Picking the Best State Parks in Texas is similar to deciding which countries to visit on a world trip. More than 100 national and state parks dot Texas with vast and spectacular scenery, and they’re not all desert and also the stunning waterfalls in Texas attract the visitors. Texas geography is large and diverse, spanning from rolling plains and dry deserts to beaches and swamps. State parks, which assist preserve valuable outdoor areas, are some of the best places to experience this natural beauty. We’ve compiled a list of the 25 best state parks in Texas to share with you.
The best state parks in Texas include a wide range of temperatures and topographies while offering a huge variety of enjoyable things to do, from mountain ranges to natural swimming pools, forests, and beaches.
Originally published at touristsplaces.com.
1. Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch is Texas’ largest state park, located on the US/Mexico border in West Texas. The Park spans over 300,000 acres of main systems, providing unlimited options for adventure. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and finding quiet in nature are all popular activities at the state park.
In fact, Big Bend Ranch has been recognized as an International Dark Sky Park. Following dazzling sunsets, this celestial designation allows for magnificent stargazing. Big Bend Ranch State Park has access to the Rio Grande, making activities like boating and fishing enjoyable. Big Bend Ranch offers a variety of camping alternatives, including simple lodging options at the Sauceda Bunkhouse.
Big Bend Ranch State Park has a diverse range of terrain. Summers in Big Bend are hot, and winters are gentler, with freezing temperatures at night. Big Bend Ranch State Park is next to the larger Big Bend National Park, which offers considerably more opportunities for exploration and this park tops the list of best state parks in Texas.
Entry Fees: $6
Timings: 8am — 6pm
Location: 1900 South Saucedo, Presidio, TX 79845, USA
2. Palo Duro Canyon state park
One of the popular and best state parks in Texas is Palo Duro Canyon, often known as the Texas Grand Canyon, stretches through the Panhandle just south of Amarillo. Palo Duro, the country’s second-largest canyon, is roughly 60 miles long, up to 20 miles wide in sections, and around 244 meters deep, and its numerous geologic strata and steep, colorful walls share some resemblance to its larger, grander counterpart in Arizona.
For millennia, people have lived in this beautiful views, occupying the resource-rich canyon floor for at least 12,000 years. The Apache, Comanche and Kiowa tribes fought several conflicts over the valuable land before being expelled and sent to reservations in Oklahoma in the 1870s.
With over 1,500 acres devoted to equestrian-only trails, the park now caters to horseback riders. But you don’t have to be a cowboy to appreciate the scenery: the park’s 17,000 acres are crisscrossed with hiking and mountain biking trails. Keep a watch out for the official Texas state longhorn herd’s Longhorn steers grazing along the canyon’s wall. Tent and RV sites are accessible for camping, and a small number of basic cabins are offered for nightly rentals (reservations are required).
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights during the summer, an outdoor musical drama called simply “TEXAS” lights up the Pioneer Amphitheater in the park. The family-friendly musical, which is the official play of the state of Texas depicts the trials and triumphs of the Panhandle’s settlers.
Entry Fees: $8
Timings: 8am — 5pm
Location: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015, USA
3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which is located in the Chihuahuan Desert is home to Texas’ four tallest mountains, including the iconic Guadalupe Peak. Hiking Guadalupe Peak is by far the most popular activity among visitors; the round-trip hike takes between six and eight hours, and the top of the mountain offers spectacular views of the park.
Camping, bird watching, and exploring the gorgeous McKittrick Canyon are all popular activities in the area. Although certain roads are accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles, the park is best explored on foot or by horseback. Guadalupe has two constructed campgrounds and backcountry camping permits, but the rural park lacks restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and overnight hotel alternatives. White’s City, New Mexico, is 35 miles east and has food, ice, showers, and motel rooms. The Park offers lots of activities to do and that’s why this is one of the best state parks in Texas.
Hike to Guadalupe Peak, Texas’ highest peak at 2,667 metres, for the best views. A trail going from the Pine Springs campground to the top of the Lone Star state, marked by a metal pyramid, climbs almost 900 metres in 4.2 miles. The hike can be done at any time of year.
Entry Fees: $10
Timings: 8:30am — 4:30pm
4. Cedar Hill State Park
If you’re a diehard camper, this is one of the best state parks to visit in Texas. There are around 300 campsites with maintained facilities and showers if you like your home comforts. All of them have water and electricity, and 150 of them have sewer hookups. There are also a number of ADA-accessible places. There are basic campsites that may be accessed through trails if you choose to go back to the basics, with no running water, power, or other amenities.
The DORBA route, which spans 1,200 acres and is ideal for hiking and riding, offers something for everyone. There’s also a lake where you may swim or have a picnic. Joe Pool Lake is open to boating and fishing (largemouth black bass, catfish, and crappie), and fishing from the pier or the shore does not require a license.
In addition to the many recreational possibilities available at Cedar Hill State Park, visitors can explore the Penn Farm Agricultural Penn Farm at Cedar Hill State ParkCenter to learn about local Texas history. Farming in Cedar Hill, TX stretches back to John Penn, the property’s first European settler, who came to Texas in 1854. Visitors can learn about how Texas family farms used to work and how they have changed over the previous century and a half on self-directed and guided tours of the agricultural center.
Entry Fees: $7
Timings: 6am — 10pm
Location: 1570 FM1382, Cedar Hill, TX 75104, USA
5. Hueco Tanks state historic site
Hueco Tanks, just east of El Paso, is a rock-climbing mecca. Bouldering aficionados from all over the world flock to Hueco’s “tanks,” little water-carved depressions pitting the rocks, to grab the unique hand grips provided by the small water-carved depressions pitting the rocks.
For millennia, people have been drawn to these small water catchments, with thousands of pictographs depicting dancing figures, people wearing extravagant headdresses, birds, jaguars, animals, and symbols of rain, lightning, and corn painted on the rocks. Masks or face designs are the most well-known images. More than 200 mask paintings have been identified throughout Hueco Tanks, making it the park with the most mask paintings in North America. No doubt this is one of the best state parks in Texas.
Access to Hueco Tanks is restricted due to the historical significance and fragility of rock art. To reach the North Mountain section, which is limited to 70 persons per day, visitors must make a reservation, or hire a professional guide to tour other areas of the park. The Park also offers hiking, bird watching, and camping for those who aren’t world-class rock climbers. The American Alpine Club’s Hueco Rock Ranch, which offers bunk beds and private rooms, is also close.
Entry Fees: $7
Timings: 8am — 6pm
Location: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road №1, El Paso, TX 79938, USA
6. Longhorn Cavern State Park
Undoubtedly one of the best state parks in Texas, Longhorn Cavern State Park is known for its prehistoric cavern. What’s the greatest approach to learn about this subterranean marvel’s fascinating history and geology? A tour with a guide. Tales about the cave’s use as a gunpowder manufacturing facility during the Civil War and later as a 1920s speakeasy are just as fascinating as the wall sculptures and sinkholes.
Longhorn Cavern State Park is home to some of the world’s most unique caverns. They have an interesting geologic formation and a fascinating history. On the 1.5-hour trip, get the entire experience and learn more about these formations. The cave has been used by Native American tribes, Confederate soldiers, and outlaw Sam Bass over the years, and it is now a popular tourist site free to the public to explore.
Longhorn Cavern State Park is open 364 days a year (Christmas Day is closed). Because you’ll be spending most of your time underground, the weather won’t be a factor in determining when to go. On the other hand, crowds can be a genuine pain. As a result, avoid school vacations.
Entry Fees: Free and for Walking Tour fee is $16
Timings: 9am — 6pm
Location: 6211 Park Road 4 S, Burnet, TX 78611, USA