Rio Frio River, Texas Attractions

by Scott Cornell

The Rio Frio River is a 47-mile-long river in west Texas. It begins in the village of Kent and runs down to Live Oak County, although the parts of the river that are most frequented by paddlers generally end around Concan. The Rio Frio River features some of the state's purest waters, as it is spring-fed and flows over a limestone and gravel bed. Tall bald cypress tress and limestone bluffs line the river banks. The Rio Frio is a prime destination for the outdoor enthusiast.

Paddling

Take a kayak or canoe down the Rio Frio River. It would make a good one- or two-day trip. However, be sure to check the water levels before you start out. The Rio Frio is a shallow river and, while there's typically enough depth for paddling, it's best navigated in any season other than summer, which is when the riverbed typically dries up if there isn't enough rainfall.

Wildlife

The area around the Rio Frio River is known as one of the hot spots for birding in Texas. There are more than 150 species of birds to be seen, such as the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo, both of which are neotropical migratory birds on the federal endangered species list. Other bird species include the green kingfisher, painted bunting, long-billed thrasher and olive sparrow. The area is also home to the world's second largest Mexican free-tailed bat population.

Garner State Park

Garner State Park (tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/garner) in Concan is located about 10 miles south of where the Rio Frio River begins. It covers approximately 1,420 acres, which includes about 10 acres of the Rio Frio River. Although the Rio Frio is considered a shallow river, there are parts deep enough within the park's boundaries for swimming. Visitors may also rent paddle boats and inner tubes to use on the river or hike the park's many nature trails. Additionally, the park hosts jukebox dancing every night during the summer at its concession building. Another park attraction is a miniature golf course.

Lodging

Garner State Park offers over 200 campsites for overnight visitors but there are also other places to stay along the route. Rio Frio Lodging (friolodging.com) offers private vacation homes and cabins on the river. The site is located in the unincorporated community of Rio Frio, located about 5 miles east of Garner State Park. Another option is Frio Bluff Cabins (www.friobluffcabins.com), which is located on a bluff close to the banks of the Rio Frio.