Rio Frio cabins
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Your guide to Rio Frio
All About Rio Frio
Dubbed by some as the “Swiss Alps of Texas,” whether this Hill Country canyon bears any resemblance to Switzerland is up for debate. What can’t be argued though is that Rio Frio is one of the state’s most picturesque spots, replete with dramatic natural scenery that’s made it a favorite local vacation spot for generations. The Frio — fittingly meaning “cold” in Spanish — River splices through Frio canyon, cutting through limestone rock formations and thick forests, with rushing freshwater springs giving the river its trademark temperature.
Rio Frio is a small town perched on the banks of the river, whose population has amazingly never exceeded 75 people. The town has a post office, a church, and not much else apart from some homes and a few farms — there are no shops or restaurants here (you’ll have to go to nearby Leakey for that), but that just adds to its charm and rustic authenticity. For a tranquil, off-the-grid holiday in nature, look no further.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Rio Frio
This little corner of Texas is absolutely beautiful year-round, with its lush forests, imposing limestone cliffs, and emerald green river. Come in the summer, when the weather is hot and sunny, or opt for autumn when the leaves take on all the colors of a campfire. There are innumerable hiking trails around the Frio, which can be explored year-round (though if you’re here predominantly for hiking, try to avoid the hottest of the summer months, and come in late spring or early autumn). In March, Rio Frio hosts the Rio Frio Fest, when local musicians drop by for three days of live country and gospel music, Southern food, and games. While winters are chillier, this provides the perfect excuse to spend tranquil days in your Frio river cabin. Even in winter, the weather is almost always warm here and gets downright hot from May through September.
Top things to do in Rio Frio
Float the Frio
Whether on a lazy river raft, a tube, a kayak, or canoe, floating down the Frio is practically a rite of passage when staying here. There are few better ways to while away a hot summer’s day than drifting along past cypress trees, waving to fellow floaters as you go. Cool off with a dip in the river before heading back onshore and having dinner in one of Leakey’s charming riverside restaurants.
Hike the Frio Canyon Trail
To appreciate the Frio from a different vantage point, head to Garner State Park, where 1,700 acres of untouched nature wait to be explored. Do the loop around the river and stop for a swim, or head to higher ground on an 11-mile hiking trail through the misty forest, looking out for wildlife like birds and deer along the way.
Explore spooky caves
If the damp of the caves doesn’t give you a little chill, then the vampiric atmosphere certainly will. Hire a guide to take you through the network of caves around the Frio River, where you’ll see otherworldly underground scenery, and bats hanging out in their natural habitats.