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South Llano River State Park, TX

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In 1876 a wagon train from Missouri arrived in Junction, Texas. Led by Benjamin F. Pepper, the group contained Pepper's extended family as well as some other settlers. The clan settled south of Junction along the South Llano River, with one of Pepper's daughters and her husband Sid Thomas eventually amassing about 2000 acres of ranch land. In 1910, upon retiring, Sid and Mary sold the land to Walter White Buck, Sr. Buck added another 500 acres to the property and moved into the hand-hewn log structure that now serves as park headquarters. Walter Senior died in 1933 and Walter Junior took over the ranch. Taking care of his mother until her death in 1940, Walter Jr never married. Concerned about the breaking up of many ranches for weekend homes for urban dwellers, Buck gave his ranch to the state in 1977with the stipulation that it be used for only wildlife conservation and/or park purposes. Located about three miles south of Junction, the park was opened to the public in 1990, offering opportunities for camping, hiking/biking, tubing/canoeing and wildlife preservation.

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About a mile in from the park entrance is the headquarters building where campers register. This was once Walter Buck's ranch house.

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Since we were planning to arrive on President's Day, we had made a reservation, which turned out to be quite unnecessary - there were lots of empty sites from which to choose. We ended up on site 27 near the far end of the campground loop road.

Date of visit: Feb 2014

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Sites here are all back-in and are all pretty much the same. Here are sites 25 and 23.

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There's a nice mix of sun and shade at most sites, although in February with no leaves on the trees, shade is minimal. These are sites 33 and 34.

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Site 41 is located alongside a short trail of .4 of a mile that leads to the South Llano River.

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There are several handicapped sites with lots of cement paths around them that connect to the central bathhouse. This is #46.

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Here are sites54-58. #57, on the left, is the sunniest site in the park.

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Site 1, as one enters the campground, is a bit unique in having a shaded picnic table up on a banking.

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Sites 4,6,8.

See those white lines? You need to be sure to park between them; the rangers are quite vigilant about issuing warnings and even fining flagrant abusers.

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In the center of the campground is a modern bathhouse, quite clean and offering free hot showers.

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There are about 10 walk-in tent sites in a separate area. They are all within 500' of the parking area.

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The tent area has its own modern vault toilet, but it's only a short walk to the main campground bathhouse.

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South Llano River is a haven for birds, chief among them the Rio Grande turkey, which has a very picky taste in it's nesting and mating habits. The park offers just what they like, and so over the winter months a portion of the park is open only from 10 AM to 3 PM, so as not to disturb them when they return to roost later in the afternoon. This viewing blind is down near the river, a short walk from the campground.

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The river is a popular place for tubing and canoeing in warmer weather.

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There is a total of about ten miles of hiking and biking trails in the park.

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About a mile or so from the parking area is a primitive camping area. Here one finds 4-5 campsites with tables.

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Near the primitive sites is this "sky-box" outhouse.

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We spotted several armadillos rooting about in the campground.

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Not the greatest shot of a road-runner we spotted off in the distance.

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One morning I took a walk up the hill behind the campground to a scenic overlook. The campground is at center left just above the light green trees.

Amenities

75 sites: 58 w/ E(30A)/W - $20

12 Walk-in tent sites - $15

5 hike-in primitive sites - $8

Daily entrance fee of $4/person/day

Hot showers

Dump station available

VZW Roaming, no data; no wi-fi

Coord: 30.44649 N, 99.80136 W

 

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