Falcon State Park

Wednesday, November 27 Through Saturday, November 30, 2002

See all of the pictures from Falcon State Park here!

Falcon State Park is on the Rio Grande River between Zapata and Rio Grande City.  The Rio Grande River flows between Mexico and  Texas.  All kinds of information is available on the Parks Department web site including a map of the park.

The park is located in Starr county.  There isn't much information on the Internet about this area of Texas.   It tends to be at the very low end of the economic scale.  It is also very remote.  One good source of information is Falcon Lake Tackle store.  Roma is the nearest "real" town.  (I don't consider Falcon Heights a real town.)    Roma and Zapata are considered to be in the upper part of the Rio Grande Valley.

According to Wal-Mart, the nearest Wal-Mart is in El Sauz, TX.   El Sauz in the center of Starr County.  Falcon State Park is in Starr County as is Roma and Rio Grand City.  Roma and Rio Grande City are both along the Rio Grande River.

However, you can't believe everything you find on the Internet.  There is a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rio Grande City.  The Wal-Mart in Rio Grand City is about 35 miles from the park.  Rio Grande City is south on highway US 83.   On the way, we went through Roma.  Roma is another interesting border town.

The AAA map for getting to Falcon State Park is here.

The sign says (to the left of the viewing area) Park Headquarters.  PHQ? 

This is the only park we have been to so far that we have no interest in returning to.    There are a few things not to like about this park.  The rangers staffing "PHQ" are unfriendly.  The lake is the park's greatest asset.  Unfortunately, as you will see in the pictures, the lake doesn't have much water in it.  Apparently, that has been the case for the past several years.  Also, the campsites in the section with full hook-ups are laid out badly.  Perhaps the lowest bidders never used a camper before.  Maintenance is minimal.  More about all of this later.

Millions of these bugs everywhere!Another aspect of the park that can be problematic is the bug sitution.  The first few days it was real cold.  No bugs.  It has warmed up into the sixties maybe low seventies today.  The knats are awful.  Then tonight, we got all of these baby bugs.  They were swarming the lights.  When I got back from walking the dogs, there were these tiny bugs coating the ceiling.  After the bugs get tired of clinging to the ceiling, they drop down dead tired onto the counters or the floor.  Then they wiggle around and try again for the light..

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We arrived Wednesday afternoon.  It was very overcast and somewhat cold.  By Thursday the weather was obviously changing.  We just didn't know how.  So we walked over to the ranger station to see if we couldn't get a current weather forecast.    All the ranger stations that are connected to the Internet reservation system also have Internet access.  I went into the ranger station to inquire.  The ranger wasn't able to use any of the Internet connected Windows computers to pull up a more current weather report.  It didn't appear to be a skill issue.  I got to see a printed out weather forecast from Tuesday.  Given the rapidly changing weather, it was seriously out of date.  My experience with rangers at other parks is that they are always friendly and accommodating.  Not here.

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It was very chilly all day Thursday.  I was all bundled up and still cold.  For you folks living up North, cold here is in the mid forties with the winds blowing around fifteen miles per hour.

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Here is our campsite from the ranger station.  There aren't that many folks staying in this park.  Friday night there are five camps in our area and three tent campers in the tent area.

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When we checked in at the ranger station on arrival to the park, we were instructed to drive into the campsite from a certain direction.  They were wrong and we had to turn around.  We weren't the only ones.  Other folks who arrived after us had the same issue.

For those of you not familiar with trailer designs, there is a curb side and a roadside on all modern trailers.  With the trailer hitched up and using the tow vehicle as a guide, the right hand side is the curb side.  Curb side is where your door is.  It is where the awning is.  It is where you put your outside tables and chairs.

Road side or the left hand side of the trailer is where all the hook-up stuff is.   The power, water, and sewer are on this side.  The normal rule of thumb is to park the trailer so that the road side where all the hook-up stuff is adjacent to the campsite facilities.  See the picture below.   This way you don't run the pipes, hoses, and electrical wires under the trailer.  The pipes, hoses, and electrical wires tend to be 20 feet or less.  You really don't have the length to run stuff under the trailer.  They just aren't long enough.  Also, you don't have to worry about having all of the utility infrastructure in your outdoor living area.

The other convention for parks of this nature is to have the curbside part of the trailer facing away from the road.  This affords some privacy and makes the camping experience nicer.  Also, you like to have the outdoor living area opening up to the covered picnic table, outdoor grill, and fire ring.

Another problem with the campsite is the way the sewer hookup was installed.    The inlet pipes need to be lower than the surrounding area not raised up as was done for the campsite we have.  You can see the problem by looking at the way the sewer pipe raises up at the ground end.  Also, they didn't thread the pipes to allow the normal elbow to screw in for locking down the pipe.  I had to use the plug and tether to hold the pipe in place.

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In this park, they setup the campsites incorrectly.   See the picture below.   From the roof of the trailer looking away from the road see where the hook-ups are, the grill, fire ring, and covered picnic table (one corner of the cement slab peeks out in the upper left hand of the picture.  Also note the tall grass crowding the grill, fire ring, picnic table slab, and the electrical and water pod.  All of the campsites are overgrown in this way.  Most are worse.

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Ironically, there are campsites in this park with the correct configuration.  However, this area of the park is closed and doesn't have sewer hookups.  See how the hookup island is next to the road.  See the picnic table, grill, and fire ring (to the left of the picnic table).  This is the time tested best configuration.  All it needs is a sewer hookup.  It also needs to be wider and longer.  Camp sites like these are difficult for larger trailers to get into.  It is tough to get the slide out extended.

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The rig in the background on the left is facing me.  He is running the hook-ups under the trailer.  The rig in the foreground on the left is facing away.  His trailer hook-ups and the campsite hook-ups are together.  The vehicle on the right side in the background is facing us.  He has his trailer hook-ups matched to the park.

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Our campsite is on the left.  The guy on the right is running his hook-ups under the trailer.  What a hassle.

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Here we are - out walking the dogs.

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This park has some wildlife.  I'm a bit slow on the camera shutter.  So I don't have any pictures of hawks, deer, or roadrunners.    There were a number of egrets along the waters edge.

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I don't know what these are.

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Even though we are near the beginning of winter, there is still color in the brambles and thickets.

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The water in the lake is seriously low.  It is more than 60 feet below the top of the dam.   It has been so low for so long that there are trees growing in the lake bed.

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Looking from the top of the boat ramps down to the water.     It is at least 400 feet from the top of the boat ramp where I'm standing to the water.  The center ramp actually goes even further down.  I'm not sure you could pull a large boat trailer up this ramp without 4 wheel drive.

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Looking from the water back up to the top of the ramp.   There is Linda at the top waiting for me.

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In another part of the park, I walked from the water's edge (when the reservoir is full) for a mile toward the water. 

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The tent campsites look fun.  These were the two campsites as of Friday morning.  We drove through the area on the way back from Rio Grande City and another campsite had been set up.

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Finally, the bed of the pickup truck ready to travel.

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Copyright © 2002 Larry Pearson - All Rights Reserved