Our mission is to provide the citizens of Travis County a sustainable system of signature parks and nature preserves linked by greenbelts and riparian corridors that furnishes recreational and educational opportunities and protects endangered species and significant natural and cultural resources.
Our vision is to provide enjoyable park and recreational opportunities where everyone can play, learn, and grow.
Travis County Park Rangers patrol approximately 14,500 acres of county-owned or managed park and preserve lands on a regular basis to protect visitors, the natural environment and park facilities. Established in 1994, the park ranger program has grown with the county park system, and rangers are now responsible for public and staff safety in over 30 parks and numerous preserve tracts.
Travis County Park Police Officers are responsible for the overall safety of visitors and staff, and for the security and protection of parks, preserves and open space lands that are County-owned or managed. Officers enforce State and County laws, educate visitors regarding park rules, patrol by foot, bicycle, vehicle and other means, and when necessary, apprehend and arrest violators. With the exponential growth of our system and the Austin area, park officers find themselves performing law enforcement functions a majority of their time. Duties include enforcement of the Texas Penal Code, Lower Colorado River Authority regulations, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code (including the Texas Water Safety Act), and relevant provisions of other Texas laws.
Park Officers do all the things that any peace officer might do. They conduct investigations, participate in search and rescue operations, provide for public safety, and perform emergency management functions, including working natural disasters and homeland security operations. They also assist other agencies (especially the Travis County Sheriff’s Office) by taking calls for service when deputies are far away or tied up on other calls and they back up other agency officers on Priority calls, such as collisions, disturbances, and assaults.
Park Officers are also State-certified Emergency Medical Technicians (Basic level) and respond to various calls throughout the park system and Travis County.
On their lighter side, park officers present public programs, staff booths at events, provide park and area information to visitors, rescue injured wild animals found in parks, participate in park volunteer events, and get to know and appreciate the regular park visitors.
In case of emergencies, please call 9-1-1. Park Police are dispatched by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Austin-area medical 9-1-1 systems. So, no matter the emergency, our park officers will respond.
The Travis County Commissioners Court adopted its new parks master plan “...take it outside. The Next Ten Years” on August 9, 2016. It includes the following documents that describe the planning process and Travis County’s values and priorities for building a park system that meet the needs of our growing community.
Questions can be sent to ParksMasterPlan@traviscountytx.gov.
Take time to explore a land of amazingly diverse beauty -- from lakes and hills to rivers and prairies -- and more. Nowhere else in Texas will you find such a variety of recreational opportunities so close at hand.
The Central Texas climate is ideally suited for year-round recreation. Summer heat is a more prominent feature of the climate than winter cold. The temperature dips below freezing only a few days each year. Even the coldest days are usually followed quickly by mild, sunny weather. Midsummers commonly see temperatures above 100 degrees, often for several consecutive days. The average annual rainfall is about 32 inches.
The first humans to inhabit what is now Travis County probably arrived as the last Ice Age was drawing to a close more than 11,000 years ago. Hundreds of archeological sites throughout the region reflect a constant human presence since prehistoric times.
More recently, nomadic tribes of Comanche, Lipan Apache, Tonkawa, and Jumano Indians inhabited or roamed through the area. Records of early European settlers indicate that there was frequent contact between the Europeans and Native Americans.
Spanish explorers and missionaries were the first Europeans to have contact with the Texas Indians in the area -- as early as the mid-1700s. This Hispanic legacy is reflected in many Travis County place names. The first Anglo settlement came in 1837, after Texas won its independence from Mexico. Travis County was created in 1839, the same year Austin became the Texas capital.
Three distinct ecological regions, often referred to as bioregions, converge in Travis County. Excellent examples of unique bioregional features highlight the parks system.
The Edwards Plateau bioregion to the west of the Balcones fault line is honeycombed by caves and aquifers and covered by limestone and granite, providing homes to dozens of rare and endangered plant and animal species. The area is a gateway to the unique combination of the Hill Country and the Highland Lake, features of which the parks system takes full advantage.
Abundant wildflowers and the remnants of the tallgrass prairie with its deep, rich soil typify the Blackland Prairies bioregion to the east. The Colorado River flows through these prairie lands, with easy access for fishing and boating from two county parks.
The Crosstimbers and Prairies bioregion, the rolling, wooded savanna that extends north beyond the Texas-Oklahoma border, reaches its southern-most influence in northern Travis County. Named for the belts of blackjack and post oak that crossed strips of prairies, this region is home to plants and animals whose ranges stretch north into the Great Plains.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler is an endangered species that nests in central Texas between March and September, migrating to Mexico or northern Central America for the winter. It’s only about 4-5 inches long and has a yellow face with a distinctive black stripe running in line with its eye. It likes the mature oak and juniper forests found in the Hill Country and uses the bark of the mature Ashe juniper (commonly called a cedar tree) to build its nest.
The bird was initially listed as endangered in 1990 largely due to habitat loss. The Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) was created in 1996 to protect these historic residents and to allow development in Travis County to continue. The BCCP provides private property owners with an easy, cost-effective way to mitigate for the removal of endangered species habitat while protecting the most ideal habitat within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Thanks to these efforts, if you are attentive you may hear or see a golden-cheeked warbler at one of our parks such as Hamilton Pool or Reimers Ranch. Learn more about the golden-cheeked warbler from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.