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Ultimate Guide to Colorado Bend State Park, Texas

Colorado Bend State Park is one of Central Texas’s most popular destinations. 

This is one of our favorite Texas state parks.

Located on the banks of the Colorado River in the Hill Country, the park is an oasis of natural beauty.  

It consists of a large area of unspoiled wilderness along the riverbanks as well as almost 6 miles of the river. 

The park is named after a large bend in the Colorado River just before it enters Lake Buchanan.

Colorado Bend State Park Texas has cave tours, river recreation activities, and over 35 miles of hiking and biking trails.

With unique attractions such as the natural springs fed, Spicewood Springs, or the iconic Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend is definitely one of the best places to visit in Texas.

Gorgeous Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park Texas
Gorgeous Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park Texas

Where is Colorado Bend State Park?

Colorado Bend State Park is located west of Lampasas in San Saba County. 

The park is located two hours northwest of Austin and can be easily visited on a day trip from Austin or San Antonio. 

Take County Road 442 to the park entrance from the town of Bend.

The park is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm.

The exact address is 2236 Park Hill Dr, Bend, TX 76824, you need to take the dirt road to the park.

The access road can be closed after heavy rains, so check the weather before your visit.

Entrance fees to the park can be paid at the Visitor Center.

Also Read: 17 Best State Parks near Austin, Texas to Visit Now

Things to do in Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend is the ultimate scenic destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park is more than 5,300 acres large. 

It offers many activities and adventures, including the natural cave tours, water sports, hiking/biking trails, and excellent birding.

The sheer variety of activities here will please any outdoor enthusiast.

Also Read: 14 Best Texas Hill Country State Parks

Hike to the famous Gorman Falls

The highlight at Colorado Bend State Park is the beautiful Gorman Falls.

The stunning 70 foot tall waterfall is the tallest in Texas.  

Gorman Springs Creek falls over the striking limestone travertine rock formations on the western bank of the river to create this amazing waterfall.  

Visitors flock here year round to see this cascading beauty!

The Gorman Falls hiking trail is 3 miles long round trip, of moderate difficulty level with an elevation gain of 200 feet, and takes about an hour and a half to complete.

The trail takes you through a rocky canyon and then ends at the picturesque waterfall surrounded by lush mosses and ferns.

There is a steep descent near the end, just before you reach the falls.

The Gorman Falls trail is often rough and rocky, plus crowded on the weekends. 

Visitors cannot swim, fish, or climb in either the Gorman Spring or the Gorman Falls.

Also Read: Best waterfalls in Texas

Go for a swim at Spicewood Springs

Spicewood Springs Trail is one of the most scenic trails at Colorado Bend State Park. 

It is rated as moderate and is 3 miles long. 

The trail starts near the park’s visitor center and ends at a series of six small natural springs fed swimming holes at Spicewood Spring.

Along the hike, you can enjoy views of waterfalls and towering oaks and sycamores, as well as lush green vegetation.

The trail has creek crossings, so make sure to bring waterproof hiking shoes. 

At the end you will find the swimming holes which are perfect to cool off on a hot summer day. 

You can also explore the adjacent Spicewood Canyon Trail for a longer hike.

Explore the Colorado River Wilderness along the River Trail

The geology of Colorado Bend park in Texas is intriguing. 

The park features towering limestone travertine cliffs, deep canyons, and otherworldly rock formations formed by the erosion carried out by the Colorado River. 

Inside the park, you will find some of the most spectacular examples of exposed geology in Texas.

We definitely recommend taking the time to explore the Colorado River Wilderness; spend some time on the 3.4 miles long shaded River Trail to see the natural formations. 

Go on a Wild Cave Tour

Did you know that there are over 400 caves in the park?

Caving is a popular activity at Colorado Bend State Park.

The caves are open to the public on guided tours by reservations only. There are a couple of different tours based on difficulty level.

All will take you deep into these underground wonders and reveal a spectacular world of stalactites and stalagmites. 

Be prepared to get dirty and even slightly wet. Prepare for the cave tours by wearing sturdy shoes and a light jacket when visiting Colorado Bend State Park. 

You can book cave tours here.

Enjoy the views from Tie Slide Trail

Besides Gorman Falls overlook, the park has many other breathtaking views that are worth the hike. 

The Tie Slide Trail is a 2.2 mile round trip hike that is frequented by very few visitors.

The trail takes hikers to a cliffside overlook about 200 feet above the Colorado River.

From here, hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the flowing water and surrounding wilderness.

You can also see Gorman Falls from the viewpoint.

You can also spot wildlife on this trail.

The trailhead is located along the Gorman Falls hike – you need to take a slight detour to continue on the trail.

The trail is easier compared to the challenging Gorman Falls hike but goes over rough and rocky terrain and has no shade.

The trail takes about 2 hours and is a hidden gem in Colorado Bend State Park.

Participate in the Junior Ranger Program

The park offers junior ranger programs for kids.

The Junior Rangers program is a great way for kids to explore the outdoors, learn more about nature, and appreciate the environment. 

You can pick up an activity journal or explorer backpack at the visitor center before hiking in the park.

Kids can earn a badge from the park ranger after completing the activities in the journal on your way out.

Mountain bike the trails

Mountain biking in Colorado Bend Park is an excellent way to see the beauty of the natural landscape.

The undulating terrain and interconnected trails make the park a favorite for bikers.

Almost all trails in the park are open to mountain biking. 

Enjoy birding and wildlife watching at the park

The Colorado Bend State Park is a great place to see wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty of Central Texas. 

The park offers visitors the chance to see a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, javelinas (wild pigs), coyotes and many more animals. 

You can also spot several birds including golden-cheeked warblers, bald eagles, king fishers, hawks, woodpeckers, and wrens. 

In fact, the park is a birder’s paradise. The River Trail is your best bet to spot birds – be sure to bring a pair of binoculars for the trip. 

Fish for guadalupe bass in the Colorado River

The Guadalupe bass is one of the most sought-after fish to catch in Texas.

The Colorado River provides many spots to fish, and the water is nearly always calm. There are fish cleaning spots within the park.

The best time to go is during spring or summer when there are plenty of fish in the river.

Other fish you can catch include white bass, black bass, catfish, carps, and perch.

Enjoy kayaking down the Colorado River

Whether you want to explore the Colorado River backcountry or just take a day trip down the slow moving river, kayaking is one of the best ways to explore this park.

You can bring your own gear; the park rents kayaks for those who don’t bring their own.

Visit the Visitor Center for trip planning, maps and kayak rentals.

Boating, paddling, and swimming on the Colorado River is also popular.

Things to do around Colorado Bend State Park

There are several attractions near the Colorado Bend State Park in Central Texas. 

Here are some of our favorite ones.

Bend

Bend, Texas is a small town near the park. 

Visitors can explore the downtown area with its historic buildings or take advantage of nearby Lake Buchanan for fishing and boating. 

Be sure to visit the Bend General store for any supplies before entering the park.

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is a pristine, natural Texas gem. 

Located in the heart of Hill Country just an hour from Austin and San Antonio, this lake provides a serene getaway with amazing fishing and boating opportunities. 

The Regency Suspension Bridge, San Saba

The Regency Suspension Bridge in San Saba was built in 1894 and is the oldest suspension bridge still standing in Texas. 

The bridge spans the scenic San Saba River, which is known for its limestone bluffs and clear water.

It’s a popular tourist site, so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. 

Be sure to check out the views from the top of the bridge for an amazing perspective on this historical landmark! 

Wine Tasting

The region produces some of the best wines in the world, and it’s not hard for tourists to find a good place around here to enjoy themselves. 

There are many wineries scattered across this beautiful landscape where you can relax and learn about how wine is made from the people who know best! 

One of the closest and popular wineries near the park is Fall Creek Vineyards near Driftwood. You can enjoy a tour and go wine tasting. 

Alamosa Wine Cellars, located northwest of Bend, is also a good place to visit. Closer to Lampasas, you will find Pillar Cellar Vineyards. 

Inks Lake State Park

Inks Lake State Park is a Texas gem for those who love the outdoors. 

Hiking trails are abundant and there are plenty of places to picnic or just enjoy the scenery. 

For water lovers, Inks Lake offers fishing, boating and swimming. 

If you’re looking for more adventure, try rock climbing on one of many rocky outcroppings throughout the park.

Llano

If you’re visiting the Texas Hill Country, we recommend a stop in Llano. 

It’s home to one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Texas and is also a great place for outdoor recreation.  

There are plenty of fishing spots along the shoreline or if you prefer, there are boat rentals available on site that’ll take you out onto the water! 

Nearby attractions include wineries, breweries, distilleries and chocolate factories just waiting to show off their goods to visitors from around the world.

Burnet

Burnet, Texas is a small town in East Central Texas known for its bluebonnet festival.

It’s also known for its historic buildings and large number of antique shops.

Marble Falls

Marble Falls, Texas is a small town in the scenic Hill Country of Central Texas. 

This picturesque location offers many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed year round. 

From hiking along the river to fishing on Lake Marble Falls or just taking a leisurely stroll through downtown, there are many opportunities for family fun! 

Longhorn Caverns State Park

Longhorn Cavern State Park is a state park in Burnet County, Texas. 

It is most notable for the Longhorn Caverns, which are home to over 50 known species of bats and other cave animals. 

The caverns are open to the public for tours year-round. 

Killeen

Killeen has a wide variety of tourist attractions to offer, including the world’s largest BBQ joint and what was once one of the most notorious prisons for WWII soldiers.  

The city also offers visitors an opportunity to experience Texan culture and history by visiting museums such as the Killeen Military Museum that houses artifacts from WWII or exploring Fort Hood Army base where many military families call home.

Best time to visit Colorado Bend State Park

Spring and summer is definitely the peak season to visit Colorado Bend State Park. 

The natural beauty of Colorado Bend State Park can be found at its best during springtime when wildflowers are blooming all over the park, including the famous Texas bluebonnets.

During summer, visitors come here often to cool off from the intense Texas heat and take a dip in the natural swimming holes.

The misty Gorman Falls hike is also amazing on a hot June day. 

You can also rent a kayak or go paddle boarding in the river to escape the sun.

In the fall, you can see stunning spots of fall colors on the river banks.

Visit in the off-season of winter to avoid crowds and enjoy this natural paradise with an occasional smattering of snow!

Things to know before visiting Colorado Bend State Park

GPS and mobile signals within the park are often unreliable.

Download a park map here and a trail map here before your visit.

Weather impacts the park amenities since it is located on the river banks.

During or after a heavy rainstorm, the park entrance roads may be closed and hiking trails may be slippery.

The weather in winter is pretty severe, often falling near freezing. 

Advance reservations for camping as well as day use are highly recommended as the park is very popular with tourists. 

Stay away from wildlife and do not feed the animals.

Where to stay near Colorado Bend State Park

Here are your options for staging near Colorado Bend Park.

Camping in Colorado Bend State Park

The State Park is a beautiful place to camp in Central Texas or the Hill Country. 

The park offers camping spaces with full hookups available for RV’s or tents along with plenty of restrooms and showers along the riverbanks.

There are also picnic tables under shady trees and barbecue grills so you can enjoy your time outdoors near your campsite.

There are also several primitive camping walk-in only tent sites in the park.

Or you can also go backpacking in the park’s Windmill Area. 

Campgrounds in Colorado Bend State Park

  • Live Oak Group Campground
  • Colorado Bend State Park Campground
  • River Backpack Campground, Colorado Bend State Park
  • Windmill Backpack Campground, Colorado Bend Park
  • River Group Campground

Since this is one of the most popular Texas state parks, campsites need to be reserved months in advance.

You can reserve sites at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can spend a relaxing weekend exploring the many attractions at the park.

With over several thousand acres to explore, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and camping all year round in the park. 

If you are looking for an adventure or want to spend some time getting lost in nature, then make sure you don’t miss out on this must-see Texas state park! 

We hope you liked our post on visiting Colorado Bend State Park in the Texas Hill Country.