After visiting Colorado Bend State Park for the first time with my daughter’s troop back in January, I knew a return visit would be top priority for our family in the spring. We have since added this park to the list of our top favorite places to camp in Texas.
My intent was to stay in the same campsite as before. I loved that spot. It was shady, with a nice, slightly elevated view of the river. I realized the day of our trip I had reserved a spot in the walk-in camping area by accident. Unable to change our reservation since the park was full, I decided to remain optimistic. After all, there was nothing I could do, and we had all been looking forward to this camping trip for some time. After our last camping experience, a few friends suggested we stay in a hike-in or walk-in campsite to help weed out those noisy neighbors. I’m a believer. This was quite possibly the best camping “mistake” I’ve ever made. When we arrived late, there were only three spots available, so at check-in, I asked which site was best of those that were left. I was worried. Usually I go to great lengths to make sure we get a beautiful spot. It turns out fate had better plans. We ended up in the most beautiful and peaceful campsite. All the planning in the world could not have rendered better results.
So, I’m learning to let go more and allow myself to be surprised every now and then. It may not always turn out the way I imagined, but I think it makes for a much better experience. That might be true with just about anything, really.
We arrived late Friday night. We were exhausted from the long day of work, packing, driving, and then setting up camp. When we were finally still and in our tents, I smiled at the only audible sounds; the river and the frogs. The next morning, we were able to see just how fortunate that mistake really was. Although we had no shade at our campsite, the open feel was perfect against the backdrop of the neighboring Colorado River and drastic cliff walls on the opposite side.
A trip to Colorado Bend State Park is incomplete without a hike to Gorman Falls. I have not been able to take a picture that does this breathtaking place any justice, but I am determined to keep trying. After hiking through the rocky hills with surrounding mesquite and cedar trees and blooming cacti, the trail’s end descends steeply into another world. It feels as though you’ve been dropped into a rain forest, millions of miles away from Central Texas. If you have the chance to visit the park, don’t leave without visiting Gorman Falls. It is worth every step and more.
On the trail to Gorman Falls
Gorman Falls is a living travertine waterfall. Over 65 feet tall, this waterfall is growing instead of eroding. The water from Gorman Spring slowly dissolves the limestone bedrock below. The water that surfaces is rich in a mineral called calcite. As it spills over the falls, the calcite is deposited over time creating travertine which is porous and contains nutrients to allow the unique plant life you see here to flourish.
Photo credit for photo above: Scott Siebert
If you follow the trail beyond the falls, you will reach the Colorado River. The falls spill into the river here and it’s a perfect spot to just sit for a while and take it all in. We stayed here for the rest of the afternoon.
You won’t find electricity or showers at the park and there are rare pockets of cell phone service, but I love it that way. The natural beauty here has been relatively untouched. After driving 8 miles down a dirt road from the park entrance to the campsites and making the descent from the hills down to the river, and yes, even losing that cell phone service, it’s just you and this beautiful place. Worlds away from the daily grind, distractions, and the calendar that’s always too full, it doesn’t take long to let that all go and just be. A few deep breaths and you’re good. Warning: You may never want to go back!