Canyon of the Eagles Resort is in the Highlands Lakes Region of Burnet County, about 90 kilometres northwest of Austin, Texas. The region marked by rolling hills, abundant wildlife and lakes (Lake Buchanan, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Inks Lake, and Lake LBJ).
Canyon of the Eagles Resort, an excellent base for exploring the Highland Lakes Region on a series of day trips, is situated in a 400-hectare nature park just outside Burnet. White-tailed deer roam at will – so too do a smattering of retiles and exotic birds. The 61 eco-friendly guest rooms are cozy, rustic and fitted out with simple southwest style furnishings. The emphasis is on simplicity and sustainability – oh, and the views, of course! Each private cabin sits up on a hillside overlooking Lake Buchanan. There’s at least one rocking chair (sometimes two) on each porch, where “sitting a spell” is a respectable pastime. In the middle of the resort compound, you'll find a pool, hot tub and common rooms for meals, nature programming and evening entertainment.
I couldn’t have asked for a better view. No TV in the cabin – that’s a good thing – and my own coffee-maker which meant I could enjoy my first cup of java each morning sitting on my private country porch. Tip: Turn off the air-conditioning at night and enjoy the breeze off the lake as you sleep.
Burnet County may be cattle country but rest assured vegans get the best house treatment. Three of my non-meat-non-dairy-eating cohorts were relieved to be served more than that standard vegan-default fare of salad and crudités. (What’s up with that, anyway?) Main meals are taken in The Overlook Restaurant, which is a beautifully-designed rustic room with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
The menu, based on Texas Hill Country cuisine, calls for lots of local ingredients and local inspiration: Texas crab cakes, watermelon salad (with candied pecans, red onion, candied bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and fresh strawberries) – and lots of quinoa, black beans, sweet corn and avocado. Meat-eaters happily chow down on a local delicacy: chicken-fried wild boar which is served with liberal helpings of jalapeño cream gravy. Of course, there’s plenty of steak and, because it’s fishing country, steelhead trout.
Activities on the resort:
In addition to the 20 kilometres of nature trails, kayak and canoe rentals (the resort has about five kilometres of private shoreline), outdoor hot tub and pool, resort staff facilitate a number of activities including “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” a hands-on reptile workshop (snakes included), and night-sky stargazing workshops at the Eagle Eye Observatory.
Activities off the resort:
My top three day trips:
Vanishing Texas River Cruise:
The Vanishing Texas River Cruise down the Colorado River is a peaceful way to check out the wildlife (including wilds goats), waterfalls, sheer cliffs and bald eagles. The migratory western bald eagle spends the winter on Lake Buchanan.
The elaborate underground network of caverns and caves at Longhorn Cavern State Park require a couple of hours to visit. If you’re pressed for time, make a beeline to Crystal City, an underground area of the cavern decked out with ancient calcite crystals hanging from the roof of the cavern.
Kayaking in Inks Lake State Park.
Geology buffs and outdoor enthusiasts will get their mojo on at Inks Lake State Park. Expect some pretty cool views of pre-Cambrian rock formations which are more than 600 million years old. Best experienced by kayak – and leave time to swim at Devil’s Waterhole.
Beer for social change!
Hats off to physicians Dave and Quynh Rathkamp who chose the small city of Marble Falls to establish America’s first 100 per cent philanthropic brewery – called Save The World Brewing Co. – with all of the proceeds going to support various social causes. Tours and tastings available.
If I had more time...
My three-night stay was jam-packed. Next time, I’d add on an extra night or two at Canyon of the Eagles resort just to hang out on my private porch and listen to the crickets at night.