Palmetto State Park Review & Pictures (Gonzales, TX, USA)

Palmetto State Park is a beautiful park that feels like stepping into Jurassic time periods. I fully expected dinosaurs to pop out of the woods and swamps at any moment!

Link: Texas Parks & Wildlife Site

Address:78 Park Road 11 South, Gonzales, TX 78629-5180

  • 2.1 hours from Houston, 1.0 hour from San Antonio, 1.0 hour from Austin

Price: $3 daily entrance fee, $12 for basic camping site

Palmetto State Park
Palmetto State Park, on the Interpretive Trail.

Camping Sites & Situation

We arrived around 9:30PM on Friday night and completed the overnight arrival check-in process (always easy and painless in my experience). We did make one mistake however, we spent the night in the RV camping section. Two hammocks and my sedan didn’t really fit in next to the huge RVs!

Our RV Spot
Our Accidental RV Camping Experience
2 Hammocks
2 Hammocks, one open, one bugnet.

My comment on hammock camping is that you have to make sure there are not very many mosquitos where you are camping. I spent the night in the bugnet and still ended up with 17 mosquito bites on my right tricep alone… At 4:47AM we decided to swallow our pride and sleep in my car in hopes of getting 2-3 hours of sleep.

Oxbow Lake Trail – 0.69 Miles

A quick walk next to Oxbow Lake. Only recommended if you have 20-30 minutes to kill and want an easy trail.

Start of Oxbox Lake Trail
Start of Oxbox Lake Trail
Oxbow Lake
Oxbow Lake, pristine.
Hungry bugs just left the “skeletons” of the leaves.
Breakfast View
We stopped here to enjoy our Clif Bar breakfast.
Rent Canoes
You can rent canoes and paddleboats at the Park headquarters

San Marcos River Trail – 1.25 Miles

This was a nice and pretty walk through the trees as the trail ebbed and flowed from the river itself. Below are a few pictures:

Watch out for snakes
We ended up seeing 2 snakes during the day

Also, right after we passed this sign we saw a doe and two fawns grazing on some grass about 60 feet off the trail. Awesome!

View of San Marcos River
View of San Marcos River
It was amazingly green throughout
I really liked this tree.
Always remember your roots.
The trail had quite the canopy, the entire hike was in the shade.
Yet another trail photo.

Mesquite Flats Trail

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this section of the hike. It is an awesome combination of forest and trees with plains and grass.

Boardwalk Bridge
Boardwalk Bridge
Deer bedding?
I believe this is a deer bedding spot from all the bent grass.
Mesquite Flats Trail.
Mesquite Flats Trail.
More roots.
More roots.
Neighboring area of the park
Neighboring area of the park, beautifully simple field.

Palmetto Interpretive Trail – .26 Miles

The famous section of this park that gives it its name. Seemingly endless palmetto plants stretch across in all directions from the short swampy trail. This is where we saw many different creatures!

Park Trails Closed
A section of the Palmetto Interpretive trail & Ottine Swamp trail were closed for repair.
Incredible trail.
Incredible trail. Straight out of Jurassic Park.
Palmetto plant.
Palmetto plant. Around this area we watched a spider and wasp fight to the death. The wasp was victorious.
Swamp. This is where we saw a swamp rabbit. Way bigger than you would think!
Snake. If you can identify it leave a comment!
Some sort of fruit from the tree. Looks like a jackfruit but way too small.
Trail lunch.
Trail lunch.

Final Review & Recommendations

Palmetto State Park is a great experience and can work for all sorts of travelers. That being said, the trail system all together is about 4-5 miles, which just isn’t enough to satisfy the more dedicated hikers and adventurers.

This would be a great park for a young family or anyone looking to enjoy some rare nature in the heart of Texas. If creatures are your thing, then definitely give this park a visit.

Here are some final pictures:

How I Think I Look...
How I Think I Look…
How I actually look.
How I actually look.