From soaring mountains and captivating caves to huge canyons and unbelievable sand dunes, Texas is a state loaded with unparalleled natural beauty. Every sightseeing destination here is captivating—they won’t be easy to forget! If you’re visiting Texas or a long-time resident but wanting to explore, here are the 13 state parks you must explore to understand how magnificent the place is.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located 60 miles North of Van Horn, you will be able to witness the tallest mountain peak of Texas. It sits gracefully at a height of 8,749 feet, which will allow you get a panoramic view of Texas in a way you have never seen before—the view from the top is simply mesmerizing. There are eight-mile hiking treks of varying difficulty. Luckily, since trekking is not a sport for everyone, others have the freedom to bird watch or take a backpack on a short walk.
There are campsites in the park and at nearby hotels.
Blanco State Park
Blanco State Park, about an hour from both Austin and San Antonio, features an underestimated swimming option: the Blanco River. The flow of the serene blue waters begins in the middle of the park, which eventually turns into multiple waterfalls that pour over the dam. On a hot summer day, this destination is ideal for a swim; whereas in the winter, you can fish, geocache, or just camp out for the weekend. There are hiking trails along the river as well.
There are campsites in the park and hotels nearby. Blanco State Park is open 24/7. Entry costs $4 per adult for the day. Pets are allowed.
Caprock Canyons State Park
Do you want to roam around humongous, rocky, orange and red canyons? If so, Caprock Canyons State Park has a lot to offer, southeast of Amarillo. You will be able to see the flat lands of Texas transform into meandering and beautiful canyons. Apart from the canyons, you can go mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, and feel like you are the star of a western film.
There are campsites for families at the park.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
The place you need to be in when nights are longer, leaves are changing colors, and the chilly breeze is lingering is Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool—about an hour’s drive southwest from Kerrville, home of the Kerrville Folk Festival. Here, you can hike alongside the gorgeous limestone of Edwards Plateau and take a stroll along the bubbling water of the Sabinal River that is surrounded by red and bright orange fallen leaves.
To make the most of it, you can rent out the park cabins or stay at nearby hotels.
Old Tunnel State Park
Old Tunnel State Park is a mecca for bat lovers. Apart from being the smallest state park of Texas, it has a cave that was built in 1913 by the residents of Fredericksburg for a quicker trade route. In 2012, this deserted railroad was rediscovered, and it had becomehome for 3 million bats. The park opens all night from May to October for visitors to see bats. There is a short trail as well to see other wildlife.
There are campsites at the park.
Brazos Bend State Park
Also known as the “The Home of the American Alligator,” you can get a close view of multiple gators. This State Park is home to different ecosystems like swamps, coastal prairies, forests, and wetlands. There is a variety of animals at the park, including Armadillos and the American Alligators. There are also guided and self-guided tours that allow you to see wildlife and learn about it.
This park has campsites and cabins.
Caddo Lake State Park
Located in Caddo Lake State Park is Caddo Lake, known to be an “eerily beautiful” sight of Texas. However, do not come with the expectation of seeing open lake water or blue skies; this lake is more of a swamp that is alongside Cypress Bayou. Here, you can see tall Bald Cypress Trees and swampy backlands. The view is unforgettable. Apart from its beauty, this lake is great for paddling, fishing, and witnessing East Texan wildlife. Take a guided tour in a simple motorboat to get an up-close experience and some history of the area.
There are cabins and hotels nearby at which you can stay very comfortably.
Read More: Top 10 Campgrounds & RV Parks in Texas
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The second largest canyon of the US is located in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. This park has rocky roads that go all the way down to 800 feet and meet rivers and canyons. There are more than 30 trails in this park designated for biking, horseback riding, and hiking. The colorful canyons contain a diverse range of wildlife, including the Palo Duro mouse. While you are there, make sure you visit the Lighthouse rock formation!
There are cabins and lodging areas at the park.
Big Bend National Park
Located on the Northern side of the Chihuahuan Desert and next to the Mexican border near Terlingua, is Big Bend National Park. Chisos Mountains are featured here and they have the tallest point, Emory Peak, which stands up to 8000 feet. This park has many famous sights like the Balanced Rock or the Santa Elena Canyon (limestone canyon). In addition to these sights, there is space for mountain biking, backpacking, and hiking.
This park has campsites and lodging areas.
Longhorn Cavern State Park
The cave came into existence because of an underground river, which means the cave, today, has carved smooth stone. There is a room full of multi-colored crystals. This state park has fascinating human history as well. There are Indian tribal council rooms, a church, a speakeasy, and much more. The legend says that Sam Bass buried his treasures in this cave. By spending time here, you will be able you to learn history and explore caverns!
This park has cabins and campsites.
Monahans Sandhills State Park
Although it looks more like a Middle Eastern wonder, the Monahills Sandhills is a must-visit place. There are never-ending sand dunes, which you can explore on foot or if you’re in a more adventurous mood, rent a sled and go sand surfing. There is also a window that shows the view of a waterhole and wildlife.
There are campsites, lodging areas, and hotels nearby.
Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mountains State Park provides individuals with a breathtaking view of Fort Davis. In this park, you can hike or bike the West Texas mountain range that was created by volcanic activity 25 million years ago. There is also Baldy Peak, the fourth tallest mountain of Texas. Apart from the Chihuahuan Desert & Botanic Gardens, you can check out the Indian Lodge (open since 1930) or stargaze at McDonald Observatory.
List of campsites available via official state park
Mustang Island State Park
Who wouldn’t want to visit a state park where you can splash? At this island state park, you can swim or make sand art. On the other hand, if you want to explore, you can go on the paddling trail where you can fish, watch birds or simply bask in the sun.
There are cabins available at vacations discounts!
These are the top 13 state parks of Texas. When you are headed to any one of them, you need to make sure you are taking the right equipment and gear with you. Be extra cautious if you are going with kids. Above all, don’t forget to have the time of your life!
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons