With its diverse landscapes spanning from hilly pine forests to desert, Texas is a place worth visiting. Whether you’re planning a road trip or a day trip, here are a few state parks worth making a pit stop for.
Consisting of both Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park, Big Bend is the crown jewel of Texas parks. Combined, both parks protect an area along the Rio Grande larger than Rhode Island. It’s scorching hot in the summer and cold in the winter, so plan accordingly.
Big Bend features all types of terrain, from jagged mountains and river valleys to open desert. It’s also home to mountain lions and Mexican black bears, and a major migration point for northern bird species. Given the area’s wide-open spaces, you’ll have plenty of room to roam safely; just be sure to bring your zoom camera. If visiting during mild weather, take a river tour down the Rio Grande with one of the many tour companies in the area.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Located in the Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. The rugged landscape is ripe for exploring, and you’ll find more than 30 miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian trails.
Stop by the Visitor Center to get your bearings and learn more about the park. You can also grab a meal or snack at The Trading Post on the canyon floor. Palo Duro Canyon State Park features an outdoor musical drama in the summer, numerous campsites, and a limited number of cabins.
Situated in Central Texas, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area showcases a massive pink granite pluton batholith, a natural formation made from cooled magma which extends deep into the earth’s crust. The pink dome rises above the hill country and has served as a mecca to outdoor enthusiasts for centuries.
When visiting Enchanted Rock, you can geocache, stargaze, picnic, rock climb, or hike. There is no place to swim or bike ride on the trails, but you’ll enjoy nearly 11 miles of hiking trails. Pets are allowed in the campgrounds and designated picnic areas. Stop by the park store for some sweet treats or campfire wood. Just be sure to bring your own supply of drinking water for the duration of your stay.
Caddo Lake State Park
A cypress swamp right out of a fairy tale, Caddo Lake State Park features a maze of bayous, ponds, and sloughs dappled with Spanish moss and bald cypress trees. If you’ve been looking for a place to spot alligators in Texas, look no further!
At Caddo Lake State Park you can camp, hike, picnic, paddle, camp, or go boating. The lake is home to more than 70 species of fish and you don’t need a fishing license to fish from the shore. Rent a historic cabin if you plan to stay a while!
With so many great state parks in Texas, it’s hard to play favorites!