Located in San Saba County, and just a couple of hours’ drive northwest of Austin, is a place where nature thrives. Home to beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous swimming holes, and fascinating caves, Colorado Bend State Park is one of the top state parks to visit in Texas.
A place where you can leave the city behind, the park is known for having something for everyone.
Without knowing what the park has to offer, though, you could find yourself unprepared for your visit. We have gathered here all of the fun things to do in Colorado Bend State Park, plus what you need to know before heading out.
Here’s what to know about visiting Colorado Bend State Park!
The Best Things to Do in Colorado Bend State Park
Relax in nature.
If you could have a short statement that describes Colorado Bend State Park, that phrase may be secluded beauty. If you are looking for an urban park feel, this is not the place to find it.
The first thing you realize about this popular spot is, after entering the gate, it takes driving many miles through undisturbed nature before you even reach the camping areas.
With over 5,000 acres of parkland, this once Texas ranch land still brings memories of the Texas Hill Country’s rawness before society crept its way into it.
This untamed persona that shows itself to each visitor drives nature lovers to the park, along with several adventurous things to do.
Hike on a wide variety of trails.
Colorado Bend State Park offers some of the most diverse trails in Texas. With the park’s size and boasting a topography that includes rocky outcrops, creek beds, and forest, no hiking trail is the same.
At least fourteen different trails make up the hiking and biking system within the park. Altogether, the trails add up to around 30 miles of sightseeing.
Some trails are as short as ¼ mile, while the longest single trail is about five miles in length. For the person who likes a much longer challenge, most of the trails interconnect, giving them more time on the trails.
The trails also include different challenge ratings as some climb and descend, while others trod along the valley floors. Whatever your physical abilities, there is sure to be a trail that’s right for you.
Spend time at Gorman Falls.
One of these fourteen trails has one of the best treats to see at the halfway mark. At 1.5 miles in (one way), the Gorman Falls Trail takes you to the 70-foot drop of Gorman Falls.
Many Texas waterfalls run only during the rainy season and dry up during the summer. Gorman Falls is different as it flows year-round. So, no matter what time of year you visit, the falls will be available for viewing.
Maybe the best part of the falls is the seclusion. There are several days a year where you can find yourself the only person enjoying them. When choosing trails to hike, make sure the one to Gorman Falls is on your list.
With the area around the falls being sensitive to damage, swimming is off-limits, but the natural beauty for viewing is spectacular.
Swim in clear pools of water.
For those hot summer days, make your way up Spicewood Springs trail to find a swimming hole for relief from the heat.
Unlike many parks, Colorado Bend State Park doesn’t have a single swimming area, such as a lake or grotto. Taking a swim at this state park offers many more opportunities.
The further you travel up the trail, the more clear swimming pools of water you will find. The best part is, if you don’t like the first one, or if it is too crowded for you, keep going until you find the perfect fit.
Remember, the popularity of the park is its raw ruggedness. There will be no one to act as a lifeguard, so you and your family are on your own for swimming safety.
There are also 6 miles of Colorado River running through the park for those who want to take a river swim. Whichever swim you choose, the cool waters of this Texas gem will keep you cooled off in the summer sun.
Test your spelunking skills.
A specific breed of persons come to Colorado Bend State Park for the various caves that meander underground.
The park’s natural limestone and millions of years of water flowing across it have created a cave system that gives cave explorers miles to walk and crawl through.
Some of the caves are no bigger than the size of a person to squeeze into, so for those who are claustrophobic, a hike on the outside might be a better choice for you.
For everyone else who does not mind tight spaces, you can choose a tour that provides safety gear and shows off some of the park’s best caves.
The caves do not have any artificial light installed. They have been kept in their natural state and are visible with only the flashlight or headlamp you bring in with you. Most importantly, reservations are required for cave tours at the park.
Hit the trails via mountain bike.
Some people love trails as much as any hiker, except they prefer to navigate them on a mountain bike. For my East Texas friends, this park offers a true opportunity to get off of those flat Gulf Coast trails and enjoy single tracks that climb and fall throughout rocky outcrops.
Be sure to bring plenty of food and water for recovery time, as these hills are calorie burners.
Go camping in Texas’ Colorado Bend State Park.
In keeping with its wilderness theme, Colorado Bend State Park is one of the few parks of its size that does not offer RVs full hookups. Those who own RVs of less than 30 feet in length are welcome to bring them to the park as there are designated areas for them. Potable water is in the area, but electricity must be from a generator only. All generators must be turned off at 10:00 pm.
All camping sites except the hike-in primitive ones are within close proximity to the Colorado River. Compost toilets are available in the area as well as potable water. Picnic tables, fire rings, and lantern posts are also standard at each site other than the hike-ins.
Hike-in primitive sites have neither water nor restrooms nearby. All camping must take place within designated areas only.
The park also has three group camping areas. Along the river’s edge, one holds up to 48 people, while another sits about 150 yards from the river and allows 25 campers. The third is available away from the water and is situated in the canyon, catering to a population of no more than 16 persons.
Campsites range in price from $10 up to $15 for regular sites a day, and $25 to $75 for the group sites.
Go fishing or kayaking.
Heck, why not do both? Access to the Colorado River from the park lets you enjoy a day on the river with your kayak and fishing pole.
The river is known for great fishing whether you choose to fish from the shore or a kayak.
A fish cleaning station is also at the ready to clean and prepare your daily catch. Remember, you don’t need a fishing license in Texas State Park.
For those who want to forgo fishing and paddle around the river, the clear Colorado is a perfect place to enjoy a kayak. The river is slow-moving on its way through the park, so paddling up and downstream is not an issue.
If you do not have your own, the park rents kayaks out to guests.
Tips for Visiting Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
As mentioned, Colorado Bend State Park is as close to nature as you can get while still having some state park infrastructure around you.
This means while hiking, biking, and exploring, there are several things to watch for. One is that the summer heat can reach extreme temperatures here.
Bring plenty of water when on the trails and away from your campsites and vehicle. It does not take long to get overheated from the sun during the months of July and August.
The same goes for winter when plenty of clothing should be worn to prevent hypothermia during an emergency. A good idea is to throw a thermal blanket in your backpack in case you find yourself stuck overnight in the elements.
Secondly, the park is home to wild animals. The key is if you leave them alone, they will usually stay to themselves. No matter how cute and cuddly a wild animal seems, make sure to give them a wide berth, and whatever you do, don’t pick them up.
Finally, enjoy nature as it is intended by leaving the electronics packed away. There is enough beauty in Colorado Bend State Park to keep you busy for hours and days. Take deliberate moments to mentally make yourself part of the park when visiting.
Cost + Hours for Colorado Bend State Park
A day pass to visit Colorado Bend State Park is $5 per person, and the park is open to non-campers from 6:00 AM to 10:oo PM daily.