Last weekend Scott and I went to four state parks in a 36 hour time period and three of them were new to us. We visited Longhorn Caverns State Park (30), Inks Lake State Park (31), Mother Neff State Park (32) and our ever favorite Dinosaur Valley State Park. We had an amazing time getting know these parks, but I am going to discuss Mother Neff State Park first. Scott has been working very hard trying to get photos processed, but we have been extremely busy since arriving home.We had stayed at a hotel Saturday night so we woke up around 6:00am well rested and ready for coffee and breakfast. We were packed and on the road soon after to visit Mother Neff State Park, the very first State Park in Texas, no matter how wet it was going to be. As we rode along Highway 236 we were pleasently surprised with the lush green pastures and beautiful wildflowers along the roadside, but we were stunned as we rounded a corner to find the Leon River filled with a giant log jam created by the Spring 2015 Flood.Because of this log jam in the river, it caused the flood waters to rush the historical CCC entryway and buildings. The flooding was so terrible it has caused many of the extremely old trees to be lost adding to the log jam and causing much damage throughout the rest of the lower part of the park.The historical part of the park is being cleaned up, but it is a slow process because of the dangerous situation. The park has been trying to clear out the log jam, but because of the continuing rain in Texas they have not been able to do so. We spoke with Park Ranger Miles about this situation. He explained that the silt from the flood sufficated the trees killing them. Because they were so old and it was spring, the tops of the trees where huge making the tops heavier causing them to topple. This is an extremly dangerous situation which is why this area is still closed a year later. Scott and I ask that you respect the signs and stay out of these areas; this is for your safety because it is really, really that dangerous.Because of this dangerous situation and the damage to the old headquarters office, the park has a new headquarters that was opened for use on January 2015. It is not far from the old entry gate and it is well worth experiencing. This new building is more than just the headquarters of Mother Neff, it is also the gift shop, museum, and home to a very interesting display. This display, the “Memories Made, Memories Shared“, allows people to leave messages about their visit to the park on tags as well as showing the most recent Instagram posts with the hashtag #motherneff. If you visit the park headquarters, you should really see the comments children have left. Those comments are priceless.
As for the park, it was a wonderful place even in the rain. The only camping area open is the camping loop with 20 water/electric/sewer sites because the original tent sites are located in the damaged area of the park. If you are wanting to camp here, please make sure to make reservations online at the Texas State Parks Online Reservation site because walk-ins are not guarenteed to finding an open site. With that being said, let’s talk about the best part of this park, the beauty of its nature.
Because we visited the park during the spring we were able to enjoy many things about this park. We were able to see Hill Country at its greenest since we have had a very wet winter and spring. This is a wonderful sight if you have a chance to see it. Because of all the rain The Washpond is full and the limestone creek leading to it is running as well. This spot is a swimming hole for many when it is up.
We were able to catch a glimpse of some wildlife and able to capture some of them in photos. There was a doe minding her own buisness as we snapped away. Scott seemed to have a great time taking photos of birds, well, I should say trying to take photos of them because everytime he went to take one the birds would fly off laughing at him.
Of course the most amazing thing I saw was the wildflowers. I loved the colors of each; the blues of the Blue Bonnets, purples of the Winecups, yellows of the Coneflowers, the oranges of the Indian Paintbrushes and the reds of the Firewheels set the fields a glow.We weren’t able to do much hiking at this park due to the rain causing issues with my knee, but it was one we will be visiting again; hopefully soon.