on our most recent trip to Colorado bend state park we thought we had won the camping/observing lottery. The remote nature of the park paired with the dark skies made it a most enjoyable trip. We were equally delighted with the environment found at Lost Maples. Sporting a similar bortle rating of 3, this quaint park is packed full of surprises.
though beyond the initial boundary set with phase 1 this park was chosen as part of our assessment for its impressive skies along with it being an observing site frequented by the San Antonio league of sidewalk astronomers (SALSA). The salsa group is known for partnering with Lost Maples and providing astronomical viewing for the public and park visitors on a quarterly basis. We were fortunate enough to be invited to join them on our trip as the dates coincided.
above the parking area near the trail head for the east trail sits a fairly level meadow where the astronomers set up. if you are looking to do observing away from the camping area in the lower portion of the park you will need ranger permission to set up here. However, near the parking area is another grass area which park guests can use for astronomical purposes. Both areas are a fair bit higher than the camping areas and allow for visibility starting anywhere from 15-20 degrees above the horizon. light domes from nearby towns are obscured by the surrounding hills and the nearest major town of kerrville (bortle scale around 5) is well over 25 miles away as the crow flies.
while we opted to camp in the meadow next to our scopes we did assess the camping FACILITIES during daylight hours. the park offers thirty standard campsites with water and electricity. As there are many trees in the vicinity of the camp spots it is advised that you consider utilizing this park during the autumn and winter months when the trees have shed their leaves. Due to the canyon like nature of the terrain, visibility of the sky doesn't start until approximately 30 degrees above the horizon to the north and south. there are six primitive hike in camp areas ranging from a one to three mile hike. from maps and images it appears that primitive areas b and F afford the highest elevations with the most sky accessibility. these would be options for folks with some basic backpacking experience toting small scopes or binoculars. out of our assessment of the lower standard campsites we suggest #1, #20, #21, #22, #25, #26 and #27. All sites have electricity and water, boast a well maintained covered picnic table area as well as ample level grass area from which to observe next to youR RV or tent.
sites are $20 per night with a $6 day use fee and are assigned on a first come first serve basis. Please be aware that this is a very popular park and it can book up fully several months in advance. you can also reference the salsa calendar or the texas parks and wildlife stargazing page to see when the next public astronomy night will take place at lost maples.
pedernales falls state park also affords its visitors the option of partaking in other activities such as hiking, fishing and birding.
This upper meadow area is the site of the park hosted star parties and where the San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers sets up their scopes.