Palmetto State Park
Central Texas Tropics!
A little piece of the tropics lies just an hour from Austin and San Antonio. With multiple sources of water (including the San Marcos River), Palmetto State Park is a haven for a wide variety of animals and plants. Look for dwarf palmettos, the park’s namesake, growing under the trees.
Things to Do
This small park offers a large amount of fun, both on water and land.
On the water, you can swim, tube, fish and canoe. Besides the flowing river, the park also has an oxbow lake, an artesian well and swamps.
- We rent four-person pedal boats, three-person canoes, one-person kayaks, one-person paddle boards, and a fishing boat for use on the lake. Life jackets and oars are included.
- We rent inner tubes for the lake and river.
- Read through our water safety tips before you visit.
On land, hike or bike our trails, camp, geocache, go birding or study nature. Hike the Palmetto Trail which winds through a stand of dwarf palmettos. Host a gathering at our CCC-built picnic pavilion, which has an air-conditioned kitchen. Take a virtual tour with our Interactive Trails Map.
Go fishing in the river or in Oxbow Lake, which has a fishing pier. We have some fishing equipment to loan. Remember, you do not need a license to fish from shore in a state park.
Canoe the San Marcos River. The river has a steady current, but no rapids; check river conditions at the park. Bring your own canoe and arrange your own shuttles.
- Experienced paddlers can put in at Luling City Park and take six- to seven-hour trip to the park. Private land borders the river, so put-in and take-out points are limited.
- Explore the Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail.
- Find information on the San Marcos River.
Kids: Become a Junior Ranger!
- Pick up a free Junior Ranger Activity Journal at headquarters. Complete tasks to earn a badge.
- Borrow a Junior Ranger Explorer Pack, loaded with tools for exploring the park.
Summer Day Camp: Sign up 8 to 12-year-olds for our Wild Outdoor Adventure and Ecology Program. This two-week program runs Monday through Thursday, the first two weeks of June. Certified teachers lead hands-on activities that promote awareness of and appreciation for the environment. Kids will also spend time playing in the river and lake. Call the park for more information.
Civilian Conservation Corps: The men of the CCC built many facilities at this park, including the picnic pavilion and water tower. Learn more about their work on The Look of Nature: Palmetto.
Palmetto State Park is a great weekend destination, with lots to do in nearby towns.
Texans know Gonzales as the "Cradle of Texas History," where the first shots were fired for Texas Independence. The city celebrates this heritage with the Come and Take It Celebration (first weekend of October).
If you’re hankering for barbecue, head north to Lockhart, the official Barbecue Capital of Texas.