Pedernales Falls State Park is fairly close to home for me, but the short drive doesn’t make it any less spectacular.

The main attraction at the park is, of course, Pedernales Falls.  It’s a massive area in the Pedernales River that’s packed with giant boulders, pools and rushing water, and it’s all accessible to the public.

I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.  First, if you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably thought, “I wonder how Ashley sets up camp.”  Well you’re in luck!  I have the Readers’ Digest version right here…

I arrived about mid-afternoon on a Wednesday.  I like going to places during the week.  It’s less crowded.  I set up camp, which you can see doesn’t take long (you don’t need much for one night), and then decided to check out a smaller set of falls – Twin Falls.

There’s a short nature trail that leads you to a lookout point for Twin Falls. It’s a beautiful little trail that’s close to the camping area, but it can be rocky and steep at points, and you have to duck under a few fallen trees.


The area around the falls is currently closed for revegitation and restoration, but you can see the little waterfalls from the lookout point.


The sun was getting low in the sky and I had already spent some time on the nature trail, so I delayed dinner and drove over to Pedernales Falls to capture the sunset.

On my way there, I realized something – I forgot my lantern.  Oh well, I had my flashlight…right?  I looked through my stuff and didn’t find it.  Oh well, I had my back up flashlight in the trunk of my car…  No, no I didn’t.  I took it out to replace the batteries.  Oh well, I had matches and fire wood to make a fire when I got back to camp.  Wait, there was a burn ban, so I didn’t bother with fire supplies.  Hmm…

I just figured I’d go over to the falls, shoot until the sun went down over the surrounding hills, then there would still be enough light at dusk for me to make it back to the trail and back to my car.  I’d figure out eating dinner in the dark later.

Yeah, you know better than that.  Of course I stayed far too late, until it was completely dark.  I was left by myself, climbing over large boulders with two cameras and a tripod, with only stars to light my path.

Thank goodness I had been there before and knew my way back to the trail.  Also, thank goodness for the brightness of the iPhone screen, which I used to dimly light the trail.

That was really dangerous!  I shouldn’t have done that.  I was by myself in an unprotected area with wild animals, in a river notorious for flash flooding.  I was lucky that I didn’t fall and hurt myself.  I would have been in real trouble.  Always bring your flashlight and lantern with you when you go camping and hiking at night!

That being said, here’s a quick time lapse I did of the sun setting and the stars coming out at Pedernales.

To create a time lapse, you have to set the camera on a tripod and tell the camera to take a photo every second (or how ever you time it) for a certain amount of time.  That leaves the photographer basically babysitting the camera while it works.  I left one camera on a tripod, then walked around a bit to see what else I could get.

I climbed up and down the boulders and found a place with some wild flowers.  As I shot, large bugs kept zipping around my head.  They had stripes and they were huge for bugs.  Then I realized they weren’t bugs.  They were humming birds!  I’d never seen humming birds with stripes like that.


There was an infestation of other flying creatures, about the same size as the hummingbirds. Dragonflies.


I was rather disappointed with my waterfall images.  They lacked water.  It’s been a few weeks since I was there, and it’s rained quite a bit since then, so you may have better luck.

I remember my trip to Pedernales a few years ago, when I took many photos and made a serious of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images.  Here are a few of them.





There are trails all along the bank of Pedernales Falls, including a nice lookout point with a seating area that overlooks the falls from above.  Closer to the water there are a few flatter, sandy areas that are fairly easy to navigate.  You can climb all over the rocks in the middle of the river, but be smart about it.  There’s absolutely no swimming in that part of the river.  It’s very dangerous, especially when water is high.

When I got back to camp (thank goodness), I ate my no-cook dinner in the dark and went to bed.

The next morning I got up, ate breakfast and drove over to a bird blind that’s set up in the park.  I had my doubts about it, but it’s a pretty nice facility.

It has a large seating area inside a shelter, with huge windows that overlook a feeding area for the birds.  I must have seen half a dozen different kinds of birds all mixed together in close proximity.




Outside there’s a butterfly garden.  The monarchs were migrating through, so I had quite the show.



This is a great nature activity for kids.  It’s very safe and there’s a lot to see in a short amount of time.

There was one last thing to do – explore the 4-mile-loop trail.

From the camping area, it’s about a half of a mile to 4-mile-loop.  You have to cross the river in a shallow, swimming area, which is kind of a nice way to start and end the hike.  Make sure you wear shoes that can get wet.


The first half mile is the toughest because of the river crossing, but it’s all pretty easy hiking.  Wide, even, well-marked trails with some shady parts.


The hike didn’t take long, but when I was finished it was time to eat lunch, pack up my tent and head home.  Pedernales is a perfect place for a 24-hour trip.  Plenty to see, but you can do it all in one day.

Here are a few links to help you plan your trip:
Pedernales State Park  (TPW web site)Park Map  (shows camp sites, both electric & primitive, and hiking trails)
Landis Images blog post about HDR  (tips on HDR plug-ins)

  1. jp thomas says:

    Thank you Ashley for a wonderful insight on Pedernales state park , I like the time lapse ..
    Plus all the great shots ..

  2. Linda Billetter says:

    Beautiful photos, Ashley! Thanks for sharing!

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  1. […] the eastern-most parking area and filled my backpack with bottled water, a snack, the trail map, a flashlight (!) and a few camera items.  There are two main trails, the East Trail and the West Trail.  I […]

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