Few places in the USA can offer you what the state parks in Texas offer: miles and miles of magnificent rocky hills, scenic trails, diverse wildlife, and so many more. Each of these parks brings stunning landscapes that you won’t find anywhere else. Here, enjoy a wide range of outdoor adventures while marveling at the surrounding scenery. With so many options to select from, choosing which state parks to visit can be tricky. Therefore, making it easier for you, we compiled a list of the best state best Texas state parks that you should definitely visit at least once in your lifetime.
Longhorn Cavern State Park
The main attraction in this park declared in 1930, is Longhorn Cavern, a cave beneath the surface of the ground formed through a natural rock formation. Since it’d be a shame to go here without exploring the cavern, we suggest you join their paid guided tours, so you can experience the underground adventure and learn the history of it.
While here, make sure to take some time to walk on their natural trails or read about the organization that created the park, the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Guadalupe River State Park
The name of the park hints that the best activities to do center around water. A river frontage that runs for as long as four miles (6 km), is the main highlight of the park. Some exercising activities that we recommend here include swimming, fishing, canoeing, and tubing.
However, even if you’re not a water-sports fan, you can still enjoy this park as there’s a 5.3-mile (8.5 kilometers) trail for horse riding, mountain biking, and hiking. To enjoy the best fishing experience at this park, sign up for a full-day tour in this natural area. If you feel like one day in this park isn’t enough, book a room at Hampton Inn By Hilton Bulverde.
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
Invaluable to the state, it contributes to the health of Texas’ citizens. Plus, it protects the rich alluvial sediments that allow the growth of plants such as Anacua trees and Sugar Hackberry to grow here.
Another thing that we like about the park; it’s home to many bird species native to south Texas. As such, don’t forget to bring your binocular when you come down to this park!
Village Creek State Park
Sitting in roughly 7,000 acres (28 km²) of forested land and narrow rivers, Village Creek State Park offers an immersive nature-experience like nowhere else. In addition to the 33 miles (53 kilometers) of multi-use trails, the park also has 10 cabins, two lakes, outdoor and indoor theaters, and more.
We recommend you visit at the beginning of November when the trees in the park undergo their annual leaves turning color. The different colors make for a beautiful scene.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Located some kilometers away from west of Fort Worth, the park is a quiet paradise nestled on a forested plain. We love the park’s beautiful scenery as much as we love the outdoor amenities – multiple fishing points, a 640-acre (2.5 km²) lake, and dozens of equestrian campsites. Another thing visitors love about the park – it provides a perfect and safe camping ground.
Caddo Lake State Park
This family-friendly park which sits in the northeast of Texas hosts the biggest natural lake in the state. Approximately 26,810 acres (108 km²) of its area comprises vast networks of bayous and swamps – making it an ideal location for fishing and boating.
Parents love taking their kids there because the place also features a number of nice playgrounds. Staying overnight at this park is allowed. However, if you plan stopping off in nearby towns before or after visiting the park, the closest towns are Karnack, Uncertain, and Marshall.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Come to this park during Fall, and witness the beauty of the leaves changing color. Situated only two hours drive northwest of San Antonio, this vast park encompasses eight areas for camping, 11 miles (18 km) of hiking trails, 30 campsites.
Discover two small lakes in the center of the park. More than just a state park, the place earned status as a State Natural Area, Therefore we encourage anyone who plans a visit to the park to carry their own waste bags and not to leave any traces.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
The largest park of its kind in Texas, the park occupies more than 300,000 acres (1,214 km2). Situated in west Texas- along the border of the USA and Mexico, it’s ideal for many outdoor activities. These include hiking, rafting, wildlife watching, and even horseback riding.
cattle ranches also exist throughout the area. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous try exploring the second tallest waterfall in Texas at this park – Madrid Falls. Before going there don’t forget to don proper outdoor clothing to avoid insect bites and scratches!
Monahans Sandhills State Park
For adventure junkies tired of seeing trees and hills, try adventuring at Monahans Sandhills State Park. There, sand dunes as high as 70 feet (21 m). They cover an area of 3,840 acres (15 km²).
Borrow the equipment needed for exploring the dunes such as sand sleds and snowboards at the park’s headquarter. Away from the dunes, find an area for horse riding as well as campsites.
Enchanted Rock Natural Area
The park alone provides a good enough reason for considering a tour to Fredericksburg. Its gigantic pink-colored granite mound attracted a large number of tourists for many years.
If you plan your visit during the weekend, we recommend you purchase their entry tickets prior to your arrival. During holidays and weekends, many people flock there.
Rock climb, hike, camp, or stargaze there. There’s also an 11-mile (18 km) hiking trail. Plan your trip in advance if you wish to explore every part of its area. Alternatively, book a tour of this park.
Hueco Tanks Park & Historic Site
Get down to Hueco Tanks for an unforgettable rock-climbing experience. There, you’ll find magnificent granite-like hills. After you’ve climbed or hiked the hills, plenty of other activities such as bird watching, stargazing, and picnics keep visitors entertained. If you plan on devoting a day while exploring the area, please keep in mind that some areas of the park – such as the rock imagery -require tour bookings.
Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site
No hiking or outdoor gear’s required to explore this 293 acre (1.2 km²) historical-themed park. Here, the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence took place. The park includes a number of buildings of historical significance, with one of them being the farmhouse of Texas’ final president, Anson Jones. Find it in the Barrington Living History Farm.
Along the Brazos River, picnic areas provide a peaceful place for a meal. Once you’re done exploring the park, don’t forget to visit the visitor center and pick some merchandise and read a bit of Texas history.
Mustang Island State Park
The existence of this park predates the founding of the host country. With a history dating back 25 centuries, Mustang Island is surely a state park with an interesting background.
The 18-mile (29 km) long island earned its nickname from the species of horses that previously roamed freely on the island. The state park makes a great spot for sunbathing, surfing, fishing, and biking. Find the nearest accommodation for this park at Best Western Port Aransas.
Devils River Natural Area
Within the park, runs a whitewater called Devils River from which the park gets its name. There are three sections in the park. These include the Chihuahuan Desert, the Tamaulipan Mezquita ecoregion, and the Edwards Plateau. Each has its own unique ecosystem and scenic landscape.
Not only that, but numerous animals and vegetation occupy the park. Look out for free-tailed bats from Mexico, sycamore trees, and pecans. This place also makes for the perfect getaway from the stress of modern life due to the remote location.
Garner State Park
Few state parks in Texas are as popular as Garner State Park when it comes to camping. It’s not hard to see why the park is a top choice for summer vacation. Plenty of hiking trails, well-equipped facilities, pristine river, and scenic sights are just some of the reasons why people of all ages and especially families love this park.
Sometimes during peak season, the park is so crowded that no camping spots are left by noon. One of the best views of the park requires a hike along the Old baldy – a mile-long trail on the iconic hill of Garner State Park. Occasionally there are also attractive events held by the river.
The geological landscape of the park was mainly composed of a mix of sandstones and limestones dating back to roughly 113 million years ago. The most interesting part of this park is the twin sets of dinosaurs footprints which were discovered in 1908, hence the name of the park. This discovery is one of the reasons the park is listed as a National Natural Landmark.
Encompassing area over 1,500 acres (6 km²), the park offers plenty of outdoor activities such as biking and hiking. There are spaces for camping in the park. However, we encourage you to make a call first to make sure that there’s still a spot left, should you plan to camp here.
Inks Lake State Park
Sitting atop 1,201 acres (5 km²) of rocky land mainly composed of gneiss rock and surrounded with lush vegetations, this park looks a lot like a piece of heaven on earth. The best way to spend your time here is to take a swim at the famed Devils Waterhole. The pool’s surrounded by rocky grounds. Alternatively, take the plunge at the Inks Lake itself. Feel your stress melts away the moment you get into the pristine water.
This ranch-turns-state-park lies 10 miles (16 kilometers) away from Johnson City. Since the main attraction of this park is the Pedernales River, most of the adventures in this state park are water-related.
Fishing, swimming, and wading here are some of the most favorite activities. Once you’re done playing on or in the water, you should try picnicking. Or, camp in its basic campsites that are located two miles (three km) away from the center of the park.
Caprock Canyons state park and Trailway
Standing tall on the south of Palo Duro Canyon State Parks are the breathtaking red sandstone cliffs known as Caprock Escarpment. The magnificent scarps aren’t the only things that make this park attractive. Actually, it’s also home to a number of unique animals such as North American camels and the Texas State Bison Herd.
Biking, hiking, and horse riding are popular around here. If you feel like burning up some calories, walk the 90 miles (145 kilometers) of trails, while gazing at the gorgeous panorama of the infamous Staked Plains topography.
Palo Duro Canyon State Parks
The park’s spectacular canyon landscape which spans over 120 miles (193 km) has been likened to that of Grand Canyon – one of the most breathtaking canyons in the world. No wonder Palo Duro State Park often makes it to the list of the most popular destinations for biking and climbing in the USA.
Other than those two activities, visitors also usually love to hike, camp, and ride a horse. There is also Best Western Palo Duro Canyon Inn & Suites near the area in case you want to spend a night.