We visited the ranch during a driving tour from San Antonio to Fredericksburg, TX. Stopped at the LBJ visitor center in Johnson City, which had some nice educational and historical exhibits. Drove about 11 miles west toward Fredericksburg and stopped at the ranch. There is a state park area immediately off the highway. There is a recreation of an old west camp and some nice exhibits about the area. You sign up there for the driving tour.
We then drove through the ranch which is a tour of several miles. The ranch slopes up from a river and offers some very nice vistas. You gain an appreciation of the wide open spaces in west Texas and an idea of how the country was 100 years ago. This remains a working ranch, so be aware of the cattle gates and cattle! The entire ranch had been donated by Lady Bird Johnson to the Park Service.
You can tour the Texas White House and the surrounding area after taking the driving tour, There is an exhibit with a presidential jet on display and you can still see the runway of his private airport. Certainly worth the time.
President Johnson had a deep attachment for his ranch and Texas heritage, he owned over 1500 acres here. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried. After the President's death in 1973, Lady Bird Johnson continued to live at the Ranch part time until her death in 2007.
We spent about 2 hours touring the Ranch in our car stopping at the President's birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, and the Johnson's ranch house known as the Texas White House. The Texas White House was officially opened to the public in 2008. The entire ground floor is available for public tours. we walked through the President's Office, living room, dining room, and the Johnsons' bedroom suites. They were restored to their appearance during the presidential years (1963-1968) while the bedroom suites retain their appearance at the time of President and Mrs. Johnson's deaths. We saw LBJ's cars in his garage, his plane, cattle, pool ...
As we toured The Texas White House and various sites related to our former President's childhood, I couldn't help but recall some of my childhood memories.
My grandparents owned a farm in Pennsylvania where I spent much of my childhood running through the pastures, visiting the spring house, chasing the barncats and making friends with the other animals.
This huge bovine is named MISCHIEF--it was a gentle creature and even though a sign warned NOT to touch the animals, a few of us did stroke its face...it was hard to resist. Mischief is a Hereford, a breed originally from England known for its gentleness, generous milk supply and as excellent breeders. LBJ began his herd with ten Hereford in 1964--their numbers swelled to 200 head by 1964.
A sleek looking horse occupied one of the corrals and we caught sight of a hairy little goat and a rotund little goat grazing in the pastures (pictures 2-4). I enjoyed seeing this part of the ranch very much!
*See Transporation Tip for tour price
LBJ is king of the Hill Country. Nothing is more evident than his home, also known as the Texas White House.
While touring the LBJ National Historical Park you will come upon it after the ranch. You will actually drive upto the hangar which is where Air Force One would land. The hangar is transformed into a miniature exhibit and video while you wait for the tour to start. There is also a collection of old cars LBJ owned and operated on the land.
The White House is a nice home. Since Lady Bird died in 2007 the house is opening up to the public, one room at a time. As of the summer of 2009 there is only LBJ's office open. However, I believe the park ranger said they would open one room a year.
To tour the house you must pay an additional $1 to the park and recreation services. For that $1 you will be provided with a Ranger who can answer many questions and show you the details of the areas.
My favorite part has to be the welcome message LBJ puts in concrete as you enter the walk-up to the house. Also, there are pictures of LBJ working with military specialists in the lawn of this house .... making decisions of Vietnam.
Definitely spend the extra $1 to see what you can. And soon enough...we can see some bedrooms!
House Tour Length and Group Size:
House tours are 20 minutes in length.
There is a limit of 15 people per house tour.
Hours of Operation
Seven days a week. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Driving Permits are given out starting at 9:00 a.m. No Permits are given out after 4:15 p.m.
Ranch Entrance Gate: open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ranch Exit Gate: Closes at 5:00 p.m.
House tours: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
When visiting the LBJ National Historical Park you have the chance to go on a self-guided driving tour that will take you to many sites being described. After seeing the family homes you will driving down to the Ranch. This is a working ranch. There are cattle roaming the area. And real, live cowboys!
If you listen to the cd while driving they even play some funny music while driving to the barn. We decided to get out and look at the corrals, or barn. They had some interesting information on how they raise hereford cows. They also have a few out. Boy, are they big!
There was a very friendly cowboy who was answering almost any question that came his way. He was a great storyteller and had some funny stories of LBJ designing the barn so that he could drive his car through the barn and show his guests the cows. And he always had a drink in his hand... :)
On the wall there is also some information on all the legislation that LBJ signed into law that helps the environment. I included it for you!
It's worth getting out of the car to see...Also gives some great views of the surrounding Hill Country.
*I also included a picture of the bison that can be found at the front of the park...which you actually will drive by on the trail after visiting the White House.
When taking the driving tour you will come upon many homes that the Johnson family lived in when settling the area. Be sure not to get this confused with the Johnson Settlement in Johnson City!
This particular area begins by passing a Lutheran Church LBJ would attend. It's also the sight of where he began his HeadStart program that is so successful today. Head Start is a preschool for parents who can't afford a good start to education. Then you will pass LBJ's old school. (So small!)
Then you will come across the house that LBJ lived as a boy...he was not born here (that's in Johnson City). It also has a red house which was where LBJ's grandparents lived.
Across from all of the homes is the Johnson Family Cemetary. There is where LBJ is buried. His wife is also there but the headstone is not currently finished.
Once we stopped by the visitors center and got our free audio cd for the car, the cd leads you to The Sauer-Bechmann Farmstead, a living history farm. There you'll find real animals, real crops, and real people dressed in period costumes.
I enjoyed chasing the turkeys and sheep around. The chickens and roosters were funny too. They have a few houses you can go into, as well. The size is baffling! So small...
There were a lot of kids here and they loved it, so I would definitely recommend stopping here for a while. It doesn't have anything to do with LBJ himself, but puts you back in the time of his childhood. I think it really adds to the next portion of the tour...the boyhood homes.
Lyndon B. Johnson is king of the Hill Country. Regardless of what political party you might be affiliated the Historical Park is not to be missed. It has so much to offer and now that LBJ and Lady Bird have passed on more and more of the park is being opened to the public.
You learn more than you've ever wanted to know about LBJ's life and presidency and I'm not here to ruin it for you. So, I'll be sharing with you what to expect and my journey that I had here.
First off, let me say, carve out some time for this place! My aunt and I figured we'd be about an hour or two but we were wrong. Four-five hours later we were getting back in our car and we actually missed precious time shopping on Main St of Fredericksburg!
But, that's besides the point. Let's get back to the Park. When you enter from the freeway you will come to the visitors center. There, you can pick up the driving cd (free of charge) as you drive around the ranch and park. It's really good but couldn't figure out how to stop and start it. You will also pay your $1 per person (above 18). There's a great gift shop, as well. There's also an introductory film you can watch. It talks about LBJ's childhood and presidency. It mostly has footage of the ranch and how LBJ would spend his time here.
Beside the visitors center is the small museum. It has some good information on the history of the land and what times were like in the past when LBJ was a kid.
The home of President and Mrs. Johnson is not open to the public yet. Since Mrs. Johnson's death, work has started on the house to entertain visitors as part of the tour. The house has a beautiful view of the Perderales River.
We traveled to President Lyndon Johnson's ranch and other sites when we scheduled a tour at The LBJ National Historic Park. There is a small charge for a shuttle bus tour.
This home is the original birthplace of former President Johnson in 1908. Due to deterioration through the years, it had to be reconstructed. It was sold, then repurchased by the Johnsons. It's furnished with memorabilia from the family and was used as a guest cottage.
I always enjoy touring historic homes when they are furnished with original pieces from that particular family. The small bedroom (picture 2) and the cozy kitchen (picture 3) look as though the people have momentarily left the room, but are due back at any minute.
Outside huge oak trees shaded the yard, while several Hereford cows grazed in the pasture (pictures 4-5). The Perdenales River ran a short distance away from the home. It was a tranquil spot.
The park is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and NY Day. The visitor center is open from 8:45am-5:00 pm. See Transportation Tip for tour price.