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Tag: Texas Hill Country

Wordless Wednesday: Johnson Family Cabin

Log Cabin built by LBJ's grandparents

Hiking Balcones Canyonlands

The view of the Colorado River from Warbler VistaThe drive from Fredericksburg back to Austin was the longest driving day of our Hill Country Road Trip. In terms of some of the road trips we’ve taken, an hour and forty-five minutes drive are not that bad, but it doesn’t hurt to get out of the car and stretch your legs and take in some natural beauty.

To stretch our legs on this day, we decided to stop at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Marble Falls, Balcones is about an hour drive from Austin and would be a good place to get away from the city and get into nature. As a National Wildlife Refuge, this area is popular with birders. We stopped at the Warbler Vista section of the park which offers three fairly short trails to explore. If it’s not obvious by the name, this area is prime warbler habitat.

Trail through trees

We started our visit at the end of the road at the sunset viewing platform (above). This overlook gives a view of the Hill Country as well as Lake Travis. After taking in the view and enjoying the (once again) warm Texas sunshine, we embarked on the 1.25 mile Cactus Rocks loop trail. We began on the northern branch of the trail which was significantly flatter and easier than the southern portion which had more elevation change. Overall, the trail was a pretty easy hike in the Texas wilderness. If you are looking to escape the city and get back into nature on a trip to Austin or just a place to stop between Fredericksburg and Austin, this park is quiet and off the beaten path.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Fredericksburg Lights

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

When planning our time in the Texas Hill Country, I did a ton of research, saving places to TripAdvisor. When I looked at the map, most of those pins were near Fredericksburg, so we planned to spend extra time in that area. Fredericksburg was also mentioned heavily in the Hill Country episode of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love which I have written about in previous installments of this trip report as one of the inspirations for this after-Christmas trip.

Fredericksburg, like many of the other towns in the Hill Country,  was founded by German immigrants in the mid-19th century fleeing from religious persecution back home. Today, the German feel is alive and well in Fredericksburg and from the architecture to the food. We had a wonderful German meal at Austlander, right on Main Street downtown. We also had a great breakfast and took some amazing pastries back to the hotel from The Old Germany Bakery. Honestly, the pastries may have been better than the ones we got from Naeglins in New Braunfels.

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights in the Marketplatz

Fredericksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg was the home of Admiral Chester Nimitz who was a fleet commander of the United States Navy during World War II. One of the sites that makes up the museum is the Admiral Nimitz Gallery which is housed in the old Nimitz Hotel that was run by Nimitz’ grandfather when it was built in the mid-1800s.

The museum is dedicated exclusively to the Pacific theater of the war. Part of the museum is the Pacific Combat Zone which features a re-creation of a Pacific island battlefield, including a Quonset Hut, a PT boat and base, a Japanese tank, palm trees, and machine gun placements. In the 1970s, the museum was gifted with a Japanese Garden of Peace and in 1995, the museum added a Plaza of the presidents that pays tribute to the ten United States Presidents who served during the war.

Another big draw to the area is the many wineries. If you read the trip report outline of this trip, you know we visited a lot of them. I will dedicate next week’s blog post to that exploration!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Cathedral Room

Cathedral Room at Cascade Caverns

Cascade Caverns

Cave from Above Ground

Cavern from Above Ground

The Texas Hill Country is known for wildflowers, wine, and natural beauty. I was surprised to learn that caves are a very common natural phenomenon in the Hill Country. Many Hill Country towns have their own caves. We decided to do some cave exploration on our drive from San Antonio to Fredericksburg. A few of the caves in the area require reservations and were all booked up because it was a holiday (New Year’s Eve). We ended up at Cascade Caverns because they operate on a first come first serve basis.

Cascade Caverns SignCascade Caverns, located in Boerne (pronounce Bur-nee), has been offering public tours since 1932. Informal tours date all the way back to 1875. The tour lasts 45 minutes to an hour and takes you through a half-mile of winding corridors to the cathedral room, 132 feet belowground. The shining star of the cave tour is the cathedral room which is home to Texas’ only natural in-cavern waterfall. The cave maintains an interior temperature of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit all year. It was raining when we visited but water seeps through the cave allowing it to grow and change (slowly) all the time. In 1993, part of Father Hood, a Hollywood Pictures Film starring Patrick Swayze and Halle Barry was filmed in the cavern. A giant T-Rex prop from the film is still standing by the gift shop today.

Cave dwelling creatures are very unusual creatures. The rare Cascade Caverns salamander, a brown and white, translucent amphibian was first discovered in this cave and can only be found in Cascade Caverns and the nearby Cave without a Name. Many tricolored bats also make their home in the cave.

Cathedral Room Ceiling

Ceiling in the Cathedral Room

This was my first cave experience (although I have toured a few mines) and I appreciated that the ceiling was high enough that you are able to walk upright through most of the cave. It was surprising to me that you don’t have to wear a hard hat when on the tour, but I guess the ceilings are high enough in most places that it’s not needed.

The tour was very reasonable ($19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children at the time of writing) and the cave is not far out of the way if you are traveling between San Antonio and Fredericksburg. Beware that it can be wet in the cave, so appropriate clothing and shoes are important when you’re exploring a cave. In the summer, the cave does occasionally flood, so it is important that you call ahead to make sure tours are operating. If you are looking to camp nearby, there is a campground on the property. For more information about current tour offerings, visit CascadeCaverns.com.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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