Exploring the Lone Star State: State Parks Worth Visiting in Texas

As the second-largest state in the United States (Alaska being the first), Texas has a variety of things to offer. Within the 260,000 square mile radius, visitors can encounter a number of different regions. From the Gulf Coast, providing visitors with fun beaches to play on, to the beautiful Texas state parks with rolling hills and mountains for miles on end. To the east of Texas are the swamps and Piney Woods. To the west, you’ll discover different sceneries as you drive through this marvelous state.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas State Parks
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Needless to say, the state of Texas has it all, especially when it comes to state parks. So, whether you’re an outdoor person or a more casual person just looking for adventure, there are state parks located throughout Texas worth checking out. Each state park has its own identity and signature calling that meets travelers’ needs. What are some of the best state park to check out in Texas? Well, let’s take a look and see.

Top 3 Texas State Parks to Visit

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Big Bend Ranch State Park. Flickr: Dave Hensley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The southwest side of Texas, has always been known for its beautiful parks, and Big Bend Ranch State Park is no different. So after you’ve explored the western part of the state, be sure to check out Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Big Bend Ranch State Park is Texas’ largest state park. It makes up 238 miles of trails, and since the park includes Camino del Rio, adventurers can also go fishing. The park itself provides visitors with lots of different activities like biking, camping, and horseback riding. Visitors can even take advantage of the river and rent kayaks, or go rafting with their family. Most of the park has hills and small peaks, and these areas are perfect for climbing and hiking.

When’s the best time to go? It all depends on the activities you want to take part in. If you prefer outdoor activity, for example, then you might want to go during the warmer months. If you’re interested in hiking trails without burning up in the sun, then you’ll want to wait until later in the year. February is also a good time to go and check out the park, especially since the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Festival is hosted here.

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park is an “incredibly diverse state park that’s located near the Big Thicket,” a heavily forested area located in southeast Texas. The park itself consists of about 700 acres of forested land and is located on the banks of a 10,000-acre reservoir. With so much greenery, it should come as no surprise that the park is lined with pine trees and provides travelers with opportunities to camp or rent nearby cabins to stay in.

Outside of the park’s location, there isn’t much else for visitors to do, and because of this, the park has become a popular spot for stargazing — observing stars and planets located throughout the universe. If you take a boat out or sit around a campfire and look up, you might just see a shooting star pass you by.

Other adventure-filled activities at this park involve fishing, swimming, playing volleyball, and going hunting. If you’re traveling out of state and decide to go hunting at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, then be sure to review the state of Texas gun laws to avoid possible trouble with officers and park rangers. Remember, every state has their own laws surrounding firearms, and it’s important to abide by those rules at all time — even when you’re on vacation.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Flickr: Dave Hensley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Have you heard the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? It’s true, and the Palo Duro Canyon State Park doesn’t disappoint. Nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of Texas,” this state park is the second largest within the United States. The park extends its roots 120 miles long and 20 miles wide.

With this much land, you can always find something to do and avoid boredom. That’s because there is essentially an endless amount of activities to do when you’re visiting. For starters, there are more than 30 different trails bikers, hikers, and horseback riders can explore. During the summertime, the trails come to life thanks to the help of musical performances from local musicians.

What makes this park so amazing isn’t its size; it’s the history behind it. The park opened up in July of 1934 and contains 29,182 acres of natural beauty. The canyon itself has a maximum depth of 800 feet and was formed by water erosion. The state park, however, is still growing. That’s because wind and water erosion continues to gradually widen the canyon and expands its reach. Since the park is located in the north of Texas near Amarillo, visitors can continue exploring the city long after seeing the Grand Canyon of Texas.

With Texas being one of the biggest states in the U.S., the possibility of taking a road trip there is never too far away. Route 66, Cascade Caverns, and a number of other different places are destinations visitors can travel to. So, while you’re on these trips, be sure to search for hidden Texas treasures. This might include family-owned businesses and local restaurants found only in the Lone Star State — Texas.

About Herman Davis

H. Davis loves taking advantage of the sunny weather outside. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him out playing football with friends or cheering on the Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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