Rio Frio Loop
Frio Bat Flight
View the second largest population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats in Texas as they make their ascent into the evening sky. Walk to the top of the hill to witness one of nature's most incredible spectacles. Check the sky for Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and Zone-tailed and Red-tailed Hawks, which hover and snatch the exiting bats. Around the cave you will see Cave Swallow and Canyon and Rock Wrens. The 11,000-acre private ranch within which the bat cave is located provides excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife. The guide offers various birding tours on the ranch.
Call for Directions
From US 83 and US 90 in Uvalde, go north on US 83 for 22.9 miles to TX 127 and go south 0.5 mile to office on left.
A favorite place for birders in central Texas for decades, Neal's Lodges is known for its diversity of habitats and viewing opportunities. Birds typical of east, west and south Texas may all be found within a few minutes' walk from the cabins. You can see birds like Bell's Vireo in drier shrub habitat, hear Yellow-throated Vireo singing from the giant cypresses that border the Frio River, and hear White-eyed Vireo singing from various habitats. Typically, at least 3 pairs of Black-capped Vireo nest in dense vegetation around the cabins and up the hill. Carolina Wren of the east sings beside Canyon Wren of the west, and Eastern Phoebe nests along with Vermilion Flycatcher. Rio Grande Valley birds such as Long-billed Thrasher and Olive Sparrow can also be found here. Painted Bunting breeds on the site, and Golden-cheeked Warbler is often heard in the taller trees on the eastern side of the Frio. Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher are regulars on the river banks, as is Yellow-throated Warbler. Birds seen or heard at night include Eastern Screech-Owl, Common Poorwill and Chuck-will's-widow.
River Oaks Nature Trail
From US 83 and US 90 in Uvalde, go north on US 83 for 22.9 miles to TX 127 and go south. Make an immediate left onto CR 348. Go 0.6 mile to entrance on left.
Old-growth oak/juniper woodland comprises this network of trails. Beginning in late March, look for Golden-cheeked Warbler. Hutton's Vireo has been seen here as well, and is distinguished from the superficially similar Ruby-crowned Kinglet by the larger, thicker bill and the propensity to move sluggishly through the canopy as opposed to the kinglet's twig-hopping. Sparrows, bushtits, White-eyed Vireo, Bewick's Wren and a number of hummingbirds can be seen along the trail and at the feeders in front of the River Oaks main office.
From US 83 and US 90 in Uvalde, go north on US 83 for 22.9 miles to TX 127. Head south on TX 127 and make an immediate left onto CR 348. Continue on CR 348 to the Frio Country Store. Offices are on the left after 1.8 miles.
Frio Country covers more than 800 acres of Hill Country habitat, including river frontage along the Frio, dense oak/juniper woodland that stretches back to the hills that form part of the river's watershed and open grassy areas. Much of this area is unexplored by birders and nature tourists, and you can expect to find all of the birds here that the Hill Country is known for. Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Verdin, Curve-billed Thrasher and Painted Bunting all nest here. Deer, turkey and javelina are common on the property. Activities include hiking and horseback riding.
Frio River Cabins
From the intersection of TX 127 and US 83, go north on US 83 for 9.8 miles to entrance on right.
Properties total over 200 acres along the Frio River, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife such as fox, porcupines, turkey, deer and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Spanish oak, post oak, red oak, persimmon and elm dot the land. Dense hardwood brush and springs provide good habitats for viewing birds. Green and Belted Kingfishers and Black Phoebe are commonly found on the small island in the middle of the river. Thistles are filled with Red Admiral in the summer, and the bluffs along Buffalo Creek support Black-capped Vireo. Indian mounds on the property provide an interesting resource for those interested in archaeology and arrowhead findings.
Garner State Park
From US 83, turn east on FM 1050 for 0.2 mile to PR 29, continue to the entrance.
One of the most popular state parks in Texas, Garner has an abundance of wildlife, including White-tailed and Axis Deer, Rio Grande Turkey, Mourning Dove, Eastern Bluebird, Rock and Fox Squirrels and raccoons. The park offers birders riverside birds such as Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, Yellow-throated Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher in pockets of moist, shady woods along the river. In the steeper sections of the park, Golden-cheeked Warbler is relatively common. Listen for their buzzy song as you walk the hilly trails throughout the park. In open areas of the park, watch for flycatchers and sparrows, and during migration look for flocks of Clay-colored Sparrows as they move through the Hill Country on their way north. The chilly, spring-fed Frio River provides one of the state's finest venues for swimming and river floating. The park offers campsites, screened shelters, cabins and a full range of activities.
The large cypress trees and emergent vegetation along the Frio River provide habitat for ducks and fish. In another part of the 400-acre ranch, Hidden Pond provides a home for turtles and wintering waterfowl. Clearwater Mountain dominates the property, and the ranch road leads to a series of deer paths that will take you to the peak. The view here at dawn or sunset is as good as any you'll get in the Hill Country. Butterflies swarm the hilltop in late spring and summer. This is a great place to tube the river, and cabins are available for overnight guests.
Call for Directions
Hill Country Nature Center
The area around the Nature Center has been developed for wildlife with native gardens and a flowing fountain that attract birds and butterflies. A nature guide is available by reservation for guided tours, or you can go on your own across 250 acres of open areas and oak/juniper woodlands that ascend the hills at the back of property. A box canyon provides habitat for Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Thirty bluebird nestboxes and 3 bat houses are scattered along the bluebird trail, and benches are available for wildlife viewing and photography. Accommodations include Bluebird Hill vacation home, Star Suite and 1800s-style secluded Hideaway cabin.
Utopia on the River
From the intersection of FM 1050 and FM 187 in Utopia, go south on FM 187 1.9 miles. Entrance is on right.
The Sabinal River runs behind the inn, with water so clear you can see the perch, catfish and bass swimming in the depths. Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe and the usual riverside birds can be seen here. The cypresses that line the Sabinal River are some of the largest in Texas. B&B lodging is available.