It’s Only Natural

No strip malls. No master-planned communities. Can this be northwest San Antonio?
Take A Hike: The trails at Government Canyon State Natural Area offer an escape from the ravages of concrete.
Photograph by Laurence Parent

The sights I saw on my drive to Government Canyon State Natural Area this winter pushed me to the brink of vandalism. The endless strip malls. The bulldozed hillsides. The dense housing developments named after the scenery they’d replaced. I was ready to crash my car into the next fake-waterfall subdivision entry I came to, but in the nick of time, I reached my destination: 8,622 acres of unsullied limestone canyons and live oak savannas, cut by creeks and peppered with springs, all sitting smack-dab against the northwest edge of San Antonio’s voracious sprawl.

Who had the foresight to not only save me from committing suburban sabotage but also rescue this chunk of quintessential Hill Country—itself once slated for development before the real estate bust in

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