Web Extra: Natural Attractions of Uvalde Area
By Rob McCorkle
Outdoor tourism opportunities abound in Uvalde County, where the rivers, hills, and canyons of the Texas Hill Country merge with the flatlands and chaparral of the South Texas Brush Country.
Soak up the natural beauty on your own or attend the Nature Quest, held April 24-28, for guided sojourns to dozens of nature hot spots in the Texas Hill Country River Region. Hill Country Adventures, based at Hill Country Nature Center in northern Uvalde County, is organizing the event, now in its 14th year.
Just a 30-minute drive north of Uvalde, Garner State Park draws crowds to the banks of the sparkling Frio River to swim, float, hike, camp, and dance under the stars. The park’s 17 cabins, 13 of which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, have undergone extensive renovation. Each climate-controlled, energy-efficient cabin now sports new, handcrafted CCC replica furnishings, as well as amenities including toilets, showers, and kitchens.
Uvalde County features more than a half-dozen stops along the Nueces and Rio Frio Loops of the western segment of the Heart of Texas Wildlife Trail. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department produces the road-trip guide, and it’s sure to appeal to both novice and accomplished birders and wildlife watchers alike.
Just south of Uvalde, birders can visit Cooks Slough Nature Park, where an observation deck overlooks one of three water treatment ponds frequented by birds and other wildlife, hiking trails, and a picnic area. Nearby Fort Inge Historical Park, established in 1849 on the Leona River, contains wildlife habitat that attracts green kingfishers, great kiskadees, long-billed thrashers, and black-chinned hummingbirds. The park also hosts periodic star parties.
Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, established in the 1930s, encompasses more than 100 acres dotted with dozens of ponds. You can roam the grounds, hike the new pond-side nature trail, or take a pre-arranged tour of facilities. One of the stops is a tank house that holds various fish, at times including the endangered razorback sucker, a long-nosed fish with a prominent hump behind its head.
From the March 2013 issue.