Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pedernales Falls State Park

with 33 comments

On March 4th we visited Pedernales Falls State Park, which lies about an hour west of Austin.

Did you know that the Spanish word pedernal (with plural pedernales) means ‘flint’?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2021 at 4:39 AM

33 Responses

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  1. The second picture looks like you saw more water in the river than we did.


    March 15, 2021 at 6:01 AM

    • The second picture was downstream from the first. Central Texas has had below-average rainfall for the past several months, so I wasn’t surprised to see the main waterfall, as shown in the first picture, looking puny. I sought out narrower places in the river to show a little whitewater.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 7:08 AM

      • I remember the sites of the first and third picture, and I’m trying to figure out where exactly the second one was taken and if I only didn’t walk far enough downstream.


        March 16, 2021 at 8:59 AM

        • You’re right that the second picture shows a place a little further downstream. It seemed a bit rough getting there directly from the main area upstream, so we were going to write it off. Later, after we’d walked up as far as the landing on the main trail back to the parking lot, we noticed a side trail, and that turned out to be an easy way to get further downstream.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 16, 2021 at 9:56 AM

  2. No, my Spanish is really, really elementary so I didn’t know that.

    It looks really neat there with all the different rock formations, patterns, and textures.


    March 15, 2021 at 7:16 AM

    • Even if you’d studied Spanish, pedernal isn’t the sort of word that normally turns up in the first few years of courses. The French word for flint is silex, which you may recognize as the brand name (now merged with Proctor) of coffee makers and irons.

      While at Pedernales Falls I took some closer, more abstract portraits of the things you mentioned: rock formations, patterns, and textures. Maybe I’ll show a few of those if spring doesn’t overwhelm me with flower pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 7:29 AM

      • I’ve been studying French since the late 90’s and didn’t know Silex was French for Flint!! Adding that to my vocab. Thank for that tidbit.

        Hopefully, you’ll find some gaps to post some of those images too.


        March 15, 2021 at 7:35 AM

  3. I could happily spent quite a lot of time in scenery like this – so enjoying your images.
    Being overwhelmed with flower images sounds like a very good thing to me! 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    March 15, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • We appreciated Pedernales Falls, finding it more impressive than the one state park in Austin, McKinney Falls, which also has waterfalls. The spring of 2020 overwhelmed me with wildflowers, which is why I mentioned that possibility for the weeks ahead. Of course we never know from year to year when a spring will turn out to be unusually good. Even an average spring here gives us plenty of wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 8:09 AM

  4. What an unusual area and quite beautiful. The rocky, scrubby terrain gives it an appeal for a good western movie. I hope you get ample rain this spring. So far rain has been scant this direction.


    March 15, 2021 at 8:03 AM

    • Precipitation’s been scant here, too, and most of it in the form of the snow and ice that crippled us in mid-February. We’re all hoping for more rain.

      You’ve raised the interesting question of whether anyone’s made a movie at Pedernales Falls. I’ve not heard of one, but I don’t know if it’s ever happened.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 8:13 AM

  5. If you’re a true Texan, you know that the proper pronunciation for that word is “purrd-nallus”.


    March 15, 2021 at 8:16 AM

    • Then I guess that makes me a false Texan. Having learned Spanish before I moved here in 1976, I can’t help pronouncing Spanish words and names in their original way. Of course mispronunciations go in both directions. You ought to hear how Spanish speakers mangle Schwartzman: it most often comes out something like Es-wahr-mahng. (Actually even many native English speakers pronounce the schw cluster as if it were sw.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 8:28 AM

  6. When the snow begins to melt in the mountains the river will again fill its near-empty bed. The ancient rocks have been sculpted by the force of the flowing water over millions of years. A German saying comes to mind: Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein.

    Peter Klopp

    March 15, 2021 at 9:29 AM

    • Central Texas doesn’t have any real mountains (though that’s what early Anglo and German settlers here called the hills). I wish we did. We do, however, sometimes get sudden heavy rainfalls, and those can cause rivers to rise quickly and become flash floods. Several signs in Pedernales Falls State Park warned visitors about that.

      This is the first time I’ve heard “Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein.” Geologists certainly know the truth of it. And etymologists see the relationship between German stet and English steady.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 9:40 AM

      • The German proverb goes back to the Roman poet Ovid who wrote: „Gutta cavat lapidem“. He meant that power is not in the indivual droplets but in their frequency. Its meaning is that if you keep working on something or someone you will accomplish your goal.

        Peter Klopp

        March 16, 2021 at 9:40 AM

        • It’s good of you to trace that back to Ovid’s Latin. We could say that geology is a poetry of the earth.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 16, 2021 at 9:59 AM

  7. That looks like a nice water slide… is swimming allowed?

    Eliza Waters

    March 15, 2021 at 6:15 PM

    • Not in that area, because it’s considered too hazardous. In other parts of the park people can swim in the river.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2021 at 6:54 PM

    • I seem to remember that when I first visited Pedernales Falls, way back in 1976, people did go into the water there. Maybe injuries led the park’s managers to put that area off limits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 16, 2021 at 10:03 AM

  8. Wow looks lovely there. Not a part of the country I’m familiar with (first hand).

    Tony Payne

    March 16, 2021 at 3:36 PM

    • When people from other countries visit the United States, central Texas isn’t a prime destination for scenery the way many places farther west are. We do have our attractions, though, even if mostly on a small scale.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 16, 2021 at 3:50 PM

  9. […] we began leaving the sandy area by the river in Pedernales Falls State Park on March 4th for the climb back uphill to the parking lot, Eve called my attention to a lizard […]

  10. Two things caught my eye: that smooth, satiny flow across the rocks in the first photo is especially nice. I’m wondering if you might have made an abstraction of that one. In the last photo, I laughed at the big rock at the left. It looks like it’s bearing the pawprint of some prehistoric creature.


    March 17, 2021 at 9:16 AM

    • In the area where I stood to take the first picture I did do some abstractions of rocks and water, along with others of patterns in some of the rocks. I might well have done abstractions of the satiny water slide except that I saw no easy way to get there. And speaking of big rocks, I did photograph a boulder wedged between a couple of others farther downstream. Whether I show any of those things here depends on how quickly spring wildflowers swamp everything else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 17, 2021 at 10:34 AM

  11. […] couldn’t get any pictures because the foxes quickly ran off. My luck changed on March 4th at Pedernales Falls State Park. After hiking all the way back up from the river to the parking lot, I noticed a young couple […]

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