You can't go many places in Texas without seeing or hearing the phrase "Texas is a State of Mind." If Texas is indeed a state of mind, the Hill Country is the reason why.
The region is etched with dramatic slopes of rocky terrain, wide-open vistas displaying an endless horizon of blue sky, and roads that go on forever. Countless creeks and old cedar posts wrapped in rusty barbed wire meander through mesquite-filled pastures; in spring, blooming bluebonnets and other wildflowers transform the rough-hewn landscape.
The Hill Country's defining feature is, of course, the hills. (The lovely lakes and rivers are a close second, though.) Geographically, the area comprises the lower region of the Edwards Plateau, which rises from 750 feet to 2,700 feet in some places and is covered primarily by a thin, limestone-based soil that reveals solid, limestone rock just beneath. The calcite-rich limestone formations create perfect environments for the many freshwater springs and extensive caverns that spot the region. The rugged soil has created a perfect environment to sustain grass for cattle, and weeds and tree foliage for sheep and goats, thus making the area a ranching hub and one of the nation's leading Angora goat and mohair-producing regions. The region is also home to the Llano Basin, a stretch of land that lies at the junction of the Llano and Colorado rivers and features outcroppings of granite.
The Hill Country is a retreat for businesspeople from Austin, and even Houston, who trade in their Armani and city sights for Levis and ranch life each weekend at their second homes (and later their retirement homes). It's also been growing in popularity with Winter Texans, who are passing through en route to the Rio Grande Valley at Texas's tip. Tourists make up the third wave of visitors, flying into San Antonio or Austin and driving up for a day or weekend trip. They're drawn by the chance to play in the lakes, travel the Texas Wine Trail, sample fruit at roadside farm stands, and become short-term cowpokes at one of the local dude ranches.