Texas is full of parks, ranging from state and national parks to recreation areas to historic sites. Both visitors and local residents alike can find an urban oasis, forests, historical parks, expansive desert, and even the state’s very own “Grand Canyon.” These parks are full of a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities and adventures, as well as beautiful natural wonders.
1.Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established to protect the most extensive Permian fossil reef in the world, a diverse collection of fauna and flora, the four highest mountain peaks in the state of Texas, and stories of lives that were shaped by survival, cooperation, and conflict. Visitors can experience canyons and mountains, dunes and desert, breathtaking vistas and clear night skies in a unique place within the National Park System. The park contains more than eighty miles of trails for hiking, providing nature walks that range from easy walks among desert flora to more moderate and strenuous hikes.
2.Big Bend National Park
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Big Bend National Park is located in Far West Texas, a place where rivers carve canyons out of ancient limestone and night skies are as dark as coal. Hundreds of different species of birds take refuge in the mountain range where the road ends, surrounded by a weather-beaten desert. Over one hundred miles of roads throughout the park highlight the stunning vistas of Big Bend National Park and invite visitors to marvel at the area’s geological splendor, view the impressive diversity of wildlife and plants that call the area home, and think about how the early settlers of the land lived.
3.Caddo Lake State Park
The Caddo Lake State Park provides a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors, such as boating, geocaching, camping, picnicking, hiking, paddling, and fishing. Guests can choose to stay overnight in the park at one of the forty-six campsites that range from only water to full hookup campsites or a screened shelter, or rent one of the park’s historic cabins, ranging from two-person to six-person cabins. ADA accessible cabins are available as well. Visitors can also bring their own kayak or canoe, or rent one, and explore over fifty miles of paddling trails, exploring the turns and twists of Caddo Lake.
245 Park Rd 2, Karnack, TX 75661, Phone: 903-679-3351
4.Cedar Hill State Park
The Cedar Hill State Park is great to visit for just a day or an entire weekend, providing a place for families and friends to view nature, geocache, camp, picnic, ride bikes, or go hiking. The state park is located on the shores of Joe Pool Lake, offering opportunities for paddling, boating, fishing, and swimming. Cedar Hill State Park features a campground with 350 developed campsites, all of which are situated near restrooms that include hot showers. All campsites contain electricity and water and 150 include sewer hookups. Visitors can also hike to primitive campsites when the trails are open.
1570 West FM 1382, Cedar Hill, TX 75104, Phone: 972-291-3900
5.Daingerfield State Park
The Daingerfield State Park provides visitors with opportunities for recreation on both land and water. The park offers land activities in abundance, such as camping, having a picnic, studying nature, geocaching, birding, and hiking. The eighty-acre lake provides fishing, paddling, boating, and swimming. Hiking trails include the 2.4-mile Rustling Leaves Trail, which offers an easy hike surrounding the lake, and the Mountain View Trail, a slightly more difficult, 1.2-mile hike to the park’s highest point. Campers can choose from basic tent campsites, full hookup campsites, and historic cabins. Daingerfield State Park also features a boat ramp and fishing pier.
455 Park Rd 17, Daingerfield, TX 75638, Phone: 903-645-2921
6.Fort Boggy State Park
The Fort Boggy State Park offers an array of recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy, such as mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and swimming. The state park contains a boat ramp and the lake, which encompasses fifteen acres, is open to kayaks, canoes, and small boats. Visitors can stay overnight in Fort Boggy State Park in of the cabins. A group pavilion can also be rented out for day use, and fishing equipment can be rented for visitor use as well. Ranger programs offer a wide variety of opportunities for education and fun for children.
4994 Highway 75 South, Centerville, TX 75833, Phone: 903-344-1116
7.Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway
The Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway is located in the heart of Texas cattle country, approximately forty-five minutes from Fort Worth, and boasts spectacular scenery and history. Visitors can also find recreation activities on the lake, trails that extend for miles, and an area for rock climbing. The trails in the park vary from easy to difficult, from scenic Cross Timbers trails to lakeside trails. The Trailway is twenty miles in length with gentle curves and flat grades. The Trailway and much of the park’s trails are accessible to hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers.
100 Park Rd 71, Mineral Wells, TX 76067, Phone: 940-328-1171
8.Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway
The Lake Somerville State Park is made up of four different units. Birch Creek and Nails Creek are on the north and southwest sides of Lake Somerville, respectively. The slightly more than thirteen-mile Trailway connects these two areas. Also on the shores of the lake is the Somerville Public Hunting Land. Nails Creek and Birch Creek provide lake access for swimming, paddling, boating, and fishing. On land, visitors can go mountain biking, hiking, camping, have a picnic, play volleyball or horseshoes, and much more. The trail throughout the Lake Sommerville State Park encompass a total of almost forty miles.
14222 Park Rd 57, Somerville, TX 77879, Phone: 979-535-7763
9.Lockhart State Park
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The Lockhart State Park offers an opportunity to camp beneath the stars, play a round of golf on a historic golf course, or look for wildlife and geocaches along the trails. Visitors can try their luck with fishing throughout the year in the Clear Fork Creek, swim in the park’s pool during the summer months, and buy a souvenir at the park store. The Persimmon Trail is a short, but rather challenging hiking trail, while the Clear Fork Trail is on the easy side and offers views of wildlife, plants, and the creek. Campsites with electricity and water or full hookups are available.
2012 State Park Rd, Lockhart, TX 78644, Phone: 512-398-3479
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10.Meridian State Park
The Meridian State Park is a somewhat small state park, but still offers plenty to do. Lake Meridian, encompassing seventy-two acres, offers visitors with waters to go paddling on, drop a fishing line, or do some swimming. Back on land, recreation opportunities include camping overnight, look for wildlife, exploring the five miles of trails, enjoying a picnic lunch, or discovering historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps more than eighty years ago. The Bosque Hiking Trail is a little over two miles and circles the lake, traveling past scenic overlooks and limestone outcroppings. The Ridge Trail is wheelchair accessible.
173 Park Road #7, Meridian, TX 76665, Phone: 254-435-2536
11.Mother Neff State Park
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The Mother Neff State Park is located along the banks of the Leon River in a scenic part of Texas southwest from Waco. One of the first state parks of Texas, Mother Neff is named after Isabella Neff, who donated six acres in 1921 for the park. Visitors can come to unwind, observe nature, geocache, camp, have a picnic, and hike. Due to the conditions of the river, fishing and swimming are not permitted. The visitor center houses interactive displays with information about the area and its history. The camping loop fifteen tent sites and twenty full hookup sites.
1680 TX-236 Highway, Moody, TX 76557, Phone: 254-853-2389
12.Mustang Island State Park
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The Mustang Island State Park features over five miles of scenic coastline, providing ample space for visitors to have fun in the sunshine. The barrier island park offers a beach for people to build sand castles, surf, or swim, while the rest of the state park provides opportunities for camping, bird watching, geocaching, kayaking, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The campground at Mustang Island State Park includes fifty primitive drive-up campsites and forty-eight electric and water campsites. The campsites with electricity and water are located about one-third of a mile from the park’s beach.
Port Aransas, TX 78373, Phone: 361-749-5246
13.Alibates Flint Quarries
The Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument was a well known site even more than thirteen thousand years ago, used a place for mammoth hunted to find the best stones for tools. While centuries have gone by, the colorful flint of the Texas panhandle still retains its usefulness and value. Visitors can come and explore the Alibates Flint Quarries was gain an understanding of how integral the site was to the culture, commerce, and survival of the High Plains. Open daily, the Alibates Visitor Center offers an array of activities for both children and adults, including self-guided trails, museum exhibits, and more.
Cassjohnson Road, Fritch, TX 79036, Phone: 806-857-6680
14.Amistad National Recreation Area
The Amistad National Recreation Area is an oasis in the middle of the desert and includes a portion of the International Amistad Reservoir. The name “Amistad” is the Spanish word for “friendship.” The recreation area is known best for its great water-based recreational activities, as well as for having a rich cultural history, rock art viewing, hiking, and camping. The Amistad National Recreation Area is home to five primitive campgrounds that can be used on a “first come, first serve” basis. There are also three group campsites. A number of established hiking trails are accessible to visitors as well.
4121 Veterans Blvd, Del Rio, TX 78840, Phone: 830-775-7491
15.Bastrop State Park
The Bastrop State Park is located just a little over thirty miles east from the city of Austin, Texas. Visitors can look for glimpses of wildlife, join a nature program, geocache, fish, hike, ride bikes, swim, picnic, camp, and more. Guests can stay overnight in the park in one of the historic cabins or at a campsite, which range from tent campsites to RV sites with full hookups. There are also group barracks with space for tents, dorms, and a group hall. Bastrop State Park features a trail network of around seven miles and the half-acre Lake Mina.
100 Park Rd 1A, Bastrop, TX 78602, Phone: 512-321-2101
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The Big Thicket National Preserve is home to a wide variety of life and protects this diversity of plant and animal life where several habitats meet within southeast Texas. Waterways and around forty miles of hiking trails wind through the national preserve’s nine different ecosystem, ranging from cypress-lined bayous to longleaf pine forests. The Big Thicket National Preserve makes for a good place to explore by kayak or canoe, with several miles of river, bayous, and creeks to float down. A number of access points offer a variety of trip options for all levels of experience for paddlers.
6044 FM 420, Kountze, TX 77625, Phone: 409-951-6800
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The Chamizal National Memorial is open to visitors seven days a week and is conveniently situated within central El Paso. The climate of the Chihuahuan Desert provides the area with numerous days of great weather that allow visitors to enjoy outdoor activities. Popular outdoor activities include biking, jogging, and walking, particularly among local residents. Trails are hard-packed with gravel and wide, cover a majority of the 55 acres of the park. The Cultural Center at Chamizal houses galleries and exhibits for guests to explore and learn more about the area. A short film can be seen in the center’s mini theater.
800 South San Marcial St, El Paso, TX 79905, Phone: 915-532-7273
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The Fort Davis National Historic Site is one of the finest examples that still remain of a frontier military post during from the Indian Wars in the Southwest. Between the years of 1854 and 1891, the fort was located strategically to protect freight wagons, mail coaches, and emigrants on the Trans-Peco part of the San Antonio-El Paso Road, as well as one the Chihuahua Trail. It’s recommended that guests stop by the visitor center and museum at Fort Davis first, which shows a fifteen-minute film about the fort’s history. The site contains five restored buildings and around 100 foundations and ruins.
Fort Davis , TX 79734, Phone: 432-426-3224
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19.Atlanta State Park
The Atlanta State Park offers birding, camping, fishing, and more in the scenic northeastern region of Texas. Sitting on the shore of Wright Patman Lake, the park provides a place for water skiing, boating, fishing, and a designated area for swimming. Other recreational activities possible at the Atlanta State Park include hiking along shorelines, trails and roads, geocaching, picnicking, camping, nature studying, and bird watching. The state park contains two boat ramps and a station for fish cleaning, as well as a campground that consists of fifty-eight campsites. Each campsite offers electricity and water, and fourteen contain sewer hookups.
927 Park Rd 42, Atlanta, TX 75551, Phone: 903-796-6476
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The Lake Meredith National Recreation Area exists on land that early humans once lived among the hidden coves. The hidden oasis is located within the windswept and dry high plains of the state’s Panhandle region, and offers a haven for both humans and wildlife from the dry grasslands. Lake Meredith includes various camping opportunities for visitors to use, such as wooded campgrounds, shoreline camping, and scenic overlooks. There are also some RV campsites available for a fee that can be reserved. Other campsites are available first-come, first-served. One of the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area’s most popular activities is boating.
Fritch, TX, Phone: 806-857-3151
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21.Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
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The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park share the story of America’s thirty-sixth president, starting with his ancestors through to his final resting place at the LBJ Ranch. The complete “circle of life” provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind perspective into one of the most noteworthy citizens of the United States, offering the most complete look at any president of the United States. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is made up of a visitor center and several historic areas, including Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home, the Johnson Settlement, and the beloved LBJ Ranch, each offering a different look his life.
100 Ladybird Lane, Johnson City, TX 78636, Phone: 830-868-7128
22.Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is the site of the battle between Mexican and U.S. troops on May 8th of 1846 on the Palo Alto prairie. This was the first battle in a war that would last for two years that changed the North American map. The historical park preserves this site and provides visitors with an understanding of the United States-Mexican War and its causes, consequences, and events. It’s recommended that people begin their visit to the site at the visitor center, where they can pick up a trail guide and park brochure.
7200 Paredes Line Rd, Brownsville, TX 78526, Phone: 956-541-2785
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23.Padre Island National Seashore
The Padre Island National Seashore acts as a divider between the Laguna Madre, one of the world’s few hypersaline lagoons, and the Gulf of Mexico. This park preserves approximately seventy miles of wind tidal flats, prairies, dunes, and coastline. The Padre Island National Seashore is also a nesting ground for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, as well as a safe habitat for more than 380 different species of birds. The area boasts a rich history that includes the 1554 shipwrecks of Spanish ships as well. There are two developed campground available for visitors to stay overnight, one Laguna-side and one Gulf-side.
20420 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418, Phone: 361-949-8068
24.San Antonio Missions
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is made up of several different missions, including Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose, that people fled to during the early 1700’s to escape drought, deadly diseases, and Apache raids. These people essentially gave up their traditional ways of life and basically became Spanish. Mission Concepcion is America’s oldest unrestored stone church, a National Historic Landmark in itself, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mission San Jose is the San Antonio area’s largest mission, which was nearly completely restored during the 1930’s. The site provides more of a complete mission complex picture.
2202 Roosevelt Ave, San Antonio, TX 78210, Phone: 210-932-1001
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Weighing as much as twenty thousand pounds and standing up to fourteen feet, the Columbian mammoths once roamed the land that is now the state of Texas thousands of years in the past. The Waco Mammoth National Monument preserves the fossil specimens that represent not only the first, but only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of Columbian mammoths from the Ice Age. Guided tours of the Waco Mammoth National Monument’s Dig Shelter start at the Welcome Center before heading three hundred yards to the Dig site. These tours are available every thirty minutes and last around forty-five to sixty minutes.
6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waco, TX 76708, Phone: 254-750-7946
25 Best Texas State & National Parks
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Photo: PhotoElite/stock.adobe.com
- Big Bend National Park, Photo: Alizada Studios/stock.adobe.com
- Caddo Lake State Park, Photo: DIIMSA.com/stock.adobe.com
- Cedar Hill State Park, Photo: aphotostory/stock.adobe.com
- Daingerfield State Park, Photo: kitty45/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Boggy State Park, Photo: Sweetheart/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway, Photo: Brandon/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway, Photo: kitty45/stock.adobe.com
- Lockhart State Park, Photo: Hundley Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Meridian State Park, Photo: Thomas/stock.adobe.com
- Mother Neff State Park, Photo: William C. Bunce/stock.adobe.com
- Mustang Island State Park, Photo: Terry Walsh Photo/stock.adobe.com
- Alibates Flint Quarries, Photo: exelentz/stock.adobe.com
- Amistad National Recreation Area, Photo: st_matty/stock.adobe.com
- Bastrop State Park, Photo: lekcha/stock.adobe.com
- Big Thicket, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Chamizal, Photo: NPS Photo
- Fort Davis, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Atlanta State Park, Photo: zephyr_p/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Meredith, Photo: javarman/stock.adobe.com
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Photo: NPS Photo
- Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, Photo: James/stock.adobe.com
- Padre Island National Seashore, Photo: st_matty/stock.adobe.com
- San Antonio Missions, Photo: cuttsnaturephoto/stock.adobe.com
- Waco Mammoth, Photo: NPS Photo
- Cover Photo: Derrick Neill/stock.adobe.com