From towering peaks to hiking trails, prairies, piney woods, and beyond, the state of Texas has an incredible round-up of some of the most beautiful parks home to the United States. With breathtaking views and fun activities like horse riding, stargazing, biking, and hiking, these parks are the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise at the same time. If you’re planning a park visit anytime soon, here is a list of the top ten parks in Texas that you absolutely shouldn’t miss!
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located about two hours east of El Paso, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to Texas’ highest summit, the Guadalupe Peak. The park is an important cultural spot, attracting thousands of visitors from around the globe owing to its interesting history and breathtaking sights. The park’s history is closely tied to historical events like the Civil Rights Movement, and also it houses many geological wonders. Besides the Peak, Guadalupe Park is also known for the world’s largest fossil reefs. Some popular activities include rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping, and much more.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Also widely known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located close to Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. This park has incredible canyon views, boasting stunning landscapes as far as the eye can see. With activities like horse riding, bike riding, and hiking, the park attracts adrenaline junkies and nature fanatics from all over the country. Besides the stunning canyon, the main park road comprises several hiking trails, campgrounds, and other day-use areas. Visiting Palo Duro is a sure way to spend some quality outdoor time, with scenic views surrounding you on all sides.
Big Bend National Park
Located near the United States-Mexico border in West Texas, Big Bend National Park takes the crown for being the largest state park in Texas. With over 300,000 acres of desert terrain, the park has a range of elevated spots for stunning bird’s eye views of the gorgeous landscape. Big Bend is also known as the International Dark Sky Park, owing to the spectacular starry views the night sky offers. Popular activities include boating, camping, fishing, hiking, bike riding, horse riding, stargazing, and so much more!
Garner State Park
With over 11 miles of hiking and biking trails through the scenic landscape, Garner State Park is famous amongst backpackers, hikers, and those looking to spend some quality outdoor time. The park houses stunning panoramic views of the gorgeous landscape and is a hub for a plethora of activities. From mini-golfing to hiking, swimming, tubing, exploring, stargazing, and more, you’ll never run out of things to do at this incredible state park!
McKinney Falls State Park
At the confluence of Onion Creek and Williamson Creek, McKinney Falls is a 641-acre state park that is a popular campsite, offering a variety of activities such as hiking trails, biking, mountain climbing, and fishing, just to name a few. The park is also home to interesting wildlife and features over 80 different campsites. The main attraction, however, remains the gorgeous series of limestone ledges and pools through which the Onion Creek flows.
Colorado Bend State Park
One of the most popular tourist spots in Texas, the Colorado Bend State Park stretches over 5000 acres and is located north of Austin. The park ground includes six miles of the gorgeous Colorado River shoreline, and the park is a central hub for both land and water activities. With its many campground arrangements and facilities, it is also a great spot to spend the night under the beautiful starry sky. Visitors can also explore the Colorado Bend caves through guided tours or hike along the park’s over 30-mile long hiking and biking trails. For the more daring of the crowd, a strenuous 3-mile mountain hike leads straight to the heart of the raging Gorman Falls, recognized as one of the best waterfalls in all of Texas.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
This gorgeous park has an interesting story behind its name. When the water levels in the Paluxy River are lower, you can spot the tracks left by dinosaurs over a million years ago! For history gurus and nature fanatics alike, this park offers plenty of opportunities to learn about the different tracks and species of dinosaurs that left them behind. Besides the historical element, the park is also an excellent spot for some quality family activity time, with over 20 miles of biking and hiking trails and one swimming hole to douse off in when it gets too hot.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Situated along the banks of the Pedernales River in Blanco County, this gorgeous park stretches over 5000 acres, offering 6 miles of river frontage for activities like swimming, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and more. While the river is the central attraction, the park also has multiple scenic trails, such as the six-mile trek up Wolf Mountain or the longer trail coursing over the limestone rocks of the gushing Pedernales River.
Inks Lake State Park
This 1200-acre state park gets its name from the beautiful 800-acre Inks Lake which makes this park a popular spot for fishing, paddle-boating, scuba diving, and other exciting water sports. For visitors looking to spend the night in the open air, the Inks Lake State Park has over 200 camping arrangements, from cabins to campsites and more.
Brazos Bend State Park
Over 5000 acres of diverse wetlands and rich forests made Brazos Bend State Park a favorite amongst visitors. It is home to several different wildlife species, with the American Alligator being the most interesting out of the bunch. The park also has several trails like the Creekfield Nature Trail and the Lake Trail, providing many opportunities to explore the gorgeous woodlands and sneak in some glances of fascinating wildlife along the way!
That concludes our list of the top ten state parks in Texas. From cascading rivers to historical tracks, open-air campsites, scenic trails, and beyond, each of these parks has a distinct charm that makes them the perfect exploring spot. Whichever park you decide to visit first, we are sure you’re going to have a fantastic time!