Texas Floods and Pedernales Falls State Park

The month of May brought torrential rains to most of Texas, including my little area of the Lone Star State here in the Hill Country. The lakes are rising, but the devastating effects of flooding could be found in many towns nearby, including Wimberley and Blanco. One of my favorite places to get away for a few hours of sunrise photography, Pedernales Falls State Park, was even closed because of the downpours and flash floods.

This past weekend, I was finally able to access the park again. I headed out in the early morning when it was still dark outside. A line of thunderstorms was far northwest of me – probably Mason and Llano – but moving this way. Usually it is a 30 minute drive from my house to the parking area at Pedernales Falls. But because some low water crossings were still closed, the drive took closer to 45 minutes. On the way over, I actually turned around several times thinking the trip would not be productive – that the thunderstorms would be over me before I could make it to the river for even a short time. Most times, I’m normally not so indecisive, but I wanted this trip to be productive. I was having to quickly decide if I wanted to turn around and head to downtown Austin and wait for the lightening storm or continue to the park. Finally, with time running out, I figured I was close enough, and I headed the last few miles to the river. If you’ve been there, you know access to the main area of Pedernales Falls (where the cascading falls flow) is a 5 minute walk down a dirt path to an overlook, then a stone stairway to the river basin.

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Flood on the Pedernales River 7 : Prints Available

The Pedernales River Runs high and strong after a month of rains in May of 2015. Seen here from the overlook at Pedernales Falls State Park early in the morning, the usually calm and meandering river is overflowing its banks.

I passed this area in the dark, went around a sign, and spent the next hour photographing some amazing light combined with a river as high as I’d ever seen it. And from where I set my tripod, I could tell only days before the water would have been over my head.

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Flood on the Pedernales River 2 : Prints Available

The usually tranquil Pedernales River nearly stretched from one cliff to the other even after several days of no rain. In the weeks prior to this photograph being taken, rains flooded the Texas Hill County leaving much of the landscape devastated, a sharp contrast to the beauty of a sunrise on a quiet May morning.

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Flood at Pedernales Falls Panorama 2 : Prints Available

Floods rolled through the Pedernales River Valley and across the Texas Hill Country after torrential rains fell for weeks. This panorama comes from Pedernales Falls State Park at sunrise several days after the river crested at historic levels.

I enjoyed sunrise, captured several images and angles later to be stitched into panoramas, and with the storm clouds quickly approaching, headed back to my car. As I climbed the stairs, I looked back at the sign I had passed in the dark. It said “Trail Closed Beyond this Point.” Uh Oh. I couldn’t read that in the dark because I did not have my flashlight on. I figured it warned about no swimming. So I apologize to any state parks folks. I was careful!

Nevertheless, the hour spent here photographing the fast and furious flow of Pedernales Falls State Park was appreciated, and the sunrise light filtering through crazy clouds put on a beautiful pink, orange and blue display. I’m already looking forward to returning again soon.

Be safe out there, and pay attention to the warming signs!

Rob

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