Nestled amid limestone cliffs and hiking trails, Camp Eagle hosts life-changing outings that fuse outdoor activities with Christian messages that help parents navigate tough issues. The camp hosts a wide range of activities on its 1,400 acres, from small-group Eagle Quest backpacking trips to group retreats on the Nueces River and extreme-adventure events. Campers can take quiet hikes through the woods, sip fresh brews in the lodge-style coffee shop, try their hand at mountain boarding, or fly off The Blob—an enormous inflatable pillow that catapults jumpers into the river. Events hosted on the grounds feature leaders and sessions who inspire campers to lead Christlike lives, and the camp itself is a nondenominational, nonprofit organization. After days spent bonding over air hockey in the game room or re-enacting The Birds while shooting clay pigeons, visitors return to hotel or lodge-style accommodations.
The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch?s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson.
Bandera RiverFest’s schedule enlivens the banks of the Medina River with a host of games, music, festival fare, and events. Witness the festival's capstone, the Anything That Floats Regatta, where decorated vessels crafted from a variety of floating materials, including foamboard and living otters, parade down the river. The dulcet tones of bands such as Fifty Dollar Dynasty and The Perfect Parrothead Party enchant eardrums, and watermelon and Big Lou’s hot-dog-eating contest and a Central Texas Barbecue Association–sanctioned barbecue cook-off challenge bellies to expand themselves. Additional events include a car show, an arts-and-crafts show, and a swap meet, where you can trade Social Security numbers.
Since 1971, Guadalupe Canoe Livery has equipped powerful paddlers to explore the scenic upper Guadalupe River with kayaks, canoes, rafts, and inner tubes. Don a life jacket and climb into an Old Town canoe with a pal for a tour of the shoreline that should last 2–3 hours. Fun for navigation novices and seasoned stream skimmers alike, the tour departs from Nichols Landing on Spring Branch Road, a location reachable by a fee-free shuttle.
Cranes Mill Marina gives landlubbers the chance to become aquatic adventurers on its fleet of rentable watercrafts. A three-hour eight passenger ski-boat rental lets speed demons tug along delighted adrenaline junkies on the included wake board, kneeboard, tube, or water skis. Slower-moving seafarers can climb aboard a 24-foot-long, party-ready pontoon boat, which has a flat bottom easily used as a dance floor or roller-skating rink. The pontoon boat ferries up to 11 cadets at an ambling, luxurious pace, making it a sturdy hub for swimming excursions, easy-going fishing trips, or an afternoon spent gazing at the lake's natural beauty.
Several years ago, Branndon Bargo and his brother set out on a mammoth adventure. Not sure what they were after, they biked 4,000 miles to Baja, Mexico from Alaska and found themselves submerged in the open waters of the Pacific, scuba diving with great white sharks. After a harrowing climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska, Branndon began questioning his motivations for staying at his desk job. So in 2005, he gently kissed his cubicle goodbye and founded Live Adventure as a means of encouraging others to challenge themselves while discovering deeper connections with the world around them. Within Cedar Hill State Park, Brandon organizes team-building programs and encourages groups to kayak, synchronize swim, and fish on Joe Pool Lake. Other expeditions include rock-climbing outings and custom guided jaunts around the planet.