Situated right at the border with Mexico, Texas offers a diverse climate and a landscape that never stops impressing. Choosing only the 10 most visited state parks in Texas is almost impossible for those who truly love nature. But if your time is limited, you need to lay your eyes on Palo Duro and Hueco Tanks State Park. Here are the state parks that you should also prioritize while visiting Texas.
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10. Longhorn Cavern State Park
Texas might be a large state with plenty to offer but many imagine visiting its rugged limestone terrains seen on postcards. They can be admired in the Longhorn Cavern State Park, among other areas. But this park is different as it also allows you to visit limestone caves. These underground areas are perfect even to escape the high summer heat as they maintain a constant temperature of around 68F throughout the year.
9. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock is one of the few natural areas of Texas steeped in legend. Its large rocks that sit on top of a hill are responsible for local legends due to the sounds they make when they contract and expand due to the changing temperature. The area is popular with rock climbers but you can also come here to camp. While you can’t sleep in an RV, you may want to get a local Austin-based guide to take you around the short trails around these rocks which are some of the oldest on the planet.
8. Padre Island National Seashore
There are 2 main reasons to go to Padre Island, birds, and turtles. Rare migratory birds find their home here during the summer. Researchers say there are more than 300 birds that come on the beaches of Padre Island. One of the reasons is that the area is fully protected, unlike much of the Gulf of Mexico shores in Texas. You may also want to see rare Kemp ridley sea turtles here as they come from the surrounding ocean area to lay their eggs right on the white sand beaches of Padre Island.
7. Monahans Sandhills State Park
If you’re interested in a desert climate, you can check it out at the Monahans Sandhills State Park. There are rarely any trails here since the sand dunes shift overnight. However, the park’s authorities let you sleep here overnight which can be an interesting experience. Those who decide to explore the park themselves can do so without going in any particular direction since there are no trails. If you decide to try sand surfing, this can also be an interesting location as long as you bring plenty of water bottles.
6. Caprock Canyons State Park
There’s something to do in every state park in Texas. Rock climbing and mountain biking are in the spotlight at the Caprock Canyons State Park. The dry rugged terrain here is also suitable for hikers who need to stay on the trails if they decide to camp here. Otherwise, most people visiting the park head to the old railway which is over 60 miles long and which can be the only converted trail to follow which leads you through various tunnels in the state.
5. Davis Mountain State Park
Davis Mountain State Park is the right destination if you like to be on higher grounds. With a considerable elevation compared to the Big Bend National Park, it offers a serious workout for hikers. Right at the heart of the park is where you find other trekkers visiting the Indian Lodge which has now been completely renovated. But for the best views of the main park attractions you need to go to the Skyline Drive Trail.
4. Pedernales Falls State Park
Swimming, camping, and mountain biking are the main activities outdoor lovers find at the Pedernales Falls State Park. Given its Austin proximity, the state park is normally packed with hikers. But during the summer months, you’ll also want to join the crowds to cool off in splendid rivers. If you love mountain biking or gravel riding, you can take your bike to the Juniper Ridge Trail.
3. Big Bend Ranch State Park
You can travel to Presidio to begin your Big Bend Ranch State Park visit. This is the largest park in the state of Texas with a total surface of over 300,000 acres. There are many terrains to explore here and given the large area of the park, it’s mostly recommended for small groups of experienced hikers or mountain bikers. You can also fish and camp here in designated locations. You may even want to return during the winter for hiking the high elevation areas of the park as the temperatures are mild during the day.
2. Colorado Bend State Park
Colorado Bend State Park borders the Colorado River. It offers attractions both on water and on land, offering one of the most memorable natural beauty selections in the state. Among the things you can see here that you’ll never forget we mention the Gorman Falls. With a combination of spring-sourced water and plenty of green vegetation, these falls look almost as if they’re not in Texas. However, you should be ready to hike at least a few miles to reach the remote Gorman Falls.
1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the main attraction of those who love canyons and who can’t reach the Grand Canyon. It’s a place like no other and thanks to the same Civilian Conservation Corps (responsible for mapping out roads in almost all Texas state parks) you can descend on a clearly-marked path to the bottom of the canyon.
We also recommend visiting the place during the summer where you can enjoy a unique outdoor music festival. Given its accessible nature, it tends to attract all types of events such as group photography hiking, and group mountain bike exploration trips. If you want a more traditional experience you can also book a place for a group horse riding canyon visit with your friends or family.