By: Jedediah Draper
Though in recent years, Marble Falls has grown to become a fully bonafide tourist destination in the Texas Hill Country. Our biggest issue is the town’s name remains a massive misnomer.
Visitors travel from all over and are often surprised to find that, not only are there no competitive marble tournaments here, but there are not any waterfalls within the city limits either.
The “great falls” or “marble falls” of the Colorado River were a key landmark of the town when it was first established in the mid 1800s, but the construction of the Max Starcke Dam in the 1950s effectively submerged the waterfalls under the newly created Lake Marble Falls. Now they are only visible every once in a while, when the lake is lowered for repairs.
But fear not! For those TLC deniers who insist on chasing waterfalls, there are still ample options in the area that are perfect for those searching for some great sightseeing and a little adventure.
Only a short 20-minute drive outside of town, Krause Springs is considered a historical Texan site and is a must-see for anyone looking for an authentic taste of what the Hill Country has to offer.
Guests are invited to set up camp and cool off at the swimming hole, positioned near a small grotto and waterfall that visitors can explore. With 115 acres and 32 springs that feed into both the natural and the man-made pool on site, Krause is the perfect place to escape the Texas heat.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Located just outside Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park is another great stop to add to the list for those scouting around the Hill Country. Taking a dip in the Pedernales River is sure to be an exciting new experience for visitors, with water careening over the surrounding mountains of limestone into the river where you are floating.
With plenty of space for camping and miles upon miles of trails to hike, bike, and ride, the park not only encourages you to BYOB - Bring Your Own Bike - but to bring your own kayak and horse as well.
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
The Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is yet another unique option for day-trippers. Guided tours will take you through a limestone crevice down a 100 foot staircase into a sheltered canyon of lush plant life. After a 15 minute walk, you will reach the head of the canyon where a stunning 40-foot waterfall stands replenishing the grotto pool below!
Home to the Tonkawa and Lipan Apache tribes centuries ago, the preserve is now shelter to a number of endangered species and a wide variety of plant-life. This park has a rich history that makes it such an amazing find for those traversing the Hill Country.
Colorado Bend State Park
Slightly further out of the way, though every bit as worth the drive, is Colorado Bend State Park. With 35 miles of trails to check out, Park guests are free to hike, bike, swim, and fish in Spicewood Springs as they please.
For those willing to brave the 3-mile trek over the park’s rugged terrain, the Gorman Falls wait as a breath-taking reward. Standing 70 feet high, Gorman is considered a “living waterfall,” which means that, unlike most other waterfalls, it has and will continue to grow larger and larger overtime due to changes in temperature and pressure.
If you came to Marble looking for “the falls,” Gorman is a cannot-miss.
The Vanishing Texas Cruises
Visitors looking for a more relaxed change of pace may be interested in the Vanishing Texas Cruises. These two-hour excursions offer passengers a scenic tour of one of the hidden treasures of the Texas Hill Country.
Sights on this guided tour include Garrett Island - a wildlife refuge, White Bluff - a large arrangement of limestone formed in Lake Buchanan, as well as - you guessed it, the Lake Buchanan Waterfall. Known only to those who venture far enough out onto the water to find it, the waterfall stands nearly 30 feet tall and is truly the secret gem of Lake Buchanan.
These boat tours are perfect for families or any traveler looking for a laid-back means of exploring the Hill Country.
Tourists coming to Marble Falls expecting the “Niagara of the South'' might find themselves slightly let down at first glance, but the Hill Country is teeming with possibilities. There is no shortage of trails to hike, rivers to dive into, or waterfalls to chase.
We’re still working on that marble tournament though.