For my column on Colorado Bend State Park, my friend and I camped along the banks of the Colorado River. Although we loved the peaceful setting, especially at night, camping at the park is relatively primitive, with a combination of drive-in, walk-in, and backcountry hike-in options. Toilets are compost (but clean), and the single shower is but a lone spigot out in the open. The park closes when it reaches capacity, which happens often during high seasons; on weekends and holidays, you’ll definitely want to have a campsite reservation or a Save the Day pass, which you can book through the park’s online reservation system.
You’ll also want to stock up beforehand. The closest place to do any serious provisioning is 27 miles away, in Lampasas; the tiny park headquarters, which is 6 miles from the entrance, carries ice and souvenirs and not much else. The Bend General Store, about 3 miles from the park entrance, has just about everything you might need (and plenty more) for a few nights in a tent. Stop in at the right time, and you can enjoy live music, an Around the Bend burger from the Bend Cafe (food truck), and a chat with congenial owner Bret Cali and his two dogs, Hemingway and Dakota. Another dining option is the Fiesta Winery, in nearby Lometa (about a fifteen-minute drive from the park), a welcoming spot that serves meat-and-cheese plates and pizzas.
If at any point you get tired of roughing it, make a beeline for San Saba (about 20 miles northwest of the park) and the Dofflemyer Hotel. You let yourself in via a keypad outside a 1913 bank building that’s been outfitted with six comfortable, stylish rooms. In the morning, head downstairs to Oliver and Co. for coffee and breakfast and a bar of the wonderfully fragrant San Saba Soap Company soap you’ve just employed with great gusto upstairs.