The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, November 29, 2002, Columns

The Paluxy River Bed Cabins charmed us the moment my wife and I opened the front door to the Cedar House. There was a bottle of good wine chilling in the small refrigerator, the hot tub was warmed up, and the sun was setting.

The first two items were compliments of Karen and John Wells, the owners of a nice piece of riverfront property outside of Glen Rose. "We would've even had flowers waiting for you if you had asked," Karen said. "People come here for privacy and peace and quiet."

My wife calls the cabins in the woods "a recharge zone for parents." The "no kids, no pets" policy cuts down on a lot of noise. Karen admits that they have a TV with a VCR that she will loan if somebody "just has to have it." Most visitors browse through her CD collection rather than her video collection.

The son of a contractor, John built all four of the cabins on the river. The Cedar House was the first one, and it has a rustic, fishing cabin feel. The Taos House is the same floor plan with a Southwestern décor. Being rustic does not mean the cabins lack any comforts. The A-frame buildings with sleeping lofts have small tables, and futons accent the living areas downstairs. The apartment-style, corner kitchens have all the necessary appliances.

Both houses have upstairs balconies off the bedrooms with panoramic views of the Paluxy River Valley. Downstairs, the front porches come equipped with two oversized rocking chairs, a gas barbecue grill, and a bubbling hot tub. Thick underbrush and trees surround the houses except for the driveway and a path down to the river where there is a swing, bench, and fire pit.

Closer to the river, the Spring House has a fishing motif and a long front porch overlooking the river. The couple's fourth house is the Cliff House on a bluff overlooking the valley.

The Paluxy River is more famous for its dinosaur tracks rather than its size. The stream is mainly shallow and narrow, but after the spring rains, the Wells offer to take guests on a two-hour tubing trip. Dinosaur Valley State Park is down the road, which runs past the cabins. In the other direction is Glen Rose with its antique shops, unspoiled small-town charm, and a local museum with a whiskey-still exhibit.

"There are lots of things to do in Glen Rose," Karen says. "Or you can just sit and read a book."

Neither Karen nor John looks old enough to have already left one career to start another one. John was a rancher near Cleburne, and Karen was selling real estate and insurance. They wanted a quieter lifestyle, and they got it.

"I guess you could call us a bed and breakfast, if you consider a muffin, juice, and coffee breakfast," Karen says with a laugh. With more than 30 different lodging choices in Glen Rose, the Paluxy River Bed Cabins are the only ones offering individual cabins on the river. The bottle of wine waiting in the refrigerator is an extra that helps set the cabins apart from the competition.

The Wells make the bottle of wine left for their guests a personal greeting. "We like to drink wine, so we try the wine before we recommend it to our guests," Karen says. This may have been whiskey-still country in the 1920s, but now there are enough wine drinkers in the valley to persuade the local supermarket to stock a thoughtful selection in case you need to run out for more during your stay.

"When you come to visit us, all you need to bring is food, a change of clothes, and your toothpaste," Karen says.

About a three-hour drive from Austin, the cabins rent for $125 per night for double occupancy during the week and $140 on weekends, with a two-night minimum during the busy seasons. For more information call 800/235-2004 or visit their Web site at

599th in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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