Bastrop State Park
When I don’t have a big trip planned, but still feel that itch to get the heck out of Dodge, I start looking around for interesting destinations closer to home. Texas can be a tricky departure point because it is so freaking big – it is an major effort just to get out of the state! Luckily, there are lots of places worth visiting nearby (even if what I really long for is something more exotic).
Recently, I visited a couple of Texas’ state parks. I wanted to get out into the country before the heat of the summer makes being outdoors too unpleasant. Blanco State Park is about an hour west of Austin. It’s tiny, but there is a nice slow-moving river running through it, and it was a pleasant place to spend a few hours. O spent most of the time playing at the water’s edge. Blanco State Park has campsites available; there are also screened cabins available for rent.
Blanco State Park - that's a walled--off swimming area just right of center
Next we went to Bastrop State Park, about 45 minutes east of Austin. I was curious to see how the park was doing after barely surviving the Labor Day Fire of 2011. Specifically, I wanted to see how the historic CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) –built stone cabins and other structures looked – I spent half a summer measuring and drawing some of these charming little buildings many years ago (See the results here). I knew they had survived, thanks to the heroic efforts of firefighters and park employees, but wasn’t sure how well.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the forest is recovering nicely, and the buildings are in great shape too. Trees are still blackened, and the lack of foliage means that you can see much farther. But the park staff is working hard to prevent erosion and help the native species regain their place. The cabins looked great and nicely taken care of – they all had brand-new wood shingle roofs and their funky stone walls were as solid and sweet as ever. You can reserve one for the night, or camp under the stars.
Civilian Conservation Corps Cabin #4 at Bastrop State Park
A fence made from reclaimed burned trees
At the end of the day we hit the pool – a large oval-shaped oasis with plenty of places to sit in the shade around the edge. If you ask nicely the staff will loan you a kickboard.
The pool at Bastrop State Park