By most people's standards, triple-digit temperatures, charred grass and ozone action days don't necessarily conjure a Rockwellian vision of autumn. Even so, September is the official start of fall, and there are plenty of ways to exploit the season throughout the great state of Texas.
From sailboat rentals to music festivals and trail rides, here are the top ways to celebrate autumn in the Texas Hill Country.
Texas Trail Rides
Various dates and times
If cowboy culture is sewn into the fabric of Texan identity, then Texas Trail Rides is a steadfast needleworker. The "posse" of ranchers offers guided excursions to suit every skill level and a broad range of tastes. Excursions include ranch trail rides, sunset and romantic rides, a vineyard ride, and special occasion expeditions. For more information, visit the Texas Trail Rides website.
Austin Sailboat Rentals
Various dates and times
When it comes to sailing, Austin isn't anywhere close to Nantucket. In the temperate months of autumn and early winter, however, it may even be a bit better. Austin Sailboat Rentals offers affordable rentals of centerboard dinghy sailboats, a Catalina Capri 14.2, Chrysler Man-O-War, and Glastron Alpha for use on Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin. Just add wine, wind and a few close friends.
Lost Maples Natural Area
This tiny State Natural Area in Vanderpool (about three hours southwest of Austin) is perched on the banks of the Sabinal River. Lost Maples boasts a rich population of Uvalde Bigtooth Maples, which annually yield a kaleidoscopic display of burnt oranges, reds and yellows. These leaves are best seen along the East Trail of the Natural Area in the late autumn months. Be sure to check foliage reports before heading out.
ACL Music Festival
October 4-6 and 11-13
Anyone with two ears and a heartbeat has heard of the ACL Music Festival. This year, big-name acts such as Depeche Mode, The National, Neko Case, Wilco, Lionel Ritchie, and many more join the roster of performing artists taking over Zilker Park for two weekends. Tickets for the first weekend are sold out; prices for the latter dates, at $225, are hefty but totally worth it.
Nothing says autumn in the Hill Country like a 10-day celebration of sausage, beer, rickety carnival rides and old men in tiny lederhosen in New Braunfels. Events include daily (and nightly) dances, marathon eating, children's activities and more. For admission information and directions, visit the official Wurstfest website.