- Bandera County CVB, (800) 364-3833, www.banderacowboycapital.com
Seven H Ranch
This 700-acre ranch has a great diversity of plants and wildlife typical of the Texas Hill Country. Habitats include relatively flat grasslands with scattered oaks and juniper, steep slopes and canyons, springs and seeps and high ridges over 2,000 ft. in elevation. Spring-fed ponds provide year-round water for wildlife and there are good wildlife viewing and photography opportunities at nearby blinds. Miles of guided hiking trails allow visitors to experience cool, lush canyons and high rocky ridges overlooking a picturesque valley. Activities include guided tours, camping, backpacking, horseback riding and customized weekend packages.
(830) 966-3782 Call for Directions
Clear Springs Lodging
From Utopia, go north on FM 187 for 3.2 miles. Entrance is on the left.
This 14-acre park has a 0.5-mile, mowed nature trail that follows the Sabinal River through oaks and cypress that line the riverbank. Black-chinned Hummingbird, kingfishers, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Orchard Oriole and a variety of sparrows occur along the trail. In the spring, check the large mulberries below the cabins for Bullock's Oriole, Blue and Red-breasted Grosbeask and nesting Summer Tanager. The broad, dry river channel produces numerous wildflowers throughout the summer. During spring the trail is alive with butterflies, including Dainty Sulphur, Checkered White, Variegated Fritillary and numerous Pipevine Swallowtail. Dragonflies and damselflies include Blue-ringed and Variable Dancers and American Rubyspot.
(830) 966-2164 www.clearspringslodgingutopia.com
Yellow Rose Ranch
This 500-acre ranch on Hondo Creek includes creek bottom mixed hardwoods,
oak/juniper scrub in the hills and a mowed meadow at the entrance that attracts Grasshopper, Clay-colored, Lark, Chipping and Savannah Sparrows. Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatchers, Wild Turkey and Blue Grosbeak also occur here. Beautiful Texas madrone trees, with their distinctive smooth, reddish bark, occur throughout the canyon. The ranch has several miles of self-guided walking and equestrian trails.
Guided birding tours with a wildlife biologist, overnight accommodations, and catch-and-release fishing are also available.
(210) 845-7350 Call for Directions www.yellowroseranch.com
Bandera City Park
From the intersection of SR 16 and FM 173 in Bandera, go south on FM 173 for 1 block. Park entrance is on the left.
In addition to beautiful cypress-lined banks along the Medina River, this site includes a 0.5-mile Native Plant Trail where you can see a variety of plants, including hackberry, live oak, wild grape, juniper, switchgrass, twist-leaf yucca and mealy sage. Deer can also be seen in the park and butterflies congregate along the riverside. Birds to look for include Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo.
(830) 796-3765 www.cityofbandera.org/city_park.htm
Flying A Ranch
This magnificent 10,000-acre ranch offers guided nature hikes throughout various habitats. Black-chinned Hummingbird, Northern Oriole and Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatchers are several of the bird species found here. Lakes, spring-fed creeks, grassy pastures, rocky draws and oak/juniper woodlands provide a diverse environment for wildlife viewing.
(866) 796-4750 Call for Directions www.flyingaranch.net
West 1077 Guest Ranch
This is an equestrian facility for guided rides into Hill Country State Natural Area (SNA). Local birds such as Bewick's Wren, Summer Tanager, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and nesting birds of prey are easily seen here. The ranch's proximity to the SNA makes it a prime location for visitors who want to tour the SNA on horseback.
(830) 796-5675 Call for Directions www.west1077.com
Hill Country Equestrian Lodge
With 275 acres of meadows, riparian thickets and wooded limestone slopes, Hill Country Equestrian Lodge offers fully equipped, attractive private cabins and suites
for guests. The slope vegetation includes juniper, oak, mesquite, agarita and other
low shrubs. A stream provides water for songbirds and habitat for butterflies and dragonflies. Birds include Vermilion and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Cave Swallow, Dickcissel, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Wild Turkey and Field, Lark and Grasshopper Sparrows.
(830) 796-7950 Call for Directions www.hillcountryequestlodge.com
Hill Country State Natural Area
From the intersection of FM 173 and FM 1077, go west 10.4 miles on FM 1077. Shortly before reaching the park entrance, the road turns to dirt. Cross West Verde Creek and look for the headquarters on your right, where you can register, pay and obtain a map.
The Hill Country SNA comprises 5,400 scenic acres of rocky hills, oak groves, grasslands and canyons crisscrossed by over 40 miles of multi-use trails open to backpacking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The terrain ranges from flat, broad creek bottoms to steep, rocky canyons up to 1,900 ft. in elevation. Exploring the park by horseback is an excellent way to view wildlife, and stables adjacent to the park offer guided tours of the area. During spring, wildflowers such as golden dalea, thistle, prickly pear, skeleton-plant, monarda, Mexican hat and many yellow composites line the road and fill the meadows, providing nectar for an array of butterflies. Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler nest here. The open meadows along the entrance road and near the park entrance are home to nesting Dickcissel, as well as Grasshopper and Lark Sparrows. Vermilion and Ash-throated Flycatchers hunt the live oaks around the headquarters. Woodland edge provides views of many songbirds, including Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting and Lesser Goldfinch. Deer, armadillo, raccoon, ringtail, rabbit and various rodents and reptiles are commonly seen.
(830) 796-4413 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/hill-country
Cline Ranch's 800 acres consist of wooded slopes, meadows and limestone bluffs.
The rolling, Hill Country woodlands are vegetated with black walnut, a variety of oaks, mountain laurel, redbud, buckeye, agarita and juniper. Grassy meadows are full of spring wildflowers that attract hawk moths and butterflies, including Checkered White, Black and Pipevine Swallowtails, Variegated Fritillary, Sleepy Orange and Fiery Skipper. Birds include Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, House Finch, Field Sparrow and Painted Bunting. Guided tours and primitive camping are available. A guest house provides accommodations next to a spring-fed creek and swimming hole.
(830) 612-2013 Call for Directions www.clineranchoffroadpark.com
Bear Springs Blossom Nature Preserve
This beautiful 128-acre property contains oak/juniper cherry woodlands and nesting Golden-cheeked Warbler. Bear Springs has a 197-species plant list that includes green lily, milkwort, bladderpod, fragrant mimosa, twist-leaf yucca, bear grass, shin and lacey oaks, Texas madrone, mountain laurel, buckthorn, gum bumelia, black cherry, cedar sage and evergreen sumac. Butterflies abound, including Sleepy Orange, Carolina Satyr, Variegated Fritillary and Pipevine Swallowtail. Singing Canyon Wren and chirping Ash-throated Flycatcher serenade throughout the property. Guided tours are available, ranging 20 minutes up to 4 hours. The main trail is ADA-accessible and steeper
canyon trails wind throughout the property.
(830) 460-0814 Call for Directions www.bear-springs-blossom.org
This 1,200-acre ranch has the Medina River, a 46-acre lake and a variety of woodlands ranging from spring-fed wetlands to oak mottes and extensive stands of juniper. The ranch bird list contains approximately 225 species. The variety of habitats supports a diversity of butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Green Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Warbler, nesting raptors, wintering waterfowl and a variety of flycatchers can be seen. Open areas include pasture and prairie where Dickcissel and Grasshopper Sparrow nest. During October, Monarch Butterflies roost in the trees. Campsites (tent and RV), cabins and guided tours are available.
(830) 796-4314 Call for Directions
Medina Garden Nursery
In Bandera, go north on TX 16 for 12.9 miles. Entrance is on the left, across from state highway roadside park, just after crossing the Medina River.
This 14-acre nursery and garden is an excellent site for butterflies. In late summer, the bottomlands along the Medina River are covered with cowpen daisies, which attract large numbers of butterflies. Monarchs migrate through Texas from mid- to late-October, covering trees by the thousands. Next to the nursery is a large field with flowers, trees and shrubs that thrive in a variety of Hill Country soils. A variety of birds can be seen in the pecan bottomlands along the river.
(830) 589-2771 www.medinagardennursery.com
Eagle Rock Trail
Eagle Rock can be viewed from the roadside of FM 2107, 5 miles after turning off TX 16. Mickle Creek Rd. is located another 2 miles down FM 2107 on the right.
Eagle Rock is on private land, but can be viewed from the roadside. Raptors and ravens nest in the crevices on the cliff face. Golden and Bald Eagles have both been seen here, as well as other locally common raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk. Mickle Creek Rd. is a regular route for local birders, with habitats that support a variety of sparrows, grosbeaks, orioles, buntings and other songbirds.
Lonesome Hills Ranch
This 400-acre ranch has an impressive variety of plants, including bigtooth maple, smoketree, black cherry, buckeye, linden, sycamore and a number of rare plants. Mountaintop trails give panoramic vistas of the surrounding Hill Country. A variety of water habitats, including lakes, creeks, seeps and springs produce an excellent diversity of aquatic insects and amphibians. Butterflies abound on the property. Golden-cheeked Warblers nest in the deep wooded canyons, and habitat restoration for Black-capped Vireo has successfully brought these birds to the ranch.
(830) 589-2379 Call for Directions
The Nature Conservancy's Love Creek Preserve
Follow FM 337 west from Medina for 12 miles, the gate will be on the right side across from a large lake.
This 1,400-acre preserve contains some of the most pristine privately owned land in the Hill Country. The habitat contains rich oak/juniper woodland as well as an impressive diversity of hardwoods along Love Creek. The 4.5-mile loop trail through the preserve offers visitors an opportunity to see numerous springs and seeps, a beautiful stand of bigtooth maples and a nesting pair of Zone-tailed Hawks. The full Hill Country complement of woodland birds and wildlife are found here, and dense stands of old-growth juniper make it particularly attractive to nesting Golden-cheeked Warbler. Visits must be scheduled in advance, and all tours are guided.
Trails End Ranch
This 7,200-acre ranch provides guided wildlife tours of multiple Hill Country habitats that include lakes, rivers, stands of live oak and old-growth, oak/juniper woodlands. This large ranch comprises a great diversity of habitats and species. Prehistoric tracks along the riverbed add another element of interest to the site. Exotic animals available for viewing on the ranch include Red Kangaroo, Pere-David's Deer (extinct in its native habitat in China), the endangered Barasingha, Zebra, Oryx, Axis Deer and Blackbuck Antelope. The ranch offers specialized wildlife tours as well as hiking trails. Complete lodging and food services available.
(830) 589-2935 Call for Directions
Dos Arroyos Guest House
Located off of FM 337, 1.3 miles east of FM 187 in Vanderpool.
This 56-acre tract provides unique, dramatic views of giant cypress along the bottom
of Evans Creek, as well as a wooded trail that follows Mills Creek. Golden-cheeked Warblers nest on the property, and oak/juniper/maple bottoms provide excellent habitat for a variety of birds. The property also provides habitat for the endangered Tobusch fishhook cactus. Overnight lodging is available in a comfortable guest house located on the creek.
(830) 966-2200 www.foxfirecabins.com/properties/dos_arroyos.html
A Peace of Heaven Cabins and RVs
From FM 187 head 1.1 miles east on FM 337 to the sign on the left. Turn left and go
1.7 miles to entrance.
This 25-acre tract on Evans Creek has three guest cabins, catch-and-release fishing for bass and catfish and a swimming hole. Primarily oak/juniper woodland, there are also black walnut and giant cypress along the creek bottom. Look for dragonflies along the creek, and birds such as Greater Roadrunner, Yellow-throated Warbler, Scrub Jay and Yellow-throated and Bell's Vireos.
(830) 966-5198 www.apeaceofheaven.org
FM 337 Swallow Colony and Overlook
From FM 187 head 0.1 mile east on FM 337 to the bridge. Colony is under the bridge.
Do not approach the Cliff Swallow colony too closely; the birds are easily disturbed by humans. Cliff Swallow is distinguished from Cave Swallow by their pale, buff foreheads and chestnut breasts. Their flask-shaped nests are commonly made beneath bridges, whereas Cave Swallows generally nest under road culverts. The scenic overlooks on FM 337 have paved pull-outs and are excellent spots to photograph the river valley and scan for cruising raptors such as Zone-tailed Hawk.
The Lodges at Lost Maples/St. Clare's Cabin
Go west on FM 337 to its intersection with FM 187. Turn north on FM 187 for 1.1 miles until it reconnects with FM 337 West. Turn left and go west 4.1 miles to Lower Sabinal Rd. Turn left; cabins are on the right.
The site's 146 acres rise from a flat meadow to a wooded hilltop. Two small springs flow from a shady oak and walnut-lined canyon, providing water for a pond that attracts dragonflies such as Red Saddlebags and Widow Skimmer, butterflies, birds and mammals. Juniper, mountain laurel and several species of oak cover the hillsides. Feeders attract Black-chinned Hummingbird, Tufted Titmouse, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal and House Finch. Other species include Vermilion Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Canyon and Bewick's Wrens, Red-eyed and Black-capped Vireos, Black-and-white Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Field Sparrow. Cabins are available, some with river access.
(877) 216-5627 www.lostmaplescabins.com
From FM 337 and FM 187, head north on FM 187 for 2.7 miles to cabins on the left.
This 5-acre property on the Sabinal River has scenic views of the river and birds such as Green and Belted Kingfishers, Cave Swallow, White-eyed Vireo, Wild Turkey, Whip-poor-will, Chuck-will's-widow, Painted Bunting, owls and bats. The thickets along the river attract a variety of birds during spring migration. The 7 fully-furnished log cabins and larger log home on the property provide a great place to stay while touring the area. Guests can also fish and swim in the river.
(877) 966-8200 www.foxfirecabins.com
Lost Maples State Natural Area
From FM 337 and FM 187, head north on FM 187 for 3.7 miles. Park is on the left.
This is one of the premier wildlife viewing destinations in Texas. Lost Maples covers more than 2,200 acres and is an outstanding example of Edwards Plateau flora and fauna. Habitats include steep, rugged limestone canyons, springs, plateau grasslands, wooded slopes and clear streams. The park provides habitat for 2 rare songbirds that nest in central Texas: the Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Other birds include Zone-tailed Hawk and Green Kingfisher. The Sabinal River cuts through the park and provides excellent viewing for birds such as Canyon Wren and Summer Tanager. Mammals include Gray Fox, White-tailed Deer, armadillo, raccoon, bobcat, Rock Squirrel and javelina. Eleven miles of trails lead visitors into stands of black cherry, sycamore, pecan, Spanish oak, hackberry and walnut. The park features a large, isolated stand of uncommon bigtooth maple, whose fall foliage can be spectacular. Generally, the foliage changes the last 2 weeks of October through the first 2 weeks of November. The park is extremely popular during the fall and is often crowded, so for maximum enjoyment and serenity, we suggest visitors schedule trips during the weekdays, if possible.
(830) 966-3413 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples