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Ask the Wanderer: Gorman Falls, the High Plains, and Hill Country Retreats

Tips for trips across the state.

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Gorman Falls, in Colorado Bend State Park.
Photograph by Anthony George (via Flickr)

I’m always fielding questions from my friends and family about the best things to do and see in Texas. (There’s a lot.) So I thought I’d share some of these exchanges with you to help you plan your own wanderings. If you have questions—or suggestions—of your own, please post them in the comments below.

I’m planning a trip to check out Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park. Can you recommend any other cool places to visit and maybe a place to stay for the night within about an hour’s drive of the park? – Whitney F.

Colorado Bend State Park is one of my favorites—even when the falls aren’t exactly gushing! The trails, both hiking and paddling, are beyond gorgeous here (you can rent kayaks from the park office). And if you’re not claustrophic, definitely explore some of the park’s more than four hundred “wild” caves—i.e., they don’t have paved, lighted walkways like some of Texas’s better-known show caves (make a reservation here—oh, and bring your own flashlight!).

As for a place to stay, look into Canyon of the Eagles, on nearby Lake Buchanan. I’ve also got my eye on a couple of Airbnb rentals: this cabin in Lometa and the Wade Inn on Lake Buchanan. Over in Llano, about 45 minutes south of the park, there are a number of B&Bs, like the Badu House and Sandstone Street Bed & Breakfast. If you’re not acquainted with Llano, it has a number of shops in and near its historic courthouse square and is also home to the famous Cooper’s Old-Time Pit BBQ. The Castell General Store is another local institution/hangout worth visiting too.

And if you happen to be passing through Adamsville, about 17 miles north of Lampasas on US-281, be sure to stop in at the Down Unda Trading Post for Australian meat pies, fresh-baked Anzacs (biscuits), and other delicacies.

One of the cabins perched on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon.
One of the cabins perched on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon.

Photograph by Jordan Breal

My family and I will be road-tripping from Northeast Texas to Taos. Where’s a good place to stay about halfway between? Oh, and we aren’t afraid of quirky or historic! – Whitney C.

Y’all sound like my kind of travelers! And yes, an eleven-plus-hour drive sounds much more enjoyable with a long, overnight nap squeezed in.

If you’re taking US-287/I-40, I highly recommend looking into one of the three rustic (read: bare bones) cabins perched on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. They’re popular, so you’ll need to book in advance.

If you’re taking the slightly longer way—I-20/US-84—and going through the LBK area, there are a couple of options: the Slaton Harvey House, a B&B first opened in 1912 that has more flavor than your typical plain-vanilla roadside motels (speaking of: would also be a good excuse to stop in at the Slaton Bakery for some of their famous Vanilla Wafers); or the Woodrow House Bed & Breakfast, in Lubbock, where you can sleep in a Santa Fe caboose. That would give you a good road-trip story for sure.

A cabin along Cypress Creek at Camp Comfort.
A cabin along Cypress Creek at Camp Comfort.

Photograph by Jordan Breal

I want to send my husband away for a few days to enjoy a solo retreat in the Hill Country. He needs some time to gather thoughts, read, and maybe hike or swim. I was thinking a nice cabin near some water and trails. Do you have any suggestions? – Heather D.

Well, aren’t you the thoughtful wife! Here’s my short list:

  • Green Acres, in Elgin, which bills itself as “a retreat space for artists + travelers + sojourners,” has a couple of yurts (!) and a larger camper, plus walking trails in the woods. A couple places where he can eat nearby: Elgin Local Goods and Aviator Pizza & Brew.
  • I’ve always thought this Zen Cabin Airbnb, in Driftwood, looks great for a remote (but not too remote) getaway. It’s about a half hour from Pedernales Falls State Park (tell him to try the six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail) and Milton Reimers Ranch Park, known for its rock climbing and white bass fishing.
  • Camp Comfort, in Comfort (a little less than two hours from Austin), has two cabins on Cypress Creek (as well as four rooms), offers breakfast, and is close to a couple restaurants. Plus, Comfort is one of my favorite small towns.
  • Geronimo Creek Retreat, near Seguin, has tree houses and tepees and is on a creek.
  • Joshua Creek Ranch, near Boerne, usually accommodates larger hunting parties but I believe it has single rooms available as well (and shooting, fishing, etc when it’s not hunting season).
  • Over in Wimberley, there’s Sinya on Lone Man Creek, which would be an ideal couples’ retreat for when the two of you can get away together. It books out pretty far in advance but the owner is good about tweeting out cancellations and availability too.
The subterranean dining room (left) and a lunch entree (right) at Vaudeville, in Fredericksburg.
The subterranean dining room (left) and a lunch entree (right) at Vaudeville, in Fredericksburg.

Photographs by Jordan Breal

And, a question I field often…
What’s a good place to stop for food between Austin and Marfa? – Michael D.

The beauty of that particular seven-hour drive is that, for most of it, there’s not much of anything. I usually take US-290/I-10 and stop in Fredericksburg, about an hour and a half in, either for breakfast at Fredericksburg Herb Farm’s Farm Haus Bistro (I can never resist picking up more homemade spearmint lotion there too) or for lunch at Vaudeville’s Bistro, also an excellent place to stock the cooler with two road-trip essentials: wine and fancy cheese. About four hours down the road from that, when I’m inevitably hungry again, I pull in to Tacos OJ, in Fort Stockton. After brisket gorditas and cinnamon-sprinkled horchata, I’m ready for the final hour-and-a-half leg. Also worth noting: Daniel Vaughn, aka the @bbqsnob, recommends Lum’s Bar-B-Que & Country Store, in Junction, if you get a hankering for smoked meats along the way.

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