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SWIMMING TO MEXICO
Part III

by John Troesser

WATER: Medina River, Sabinal River,
Nueces River, Leona River & Rio Frio
TOWNS: Medina, Vanderpool, Utopia, Concan and Uvalde

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Swimming to Mexico, part II

MEDINA RIVER

Leaving Kerrville on Hwy 16 you encounter a rise in elevation until you descend into the Medina River Valley. The small town of Medina is near the headwaters of the Medina River which flows past Bandera and into Medina Lake in Medina County. Todayís word is Medina.

At Medina head west on 337. The east-and-west route of FM337 is a scenic route not to be missed. It would be best if you had the sun behind you. Take this road in the early morning if you can. If not, strong sunglasses would be in order especially in the late afternoon to navigate the uphill and downhill curves of the road on steep slopes overlooking cloistered valleys. While on-coming traffic is sparse, youíll probably encounter it on a curve. An abundance of Texas mountain laurel would make this a trip to take again in the spring when they bloom in profusion.
FM337 near Vanderpool
A view from FM 337 near Vanderpool
TE Photo, 2001

SABINAL RIVER

At Vanderpool go North on 187 to Lost Maples State Natural Area. Besides the bigtooth maples thereís a forest of sycamores thriving on the waters of the Sabinal River. Fall foliage makes this area a must for return visits when the color peaks in early November. Because of the crowd, itís best to come during weekdays. The Sabinal flows parallel to the Frio and after a dip in our sixth river, one can now head south on 187 following the course of the river and detour to Utopia before continuing on 337.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Photo Courtesy TXDoT

LAND OF WATER AND HONEY

To Utopia: you will encounter several places for access to the river and a few places with rentals right on the river. This is the home of Utopia Water and the whole area is famous for its Huahillo honey available in specialty stores in Uvalde. From Utopia FM1050 will take you west to both the town and river of Rio Frio.

Since you have come this far, you would not want to miss the rest of the spectacular drive on 337. Head back to Vanderpool and take 337 West to Leakey. From here head south on 83 through the Frio River Canyon to Garner State Park.

Garner State Park, Texas
Garner State Park
Photo courtesy Royce L. Milam, 2004
RIO FRIO

Garner State Park is one of the most photographed parks in the state. During the summer its visitors make it the largest "town" in the county. Besides the tree lined river, thereís a mountain view that is truly memorable. Itís a park you wonít confuse with any other.

After visiting Garner State Park head south on Hwy 83 towards Concan. RR1120 offers several picturesque points of entry. Concan has one of the most inviting accesses but the parking is limited, so try to arrive early. Stone steps carved by nature on riverbanks, white pebbles and clear water makes the Frio River very enticing.
Concan TX - Horseback riding across Frio River
Horseback riding across Rio Frio in Concan
TE photo
TX - Concan Cemetery
Concan Cemetery gate
TE photo, 2007
TX - Concan mailbox
Concan mailbox
TE photo, 2007
ConcanTexas - Frio River High Water
High-water in Concan
TE photo

Uvalde

From Concan head south on Hwy 83 toward Uvalde.

Suggested Motto: "Our name doesnít mean anything in Spanish either."

Uvalde is a corruption of the surname of Capt. Juan de Ugalde, a Spanish officer who rid the area of Indians before they became Native Americans.


A SUCCULENT LANDSCAPE
As the road flattens out, youíll notice an abundance of prickly pear cactus. Acres of it. Oceans of it. Pioneers used to have to put on chaps just to go to the outhouse. While we are mentioning cactus, Uvalde was the home of "Cactus Jack" Garner, namesake of the state park, and FDRís Vice President. His nickname comes from his attempt to have the Cactus Rose declared the State Flower of Texas. Famous for his pithiness before LBJ, he is most remembered for his remark: "The Vice Presidency isnít worth a bucket of warm spit". Pithy enough for you? Uvalde was also home to The Newton Boys (Willis, Doc, Isaac, Huey, Fig and Wayne), and in the nineteenth century, King Fisher.
Kingfisher A: Huey "Kingfish" Long with
B: a Kingfish
C: A Kingfisher
D: Uvaldeís King Fisher
A dandified bully who wore leopard skin chaps, silk cumberbunds and ascots (and got away with it!), Fisher was ambushed in a San Antonio Vaudeville Theater with Austin bully and gunfighter Ben Thompson. Both were killed instantly, Fisher with 9 bullets, Thompson with 13. As the comedian Jake Johansen said, "Guns donít kill people, itís those darn little bullets."
Railroad bridge Uvalde Texas
Railroad bridge over Leona River on US 90 near Uvalde
TE photo, 2001
LEONA RIVER
The Leona River flows through a nice town park in Uvalde on Hwy 90 but swimming is done south of town near the site of historic Fort Inge, four and a half miles southeast of town off FM 140. Eventually the Leona meets the Frio (near Dilley) and they flow as one to Choke Canyon Lake.

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Frio River flood of 1935, north of Dilley, Texas

1935 Flood scene of the Frio River north of Dilley, Texas


NUECES RIVER

As we bid farewell to Uvalde, heading into the sunset, weíll cross the Nueces River which reminds us of Mr. Garnerís remark. (The amount, not the viscosity). The photo here is the river as it was in the middle of the '98  drought. Some moisture (and interesting life forms) can be found by turning over the larger rocks. If you didnít get something to drink in Uvalde, try sucking on a pebble until you get to Brackettville and Ft. Clark Springs. The distance between them varies from map to map, but the reality is, Ft. Clark Springs and Brackettville are separated only by Hwy 90. next page
Click here to continue:
Swimming to Mexico - Part IV > next page

Water
: Fort Clark and San Felipe Springs, Lake Amistad and Devilís River
Towns:  Brackettville, Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna
Getting There from Dallas: Paluxy River

SWIMMING TO MEXICO
Introduction

SWIMMING TO MEXICO - Part I

Water: McKinney Falls, Aquarena Springs, San Marcos, Blanco and Pedernales Rivers
Parks: Blanco State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park
Towns: San Marcos, Wimberley and Blanco

SWIMMING TO MEXICO - Part II
Water: Guadalupe River
Parks: Guadalupe River State Park, Kerrville-Schreiner State Park
Towns: Boerne, Comfort, Center Point and Kerrville

SWIMMING TO MEXICO - Part III
Water: Medina, Sabinal, Nueces and Leona Rivers and Rio Frio
Parks: Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park
Towns:Medina, Vanderpool, Utopia, Concan and Uvalde

SWIMMING TO MEXICO - Part IV
Water: Fort Clark and San Felipe Springs, Lake Amistad and Devilís River
Parks: Devilís River State Natural Area
Towns:  Brackettville, Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna
Getting There from Dallas: Paluxy River, Dinosaur Valley State Park


Rivers Included in This Trip
Their Lengths, Sources, and Termination Points

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