Road to Nowhere

Cutting across America’s heartland, US‑83 remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Leakey and the Frio Canyon

South of Junction, US-83 continues southward through nearly 62 beautiful miles of rolling ranches and native pecan orchards, entering a verdant, spring-filled region that was one of the last strongholds of the Lipan Apaches and Comanches. The rolling hills around Leakey (pop. 343; pronounced “LAY-key”; “Home of the 1975 State Football Champions”) hold limestone caves, some of which the Confederates mined for bat guano to make saltpeter—an essential ingredient of gunpowder—during the Civil War. At 1,600 feet above sea level, this is one of US-83’s prettiest reaches through Texas, as the road follows the clear, cold Frio River through 17 miles of cypress, pecan, live oak, cedar, walnut, wild cherry, piñon, and mountain laurel. Some areas also have bigtooth maples and sycamores, a major tourist attraction in the late fall when the leaves change color. You’ll find a dozen or more camps and lodges along this stretch of US-83, including the tin-roofed, wooden-sided Historic Leakey Inn (527 S. US-83, 830/232-5246, $75 and up), in the center of Leakey, and the peaceful River Haven Cabins (866/232-5400, $85 and up), three miles southeast of town along Hwy-1120.

About 10 miles south of Leakey along US-83, the very pretty and very popular Garner State Park (830/232-6132) offers campgrounds, cabins, hiking trails, canoe rentals, pedal boats, river swimming, and a popular summertime dance terrace on the banks of the Frio River.

Historic Leakey Inn (527 S. US-83)
River Haven Cabins (2644 Ranch Rd.)
Garner State Park