Texas is a big state and this means lots of land for beautiful state parks, over 90 to be exact. Here you can marvel at some of the state’s most stunning natural wonders and enjoy an array of outdoor adventures. While there are many gorgeous state parks in the Lone Star State to choose from, these are our top picks for those you definitely want to see at least once in your lifetime.
Lovingly termed the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” this park is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. There are over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, and the land is some of the most beautiful you will ever see. Photos don’t do justice to this otherworldly landscape.
West Texas feels like a state of its own. It’s tranquil and remote, separated from the rest of the grand state. This park highlights the very best of west Texas, with jaw-dropping mountain views. It’s one of the best parks for camping, stargazing in an unobstructed sky, free of city light interference, and brushing up on your history at nearby Fort Davis.
With 238 miles of multi-use trails, a great view of the rugged terrain, swimming, rafting, canoeing from the Rio Grande and picturesque views of the night sky, Big Bend Ranch State Park holds its own next to the other state parks on this list.
Just east of Big Bend State Park lies another can’t-miss Texas state destination, Seminole Canyon. At this park, you can also find Fate Bell Shelter, one of the oldest cave dwellings on the continent. You can see the Rio Grande, take in the views at the Presa Canyon Overlook, and much more.
Garner State Park is the ideal stop for outdoor activities and a top attraction in the Texas Hill Country. With over 11 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails, swimming holes, tubing down the Frio River, and even mini-golf, it’s easy to spend an entire day at this park. Drop in during the summer months, you can’t beat that time of year for stargazing.
Colorado Bend State Park has an impressive 32+ miles of beautiful trails, but any hike at this park isn’t finished until you pay a visit to Gorman Falls. Wild Cave Tours reveals what’s underneath the park, and educates visitors on its geology and history.
A popular day trip from Dallas, Dinosaur Valley State Park has more than earned its name. When the water in the Paluxy River is low enough, you can see imprints of dinosaur tracks left millions of years ago. There are maps laying out the five main track site areas in the park, with explanations of species that left them. There are more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, and one pristine swimming hole.
At Lost Maples State Natural Area you can observe the park’s unique, namesake Bigtooth Maples. Plan your visit in the fall season, since the unique, bright colors of the trees is a real sight to see. It’s easily one of the best places in Texas for fall foliage.
Located under an hour from Fort Worth, there is a lot of recreation opportunity at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, making it a popular summer getaway. You can bike, hike, or take a horseback ride on the 12.8 miles of park trails. You can go rock climbing, swim at the lake, or boating and fishing, and you can camp at the campsites.
Guadalupe River is big, beautiful and iconic in Texas. Here you will find four miles of river running through the park so you can swim, kayak, fish or go tubing. There are also scenic views and more to enjoy.
The caverns at Longhorn Cavern State Park are some of the most unique caverns in the world. They have an amazing history and interesting geologic formations. Get the full experience and learn more about these formations on the 1.5-hour tour.
There are a variety of trails to choose from at Pedernales Falls State Park. One such trail sends you six miles up Wolf Mountain, and another that journeys across the limestone rocks of the Pedernales River. While you certainly can’t see it all in one visit, you’ll be glad for the excuse to return.
A top attraction in Fredericksburg is the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Popular among hikers, campers, and climbers, Enchanted Rock received its name from the pink granite “dome” that rises up 425 feet (1,825 above sea level). Hiking up the rock dome is a must-do while here, however visitors to the park also bird watch and stargaze too.
Monahans Sandhills State Park is a West Texas park that is home to gorgeous sand dunes that rise up to 70 feet. Visitors to Monahans Sandhills State Park can explore the dunes on foot or even rent a sandboard for sand surfing and sand sledding. There are no marked trails in the park or through the dunes, so you’re free to explore the landscape as you will. Campsites are available for an affordable nightly fee. Avoid visiting the dunes during the summer, when the sandy dunes heat up due to high daytime temperatures.
Just an hour and a half away from Palo Duro State Park is another Texas state park that boasts gorgeous scenery, Caprock Canyons State Park. This state park is perfect for backpackers and hikers, as there are over 90 miles of trails in the trail system here. The orange cliffs and lush canyons remind visitors of Palo Duro but without as many crowds. If you’re visiting during the summer months, take a dip in Caprock Canyons’ Lake Theo.
Caddo Lake State Park is an East Texas state park that offers you a chance to camp by the water. Instead of hiking through this park, visitors to Caddo Lake State Park explore the area by canoe or kayak. Boat through the swampy landscape, full of cypress trees and Spanish moss. The waterway trails are a great way to experience Caddo Lake; you may even spot an alligator! Home to Texas’ only natural lake, visiting this state park is truly a bucket list experience.
The hiking trails and prehistoric pictographs are what make this El Paso state park great. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is just another West Texas park that is worth a visit. Camping, rock climbing, and hiking are popular activities here. Rock climbers from all over the country flock here to climb. However, you don’t want to visit Hueco Tanks without seeing the cave art, especially the famous mask and face pictures. Hueco Tanks is actually home to the largest mask paintings in the country with over 200 found in the park. Due to the historical significance of the park, visitors must make a reservation to visit parts of the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.
There’s no better way to spend a summer day in Texas than at Mustang Island State Park. A barrier island stretching between Port Aransas and Corpus Christi, this coastal park offers five miles of beachfront where visitors can swim, fish, surf, camp and birdwatch. This Texas state park is home to nearly 100 campsites. Along with enjoying the beach, visitors can also kayak the Mustang Island Paddling Trail.
The clear and gorgeous water of Devils River draws visitors to Devils River State Natural Area. Found in Del Rio, this state park is one of the more remote parks on this list. Enjoy the river landscape by canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. However, hiking and mountain biking are also popular activities here too. Devils River is a spring-fed river and is known as one of the healthiest rivers in the Lone Star State.
If you’re looking for a great state park to go boating or swimming, Inks Lake State Park in Burnet is for you. Since the park is only an hour away from Austin, it’s a great day trip for those in Texas’ capital city. The area of Inks Lake known as Devil’s Waterhole offers stunning cliff views and plenty of rocky outcrops for cliff jumping. Inks Lake State Park is only a few miles from another gorgeous Texas state park on this list, Longhorn Cavern State Park.