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 Apache and Comanche people. The rolling hills around Leakey (pop. 425; 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 stretches 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 big-tooth 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, $79 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 pretty and popular Garner State Park (830/232-6132) offers campgrounds, cabins, hiking trails, kayak rentals, paddle boats, river swimming, and a popular summertime dance terrace on the banks of the Frio River.