Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Guide 2016
It’s bluebonnets season in the Texas Hill Country, and that means it’s time for Texans’ annual tradition of taking bluebonnet photos. Some of us like taking pictures of the state flower in a field awash with them. Others of us like taking family portraits in a roadside grouping of them. No matter your preference, we’ll give you some of our picks for the best places to view them, photograph them, smell them and — most important — enjoy them.
To enjoy the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes filling the roadways, you first have to hop in a car. Roll down the windows and take in the floral aromas of the wildflowers while you can.
The Highland Lakes are filled with narrow two-lane roads that offer little room to pull off to the side of the road. For these roads, it is better to simply enjoy the drive.
Around Marble Falls, it’s hard to go wrong when picking a direction to begin your bluebonnet road trip. Going south on U.S. 281, you can detour east on RR 2147 and then down CR 401 toward Dead Man’s Hole. The drive might offer some of the brightest roads in the area. At times, it feels like driving through a kaleidoscope. From there, another great drive is from U.S. 281 to Texas 71 on RR 962. This 10-mile stretch of blue and green takes you through gentle hills and offers a great shortcut for anyone using the two highways.
In Burnet, you can take a drive northeast of town on CR 963. However, the best drive from Burnet is toward Lake Buchanan. From Texas 29, take RR 2341 north, then swing lakeside down FM 690 until you connect back to Texas 29.
From Kingsland or anywhere on the north side of Lake LBJ, you can see a tremendous display of Indian paintbrushes on RR 1431. And if you want to drive to Llano, you’ll have a difficult time choosing between taking Texas 71 or Texas 29.
In Llano, drive out RR 152 to see a mix of red, blue, yellow, white and purple. Go all the way to Castell, then come north to connect back again to Texas 29. Head east from Llano and view the west side of Lake Buchanan on the RR 2241 loop to Bluffton and south to Texas 29 on RR 261. Of course, Texas 16 between Llano and Fredericksburg is always gorgeous, regardless of the season. The springtime display of wildflowers might be the best, however. Beware of possible traffic with people heading out to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. From Fredericksburg, take U.S. 290 east to Johnson City and detour at Stonewall on RR 1. Take it slow and enjoy the natural scenery of the wildflowers, longhorn herd and historic buildings in the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site.
Everyone loves taking bluebonnet photos, and most people just have a cellphone to use. That’s OK. Whether you have a high-end professional DSLR or a cellphone, we’ll make sure you get the best wildflower pictures to show off to friends.
First, let’s be safe on the roads. We all see cars pulled off on the side of the road on weekends with families taking bluebonnet photos. Law enforcement officials recommend finding places off roadways to take bluebonnet pictures.
This year, bluebonnets are in such abundance that even offices and empty lots have great displays. Two parks that are prime for bluebonnet photos are along the shores of the Colorado River on the western side of Lake Travis: Turkey Bend Recreation Area on the north and Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area on the south.
Both offer a landscape blanketed in bluebonnets in lush green fields that go all the way to the shoreline. The drives are spectacular, too.
In Marble Falls, you can see a lot full of bluebonnets south of the bridge on U.S. 281 in the La Ventana and Gateway Park sections of town. Or you can be funny and snap bluebonnet photos in the landscaping outside the Blue Bonnet Cafe.
SAFETY & PRESERVATION
Before we talk safety, one of the most recognizable images of bluebonnets in the Hill Country is of the famous “Bluebonnet House” of Marble Falls. Just about any bluebonnet story, Google search or Facebook post features the iconic image of a tall, stone building in disrepair in a field of bluebonnets. The structure is on U.S. 281 north of Marble Falls on the west side of the highway. The building is fenced off and on private property. Motorists have seen the building while driving and caused wrecks pulling over or crossing the road to park. New commercial development is coming to the area, too.
All of this is to say: While the building might be one of the most photographed in the state, there are plenty of bluebonnet scenes to be captured in safer areas.
If you find a safe place on the side of a road with an area for a car to pull over, be mindful of how you walk through the bluebonnets. Step in the footprints of people who have been there before you. Sit in an area that’s already flattened instead of creating a new path. This way, the flowers and seeds are preserved and the crop next year and beyond can be even better.
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