From humble Texas beginnings, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th U.S. President whose family immigrated to Texas as settlers, was raised near Johnson City in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. As president , his sweeping civil and human rights legislation transformed a nation, bringing it into a modern Space Age of scientific discovery, social reform and economic stability.
But it is his early years on the ranch his family called home that will interest most travelers to Central Texas, a now-historic property that once served as a rural White House where heads of State from around the world would visit, eat barbecue on the lawn, fish and hunt and enjoy majestic sunrises and sunsets in a most magical part of world.
From Austin, the LBJ Ranch, now a National Historic Landmark, is located about 40 west of the Capital City in the rolling hills between Johnson City and Stonewall - the peach capital of Texas.
President Johnson had a deep attachment for place and heritage. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried. After the President's death in 1973, Mrs. Johnson continued to live at the Ranch part time until her death in 2007.
Visitors are now able to tour the Ranch at their own pace in their private vehicle with the ability to stop at sites along the way such as the President's birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, and the Johnson's ranch house known as the Texas White House.
The President and Mrs. Johnson donated their private home to the National Park Service but retained lifetime rights to use the house. Following the death of Mrs. Johnson on July 11, 2007, preparations have begun to make the home available for public tours. Individual rooms will be opened as they become ready.
President Johnson's office (the west room) was opened to the public on the 100th anniversary of his birth, August 27, 2008. The living room and dining room were opened in June 2009. As part of the self-guided Ranch Tour, you may stop at the Texas White House for a ranger-guided tour.
In the Park Visitor Center, a permanent exhibit gallery showcases Lyndon Johnson's life and accomplishments. It includes a world events timeline and a display depicting the highlights of LBJ's Great Society programs. Some of the items on exhibit are campaign memorabilia, gifts that President Johnson gave, and two of the LBJ Ranch branding irons. There are also two "Friendship Stones," concrete blocks signed by visitors to the Texas White House.
Also of interest is the childhood home of the President, he lived here from the age of five until his high school graduation in 1924. The home is furnished in the early to mid-1920s period and as such depicts a rural Texas lifestyle of 75 years ago.
Just down the road is the Johnson Settlement. Lyndon Johnson's grandfather and great-uncle established a cattle droving headquarters in the 1860s on land that is now part of Johnson City, Texas. Their log cabin and subsequent barns, cooler house, and windmill still stand. There is also a modern exhibit center focusing on the cattle business, early Johnson family and settlement history, and Hill Country survival. A chuckwagon and longhorn cattle round out the "cowboy" atmosphere.
A self Guided Tour will next take you to The Texas White House, the part ranch building where the Johnsons lived. Visitors are now able to tour the Ranch at their own pace in their private vehicle with the ability to stop at sites along the way such as the President's birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, and the Johnson's ranch house known as the Texas White House.
The park is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The National Park Visitor Center in Johnson City is open from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The LBJ State Park visitor center, where LBJ Ranch tour permits are issued, is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Guided tours of the LBJ Boyhood Home in Johnson City are offered seven days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours begin on the hour and half-hour, except at 12:00 p.m (noon) and 12:30 p.m. during which time the home is closed.
Self-guided tours of the Johnson Settlement, also in Johnson City, are available from 9:00 a.m. until sunset seven days a week. Costumed or ranger-guided interpretive tours of the Johnson Settlement are offered as staffing permits.
Self-guided driving tours of the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall are available beginning at 9:00 a.m. seven days a week. Driving Permits are given out at the LBJ State Park visitor center between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. The entrance gate at the LBJ Ranch opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m.
Guided tours of the Texas White House, located on the LBJ Ranch, are offered 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.