Friday, March 29, 2013

South Llano River State Park



March 18 - 21, 2013

We recently spent 3 nights at South Llano River State Park, located about 3 miles south of Junction, Texas. The park opened in 1990. We lived in Ozona, Texas, during most of the 1990s, and this became our favorite camping spot. Not only was it close to our home at that time, but it offered so much: a beautiful spring-fed river for swimming and tubing, miles of trails for hiking, beautiful trees and campground, and lots of wildlife to view. In the early days of the park – before it was “discovered” by the camping hordes – we seemed to have the park to ourselves. Those were lazy and good times. Today, the park is very popular, and it provides a great environment for outdoor lovers.

Pecan and other trees abound in the camping area, so almost every spot has some type of shade in the summer. All sites are paved, and all sites are back-in. The angle on some spots is difficult to negotiate for longer rigs. Our spot, number 49, was at a 90-degree angle. I had to remove my sway bars before backing in, but I normally do that when we check in anyway. Some sites have gentle angles and are much easier to negotiate. All sites have fire pits and picnic tables; many sites have covered picnic tables.

Our site -- #49.

Nice shaded sites, some with covered picnic tables. The pecan leaves will begin leafing out soon, providing good shade for hot weather camping.
Water and electricity are available at every spot; I believe all sites are 30-amp, but I'm not certain of this. There are no full hookups except for the 2 host sites. The dump station is located on the right as you leave the camping area. It is a “two-holer”, but is a bit tight. A row of dumpsters line the edge of the area, making for a sharp turn when leaving. In anticipation of this, I left my sway bars off until after leaving the dump station. 

This is the only state park we’ve been to in our travels in our current trailer where we could not pick up some type of TV reception on our antennae (Davis Mountains provides cable). We could also pick up only 1 FM radio station when we scanned. If you can’t live without media entertainment of some sort, this place may not be for you. But we came here to enjoy the outdoors, and enjoy them we did.

As we drove into the park, we saw a small herd of exotic hoofed animals on the private property bordering the west side of the park. I don’t know what they were, but I will take a stab and say they may have been axis deer; they were smaller than white-tail deer and a lighter tan color. 

Axis deer on neighboring property along entrance road of park.

This was to be the first of many wildlife sightings. After setting up the trailer following our arrival, we opened up all the windows to enjoy the beautiful day. We fixed a couple of sandwiches and sat at our dinette beside our big bay window and were looking outside. Donna spotted a colorful bird in a tree just outside the trailer. At first she thought it was a cardinal, but then noticed it had no crest. We also saw that it had dark wings. After consulting a bird book at a bird blind later, we came to believe it was a vermillionflycatcher.

Later that day, we drove into town. On the way out of the park, we saw our small herd of exotics again, this time lying in the field. On the opposite side of the road were 2 turkeys strutting near the river. On our return, a large buck crossed the road in front of us, then lingered along the roadside as we stopped to admire him. That night around our campfire, 2 white-tail deer grazed nearby. 

Two white-tail deer graze near our camp late one afternoon. That is the door to our trailer on the right, which shows how close they were.
In the distance, we could hear turkeys repeatedly gobbling as they roosted in the pecan trees along the nearby South Llano River, and mourning doves cooed back and forth at one another. We had enjoyed a good day of animal watching. In fact, we’ve always seen lots of wildlife at this park; it is a major reason why we enjoy this place so much.

We saw wildlife each day of our stay in the park. One day, a flock of at least 2 dozen moved through the center of the campground, taking their time as if they had no worries at all. The park is becoming very popular among bird enthusiasts. We saw no fewer than 4 bird blinds in the park.

More than 2 dozen turkeys move through our campground about noon.
The nights at the park were great. No highway sounds, no trains, no unnatural noise at all. The quiet nights provided some deep sleeping.

Donna and a young camper on the fishing pier at Buck Lake.
The South Llano River as it slices through the northern part of the park.





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