Palmetto State Park

By: Christopher Long

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

Palmetto State Park is off U.S. Highway 183 midway between Luling and Gonzales in Gonzales County. The 267.7-acre park on the San Marcos River features a palmetto swamp, the only one of its kind in the Southwest. The land was deeded to the state in 1933 by the city of Gonzales, the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, and several individual property owners. In 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a number of structures of native stone at the site, including a dining hall, which the National Park Service recently designated as one of the outstanding park buildings in the country. Palmetto State Park occupies part of an area known as the Ottine Swamp, named for early settlers Adolph and Christine Otto. The swamp results partly from the overflow from the San Marcos River and partly from a group of small sulfur springs. Before the 1950s the area had numerous warm springs, mud boils, and peat deposits, but drilling for oil and water has lowered the water table, and many of the unique hydraulic features have dried up. The park's name is from the dwarf palmettos that grow abundantly throughout the area. Numerous other acid-loving plants thrive in the park. The annual phlox cultivated in many places around the world comes from a native phlox discovered in the area by Scottish botanist Thomas Drummond. Eastern gray squirrels, canebreak rattlesnakes, and other animals not usually found in dry south central Texas also live in the park. Facilities include camping and picnicking areas, a group dining hall, and two nature trails.

George Oxford Miller, Texas Parks and Campgrounds: Central, South, and West Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1984). Ray Miller, Texas Parks (Houston: Cordovan, 1984).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Christopher Long, “Palmetto State Park,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995