Garner State Park: Ideal Visiting Time, Cost, and Best Activities

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: November 8, 2023
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It’s a dreamy outdoor environment with a beautiful river that runs through it. You can go for the day or stay the night to continue your outdoor adventures into the next morning. Take it easy and float the river or enjoy the miles upon miles of hiking trails. Discover Garner State Park, including the best time to visit, the cost to visit, and the kinds of activities you can enjoy!

Garner State Park

To visit Garner State Park, you have to head over to Concan, Texas, located in the Texas Hill Country. This state park offers you the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, relish the natural beauty of the environment, hike, view wildlife, picnic, camp, and more. During the summer, people visit during the evening hours to enjoy a jukebox dance. This tradition started in the 1940s, but people still show up to continue the tradition today. It’s wildly popular, so it’s a good idea to arrive early because the parking lot fills up rather quickly.

If dancing is not your thing, don’t worry, there’s plenty else to do at the state park. For instance, you can check out the Frio River and enjoy a relaxing day floating on an inner tube. There is a total of 2.9 miles of the Frio River within the state park, which affords you the incredible opportunity to take in over one thousand acres of the terrain as you float on by. For those who are not comfortable with just an inner tube, you can always operate a paddle boat. With all the activities you can enjoy at the state park, you can be sure that no single visit is ever the same.

Garner State Park

Garner State Park offers beautiful scenery year-round.

© McMillin

Ideal Time to Visit Garner State Park

Garner State Park is open daily starting at 8 AM and up until 10 PM. Even if you’re just going for day use, it’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time. This is a popular park that reaches capacity regularly. The best time to visit Garner State Park depends on what you prefer in terms of climate and activities. Before you plan your trip, consider the season and what may be available during the time you’re there. During springtime, the weather is nice, meaning it’s neither too cold nor too hot.

Since all the wildflowers start blooming around this time, you’re going to get a fantastic feast for the eyes. You can swim or go tubing in the Frio River, just keep in mind it’s going to be a bit cooler than it is during the summer. Spring is also great because the Texas heat isn’t barreling down on you, and you can still go hiking and enjoy the outdoors without feeling that incessant heat. On the other hand, if summer is your favorite season and you love the heat, head out between June and August. The sunny skies allow for tons of outdoor fun, especially if you want to focus on water-based activities. This is when the Dance Pavilion is in full swing so you can enjoy dancing well into the night!

During early fall, the weather cools yet again, which makes it a much more pleasant and inviting environment. The summer fun has gone so you’re not going to experience as many crowds. Although the festivities create a buzz in the air, if you’re the type to crave a quieter atmosphere, early fall is a good time to visit. There are even fewer crowds when it gets closer to winter but you’re also going to be facing significantly cooler temperatures, which may limit the activities you’re able to enjoy.

Cost to Visit Garner State Park

There are some costs associated with a visit to Garner State Park. For example, there is an entrance fee for anyone 13 years and older. That cost is $8.00. Children under 12 can enter for free. If you want to enjoy a low-cost outing, just consider the entrance fee and enjoy the free activities like hiking, picnicking, and swimming. However, you do have the option to rent kayaks, paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards, and 10 x 6 floating islands.

Frio River from a drones view

You can rent paddle boats at Garner State Park to enjoy time on the Frio River.

©Dori Marie/

For a one-person kayak, it’s $15 per hour and for a two-person kayak, it’s $20 per hour. This includes lifejackets and paddles. If you’re interested in a paddle boat, it’s $20 per hour and is a great deal because it’s for four people so you can split the cost. A stand-up paddle board costs $20 per hour and a floating island is only $10 per hour. If you don’t take any food with you, you can always visit the Garner Grill but be prepared to pay in cash.

On-site, there is a mini golf course that costs $7.00 per person or $2.00 per person if you have kids three years and under. Aside from that, there is a candy store and an ice cream shop where you can cater to your sweet tooth. No matter what activities you decide to enjoy, if you do plan to swim in the Frio River, make sure that you practice swimming safety.

Best Activities to Enjoy at Garner State Park

The Frio River is the main attraction at Garner State Park. You have easy access to the water, and you can swim or float. You can just go for the day or set up for overnight camping using available cabins, campsites, or screened shelters. During the busy season, you have access to the park’s concessions. During the summer, you can’t miss the dance!

Even if you’re not going to put your dancing shoes on, it’s still fun to watch others enjoying the festivities. There are barbecue pits that you can enjoy as well as tables. Don’t forget that you can always rent kayaks and paddle boats to continue enjoyment on the water. When you’re spending so many hours at the park, you’re going to get hungry.

large wild feral hog, pig or swine (sus scrofa) sow running in an open field in central Florida, in evening yellow light, dry grass background, nuisance animal, destructive, apparent mother

Never leave food unattended when you visit Garner State Park.

©Chase D’animulls/

Whether you bring your own food or you buy concessions at the park, be careful with wildlife. There is a warning on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website that if you take food or enjoy food while on site, you should be very careful to never leave any of it unattended. There are feral hogs in the park and when they’re hungry, they can get into your coolers and ice chests. Never feed wildlife.

Wildlife at Garner State Park

There are feral hogs you have to keep food away from, but Garner State Park is abundant with all sorts of wildlife you can enjoy at different times of the year. Some of the mammals include white-tailed deer, fox squirrels, black rock squirrels, and raccoons. Bird species include Rio Grande turkeys, turkey vultures, black cultures, and mourning doves. From March to July, birders can look for the golden-cheeked warbler and during April to July, you can spot the black-capped vireo.

Aside from animals, this unique environment is lush with vegetation. There are two tree types you can look forward to seeing and they include the bald cypress and the Texas madrone. The bald cypress trees line the Frio River, adorning it with elegance as they reach over 100 feet into the sky, keeping the park’s secrets for hundreds of years. The Texas madrone is an evergreen tree that shoots upward 20 to 30 feet. You can distinguish it by its trunk, which is a reddish hue. During spring, white flowers emerge and later, you can spot orange and red colored berries along its trunk.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Richard A McMillin/

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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