The Frio River is the prime reason for the popularity of this far west end of the Hill Country between Leakey and Concan—for good reasons.
“Frio” is Spanish for “cold” and that’s a mighty good thing in the Texas summertime heat. Dip in and cool off instantly. It’s also a rather narrow river and lined on both banks with towering cypress and oak trees providing shade and that’s a mighty good thing in the Texas summertime heat. It also twists and winds through the hills and through those stands of trees, providing a visitor with scenic views along nearly every foot of its path as it rises in Real County and flows to the south.
Swimming in the Frio is perhaps the most popular recreational activity here in the summer. Visitors find access all over from Leakey to Concan, over at Garner State Park, and, quite often, at the various lodges and cabins that line the river such as Crider’s, River Bluff and River Haven.
Tubing is also quite popular on the Frio. Nothing to it, really—just plop your butt in an inner tube and float downstream. No worries and little effort. You’ll find places that rent tubes all along the river.
If you want a little more say in where you’ll wander on the Frio, try your hand at kayaking. Bring your own or rent one at places like Josh’s Outfitters. Josh’s has two convenient shops, one in Leakey and one downstream at Concan. And his shops are overflowing with gifts, souvenirs, and fishing gear.
If it’s shopping you’re after, you’ll find plenty out here. One of the most famous is Frio’s Dry Fifty in Concan that has just expanded its space and now provides a visitor with hundreds of clothing choices and more Frio souvenir T-shirts and caps than you know existed.
Most of the shops are along US Highway 83 in and around Leakey, such as the famed River Rags ‘n’ Rhinestones. You’ll also find a couple along County Road 348, the popular “River Road” that crosses the Frio twice.
The Frio area abounds in first-rate lodging offering you everything from simple motel rooms to home rentals, cabins, and lodges that can sleep more than a dozen people under one roof. Is it any wonder that this area is one of the most popular in Texas for family reunions?
Hungry? Check out Vinny’s pizzeria in Leakey or Neal’s Dining Room in Concan. Neal’s has fed several generations of visitors. Chicken Earl’s has great fried chicken but be warned: he’s open only on Tuesday and he sells out fast.
Get your sluggish metabolism kick-started in the morning with homemade doughnuts or great cinnamon rolls from Bonnie’s Bakery. It’s just a little place on the Real/Uvalde county line and closes around noon, but has great pastries. And here’s a little secret: while there, pick up some apple turnovers for a healthy snack later in the day.
Or go see the bats. Bain Walker leads tours to the privately-owned Frio Bat Cave almost every night between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Watching millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the darkness of a 2,000-foot-hole is a breathtaking experience and deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list. What impresses most is that the column of bats flying skyward in search of breakfast never seems to stop. They keep flying out and flying out and flying out. After all, there are about 12 million of them, the second largest mammal population in the world. Just don’t get too close to the mouth of the cave.
Bain also guides a Birding and Natural History Tour where you can learn all about the plants of the area, geology, animals, birds and butterflies.
Just want to relax and be entertained? Storyteller Lee Haile does just that with songs and cowboy poetry and tall tales. Hill Country Adventures arranges his performances, along with tours to champion trees.
If it’s golf you’re after, visit the Concan Country Club. The course is nestled among scenic hills and the club has a first rate spa and a grill with the best burgers you’ll find in the region.
The county is hosting several events throughout the year including the annual July Jubilee (July 5-6) and the Centennial Soap Box Derby (August 31) in Leakey.
July Jubilee begins Friday with a street dance, then on Saturday is the Independence Day Parade, arts and crafts show, food vendors, and a grand street dance finale that evening. They’re also presenting a rodeo on Friday and Saturday evenings that holiday weekend.
Frio Canyon Visitors Center:
Real County centennial events: realcounty1913.com
830-278-3361, uvalde.org, visituvalde.com
Concan Country Club:
Josh’s Frio River Outfitter:
830-232-6292 • 830-232-4243
Hill Country Adventure Tours:
Frio Bat Tours: 888-502-9387, friobatflight.com.