need deserty scenic spot near Austin
June 8, 2007 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Austin Mefites: I need to find a location not too far (say within 1/2 hour max drive time) of Austin, anywhere in the area, that looks desert-y. Sure I could drive on out to any # of places in the middle of Texas, but I don't have that much time available on the day of this particular photo shoot I'd like to do. A big, open flat & sandy area that I could have my car in if I needed to would be ideal.

You know, like Burning Man. Er, without the Burning. Or the man. And without me going very far from the homestead.

Oh yeah, and I know there's say Mt. Bonnell and 360, which is cool and nice and rocky-like, but it ain't too flat.

posted by bitterkitten to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
As much rain as we've been getting in the area...I think you're going to be hard pressed to find anything that looks desert-like right now. Your best bet might be small ranches that have sheep that have overgrazed the land. I think that's as close as you'll come right now with all the recent rain.
posted by GlowWyrm at 6:37 PM on June 8, 2007

The problem around Austin is "deserty" and "flat" are going to be mutually exclusive. I haven't seen a combination of both.

For flatty goodness, point your car up to Round Rock, and go -east- on US 79 for about 10 miles, past Hutto. There are some extremely flat, wide-open fields that you could easily do this in. If those don't work, keep going east and there's another decent swath between Taylor and Thrall. I'm not sure what's in the fields, and being June there's probably some kind of crop in it, but in March and April they looked pretty darn barren. However this is the flattest landscape I've seen around Austin.

For desert terrain, go southwest on US 290 well outside of Austin and keep your eyes peeled. It's hilly, and as you get towards Dripping Spring and Johnson City you get creosote, prickly pear, rocks, dirt, yucca, and all kinds of stuff by the bushel. Sort of an Arizona desert than a California one.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:41 PM on June 8, 2007

I was just out by Llano last weekend and a lot of the terrain out that way has much the same appearance as noted by rolypolyman above. On the side roads, you should be able to find some areas with significant amounts of prickly pear and mesquite and the like. Plus, if you're lucky, buzzards. Nothing in the way of tumbleweeds, however.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 6:55 PM on June 8, 2007

I think your best bet for desert is, similar to what rolypolyman says, about 45 minutes out on 71 West.
posted by rush at 7:14 PM on June 8, 2007

Cuernavaca Dr. It's just off Bee Caves Rd, about halfway out to Bee Caves. It's a half-loop that eventually comes back to Bee Caves Rd, and goes through a lot of terrain changes (it's hilly). Some of them are kind of like the California desert.

But sandy and flat? Not really. There's some terrain kinda-sorta like that out near Kerrville (more rocky than sandy), but that's at least 90 miles away.

If you want really flat desert, you're probably going to go out towards Abilene—a long way.
posted by adamrice at 7:20 PM on June 8, 2007

If you're willing to settle for rocky and flat, I'd suggest checking out one of the local quarries. Management might let you use an inactive section.
posted by notbuddha at 7:38 PM on June 8, 2007

you might have luck near the quarry/concrete plant on Mcneil just west of 45 (just north of mcneil HS by the post office)

or the aggregate place up off 1431 near I35 ?

you would probably have to ask permission but may be worth it if they let you.
posted by clanger at 9:19 PM on June 8, 2007

On the domes of Enchanted Rock?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:55 PM on June 8, 2007

The dump in Creedmoor, between 183 and I35 in Hays County, I think. You might get something cool out around Enchanted Rock too. Otherwise, I agree, you have to head out toward San Angelo or up towards Abilene to get anything "real" desert-looking.

Seriously, don't just wander onto someone's land to take your photos, if you don't know the way folks can be about that once you leave Austin and get into actual Texas. You probably know this, being a professional photographer and all. But I've seen guns drawn in similar situations.
posted by spitbull at 4:13 AM on June 9, 2007

Yikes, YoBananaBoy posted Enchanted Rock already.
posted by spitbull at 4:14 AM on June 9, 2007

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