The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Lake Wood Recreation Area, Gonzales

It’s water over the dam at this scenic park

By Gerald E. McLeod, September 25, 2020, Columns

Lake Wood Recreation Area west of Gonzales encompasses a small park in a grove of pecan trees below the dam that once created a scenic lake. 

Owned by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, the lake was formed on the Guadalupe River by a hydroelectric dam constructed in 1931. The dam produced electricity until 2016 when the spillgate failed and lowered the water level. Without the spillgate the lake reverted to the natural river channel and became inaccessible from the park’s boat ramp.

The campground occupies 35 acres under a canopy of trees decorated with Spanish moss and serenaded by the river. Picnic tables surround a small playground in the center of the park. Tent camping is allowed, plus there are 16 RV slips with full hookups. Quiet time is monitored by a park host and GBRA park rangers. The park store stocks a good assortment of items you might have forgotten.

Besides being an idyllic place for a day playing outdoors ($8 per car), fishing is the most popular activity. Swimming is hazardous because of the swift current coming over the spillway. There are shallow areas in the river where wading is a cool respite from the heat. A canoe trip into Gonzales takes four hours, but you have to bring your own watercraft.

Lake Wood Park is about a 15-minute drive from the great barbecue from Gonzales Food Market or Baker Boys BBQ in Gonzales. Due to the current pandemic, the number of park guests is limited, so call ahead (830/672-2779) before making the hour drive from Austin. On weekdays, there are seldom more than a handful of people in the park, and weekends are often below capacity.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since original publication to clarify the current absence of the actual lake caused by the spillgate failure.

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