VANDERPOOL, TEXAS: A TWIST OF THE HILL COUNTRY
To your average “I gotta get from Point A to Point B” traveler, Vanderpool, Texas is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it sort of towns. The wide spot in the road. The kind of place where they roll the sidewalks up at 8:30 each night. Pick your city-slicker cliche.
It's a shame, really. Like many hundreds of small towns and villages across the country, Vanderpool has its own charm and personality—something that's usually entirely missed by those without knowledge of the area, or in a hurry to be somewhere else. You know, somewhere bigger. Somewhere interesting. Somewhere with something to do. Those folks don't know what they're missing, since Vanderpool has much to offer those lucky folks who choose to visit it, to slow down and take the time to let things soak in.
Vanderpool was settled in the late 1840s (originally named Bugscuffle), but wasn't incorporated into a town until the1880s, at which time it took its name from L.B. Vanderpool, one of the town's first permanent settlers, and its first postmaster. (There's a little irony there, since Vanderpool's current population is approximately 86, and it no longer has a post office of its own.) From its very beginning, Vanderpool has built a good part of its reputation on the prime ranching real estate in the area, and the bountiful hunting and knockout views of the surrounding Texas Hill Country region. So, as easy-going or as active as you like things to be, Vanderpool has something to show folks who stop by.
With those simple truths in mind, Backroads Reservations is happy to provide the following list of attractions and events in the vicinity of Vanderpool. We've also provided links to sites with more information for those that may interest you.
One person of note who quickly recognized the beauty of the area around Vanderpool was Allan Johncock, a motorcycle enthusiast (and passionate rider) originally from Adelaide, Australia. Vanderpool happened to be located right in the heart of his favorite places to ride, so he decided to establish a home for his bike collection there. What started as more or less a place for storage rapidly gained a word-of-mouth reputation, and as more visitors poured in to check the place out, the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum was born. The collection includes motorcycles that represent their history from the 1910s forward, and the museum is open Friday through Sunday, between March and November.
Continuing on the motorcycle theme, Vanderpool is on the route of the renowned Twisted Sisters ride. No, there's no 1980s hard-rock hair bands involved—that we know of, anyway. This one hundred-mile ride route is named after three Texas farm-to-market (FM) roads: 335, 336, and 337. Vnnderpool marks approximately the one-third point on the route, if you begin from Bandera to the east. Rather than being an organized event, the Twisted Sisters are available to travelers year-round—but take note: this is an intermediate-to-expert motorcycle ride. Beginners are welcome, but it's strongly suggested they take care on this challenging, twisting route. The payoff is some of the most amazing views the Texas Hill Country has to offer. Excellent reviews and overviews of the Twister Sisters trail are available from Ride Texas and Rider Magazine.
No bike? No problem. FM 337 (one of the three “Twisted Sisters” roads) is noted for its access to some of the best views in Texas. Sections of the road overlook the Sabinal River Canyon (parts of which make the Twisted Sisters ride so challenging), and the Hill Country vistas are stunning no matter when you visit. Bike or car, though, keep your eyes on the road, and pull over to safely take photos and savor the sights without distractions.
For a calmer and more spirited place to visit, Vanderpool is home to the Lost Maples Winery and Polvadeau Vineyards. Tucked in the scenic Sabinal River Valley Canyon, the winery offers regular tastings throughout the week and weekends, and private tastings can also be scheduled. Stop by, take the tour, have a sip, and take home a bottle or two!
Just north of Vanderpool is the Lost Maples State Natural Area. As opposed to a state park, Lost Maples is maintained chiefly to preserve the natural beauty of the area, though hiking, fishing, and other activities are encouraged. Lost Maples is best-known for its fall colors—so keep in mind the area is much busier from mid-October to November—but you can feast your eyes on breathtaking Hill Country views all the year round.
While we're on views, Vanderpool, Lost Maples, and the surrounding areas offer ideal bird-watching sites. Southern Texas is the only place in the United States, for example, where you can see the colorful green kingfisher, a bird more commonly found from Mexico to Argentina. The green kingfisher likes to roost in the Sabinal and Frio River Valleys, both near Vanderpool (the Sabinal flows through the Lost Maples State Natural Area). Other rare and endangered bird species that are spotted in the area are the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler.
Whether you're in the mood for a thrilling, chilling motorcycle ride, a hike, a spot of bird-watching, or simply a peaceful and relaxing getaway in the beauty and quiet of the Texas Hill Country, unassuming little Vanderpool fills the bill. Backroads Reservations takes pride in offering some of the most accommodating and comfortable rentals in the area, no matter what your plans may be. When you plan your visit to Vanderpool, do yourself a favor and maximize the experience with a booking at one of our beautiful sites—there are several handy to everywhere you'd like to visit!