Some of the nation’s most stunning and varied state parks can be found in Texas. There is an abundance of natural beauty to discover, from the rocky mountains of West Texas to the lush woodlands of the Piney Woods. Texas state parks have something to offer everyone, regardless of whether you’re an experienced hiker or just seeking a quiet getaway. It can be challenging to choose which of the many incredible options to explore, though.
To showcase some of the most beautiful and distinctive locations in Lone Star State, we’ve put together a guide to the best Texas state parks. So prepare to experience all that Texas has to offer by packing your bags, grabbing your hiking boots, and start your journey!
#1. Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest state park in Texas, provides all of the local flora and fauna without the crowds of a national park. This state park, which is in remote West Texas near the border with Mexico, provides rough adventures through activities such as biking, horseback riding, river rafting, and hiking. As an International Dark Sky Park, don’t skip out on the nighttime stargazing here. It is without a doubt one of the best state parks in Texas.
#2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
State Park Palo Duro Canyon is in the Texas Panhandle, close to Amarillo. Several campgrounds, hiking paths, and day-use areas are connected by a park road that enters the canyon. Exploring the area on foot, by mountain bike, or by horseback is all very common. Besides, the summer season at the park’s Pioneer Amphitheater features the distinctive Texas Outdoor Musical, which emphasizes the challenges and successes of Texas pioneers. A large number of photographers visit the canyon to take pictures of the contrasting hues of the canyon walls.
#3. Garner State Park
Garner State Park is Texas’ most-visited state park, which is not surprising given that it offers 1,774 acres of adventurous Hill Country scenery and access to the Frio River for almost three miles. In true Texas fashion, float the Frio on an inner tube or go hiking on one of the 16 miles of beautiful paths. There are also options for camping, canoeing, angling, mini golf, and geocaching. Gather at the park’s concession building in the summer for an evening of jukebox dancing, which has been a ritual there since the 1940s.
#4. Colorado Bend State Park
Two hours north of Austin, on more than 5,000 acres, is Colorado Bend State Park, a place where you can choose your own journey. Diverse camping choices are available, and activities take place on land, in the water, and underground. With over 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking paths, including Gorman Falls, one of Texas’s finest waterfalls, the park offers the best opportunity to explore the caves: on a guided tour.
#5. Inks Lake State Park
Inks Lake State Park is situated on some of the finest views of Precambrian geology in Texas, on the eastern edge of the Llano Uplift, which is referred to as the state’s geological core. Here, cool water meets granite outcrops for fantastic swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities. There are also nine miles of accessible trails. See what species are passing through the area by checking out the bird blind.
#6. Franklin Mountains State Park
There are over 27,000 acres of elevated landscapes to discover at Franklin Mountains State Park, which is close to El Paso in West Texas. Camping, mountain climbing, as well as trail exploration, are all popular pastimes. With the greatest number of developed campsites and numerous hiking trails, the Tom Mays Unit is part of the park that is easiest to reach. The different entrances are within a 15-minute drive of El Paso for visitors.
#7. Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway
Caprock Canyons State Park is the ideal location to reconnect with nature and is home to the Texas State Bison Herd. Drive carefully and avoid approaching the bison that wander the plains. In addition to Lake Theo’s no-wake boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities, there are 90 miles of open hiking and biking paths.
#8. Guadalupe River State Park
A beautiful public park on the banks of the Guadalupe River is located 30 miles north of San Antonio. Along with camping, trekking, and wildlife viewing, it provides recreational opportunities such as swimming, tubing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. There are 80 campsites in the area as well as an interactive discovery center. One path that is suggested for exploration is the Bald Cypress path.
#9. Caddo Lake State Park
Caddo Lake epitomizes East Texas with its bald cypress trees covered in Spanish moss, and its maze of bayous, ponds, and swamps. More than 70 different species of fish can be found in the park, which is more than 26,000 acres in size and attracts anglers from all over the globe. Additionally, there is a boat ramp and a fishing wharf. Explore the area’s more than 50 miles of paddling paths by renting one or bringing your own canoe or kayak. There is a ton of wildlife in this area, including crocodiles.
#10. Longhorn Cavern State Park
One of Texas’ finest caverns is located in Longhorn Cavern State Park. A guided tour of the geologic and cultural history of the cave is offered in this day-use-only park. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) made a major development to the park, adding stone steps that descend to the cave and buildings with a natural feel. An excellent view of the neighboring Texas Hill Country is provided by the observation tower. Over 200 lodging options are available at Inks Lake State Park for those seeking to spend the night.
#11. Monahans Sandhills State Park
This is also one of the best-liked State Parks in Texas. You can surf in Texas on the Gulf Coast, but you can also surf in West Texas at Monahans Sandhills State Park. The park, which is essentially a giant, hilly sandbox, is a tiny part of a dune field that stretches further into Texas and New Mexico. Surf the dunes with sand disks, or bring your horse and explore the 800-acre equestrian region. Just make sure to cross “surfed in a desert” off your bucket list.
#12. Brazos Bend State Park
Brazos Bend State Park, located less than an hour south of Houston, provides a wild and natural setting with over 5,000 acres of wetlands and a diverse blend of forest and tallgrass prairie. The most exciting animal to see is the American alligator, and the park provides plenty of information on how to remain safe around them. The Creekfield Nature Trail is an excellent location to start exploring, and other trails, such as the 40 Acre Lake Trail, provide the best opportunity to see alligators. There are electric campsites, screened shelters, and cottages.
#13. Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mountains State Park is located 100 miles north of Big Bend National Park and contains some of the Civilian Conservation Corps’s (CCC) earliest efforts. The 39-room Indian Lodge, located in the center of the park, remains a welcoming oasis from the Texas summer sun. Hiking is a common activity at Davis Mountain State Park, with the 4.5-mile Skyline Drive Trail providing some of the best views of the surrounding mountains.
A hiking path links the park to the nearby Fort Davis National Historic Site, and Balmorhea State Park has one of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pools. The park is also famous for its bird blind.
#14. Lost Maples State Natural Area
Think again if Texas comes to mind when you think of autumn foliage. Lost Maples preserves a unique stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples, and these trees, along with others in the park, come alive with warm, golden colors each fall. The park even publishes an annual autumn foliage report to help you plan your visit. Birding is also common here, as the endangered golden-cheeked warbler has been seen.
#15. Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is about 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Its primary focus is the Paluxy River, where a Tyrannosaurus rex relative left its footprint over 100 million years ago. Visitors flock to see this left-behind footprint and this unique exhibition of the state’s geologic history when river levels are low. There’s a lot more to see and do at the park, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and camping at one of the 44 campsites.
What Is Texas Biggest State Park?
State Park at Big Bend Ranch
The biggest state park is not only enormous in the area; it also offers enormous adventure. Cycling the Chihuahuan Desert will test your mettle. Paddle or raft down the Rio Grande, which separates Texas from Mexico.
What Is the Most Famous Park?
Along with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, Central Park is one of the most well-known parks in the world and serves as a representation of New York City. In addition to being the country’s first public space, Central Space receives more than 25 million visitors annually.
What Is the Hottest State Park?
Death Valley is well-known for being both the hottest and driest location in North America. On July 10, 1913, 134°F (57°C), the highest air temperature ever documented, was measured at Furnace Creek.