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Plan a quick getaway to the Highland Lakes

 
Plan a quick getaway to the Highland Lakes
HARRY & LINDA KAYE PEREZ See spectacular scenery and maybe catch sight of bald eagles in flight during a Vanishing Texas River Cruise in the Highland Lakes.

With a total of six lakes composing the Highland Lakes there are unlimited opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, and water sports. There are also some great things to do away from the water in this region, about two hours’ drive from La Vernia.

Go deep

Longhorn Cavern can be found between Burnet and Marble Falls on Park Road 4. A 90-minute guided tour of the cavern is just over a mile round trip, although more than 11 miles of the cavern have been explored. Once you make your way down the 52 steps to the cave entrance, the remainder of the tour is mostly level.

Wear comfortable non-slip shoes and -- since the cave stays at a constant 65 degrees -- you may want to bring a light jacket. Many of the rooms are large enough to host private events, such as weddings, birthday parties, or musical performances.

In addition to the cave tours, Longhorn Cavern State Park is a beautiful place to spend the day. You can hike several well-marked trails, have a picnic at a shaded table or enjoy the Grill and Snack Bar inside the Visitor Center. Explore the Observation Tower and learn more about the creation of the park at the park museum, housed in the original Visitor Center.

There is no fee to enter the park or use any of the facilities, except for the guided cave tours; these range from $12 to $16 per person. If you have a Texas State Parks Pass, you can get a $3 discount. Dogs are allowed to visit the outside areas of the park if kept on a leash; pets are not allowed inside the cavern or buildings.

Treetop tours

If you are up for a breathtaking adventure, try the zipline experience at the Cypress Valley Canopy Tour that includes a series of five ziplines, two sky bridges, and a rappel exit. The longest zipline is over 350 feet and participants launch and land onto platforms up to 40 feet high in the trees. You will be outfitted with specific gear; through a detailed orientation session, guides will carefully point out all the safety features and procedures to assure you of the safety precautions taken to protect you. They also will point out some of the things that you will see during the course of your 90-minute tour.

At the end of the tour, most guests will exit the course by rappelling off the last platform; an alternate exit is available for those not inclined to venture down the rappel.

Eagles in flight

Vanishing Texas River Cruises offers a variety of cruise options and we suggest you visit their website to see which cruise is perfect for you. The best time to see eagles is from Nov. 15 through February when they are nesting; however, sightings are never guaranteed. These cruises run about $25 per person.

The Freedom Flight cruise sounds really exciting. Rehabilitated birds of prey are released back into the wild, and guests get an up-close look at these birds. This cruise is slightly more expensive, with a portion of every ticket going toward these rehabilitation efforts.

All cruises offer excellent opportunities for viewing regional and migrating birds, including the wintering bald eagles, as well as native Texas wildlife, cascading waterfalls, and towering cliffs.

Tastes of Texas

The Highland Lakes Region is part of the Texas Wine Trail, with at least a dozen local wineries open for business. If you are serious about wine, you might consider taking a wine tour with Heart of Texas Wine Tours. Traveling in a comfortable van with friends or other wine enthusiasts, you can visit a variety of wineries for a day of wine tasting before being delivered back safely to your meeting point. Or, you can visit them on your own.

The Highland Lakes, although at the upper reaches of the Hill Country, serves as the prime example of the best that Texas can offer visitors. It can even surprise us Texans with its diversity.

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at Harry-Linda411@att.net.

 
 
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