Texas state parks are extremely diverse in natural views and places for all kinds of outdoor sports – from climbing and hiking, to horseback riding and beautiful soothing views of waterfalls and wooded hills.

Among the largest parks is Big Bend Ranch State Park, which covers an area of over 300,000 acres. Here you can camp and spend time with your family. Among the parks in Texas are some of the most picturesque canyons, waterfalls, and caves. Some places are harder to reach, while others are close to big cities like Dallas.

Here are some suggestions for nature-rich places to visit during your tour of Texas.

1. Big Bend Ranch State Park


Not surprisingly, the largest city park in Texas offers unlimited opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The solitude of over 300,000 acres guarantees incredible starry nights and beautiful sunsets if you decide to camp here.

Big Bend Ranch is located on the border between the United States and Mexico and reaches the Rio Grande, which is an ideal opportunity for lovers of boating and fishing.

The park is suitable for visits in any season because the winter temperatures are mild and in summer you will find cool shade.

Website
Address: 1900 South Saucedo, Presidio, TX 79845, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 432-358-4444
Area: 1,259 km²
Established: 1988
Management: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Known as the Texas Grand Canyon Park, it is close to Amarillo and reveals stunning scenery. There is a road through the whole park, which connects different routes for weather, camping, and places for relaxation.

In the Amphitheater here is held TEXAS Outdoor Musical event, which combines music, dance, and light show.

Website
Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015, United States

Hours:

  • Friday: 7am-6pm
  • Saturday: 7am-6pm
  • Sunday: 7am-6pm
  • Monday: 7am-6pm
  • Tuesday: 7am-6pm
  • Wednesday: 7am-6pm
  • Thursday: 7am-6pm

Phone: +1 806-488-2227
Length: 120 mi (190 km)

3. Colorado Bend State Park


Colorado Bend State Park is located on just over 5,000 acres and has a wide variety of camping sites, opportunities for water or land sports, and cave exploration.

If you are passionate about cycling and hiking, this is a great place for you because it has over 30 miles of trails. The longest of them is Gorman Falls, which will imperceptibly take you to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Texas.

Website
Address: 2236 Park Hill Dr, Bend, TX 76824, United States
Phone: +1 325-628-3240

4. Franklin Mountains State Park


Probably many tourists have heard of the city of El Paso, but few know that right next to it are 100 miles of hiking trails in Franklin Mountains State Park (27,000 acres).

The place has varied terrain, with large elevations, which makes it ideal for climbing and hiking. The most easily accessible part is called the Tom Mays Unit, where most of the campsites are located. From here you can start your walk on several different paths.

Website
Address: Tom Mays Park Access Rd, El Paso, TX 79930, United States

5. Guadalupe River State Park


Guadalupe River State Park is located on the banks of the Guadalupe River, which provides great opportunities for fishing and water sports enthusiasts. The nature here is quite rich, and the beautiful sunsets are perfect for capturing the moment in a photo.

The park is located not far from San Antonio and has a Discovery Center, which will arouse interest in nature and the little ones. One of the preferred routes is the Bald Cypress Trail, which runs near the river.

Website
Address: 3350 Park Rd 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday:8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 830-438-2656
Area: 7.846 km²
Established: 1983

6. Longhorn Cavern State Park


Want to explore the area’s underground treasures? This park features one of the most scenic caves in Texas. Apart from natural miracles, the cave also has a rich cultural and historical heritage, which you will find out more about on one of the guided tours.

Ancient seas and dance halls once stretched here. As early as 1930, The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) attached special importance to the park, making a number of improvements, some of which have been preserved to this day (for example, the stone steps leading to the cave). The Stone Watchtower will reveal the beautiful views of the surroundings.

It is important to be prepared with the fact that the park can be visited only during the day, and if you want to spend the night in a campsite near Inks Lake State Park will give you this opportunity.

Website
Address: 6211 Park Road 4 S, Burnet, TX 78611, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 9am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 9am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 9am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 9am – 6pm
  • Friday: 9am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 9am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 9am – 6pm

Phone: +1 512-715-9000
Established: 1932
Area: 2.613 km²

7. Pedernales Falls State Park


The park is located not far from Austin, around the rapids of The Pedernales River. It is important to know that it is not allowed to bathe anywhere along the river because of its turbulent nature.

However, you can enjoy the jumps and small waterfalls that form along with it, have a picnic or take a long walk along the shore. There are still special areas where swimming is allowed and you will still have the opportunity to cool off in the hot afternoons.

The longest transitional route is the Juniper Ridge Trail with a length of about 10 miles. Tourists should be especially careful when visiting the park because sometimes it is subject to flash flooding (even without rain in the park itself). Strictly follow the signs in the park to enjoy a wonderful recreational vacation.

Website
Address: 2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636, United States

Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 830-868-7304
Area: 21.09 km²
Established: 1971

8. Brazos Bend State Park


This park will surprise you with a slightly more exotic vacation. The terrain is a mixture of tall grass and wooded areas, and among its most interesting inhabitants are American alligators. Of course, the park staff will strictly instruct you on your safety around these amazing wild creatures.

The park covers an area of 5,000 acres, and the most popular routes are the Creekfield Nature Trail and the 40 Acre Lake Trail, which have the best chance of seeing the alligators live.

The park has an electrified campsite with screened shelters, and cabins, providing everything you need for a relaxing evening.

Website
Address: 21901 Farm to Market Rd 762, Needville, TX 77461, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 979-553-5102
Area: 4,897 acres (19.82 km2)
Established: 1984

9. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area


Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, near the German city of Fredericksburg, is one of the most iconic areas of Texas Hill Country. Granite formations can be seen from afar, exciting tourists for decades.

You can climb to the top of Enchanted Rock where you will find vernal pools full of rainwater. On clear evenings, the starry sky also deserves your attention.

Website
Address: 16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624, United States
Phone: +1 830-685-3636
Hours:

  • Monday: 6:30AM–6PM
  • Tuesday: 6:30AM–6PM
  • Wednesday: 6:30AM–6PM
  • Thursday: 6:30AM–6PM
  • Friday: 6:30AM–6PM
  • Saturday:6:30AM–6PM
  • Sunday: 6:30AM–6PM

Established: 1978

10. Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Area


Hueco Tanks near El Paso boast beautiful landscapes and rich history.

Here many ancient tribes inhabiting the area have left their traces. Of course, these remains must be well protected, so the park has announced restrictions on permitted self-guided and guided tours.

It is mandatory to call and check the tour options in advance. Apart from getting acquainted with the ancient cultures, here you can also indulge in climbing and outdoor sports.

Website
Address: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1, El Paso, TX 79938, United States

Phone: +1 915-857-1135
Area: 2.989 km²
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday:8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

11. Caddo Lake State Park


Just 30 miles from Louisiana is Caddo Lake State Park, famous for its Spanish moss and alligators that you can watch live.

CCCs have also left their mark with massive stone structures. You can go for a walk on one of the separate routes or prefer water sports such as canoeing and kayaking.

By Big Cypress Bayou you can reach Caddo Lake, where you can go fishing or picnicking, or start exploring the area on one of the 50 trails starting from here.

Website
Address: 245 Park Rd 2, Karnack, TX 75661, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 903-679-3351
Established: 1933
Elevation: 237 ft (72 m)

12. Davis Mountains State Park


The landscape in Davis Mountains State Park is hilly. Here you will find much of the CCC’s heritage, such as the 39-room Indian Lodge, which still functions today and offers shelter from the hot Texas sun.

Hiking is a major activity here as one of the most famous trails is the Skyline Drive Trail. Nearby is the Balmorhea State Park, which offers some of the largest spring-fed swimming pools.

13. Lost Maples State Natural Area


The Lost Maples State Natural Area is located in the Hill Country, between the Bandera and Real County lines. Lost Maples has defined the greatest of the region’s natural wonders over the past five decades. Backroads Reservations is pleased to provide this overview of Lost Maples to all possible Hill Country guests. The appeal of this natural setting makes Lost Maples the most popular relaxing location in Texas Hill Country!

Humans have lived in the Lost Maples area since prehistoric times, according to anthropological and historical documents. Fortunately, throughout its history, human occupancy has been low-impact—that is, no irrevocable harm has been done to the soil, fauna, or plant life indigenous to what is now known as the Texas Hill Country. Small Spanish colonies, Native American towns, and ranches were prevalent in the area during its more recent history (from the 17th century onward), leaving it largely intact and in its natural state.

Because of the area’s history, it was a natural choice for a state natural area, and the State of Texas purchased the first 2,174 acres from local landowners in 1973 and 1974. The natural area first opened to the public on September 1, 1979, and it was increased to its current size of 2,900 acres in 2009. You’ll notice that we don’t call Lost Maples a state park. Its formal designation is that of a Natural Area, which signifies that the property’s focus is on preserving its natural nature. While Lost Maples has various guest accommodations, its main reason for existence is its natural beauty, which is famous throughout Texas and beyond. So it’s no surprise that it was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1980. People may refer to it as “Lost Maples State Park” or simply “Lost Maples Park,” but it’s technically a Natural Area because its principal purpose is to preserve its natural beauty.

Website
Address: 37221 RM 187, Vanderpool, TX 78885, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 10pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 10pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 10pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 10pm
  • Friday: 8am – 10pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 10pm

Phone: +1 830-966-3413
Area: 2,906 acres (11.76 km2)
Established: 1979

14. Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock Canyons State Park is located in a remote area of Texas, far from any major cities. Silverton, Quitaque, and Turkey are the closest towns, all of which are small farming villages on Highway 86 in Briscoe Country, about 80 miles southeast of Amarillo. Farm road 1065 extends three miles north from Quitaque to the park entrance and a modest tourist center. Admission (2021) is $5 per person, with camping ranging from $12 to $22 depending on comfort level.

A three-mile paved road leads from the entrance through picturesque badlands to the base of the caprock cliff, past many trailheads and other areas of interest. The first exit leads to a bison viewing area – Caprock Canyons is the official Texas state bison herd, which was founded here in 1997 but is currently suffering from a lack of genetic variation. The road then passes Lake Theo, a 120-acre lake with good facilities – plenty of parking, benches, sun shelters, and so on – and is popular for picnics, paddling, swimming, boating, and fishing. After passing the major camping area (35-site Honey Flat), the road narrows and becomes more twisting, with two hills at a 16 percent grade as it traverses steep terrain on each side of the Little Red River. The road finishes at the South Prong tent camping area, which serves as the starting point for one of the park’s main trails (the Upper Canyon Trail). The escarpment’s steep red cliffs are all around, formed of Ogallala Formation sandstones and shales and crossed by bands of white gypsum.

Hiking

  • Canyon Rim Trail: This relatively easy 6-mile path begins at the Honey Flat campsite and ends at the Wild Horse campsite. Along the way, it passes through badlands, washes, and low hills as it traverses the grassy land towards the east of the park, beneath the main escarpment. Canyon Rim Trail: This trail follows the rims of several small canyons and begins at the Honey Flat campsite.
  • The Eagle Point Trail is a path that spans the badlands for a distance of about two miles, beginning at the park road close to Lake Theo and ending on the road just before the road crosses the Little Red River. The trail is also frequented by riders on horses and cyclists.
  • The Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail is a hike that begins with a fairly strenuous ascent up the cliffs and continues along a grassy ridge while providing spectacular views in all directions. At its terminus, the trail meets up with the Upper Canyon Trail.
  • The Lower Canyon Trail is a 7-mile loop that may be accessed from either the penultimate offshoot road off the park’s scenic drive (north side) or the Wild Horse camping area, and it travels along the shallow gorges of the Little Red River’s lower and higher forks.
  • Mesa Trail is a short loop that branches off the Canyon Rim Trail and climbs to the top of a low mesa before circling around the edge of the mesa.
  • The Upper Canyon Trail is the best and most challenging trail in the park. It is 6.3 miles long and follows a canyon before ascending steeply to a high ridge and descending through another canyon on the way back.

Caprock Canyons Trailway

The Caprock Canyons Trailway is a 64.25-mile hiking/cycling/horseback riding trail that was created by converting a disused piece of a Fort Worth and Denver railroad branch line. It travels between South Plains and Estelline, passing slightly north of Quitaque, and offers access sites every 5 to 10 miles. However, this is a wide, flat path across relatively flat land, so there isn’t much to see. The nicest sections are along Quitaque Creek (including the 742 foot Clarity Tunnel) and east of Tampico, where the trail passes canyons and mesas.

Website
Address: 850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, TX 79255, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 8am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 8am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 8am – 6pm
  • Friday: 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 8am – 6pm

Phone: +1 806-455-1492
Area: 61.97 km²
Established: 1982
Trail difficulty: Medium

16. Monahans Sandhills State Park

Monahans Sandhills State Park
The remarkable geographic formation known as Monahans dates back tens of thousands of years. The Permian Basin was eventually surrounded by higher elevations, trapping erosion that had been transported from as far away as the Rocky Mountains and blowing south and east. Although it only makes up a tiny portion—roughly 4,000 acres—of a much larger sand dune field that crosses state boundaries, it is absolutely unique to Texas.

Indigenous people inhabited this land for at least 12,000 years and thrived there until the late 1800s. At that time, the Texas and Pacific Railway built the town of Monahans as a water stop for steam engines. Soon after, the region’s oil boom started. The park was established in 1957 to protect this breathtaking landscape and its distinct ecosystem.

Monahans is a park that delivers regardless of why you visit. It makes for a great hiking location because the dunes there can reach heights of more than 70 feet. It can be difficult to trek up hill after hill of soft sand that your shoes sink into. But your reward is in its beauty and tranquility. More than a mile from the highway, many of the park’s best locations provide a tranquil, expansive view to take in.

The park doesn’t have any designated trails because of how constantly it changes. Take plenty of water when you go out because the hills often look alike and it can be easy to get lost. On the other hand, virtually anywhere in the park can be explored, giving visitors the chance to see a wide variety of plants and animals that can survive in this harsh environment. Here you can find one of the world’s biggest oak forests. Shin oaks grow to a mature height of only 3 to 4 feet but cover stabilized dunes throughout the park (dunes that don’t move with the wind). All kinds of tracks, including those left by lizards, snakes, and jackrabbits, can be found when exploring active dunes. It’s also fascinating to learn more about the distinctive features of insect tracks.

Website
Address: Exit 86, 2500 I-20, Monahans, TX 79756, United States
Hours:

  • Monday: 6am – 6pm
  • Tuesday: 6am – 6pm
  • Wednesday: 6am – 6pm
  • Thursday: 6am – 6pm
  • Friday: 6am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 6am – 6pm
  • Sunday: 6am – 6pm

Phone: +1 432-943-2092
Established: 1957
Area: 15.54 km²
Elevation: 840 m

Conclusion

Texas state parks are diverse enough to satisfy the preferences of every tourist. Whether you choose high mountain areas, forests, sand dunes, or rivers and lakes.

In addition to the great opportunities for outdoor sports, the remoteness of the parks from the urban environment will provide you with amazing views of the night sky. The trip here is definitely worth it, so try to spend as much time as possible for your stay so that you can feel in one with nature.

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