1880s, a community of a few dozen people farmed the park’s site, and built a shared school, cemetery, and roads. The land was purchased around ~1900, and traded hands as a ranch for the next several decades.

The name “Pedernales” comes from the era of Spanish settlement, derived from the word for the flint rock found in the river bed.

People walking on Pedernales Falls, with light blue pools in the foreground.

Depending on recent rainfall, you may be able to walk around on the falls themselves.

Photo by ATXtoday

What to see

You’ve gotta see the falls. The geologically fascinating cascade displays millions of years of erosion. Depending on recent rainfall, you may be able to walk around or picnic on the falls — reader Patrick C. suggests visiting them “after a big spring rain.”

Another tip comes from Geruza P., who suggests: “Look at the bird space created. You can sit and observe them. They place food and [the birds] come.”

Pro tip: This park is listed as one of the best parks to see a Golden-cheeked warbler.

A hiking trail alongside the Pedernales river.

Enjoy hikes alongside the Pedernales River.

Photo by ATXtoday

What to do

Pedernales Falls State Park is 5,212 acres, so there’s a lot to do, including:

  • Camping, starting at $10 per night
  • Hiking and biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Swimming, tubing, and kayaking
  • Fishing

Make a reservation to visit Pedernales Falls State Park.

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