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Traversing rainbow rocks at Inks Lake State Park

The most recent edition of our state parks series takes us northwest of Austin, to Inks Lake.

Facing down toward pink granite at Inks Lake State Park, the scene shows a large rock with colorful lichen on it, underneath a blue sky.

Find ancient pink granite and gneiss at Inks Lake State Park.

Photo by ATXtoday

In honor of 100 years of Texas State Parks, we’re visiting eight in Travis and surrounding counties. We’ve already visited McKinney Falls and Pedernales Falls State Parks, but this month, you voted for us to visit Inks Lake State Park.

Let’s take a drive northwest into Burnet County to learn more about what makes this park special.

History

Prehistoric people, Apache, and Comanche occupied these banks as long as ~8,000 years ago. White settlement moved into the area in the mid-1800s, but Inks Lake itself didn’t exist until 1938, when the LCRA built the Inks Dam during the Great Depression.

The land for the park was acquired shortly afterward, in 1940. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps was hired to build out the park after completing work at Longhorn Cavern State Park, but funding dried up when World War II began.

The State Parks Board completed the park on its own, and officially opened up the land in 1950.

Overlooking Inks Lake, with rocks, trees, and flowers in the foreground.

Thanks to the Inks Dam, Inks Lake is full year-round.

Photo by ATXtoday

What to see

Don’t miss the pink gneiss and granite. Much of this rock is left over from the Grenville Orogeny, a tectonic event that created a Himalayan-like mountain chain in the US and Mexico ~1 billion years ago. These mountains have eroded, but the ancient rocks are still around.

Visitors can also see stunning wildflower displays and hike to Devil’s Waterhole, a small canyon and swimming area.

A close-up of water near the shores of Inks lake, with lake grasses, tree trunks, and other plants emerging out of it.

Reader David L. suggested we hike around the lake, so we tried out the Lake Trail at Inks Lake Park.

Photo by ATXtoday

What to do

Several readers recommended trying out the hiking trails, and reader David L. had additional suggestions: “Hike around the lake … do Longhorn Caverns after, then have lunch at Blue Bonnet Cafe.”

The dam also means Inks Lake is full year-round, making water activities always in season. Try:

  • Swimming, water skiing, paddleboarding, and canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching
  • Camping, starting at $11 per night

Make a reservation to visit Inks Lake State Park online.