Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wildlife Haven: South Llano River State Park

We spent the past three nights at South Llano River State Park, a place with zero Verizon 3g or 4g signal but just enough 1X signal to be able to make phone calls. Immersion in nature is the reason to visit this park and boy did it provide nature in abundance!

Though we had a reservation in advance, the sites are not assigned until arrival. We'd scoped out the camp sites via the park map and Google Maps prior to arrival so we knew we'd like to be in site 21, 23 or 25, and 23 happened to be available. These three sites are situated along the curve at the far end of the campground, each opens onto forest and are well separated from each other. There are a total of 58 water/electric sites here.

The park supports abundant wildlife in a variety of habitats. The South Llano River flows along the North edge of the park, pecan trees grow in the river flood zone, and the juniper and cedar forests of the hill country rise away from the river bottom. We saw dozens of deer each day and several armadillos. There are even beaver in the river, though we did not see any.

There are 18 miles of trails here and we must have hiked at least 12 of them, some multiple times. All of the trails along the river or in the pecan bottoms are flat, if you head into the hills you'll get a good workout.

There are several elaborate bird blinds set up in the park, each with a water feature for the birds, feeders and enticing bird habitat, with comfy seating and bird identification books in the humans viewing enclosure.

Turkeys are also a big deal here. Approximately 800 Rio Grande Turkey roost here each year between October and April...numbers like that would certainly be a sight to see! We only saw a handful of turkeys during our stay, perhaps the few males that had not managed to attract a female during the normal roosting season.

I'll let the photos tell the story of our wonderful stay at South Llano River State Park...

Site #23, deep and private.

Rosie is a bit freaked out by the deer so near our campsite!

The view from our big picture window.

We took our chairs just a few feet into the forest from our site for total privacy and nature immersion.

Most of the other sites have less privacy, though most are well separated from each other.

The South Llano River has undercut the bank and a large pecan tree is now providing fish and turtle habitat.

Walking the bottom land.

We were wildly excited to see our first armadillo!

We had two full days in the park so we headed into the hills for several miles each day. I didn't take many pictures up in the hills because we didn't see many animals and the vegetation consisted of dense juniper and oak forest with views of hills covered in more dense juniper and oak forest. We enjoyed our hikes, they just weren't particularly photo worthy!

The bottom land was prettier in our opinion, brilliant spring green everywhere you looked.

One of many viewing blinds scattered throughout the park.

One of the prettiest parts of the hill country trails!

View from the scenic viewpoint.
You can see tiny bits of RV's right behind Hans' head, that's the campground.
The pasture on the right is private property.

This is the type of environment the armadillos forage in.

Armadillos are amazingly fast creatures...most of my photos looked like this due to their speed!
We'd spot one, make our way in its direction and it would take off through the prickly pear landscape,
heading for its hole.

Our second evening turned sunny, lighting up the green all around us.

Vermilion flycatcher

They are hard to miss!

Pretty scissor tailed flycatchers are new to us in Texas.

One of the few tom turkeys strutting his stuff across a meadow.

There's an armadillo in this shot...

I stopped when I saw this one and then slowly crept towards it,
they have poor vision so I hoped to get closer without it seeing me...

He senses me and stands up to sniff the air...

See how easy it is for them to hide in this environment?!

Here's another one trying to sniff out the danger.
Notice the hairy belly!

We even had a beautiful sunset one evening.

This was a wonderful back-to-nature stopover for us. We'd definitely stay here again, it's peaceful and beautiful and the wildlife can't be beat!


  1. That area out there is pretty good bicycle riding. The South Llano River is also a good yakking river for day trips. Shuttles etc can be arranged in town. Some pretty good restaurants in town also. It is one of my favorite parks. Three days of free camping available at the city park on the lake.

  2. Yeah! So happy you got to see armadillos! And one standing up on its hind feet - I've never seen that! Love that vermillion flycatcher too. Looks like a beautiful place. Making a note to visit someday soon.

    1. I actually saw three different armadillos standing up sniffing the air for my scent! We were armadillo crazy....hunting them several times a day! They are so interesting!

  3. We like this park!
    But we did not see the Armadillo and the Scissor Tailed flycatcher which are still on our list of wild animals to see!
    And you had an armadillo posed for you, great shot!

    1. We purposely went searching for the armadillos, we were lucky!

  4. That was one of our favorite parks in Texas. We planned to stay a few days and ended up spending a week. I looked back on our blog and had written that with our Wilson amplifier we had a good internet connection there. Maybe because we were in a different part of the campground?

    1. Interesting, we found there to be NO Verizon signal. Perhaps you were looking for AT&T?

  5. Awesomeness! I can't wait until we have time to go to South Llano River for a camping trip. Bonus! Armadillos. Your photos are amazing. Great blog.

  6. Definitely a beautiful park. Seeing the prickly pear in with the grass and brush, the armadillos' exterior makes a bit more sense :-) Can't wait to see one ourselves! Love the pic of the shadow pair with the shadow tree.

  7. the Scissor Tailed flycatcher is a summer resident in Texas and are jsut beginning to arrive here, we love that state park...

  8. What a very cool spot!! Love Hans and Rosie resting in nature. Rosie has the best seat in the house with that large window and her special seat:) We've never seen an armadillo in the wild. Your shots are fabulous, especially the sitting up ones. Who knew they had a furry belly!!! Glad you enjoyed the area:)

  9. Wow Lisa what a great post. I love love your campsite. The standing armadillo is fantastic. I was only able to get the tail end as they scurried away from me. Your bird pictures are outstanding. I've never seen the scissor tailed fly catcher. What an wonderful bird he is. You bet I've put this park and this site on my list. Thanks so much!

  10. I have to laugh at your armadillo hunting! When I was married and living in TX, my husband camped out all night on the lawn on a cot, armed with his golf club, determined to eradicate them, as they were digging up his perfect zoysia grass.LOL!

  11. This looks just perfect. Now it's on our list. And I looked for that scissor-tailed flycatcher the whole time we were in Texas, and never saw it. Thanks for the great photo. It's almost like being there.

  12. Looks like a wonderful place to stay. Love all your wildlife pics!

  13. By the way this is Deas. Code name Big Canoe!

  14. Oh man, that looks like heaven! Thanks for sharing it.

  15. That's one of our favorite Texas parks -- so glad you liked it, too. Beautiful photo of the Scissor-tailed flycatcher!

  16. We enjoyed our stay there but couldn't pick up any Verizon signal or we would have stayed longer. Great collection of photos.

  17. That is one beautiful did you make yourselves leave? The vermillion flycatcher and the scissor tailed flycatcher are beautiful Lisa! Glad you saw the armadillo. We had them in Georgia. They can sure mess up a yard! Never saw their!

    Wonderful scenic photos!

  18. Beautiful place and great fun with the armadillos!!!!

  19. What a great post and a reminder of our stay in the very same Site 23 in October last year. You definitely managed to discover more wildlife than us. I loved the standing armadillo shot. Despite our best efforts we didn't come across one while we there.

    See you down the road.