With over 90 Texas State Parks and even more State Natural Areas to explore, the Lone Star State teems with outdoor activities, incredible adventure, and magnificent sites to see. From wildflowers and spring-fed rivers in the Texas Hill Country to the “Grand Canyon of Texas” to walking in dinosaur tracks in Glen Rose, Texas State Parks have so much to offer their visitors.
Whether you are traveling from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, or road-tripping from out of state, we have compiled our list of best state parks in Texas to make your adventuring easier.
11 Best State Parks in Texas
1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Located just outside of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle, you will find the second largest canyon in the United States. Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro State Park boasts remarkable views, as well as 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. Crowd favorites include the Lighthouse Trail and attending the Texas Outdoor Musical at the Pioneer Amphitheater, which takes place every summer.
2. Colorado Bend State Park
The 5,328.3-acre park boasts a wide variety of outdoor recreation, camping, and sacred Native sites. With over six miles of Colorado River access and over 35 miles of trails, there is no shortage of nature to explore at Colorado Bend. Discover Spicewood Springs, Gorman Falls, Gorman Springs, and the shady riverside trails. Other activities at the park include camping, kayaking, canoeing, and birdwatching.
3. Pedernales Falls State Park
Another Texas Hill Country gem, Pedernales Falls State Park, is a natural oasis just one hour west of Austin. Boasting over 5,200 acres alongside the beautiful Pedernales River, the park features rushing waterfalls that cascade over giant slabs of limestone. Visit the park to fish, swim, camp, learn, hike, bike, kayak, or watch wildlife!
4. Big Bend Ranch State Park
Situated near Big Bend National Park in West Texas near El Paso lies Big Bend Ranch State Park. This State Park presents extreme outdoor activities for those looking for a remote experience in the rugged (and hot!) desert. Steep canyons, unbeatable stargazing, the Rio Grande River, and the high-desert environment make this State Park one of a kind!
5. Dinosaur Valley State Park
One hour southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, visitors will find a rare piece of tangible history from the dinosaur age. Dinosaur Valley State Park features a unique opportunity to witness dinosaur fossils and tracks in person! Hikers can enjoy the miles of trails, kids can spend time geocaching, and dino-lovers can scour the Paluxy River bed for real-life dinosaur tracks!
6. Garner State Park
Located in a small town called Concan, this Texas State Park is nestled alongside the gorgeous Frio River and presents 1,774 acres of endless outdoor recreation. This Uvalde County park presents incredible bald cypress trees, pecan trees, marvelous vistas, and of course, the Rio Frio. Hiking trails, camping on the river, and kayaking are some of our favorite past times here.
7. Longhorn Cavern State Park
For those looking to get underground, Longhorn Cavern State Park is the adventure for you! Choose from different guided tours at this incredible place filled with deep caverns. Depending on your skill level and how hands-on you want to get, Longhorn Cavern is 100% worth the trip.
8. Monahans Sandhills State Park
Another West Texas gem, the Monahans Sandhills State Park outside of Odessa, is provided 3,840-acres of dunes over peaks, valleys, and desert geology. Explore the area by foot, horse, or rent sand disks and surf on the dunes.
9. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Nestled in the gorgeous Hill Country near the wine-centric town of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is a mind-boggling and massive rock of pink granite. You can ascend the 1,800-foot mound and take in impressive 360-degree views. This State Natural Area features rock climbing, caves to explore, camping, and miles of hiking trails.
10. Mustang Island State Park
Five miles of pristine coastline await when you visit Mustang Island State Park in Corpus Christi, Texas. Ideal activities include fishing, bird watching, and hiking at this barrier island state park. Bring a kayak and do some coastal paddling or spend time geocaching or biking.
11. Inks Lake State Park
Complete with some of the best lakeside campsites in the Texas State Park system, Inks Lake State Park is a sure bet for your summer (or year-round) getaway. This park features miles of hiking trails, wildflowers in the spring and summer, and ample opportunities for fishing and boating.
Almost Made The Cut (But Still Worth The Trip!)
– Caddo Lake State Park
– Lake Mineral Wells State Park
– Caprock Canyons State Park
– Lost Maples State Natural Area
– Guadalupe River State Park
– Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
– Brazos Bend State Park