The Texas Hill Country scenic drives are worth the road trip!
Small towns in the picturesque countryside of the Hill Country offer rich cultural and natural attractions–an ideal lifestyle many seek. Never mind that it might take an hour to drive to the nearest movie theater or the mall, but getting there will ensure that the Texas Hill Country scenic drives will be in your path.
What is the most scenic road in Texas?
Slacker of 106.1 Kiss FM (iHeart Radio) states that the most scenic road in Texas is the Lonesome Highway. Why? Because drivers are more likely to encounter a tumbleweed than another vehicle on this highway. Spanning roughly 50 miles from Carlsbad, New Mexico, to Pine Springs, Texas, the Lonesome Highway is a straight and lonely shot into the Guadalupe Mountains.
Texas Hill Country Scenic Drives
The Hill Country has some extraordinary Texas Highways. Creeks, rivers, rolling hills, small mountains, wildflowers, green valleys, windy roads, deer, and other wildlife are just some of the scenic views to experience on these scenic drives. Are you ready to take a Texas Hill Country road trip? Pack a lunch and look for picnic areas along the way.
But first, for the ones who don’t know what the abbreviations stand for (I didn’t know all), here they are:
SH – State Highway
RM – Ranch to Market Road
CR – County Road
US – United States Route or US Highway
FM – Farm to Market Road
Bandera Scenic Drives
Bandera is the Cowboy Capital of the World and a popular destination for guest and dude ranches.
- SH 173 North winds through Camp Verde and Kerrville. SH 173 South rolls through the hill country in the South Texas Plains.
- Explore this scenic route on SH 46 East from Pipe Creek to Boerne.
- Look for the ripples in creeks as you travel the rolling hills on SH 16 and FM 470 West.
Blanco Scenic Drive
Two miles south of Blanco on RM 32 from US 281, offer scenic views of the Hill Country. And if you veer towards San Marcos, you’ll see Devil’s Backbone. While you’re in the area, stop at Devil’s Backbone Tavern for a few spirits (for real), and maybe you’ll see a ghost! Add a trip to Blanco State Park for a bonus!
If you’re going to Blanco from the San Antonio area, you may want to turn right on Hwy 290 and scout out the unique town of Dripping Springs (one of my favorite THC areas). There are many attractions, including Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center (hike down to a grotto), and all the unique waterfalls in this area!
Also, north of Blanco is the small town of Johnson City and the Pedernales Falls State Park. Take a few days to enjoy the scenic views in both. You will not regret it.
Bracketville Scenic Drives
Going north on RM 674 and RM 334 will lead into a scenic landscape of the West Nueces River winding among steep cliffs and hills.
Burnet – Texas Hill Country Scenic Drives
- SH 29 West – a scenic drive to Spider Mountain
- RM 2341 Northwest – a scenic drive to Spider Mountain
- RM 2342 offers fabulous landscapes, especially at the turnout near the merging of the Llano and Colorado rivers.
Speaking of scenic views – Torr Na Lochs Winery just outside Burnet has the most beautiful view a winery could ever have – it’s my favorite. It’s a great place for wine tasting and lunch outside, overlooking the Buchannan Dam and Inks Lake.
If any time is left during your visit to Burnet, check out the Longhorn Cavern State Park. Aside from crouching like a duck, this cave is one of my favorite guided cave tours I’ve been on so far. Yes, so be aware there is a section in the cave that you’ll have to duck down to get through. It’s not good if you have back problems.
Concan Scenic Drives
Along US 83, FM 1050, and SH 127, enjoy exceptional views of the Frio River.
And a jump or swim in the Frio will be a good one! Check out our visit to the Frio River.
If you’re road-tripping to Enchanted Rock, you may want to travel on SH 16 to Willow City Loop.
The iconic Texas Hill Country scenic drive is on Willow City Loop (off 16) – a paved ranch road that winds for 13 miles through the rugged scenery of the country. Though the land around it is private, anyone can drive the ranch road. Obviously, the best time of year would be spring when the Texas bluebonnets and other wildflowers are blooming and in the fall to see fall foliage. Motorcyclists love this road – so be sure to share it nicely and always look for them.
May through October. is a great time to visit Old Tunnel State Park on Old San Antonio Road to see 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats and 3,000 cave myotis bats. The state park is open in the evening just for this. But of course, you probably must like bats!
Junction Scenic Drive
Follow the South Llano River on US 377 southwest. Look for the overlook about 22 miles south at a highway rest stop.
Kerrville Scenic Drives
These scenic roads are a motorcyclist haven for scenic views and the land’s natural beauty.
- SH 16 to Medina
- FM 337 to Vanderpool, Leaky, and Camp Wood
- FM 335 through Barksdale
- Follow SH 41 to Mountain Home, then SH 27 through Ingram
There is also a road trip motorcyclist love called Good Ol’ Texas Hills Loop. It’s a 150-mile ride that provides a beautiful drive for Hill Country scenery, cafes, and points of interest.
For a beautiful spring road trip, travel 1431 to see the Texas Bluebonnets and other beautiful wildflowers.
- FM 337 offers great views.
- Head north on FM 187 to the Lost Maples State Natural Area.
- Going US 83 north, you’ll see bits of the Frio River, and about 12 miles north is a roadside park with picnic tables and spectacular views.
- SH 39 East is another beautiful route to take.
Marble Falls Scenic Drives
- FM 1431 offers breathtaking views of rolling hills and windy roads (go west on FM 1431 from Hwy 281 in Marble Falls. I’ve driven it several times in the last two years. Not to mention, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is on this route. It’s free to enter the hiking trails.
- RM 2147 will take you to the western shore of Lake Marble Falls.
- SH 71 is another road with memorable drives.
RM 32, Devil’s Backbone, River Road from New Braunfels to Sattler along the Guadalupe River. More on visiting New Braunfels with the family.
Rugged scenic routes on RM 674 South and US 377.
On your way to the San Marcos River, follow FM 12 northwest to RM 32 (Devil’s Backbone) to witness exceptional views of the Hill Country and the wildflowers during spring.
Uvalde Scenic Drives
- Go north on US 83 through Concan (pass Garner State Park) to Leaky, then west on RM 337 and south on SH 55.
- From Leaky, drive east on RM 337 to Vanderpool (Lost Maples Natural Area).
- From Leaky, go south on RM 187 to Sabinal.
- FM 337 in the exceptional scenic drive.
- Climb the surface of the Edwards Plateau (2300 ft) on RM 187 to SH 39.
Get to Devil’s Backbone (RM 32) for a winding, razor-backed ridge overlooking Hill Country vistas.
There you have it – top scenic views in the Texas Hill Country. I’m sure there are some hidden gems out there, too! My motto is “Always take the back roads.”