Texas boasts a diverse landscape, so there is a lot for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the state is to visit some of the state parks. There are more than one hundred to explore, and each has different features. Unless you live in this state, you will struggle to visit all the state parks. Therefore, you should identify which are the best ones to visit during your time in Texas. Here are the 10 best state parks in Texas to help you plan and make the most of your time in this state.
10. Longhorn Cavern State Park
Longhorn Cavern State Park is home to some of the most impressive caverns in Texas. Visitors can take guided tours underground to learn about the history and geology of the caves. Some of the caves have ancient seas, and others have been used in the past as underground dance halls. There are some interesting structures to see throughout the park, including an observation tower where you can enjoy views of the landscape.
9. Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park is one of the best state parks to visit in Texas. Its main feature is its namesake river, which is the ideal playground for tubing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Other activities to enjoy in the park are hiking, mountain biking, camping, and wildlife watching. While you are at this park, you should visit its Discovery Center, which is an educational space with interactive activities to help you learn about the natural environment in the area.
8. Franklin Mountains State Park
Franklin Mountains State Park is in West Texas, close to El Paso. It covers more than 27,000 acres, and there are more than 100 miles of trails to explore. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy camping and rock climbing. The best part of the park for overnight stays is at the Tom Mays Unit, which has the densest collection of campsites. It is also the trailhead for many of the most popular hikes.
7. Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is so-called because of the evidence in the park that it was once where the dinosaurs roamed. If the Paluxy River is low enough, it is possible to see imprints made by the dinosaurs when they walked through the area millions of years ago. There are five main track sites within the park, and there are maps that show you where to walk if you want to see them. Other than seeing the dinosaur imprints, other popular activities include swimming in the swimming hole and hiking or biking the 20 miles of trails within the park.
6. Garner State Park
One of the state parks in Texas that offers the most diversity in terms of activities is Garner State Park, which is in Concan. An interesting activity is taking the Wild Cave tour, which takes you to the caves underground while a tour guide educates you about the geology and history of the park. There are also 11 miles of trails to explore. Some of these feature waterfalls such as Gorman Falls, some head through thick forests, and others take you along the river.
5. Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site
Located in Comstock, Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site is a delightful place to visit for both outdoor lovers and history enthusiasts. The park is home to Fate Bell Shelter, which is one of the oldest cave dwellings in North America. You can enjoy the best views across the park from the Presa Canyon Overlook and enjoy water activities on the Rio Grande, which runs through the park.
4. Davis Mountains State Park
Trips to Discover lists Davis Mountains State Park as one of the best places to visit during your trip to Texas. Davis Mountains State Park is located in West Texas near Fort Davis, and it showcases the best landscape in this part of the state. The highlight of the park is the backdrop of mountains. Many people camp in the park overnight to enjoy the star-filled skies that are unaffected by city light interference.
3. Colorado Bend State Park
Colorado Bend State Park is approximately two hours north of Austin. The park covers more than 5,000 acres and runs for six miles along the shoreline of the Colorado River. There is a vast array of activities to enjoy on the land, in the water, and even underground. One of the most popular activities in this park is caving, although there are plenty of trails to explore for hiking and mountain biking, including some that feature waterfalls.
2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
In terms of dramatic landscapes, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is one of the best places to visit. Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is known for its canyons and magnificent rock formations. Many people visit simply to enjoy the stunning canyon views, while others go to enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. It is also a popular spot for photographers who want to capture the stunning color combinations of the canyon walls and the dramatic surrounding scenery.
1. Big Bend Ranch State Park
According to Planetware, the best state park in Texas is Big Bend Ranch State Park. The park sits on the border between Texas and Mexico, and it covers 300,000 acres, most of which is high-desert terrain. Those who visit this park enjoy hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking. As the Rio Grande runs through the park, boating, fishing, and kayaking are also popular. An interesting fact about Big Bend Ranch State Park is a designated International Dark Sky Park, so people visit to enjoy both the spectacular night sky and to enjoy the sunsets. It is possible to camp at various locations throughout Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson