El Castell on the Llano River was recently featured in this article by Austin Travels.

By Pam LeBlanc for Austin Travels, May 2022

Last month, I stood at the top of sand-splashed Keyserville Road, a mile or two outside the tiny burg of Castell, and took in the scenery.

In the distance, a cloud of dust rose like smoke behind a pack of cyclists chugging their way up the dirt road toward me. Behind them, layers of hills rippled into the hazy distance. A cow mooed from afar, and all around, prickly pear cactus mingled with just-sprouting bluebonnets.

I had landed in the Hill Country west of Llano as official photographer for the Castell Grind, a gravel bike race that takes place every April. But a day behind the camera out here feels more like a vacation than a work assignment.

I’ve visited Castell a dozen times over the years. Usually I come to paddle the Llano River, ride my bike, play in the water, catch the bat show at a nearby sinkhole and drink beer at a picnic table at the old general store. I have friends who own a home nearby, and I’ve stayed up late there swinging in a hammock, counting shooting stars, too.

If you’ve never visited the area, known mostly for white-tailed deer hunting, you should first stop at the Llano County Historical Museum, 18 miles away at 310 Bessemer Avenue in Llano, for an introduction. (And, while you’re there, you can pick up brisket from Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que.)

Whatever you do, come prepared to kick back and chill out.

Where to stay in Castell

Castell doesn’t have any hotels, but it does have a few rental homes and a smattering of cabins, including a few that front the Llano River.

I particularly like the Castell Cottage, a small white clapboard home at 19702 W. Ranch Road 152 with a nice swing on the porch and a huge yard. It’s just across the street from the river, and a 2-minute walk to the Castell General Store. El Castell on the Llano River, 102 Rockin River Road, is another good choice, and the Leifeste Campground at 2602 Jim Leifeste Road offers an inexpensive place to pitch a tent or park your RV.

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