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22 May . 2018

Learn the basics about the Texas Hill Country

Welcome to the Texas Hill Country! With these quick and interesting facts, you’ll feel like a real Central Texan in no time.

The Texas Hill Country is a geographic region located in the Edwards Plateau, which covers 41 counties, including Travis County, home to Austin and Sweetwater.

The Hill Country is considered to be the crossroads where West Texas, Central Texas and South Texas come together. On a national level, it’s often thought of as the border between the American Southwest and Southeast.

One distinguishing characteristic of the Hill Country is its karst topography, which is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone. This creates vast underground drainage systems such as sinkholes, caves and aquifers. The Edwards Aquifer, one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world, provides drinking water for about 2 million people in the Hill Country.

The region’s numerous caves are home to a great deal of wildlife, especially millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Other caverns, such as Natural Bridge Caverns and Longhorn Cavern State Park, have become popular tourist attractions.

The rugged hills that give the Hill Country its name are composed of granite and limestone. Most hills rise 400 to 500 feet above the surrounding plains and valleys. The 10 highest peaks of the Hill Country range from about 2,300 to 2,400 feet, with the Kerr County High Point topping out at 2,420 feet.

Another distinctive feature of the Hill Country is the Llano Uplift, known for its large granite domes such as Enchanted Rock, the second-largest exposed granite dome in the United States. The Hill Country is the source of beautiful granite, such as red granite used for the Texas State Capitol, which comes from Granite Mountain, near Marble Falls.

The Hill Country terrain has a thin layer of topsoil with a large number of exposed rocks and boulders, giving the region its distinctive look. Native plants include yucca, prickly pear and wildflowers. The Texas live oak and the Ashe juniper are the most common types of trees.

The Colorado River cuts across the Hill Country to the southwest. Several of its tributaries, including the Llano and Pedernales rivers, cross the region from west to east and join the Colorado.

Rivers that originate in the Hill Country include the Guadalupe, San Antonio, Frio, Medina and Nueces. These rivers are known for their crystal-clear water, rock-bottomed riverbeds, and shady banks lined with cypresses and other trees. From tubing to swimming, they provide some of the most-loved recreational opportunities in the state.

Learn more about the many recreational opportunities in the Texas Hill Country with our Hill Country Guide.