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RVing the Beautiful Blanco River

Remember as a kid when summer break from school meant long, hot days spent playing in the coolness of a nearby river or stream, when happy days were spent in nature's boundless wonder?

You can experience that carefree feeling again at the Hill Country hideaway of Blanco State Park, a magical place that brings back childhood memories of our "Wonder Years", a step back in time when life moved slower and bliss often came with the ebb and flow of the water's current.

The center of attention at this Hill Country camper's hideaway is the cool sparkling, spring-fed Blanco river, bordered by large overhanging cypress trees. The river flows gently over two small low-water dams that create a calm, safe, shallow swimming area for all ages - a perfect escape from the Texas heat.

The ambiance of the park takes you back to a simpler time when relaxation and fun were as easy as sitting by a river, playing in its' cool waters or fishing from the banks and having a nice long easy going conversation with friends.

Blanco State Park is centrally located in the Texas Hill Country 40 miles north of San Antonio and 48 miles West of Austin, just four blocks from the historic downtown square in Blanco.

Full of Hill Country charm, the town is graced by no less than 37 buildings and a courthouse that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Blanco, which means "white" in Spanish, was so named because of it's notable limestone banks along the river.

Established in 1853 by pioneer stockmen who fought long and hard to fortify their homes and ranches against hostile Comanche, the community has been a ranch and farm trade center since its inception, and still depends largely on agriculture and livestock as its economic base.

In recent years, a growing lavender industry has added to the agriculture economy of the region, due largely to the climate and alkaline limestone soils that make the area particularly suitable for growing lavender, so much so that it has been compared to the European region around Provence, where most of the worlds' lavender is grown. There are currently at least nine lavender farms in the Blanco region that offer farm tours. An annual lavender festival in June each year celebrates the blooming season.

If you're RVing the area, you'll also want to check out the Wimberley Glass Blowers just down the road. These remarkable craftsmen create their beautiful works for visitors everyday except Tuesday and Sunday. If you have never observed the process of glass blowing, you're in for a real treat.

Also nearby is a spectacular scenic drive you won't want to miss, a trek over the Devils Backbone is a must when you're in the area. Take R.M. 32 from U.S. 281 two miles south of Blanco towards San Marcos. The best time of the day for this road trip is around sunrise or sunset when large herds of white-tailed deer can be seen across the landscape.

Visitors to this strange geographic area have verified its claim to be the most haunted hills in Texas. Local stories abound with reports of apparitions, ranging from 16th century Spanish monks, Native American spirits that walk the hills, and even a couple of witness reports of an entire company of Confederate soldiers traveling on horse back. The horses hooves allegedly sounded like thunder and, in one case, shook the walls of a nearby bunk house.

Campers have also reported smelling camp fires in places where fires are not allowed, and report they were 'followed by unseen people' while hiking. Hunters have gotten into the act as well, often talking about footsteps at the bottom of their deer stands when there was no one else around. The strangest reports, however, have come from a few that say they where possessed by the spirit of an animal, usually a wolf, while visiting this strangely odd area.

If your not up for the haunting aspect of exploring the land, you'll find the drive alone is breathtaking enough.

The park offers opportunities for camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking, nature study, boating (electric motors only), and fishing.

For the RVer lost without their internet connection, Blanco State Park is a participant in a pilot program to test the feasibility of offering Wireless Internet (Wifi) services to park visitors through private membership. This one-year test program is being offered through a partnership with Tengo Internet, Inc. This service does not rely on any park financial support and is funded directly by the provider, who is reimbursed through fees levied on users. For more information contact the park or: www.tengointernet.com

Directions:
The park is located on the south side of Blanco, 40 miles north of San Antonio on US Highway 281; turn on Park Road 23 or 48 miles west of Austin on US Highway 290 to US Highway 281, then south on Park Road 23.

Area RV Campgrounds:
29 campsites with varying amenities and sizes

Miller Creek RV Park:
Charming cabins and RV campground 8.5 miles north of Blanco, 830-868-2655, www.millercreekrvpark.com

River Oaks Riverfront RV Resort
520 River Oaks Dr.
Blanco Texas 78606
830-833-2322

Johnson City 12 Miles North of Blanco, Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, 830-868-5700, www.lbjcountry.com

Canyon Lake 15 - 25 Miles East of Blanco, Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce, 830-964-3332, www.canyonlakechamber.com

Area Restaurant Options:
Blanco Rose: Rustic and quaint, offering lunch 6 days a week, located just south of Blanco on Highway 281, 830-833-2888 www.patsythompson.com/blancorose/

Riley's Bar B Que/Steakhouse: Conveniently located on the Square in Blanco, open for lunch and dinner, 830-833-4166 www.rileysbarbq.com
Sunset Restaurant: Varied menu offering lunch and dinner 6 days a week (closed Tuesday), and breakfast on weekends, located behind the Courthouse on the Square in Blanco, 830-833-5776

The Deutsch Apple Bakery & Coffee House: Providing world famous pastries daily except Sunday, 830-833-2882 www.homemadepies.com