Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors
Guide to the Best National Parks in Texas
If you are looking for a new adventure, then take a look at this list of the best National Parks in Texas to explore. There are the national parks and monuments (many of which are run by the National Park Service) that you can visit while in the Lone Star State! If you want to go on an epic trip, here is your guide.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is an iconic park in west Texas along the Rio Grande about 300 miles southeast of El Paso that encompasses more than 800,000 acres on the Mexican border. It was founded in 1944 to protect the Chihuahuan Desert and Big Bend Ranch State Park--which has been called one of America's last great wildernesses. The terrain ranges from the rugged Chisos Mountains to desert plains: it’s a place where you can see wildlife like javelinas, black bears, deer and coyotes! Hint: stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Guadalupe Mountains are considered one of the most scenic mountain parks in Texas (if not the entire United States) and home to its highest peaks. Established as a national monument back in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt so people would be able to enjoy its natural beauty. Today there are plenty of trails for hiking and camping, as well as the Guadalupe Peak Trail--which is considered one of Texas' most difficult hikes and goes to its highest point, Guadalupe Peak!
Padre Island National Seashore
One of America's first national seashores, Padre Island was established in 1961. Near Corpus Christi, the park offers more than 130 miles of beachfront and tidal flats to explore: you can go on a day hike or birding expedition (with many bird species to explore); alligator watching tours are always popular too! You might also take some time out for fishing or surfing if you're into that kind of thing. If not then just relax with a book at the shoreline while listening to the waves crash against the sand. It'll be your own private paradise retreat. Sounds pretty good right? Well it is.
Guadalupe River State Park
The Guadalupe River is the second longest river in Texas and it’s also a state park near San Antonio! The beautiful scenic area offers plenty of hiking trails, fishing opportunities (there are trout!), kayaking on the calm waters, or just sitting back with a good book at one of their many picnic areas. You can camp out here too if you want to really get away from everything for awhile--and there's even an RV park nearby should you need one. This place has something for everyone: so don't miss this opportunity to explore all that it has to offer while visiting Texas!
Palo Duro Canyon State Historic Site
A beautiful canyon that was carved out by the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River in the Texas Panhandle, this state park has been called one of the most scenic places in Texas. Established back in 1924--it's a serene and peaceful place to enjoy some quiet time with nature as you explore its beauty via horseback or hiking trails (there are 13 miles worth!). The old-fashioned town also offers plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining too: so bring your appetite!
Brazos Bend State Park
Brazos Bend State Park is a 90,000 acre park that was established back in 1974. It has plenty of hiking trails for all levels and it also offers opportunities to horseback or bike ride too (there are 12 miles worth!). You'll find many different areas along the Brazos River here: from lagoons to marshes--it's truly an amazing place with something for everyone!
Caddo Lake State Park
This is one of the oldest national parks in Texas and it's absolutely stunning. The area was first established back in 1937 as a wildlife refuge but today there are around 50,000 acres to explore! It has been designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve: which aims to ensure that human activities don't interfere with nature--and making sure this precious place remains untouched forever.
If you want an outdoor adventure then Caddo Lake offers plenty for everyone from biking; kayaking or hiking (the trails here offer beautiful views too). There's also fishing available on site if you fancy having a go at reeling something out of the water yourself! No matter what time of year it is, this park will not disappoint so get exploring while you still can.
Briscoe County Memorial Museum
This place is a must-see for historical buffs! Established in 1952, the museum tells all about life of those who live on the Texas frontier. You can explore their old fashioned buildings--including a general store and blacksmith shop; take part in living history demonstrations like quilting or butter churning too. A great way to learn more about what it was really like back then when people's lives were so hard but they still managed to survive against all odds.
Big Thicket National Preserve
The Big Thicket National Preserve is a mixed-use national park. It protects 26,000 acres of East Texas forest that includes bogs, bayous and piney woods: which are all home to more than 40 rare plant species! The preserve also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hiking; hunting or bird watching (there's even an owls nest!).
The Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park
Established by Congress in 1973, this national historical site tells about President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s life as well as his contribution to history during his time spent in public service. The ranch where he grew up is located on 200 acres within the park boundaries--and there you can see the places where he once played, learned and lived.
Balmorhea State Park
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
If you're looking for a national park that's located close to home then this is the one. The Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge was first established in 1919 and now it covers an area of more than 116,000 acres! It offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking; hunting or wildlife viewing (there are even places where people can camp). There's also some excellent bird watching here too: there are around 225 different species on display each year--so get ready for all kinds of amazing sights and sounds!
The Big Bend Area Outdoor Museum
The Fort Davis National Historic Site
Sea Rim State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
City of Rocks National Reserve
Amistad National Recreation Area
Presidential Park - Elkhorn Ranch State Historical Site
Waco Mammoth National Monument
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Final Thoughts on National Parks in Texas
These iconic parks are national landmarks and worth a trip if you happen to be in the area...
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