Do you recall “… I remember that old Frio River where I learned to swim…” from the song “All my ex’s live in Texas” by George Strait? Well, that is precisely what this blog is about.
My husband and I enjoy visiting the Texas Hill Country. I particularly like the area comprised of the Frio, Sabinal, and Nueces rivers and its associated little towns and activities. It’s my favorite part of Texas so let this serve as my tribute to it 😉 To place the area on the map, think of it as being about 65 miles west of San Antonio. However, it is easier to access it via aircraft than via car since there isn’t a straight road to it. It’s a 0.7 hour flight (at 110 kts) or a 1.7 hour drive from San Antonio. It also features beautiful country to fly over.
Source: Google Maps and Microsoft PowerPoint
As the Texas Hill Country River Region (THCRR) website (https://www.visituvaldecounty.com/p/rivers/308) states, “the Frio River winds through the heart of the Texas Hill Country, running shallow and crystal clear with spring-fed waters. When you go for a dip in the Frio, you’ll love the pretty views overhead, including the tall limestone bluffs, big cypress trees, and stunning birds. If you’re looking for a great place to fish, canoe, kayak or tube, this river’s for you.” The word "frío” is Spanish for cold, a clear reference to the coolness of the river – perfect for those hot summer months. The river can be accessed in multiple ways: 1) via Garner State Park, 2) via any of the river outfitters in the area, 3) by staying at a cabin or RV park along the river, 4) by visiting a day use area, or 5) by parking near any of the river crossings (but keep an eye on the street signs to make sure it’s legal).
Besides the Frio River, several Texas State Parks (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/) are very close by. Garner State Park (GSP) is often voted “Texas’ most popular state park” and it’s not by mistake. In addition to the pretty river, the camping and hiking opportunities (especially hiking up Old Baldy which offers panoramic views of the area) are quite awesome. And let’s not forget the “jukebox dances” that have been happening since the early 1940s. Lost Maples State Natural Area (SNA) is the only maple forest in Texas and it is very popular in the fall when leaves change color.
View from Old Baldy at Garner State Park
View from the East Trail at Lost Maples SNA
The area is also known for caves and Mexican free-tailed bats like to visit them during the summer months. The Kickapoo Caverns State Natural Area and the Frio Cave (www.friobatflight.com) are two of the most famous places to visit to see them come out just after sunset. Bats are quite the aviators! They’re impressive to see.
Pictures above from the Frio Cave
I know there are several pilots who are also motorcycle aficionados. This area is well known by bike riders as well.
Ready to visit? Your best two options, flying wise, are Real County Airport (49R) (https://www.airnav.com/airport/49R) in Leakey or Garner Field Airport (KUVA) in Uvalde (https://www.airnav.com/airport/KUVA). 49R is my preferred option because it brings you to the middle of the action; however, keep in mind they don’t have fuel, the Airport does not have a courtesy car, and there is no rental car or taxi service in town.
If you’re planning a long stay or want ground transportation, KUVA may be your best bet as you can rent a car and explore. While there, you may be able to check out Lancair’s manufacturer (https://lancair.com/about/) as well.
However, if you’re only planning on visiting for a weekend and just want to relax and play in the river, definitely consider 49R. I can suggest the Frio Pecan Farm (https://friopecanfarm.com/) or the Frio River Landing (https://frioriverlanding.com/) for both lodging and fun! The Frio River Landing only offers a cottage for 10 people but it’s within walking distance from the ramp. The pecan farm has cabins and houses of all sizes and types and, while it’s a couple of miles away, they can arrange for transportation to/from the Airport. Once there, and especially if you bring a cooler with some food and drinks with you, there won’t be much else you’ll need for the weekend. The pecan farm is a destination in itself and has a pizza joint during the summer months.
The Frio Pecan Farm with 49R's runway on the top part of the photo (page North/South)
During your trip to the Frio River, you may also consider a hop over to the Ox Ranch. FMI, visit https://airtrails.weebly.com/texas/ox-hunting-ranch-in-the-texas-hill-country
Get out and explore! Fly safe and fly often!
(As part of our PIC responsibilities, it’s important that we check NOTAMs before every flight. Keep in mind 49R’s only runway is closed until August 12, 2020 for repairs)
BLOGS ON THIS PAGE
- That Old Frio River
- The Texas Air Trail - Visiting the Lone Star State!
- Combining Flight Training with Tourism... a Trip to the Big Bend Area in Texas
- Ox Hunting Ranch in the Texas Hill Country
- The $100 Hamburger Run: A Plane Ride With the Works