Tag Archives: Gorman Falls

Return to Colorado Bend State Park

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.

Our campsite

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

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!


Unexpected Joy

I consider myself a fair weather camper. I like it cool at night, warm during the day, and I really like my air mattress. I don’t camp in storms, hail, or freezing temperatures. At least, not by choice. A handful of times, I’ve found myself camping in these situations. Most of them were not at the top of my list of great camping experiences, although, they have persuaded me to improve the quality of my gear. But one in particular, turned out to be one of the best camping trips I’ve experienced so far.

We arrived at Colorado Bend State Park on a Friday night in January around 10pm and found an empty site. The night sky was brilliant and beautiful and although we could hear the river in the distance we couldn’t see it. It was freezing, but we went to work and pitched our tents. Soon, we had tents up. Even though we couldn’t feel our fingers or toes, we crawled into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. It was a clear, beautiful, and very cold night. We did not stay warm.

The next morning we woke to a layer of frost on the inside of our tents. Even though it took an hour for us to feel our hands and feet again, it turned out to be a beautiful day. We found this in our backyard:

Our backyard
Good Morning

My daughter went underground and explored caves with her Girl Scout Troop and a couple of guides, with nothing more than a light on her helmet, some knee pads and a pair of gloves. I never thought I would have any interest in going into these caves. I was actually looking forward to sitting in my chair reading my book while I waited on them to complete each cave. I am certain, though, had it not been for recent knee surgery, I would have been in that cave with them. I am already planning our next trip.

Kyla exiting Turtle Cave

In the evening, back at the campsite, I took a short walk by the river.

Saturday night, we stayed warm. A few suggestions for keeping warm: change your socks before you go to bed and make sure they are wool socks, wear something on your head, layer your clothing, and, my favorite, hand warmers.

Determined for adventure the next day, we went on a hike to Gorman Falls. If you go to Colorado Bend State Park, do not leave without visiting the falls. I was intimidated by the three mile hike there, but the majority of the trail was easy. The last 50 feet were a little challenging and probably not what my physical therapist would have recommended, but the view was worth every step. These pictures do no justice. This place is so magical, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had actually seen a fairy, or two.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls

It’s impossible to regret the experience of camping in below freezing temperatures when I walk away from this realizing what I might have missed out on waiting for the perfect time and the perfect weather. If I go on backing out of situations just because the conditions are less than ideal, I’ll miss out on, well…life. I’m thinking this might have been one of those bits of wisdom that I might have lost along the way. Now, I’m trying to say yes more often.