Travis County Parks
The Central Texas climate is ideally suited for year-round recreation. Summer heat is a more prominent feature of the climate than winter cold. The temperature dips below freezing only a few days each year. Even the coldest days are usually followed quickly by mild, sunny weather. Midsummers commonly see temperatures above 100 degrees, often for several consecutive days. The average annual rainfall is about 32 inches.
The first humans to inhabit what is now Travis County probably arrived as the last Ice Age was drawing to a close more than 11,000 years ago. Hundreds of archeological sites throughout the region reflect a constant human presence since prehistoric times.
More recently, nomadic tribes of Comanche, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, and Jumano Indians inhabited or roamed through the area. Records of early European settlers indicate that there was frequent contact between the Europeans and Native Americans.
Spanish explorers and missionaries were the first Europeans to have contact with the Texas Indians in the area -- as early as the mid-1700s. This Hispanic legacy is reflected in many Travis County place names. The first Anglo settlement came in 1837, after Texas won its independence from Mexico. Travis County was created in 1839, the same year Austin became the Texas capital.
Three distinct ecological regions, often referred to as bioregions, converge in Travis County. Excellent examples of unique bioregional features highlight the parks system.
The Edwards Plateau bioregion to the west of the Balcones fault line is honeycombed by caves and aquifers and covered by limestone and granite, providing homes to dozens of rare and endangered plant and animal species. The area is a gateway to the unique combination of the Hill Country and the Highland Lake, features of which the parks system takes full advantage.
Abundant wildflowers and the remnants of the tallgrass prairie with its deep, rich soil typify the Blackland Prairies bioregion to the east. The Colorado River flows through these prairielands, with easy access for fishing and boating from two county parks.
The Crosstimbers and Prairies bioregion, the rolling, woodedsavanna that extends north beyond the Texas-Oklahoma border, reaches its southern-most influence in northern Travis County. Named for the belts of blackjack and post oak that crossed strips of prairies, this region is home to plants and animals whose ranges stretch north into the Great Plains.
Last Modified:Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2:11 PM