The vast and beautiful landscapes of Texas include rugged mountains, thickly forested valleys, tranquil lakes, and rocky shorelines, much of which is protected and preserved in state parks, which are open for the public to explore and enjoy. Whether you are an avid angler, healthy hiker, or mad mountain biker, many of the parks have excellent amenities and facilities that cater for a variety of outdoor and recreational pursuits.
1.Abilene State Park
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Abilene State Park is a 529.4-acre park near Lake Abilene in Taylor County that features a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including a swimming pool, picnic shelters, camping with trailer facilities, and many hiking and mountain biking trails. Located southwest of Abilene, Abilene State Park is set within a low range of hills called the Callahan Divide and boasts wooded stream valleys, short prairie grass, brushland, and wildflowers. The region is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, armadillos, raccoons, and foxes as well as a large variety of birds, which make for excellent birdwatching, wildlife observation, and photographic opportunities.
150 Park Rd 32, Tuscola, TX 79562, Phone: 800-792-1112
2.Acton State Park
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Acton State Park is a state park in Hood County dedicated to the burial site of Elizabeth Crockett, second wife of Davy Crockett. The park, also known as the Acton State Historic Site, is situated six miles east of Granbury and contains the grave of Elizabeth Crockett as well as those of her son Robert and Robert's wife, Matilda. The park features a monument over the burial place that was erected in 1913 and is known as Texas’ smallest state park or historic site, measuring only 12 feet wide by 21 feet long, or 0.006 acres.
Granbury, TX 76049, Phone: 512-463-7948
3.Balmorhea State Park
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Balmorhea State Park is a 46-acre state park located around the San Solomon Springs in Reeves County. Established in 1968, the park is open year round and features a 1.75-acre, 3.5-million-gallon freshwater pool constructed around some natural hot springs, which constantly flow and have a temperature of between 72°F to 76°F. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1936 and 1941, the pool is 30 feet deep and attracts people who come to enjoy swimming and scuba diving in the warm waters. The park is also home to San Solomon Springs Courts, which offers overnight accommodation and camping.
9207 TX-17, Toyahvale, TX 79786, Phone: 432-375-2370
4.Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
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Located south of the city of Mission in Hidalgo County, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a 764-acre park and the current headquarters of the World Birding Center. Established in 1944 by Senator Lloyd Bentsen and his family, who donated 586 acres of land to the State Parks Board as a natural habitat, the park has grown to encompass 764 acres and is a prime area for birdwatching and butterfly watching. The park is home to over 325 species of birds and more than 250 species of butterflies, and the National Butterfly Center is located next to the park.
2800 S Bentsen Palm Dr, Mission, TX 78572, Phone: 956-584-9156
5.Big Spring State Park
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Big Spring State Park is located in Big Spring, Howard County, and is named for the natural spring that was once situated on the site. Today, the natural spring has been replaced by an artificial one, however, the 381.99-acre park still attracts crowds of visitors who come to enjoy other recreational activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, birdwatching, wildlife observation, and stargazing. A lighted group pavilion is available for special events for up to 50 people, and a seasonal interpretative center displays a selection of Native American artifacts and fossils found in the area.
1 State Park Rd 8, Big Spring, TX 79720, Phone: 432-263-4931
6.Davis Mountains State Park
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Set high in the Davis Mountains in Jeff Davis County, Davis Mountains State Park is a 2,709-acre state park with an elevation of between 5,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. The park is situated next to the Fort Davis National Historic Site and is connected by a 4-mile network of hiking and mountain biking trails. The park features an adobe motel known as the Indian Lodge, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and offers comfortable overnight accommodations. Other activities in Davis Mountains State Park include excellent birdwatching, wildlife observation, and horseback riding, with several equestrian trails in the Limpia Canyon Primitive Area.
TX-118, Fort Davis, TX 79734, Phone: 432-426-3337
7.Eisenhower State Park
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Eisenhower State Park is a 423.1-acre state park on the shores of Lake Texoma in Grayson County. Located northwest of Denison, Eisenhower State Park was opened in 1958 and is named after the 34th U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in the nearby town of Denison. The park offers a wealth of recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, waterskiing, picnicking, and camping. Several nature programs are offered throughout the year, and there are excellent birdwatching and wildlife observation around the lake. Public facilities in the park include picnic sites, campsites, children’s playgrounds, a recreation hall, an amphitheater and open-air pavilion for special events, a boat dock and lighted fishing pier, a 10-acre ATV/mini bike area, and more than 4 miles of hiking and biking trails. The park is also home to the private Eisenhower Yacht Club.
50 Park Rd 20, Denison, TX 75020, Phone: 903-465-1956
8.Fort Parker State Park
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Fort Parker State Park is a Texas state park near Mexia and close to the Limestone County seat in Groesbeck. Established in 1935 when three local landowners donated the land to the city of Mexia, the park features a 423-foot dam across the Navasota River that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps Company, who also made the park’s roads, recreational facilities, and current concession building. Fort Parker State Park boasts three popular hiking and biking trails – the 1.5-mile Springfield trail, the 5-mile Navasota River Trail, and the 2.5-mile Baines Creek Trail. The Bur Oak Trail is a 5-mile loop nature trail with an interpretive guide pamphlet available, and the Fort Parker Nature Center is open every weekend and displays information about the wildlife in the park.
194 Park Rd, Mexia, TX, Phone: 254-562-5751
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Situated on the Guadalupe River, 5 miles southeast of downtown Kerrville in Kerr County, Kerrville-Schreiner Park is a 517.2-acre developed recreational area that is home to an abundance of birds, butterflies, and wildlife. Once a state park that was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, the park was handed over to the City of Kerrville in 2004 and became a recreational area. The park features typical Hill Country landscapes, with acres of juniper, live oak, and Spanish oak populating the hills and arroyos, as well as several varieties of wildflowers. The Texas bluebonnet is one of the most plentiful and colorful of the native plants.
2385 Bandera Hwy, Kerrville, TX 78028, Phone: 830-257-5392
10.Lake Brownwood State Park
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Set on the shores of Lake Brownwood in Brown County, Lake Brownwood State Park is a state park administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is home to a diverse array of birds and wildlife. The 537.5-acre tract was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s and opened to the public in 1938, with the dam being used to control flooding along the Pecan Bayou. During the Second World War, the park was used as a recreational site for soldiers based at Camp Bowie, and today, the park features a recreation hall, picnic areas with tables and benches, fire pits, culverts, and cabins for overnight stays.
200 State Hwy Park Rd 15, Brownwood, TX 76801, Phone: 325-784-5223
11.Lake Whitney State Park
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Lake Whitney State Park is a beautiful state park situated on the south end of Lake Whitney that offers a variety of recreational facilities, including camping, picnicking, swimming, and hiking. The campsite features over 100 campsites for both tent and RV camping, modern restrooms, and plenty of shade as well as picnic tables, fire rings, and a safe swimming area. Activities in the area include hiking and mountain biking as well as swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking on Lake Whitney, which encompasses a surface area of more than 23,500 acres and 225 miles of shoreline
433 Farm to Market 1244, Whitney, TX 76692, Phone: 254-694-3793
12.Mission Tejas State Park
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Mission Tejas State Park is a 660-acre state park situated along Texas State Highway 21 in Houston County and provides year-round recreation for visitors. Established in 1935 and opened to the public in 1957, the park features several historical resources of East Texas, including a replica of the first Spanish mission in Texas and one of the oldest surviving structures in Houston County. The park is also home to a segment of the El Camino Real de Los Teja and boasts 15 developed campsites and 2 primitive camping sites, a small fishing pond, and over 4 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
120 Park Rd 44, Grapeland, TX 75844, Phone: 936-687-2394
13.Longhorn Cavern State Park
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Longhorn Cavern State Park can be found in Burnet County and based around the Longhorn Cavern, which was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Established in 1932 as a state park, Longhorn Cavern State Park is named for Longhorn Cavern, a famous limestone cave that was formed by erosive action from an underground river that receded thousands of years ago. Used over the years by various Native American tribes, Confederate soldiers, and the outlaw Sam Bass, the cave is a popular tourist attraction that is open for the public to explore.
6211 Park Road 4 S, Burnet, TX 78611, Phone: 512-715-9000
14.Palo Duro State Park
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Surrounded by the magnificent Palo Duro Canyon, a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment located in the Texas Panhandle, the Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a 29,182-acre state park that is home to some of the most scenic landscapes of the northernmost portion of the Palo Duro Canyon. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the park’s primary feature is the Palo Duro Canyon, which rests at 3,500 feet above sea level and is 120 miles long, over 20 miles wide, and has a maximum depth of more than 800 feet. The canyon is thought to be the second largest canyon in the United States. Close to the cities of Amarillo and Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a popular recreational site for visitors who come to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and soaking up the beautiful scenery.
11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015, Phone: 806-488-2227
15.San Jacinto State Park - San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
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San Jacinto State Park, more commonly known as the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, is based around the location of the Battle of San Jacinto and the USS Texas. Located off the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County, the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site tells the story of the significant battle and the role it played in the history of Texas and the United States. Due to its historical, national, and international significance, the battleground has National Historic Landmark status and is a state park. The 1,200-acre site was established to commemorate the battle and to preserve the battleground on which Texan troops achieved the independence of Texas by defeating the Mexican Army in 1836 under the leadership of General Sam Houston.
3523 Independence Pkwy, La Porte, TX 77571, Phone: 281-479-2431
16.Stephen F Austin State Park
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Stephen F. Austin State Park is a state park on and around the banks of the Brazos River in San Felipe, Austin County. Located just west of Houston, the 663.3-acre park opened to the public in 1940 and offers a variety of recreational activities as well as the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, which honors the region’s rich past. Once the site of the township of San Felipe, which was the seat of government of the Anglo-American colonies in Texas, the park is named for Stephen F. Austin, who brought nearly 300 families here to settle and colonize Texas. The town was later burned to the ground before an advancing Mexican army. Stephen F. Austin State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and mountain biking trails and a public golf course as well as excellent birdwatching and lush riparian landscapes.
Park Rd 38, San Felipe, TX 77473, Phone: 979-885-3613
17.Monahans Sand Hills State Park
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Set in the southern Llano Estacado in Ward and Winkler Counties, Monahans Sandhills State Park is a 3,840-acre state park that is renowned for its impressive sand dunes, which reach up to heights of 70 feet. Although it boasts desert-like landscapes, Monahans Sandhills State Park features a semi-arid ecosystem with unique fauna and flora, such as the local climax shrub called the shinoak, which only grows to a full height of 4 feet. Wildlife includes a variety of rodents and several packs of Sandhills coyotes, and recreational activities in the park range from sandboarding and sand football to sand surfing and sand tobogganing.
2500 E Interstate 20 Exit 86, Monahans, TX 79756, Phone: 432-943-2092
18.Lake Corpus Christi State Park
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Lake Corpus Christi State Park is located on Lake Corpus Christi, southwest of Mathis in San Patricio County and is home to a diverse variety of fauna and flora. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps Company 886 in the mid-1930s, the park featured several buildings, including a park residence, a bathhouse, a boat house, and a refectory, which is all that now remains. There is a lookout tower in the park, several bridges, and a variety of landscapes ranging from brushlands, woodlands, and wetlands to the aquatic ecosystem of the lake itself. Lake Corpus Christi State Park is a popular destination for fishing and birdwatching, with several species of both animals calling the park home.
23194 Park Rd 25, Mathis, TX 78368, Phone: 361-547-2635
19.Jim Hogg State Park
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Jim Hogg State Park is a 178.4-acre state park east of Rusk in Cherokee County. Opened to the public in 1941, the park features an array of fauna and flora, including forests of East Texas pines and other native shrubs and bushes along with squirrels, deer, and many species of birds. Jim Hogg State Park also features a memorial to the state's first native-born governor, James Stephen Hogg, who, during his term as state attorney general and governor, revolutionized state government and private business by strengthening law enforcement and promoting fair business practices.
500 Jim Hogg Rd, Georgetown, TX 78633, Phone: 512-930-5253
20.Galveston Island State Park
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Located on the western part of Galveston Island on the west side of the Gulf Coast of Texas, Galveston Island State Park is a Texas state park that was established to protect 2,013-acres of beaches, dunes, estuaries, and wetlands that are home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. Constructed in 1975 and located next to the city of Galveston in Galveston County, the park is home to a wealth of habitats, ranging from beaches, dunes and coastal prairie to wetlands, bayous, freshwater ponds, and bay shorelines, and offers excellent scenery and wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and camping.
14901 Farm to Market 3005, Galveston, TX 77554, Phone: 409-737-1222
21.Falcon State Park
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Falcon State Park is a 572.6-acre state park at the southern end of the International Falcon Reservoir, which spans 98,960 acres in the Starr and Zapata Counties and offers a wealth of recreational activities and outdoor fun. Opened to the public in 1965, the park features gently rolling hills and beautiful landscapes and is home to the Falcon Dam, which is packed with black and white bass, catfish, and stripers and promises excellent fishing. Other activities in and around the park include hiking, mountain biking, swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and birdwatching.
146 Park Rd 46, Roma, TX 78584, Phone: 956-848-5327
22.Possum Kingdom State Park
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Nestled in the Palo Pinto Mountains and Brazos River Valley in Palo Pinto County, Possum Kingdom State Park is a 1,530-acre state park that borders the vast Possum Kingdom Lake, which is renowned for its crystal blue waters. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940s, the park’s central feature is the massive 20,000-acre lake, which winds for 65 miles down the Brazos River and boasts more than 300 miles of shoreline. Possum Kingdom State Park attracts visitors for boating, camping, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and hiking as well as scout groups who enjoy summer camps on the shores of the lake.
3901 St Park Rd 33, Caddo, TX 76429, Phone: 940-549-1803
22 Best Texas State Parks
- Abilene State Park, Photo: Courtesy of trongnguyen - Fotolia.com
- Acton State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Paul Wolf - Fotolia.com
- Balmorhea State Park, Photo: Courtesy of tiva48 - Fotolia.com
- Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Ivan Kuzmin - Fotolia.com
- Big Spring State Park, Photo: Courtesy of fotocinema - Fotolia.com
- Davis Mountains State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Eisenhower State Park, Photo: Courtesy of porqueno - Fotolia.com
- Fort Parker State Park, Photo: Courtesy of ajamils - Fotolia.com
- Kerrville-Schreiner Park, Photo: Courtesy of Olga Ionina - Fotolia.com
- Lake Brownwood State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Sergej - Fotolia.com
- Lake Whitney State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Maggie Claire - Fotolia.com
- Mission Tejas State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Evgeny - Fotolia.com
- Longhorn Cavern State Park, Photo: Courtesy of westtexasfish - Fotolia.com
- Palo Duro State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Irina K. - Fotolia.com
- San Jacinto State Park - San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of st_matty - Fotolia.com
- Stephen F Austin State Park, Photo: Courtesy of fotocinema - Fotolia.com
- Monahans Sand Hills State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Irina K. - Fotolia.com
- Lake Corpus Christi State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Jeff - Fotolia.com
- Jim Hogg State Park, Photo: Courtesy of fotocinema - Fotolia.com
- Galveston Island State Park, Photo: Courtesy of ShyLama Productions - Fotolia.com
- Falcon State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Hummingbird Art - Fotolia.com
- Possum Kingdom State Park, Photo: Courtesy of niki_alex - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Jim - Fotolia.com