List of State Parks in Texas
About 100 parks exist in the Texas state parks system, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The department divides the state into seven regions, incorporating 270,000 square miles of geological diversity: Panhandle plains, prairies and lakes, Pineywoods, Gulf Coast, South Texas plains, hill country and Big Bend country.
Review a park from each region, comparing their entrance fees, activities and size, so you’ll be ready for a Texas-style outdoor getaway.
The largest park of the Panhandle plains is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located in Canyon, Texas, and conveniently named the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” The 20,000-acre-plus park includes the Fortress Cliffs Ranch bluffs, ideal for camping, scenic driving, hiking and horseback riding.
The park requires a $5-a-day entrance fee for visitors, and you must pay extra for horse rental and campsites.
Prairies and Lakes
Fairfield Lake State Park, located in northeastern Texas, occupies 1,460 acres of cattle ranching land. The park is home to Fairfield Lake, known for its warm fishing waters heated by nearby TXU Big Brown Power Plant. The water stays warm enough through the winter for weekend fishing tournaments, popularizing the region’s Red Drum fish. Fishing clubs from all over the state frequent the park.
Enjoy day use for $3 per person, or camp there for at least $9 a night per group.
Enjoy Texas’ pine forests by visiting Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland. In addition to camping and hiking among Texas’ dogwoods (peak is around March 25), explore Rice Family Log Home. As one of the oldest structures in east Texas, the home was constructed in 1828 and “served as a stopover for immigrants, adventurers, and local residents traveling the Old San Antonio Road.”
Contact the park for group tour rates. The park itself requires a $2-a-day entrance fee.
The region is home to Goose Island State Park, located on the coast in Rockport. It contains the famous “Big Tree,” a 1000-year-old oak tree that reaches 44 feet in the air and spreads 90 feet at the branches. Hikers, campers, fishermen and photographers frequent the area for the tree and coastal view.
Visit the park at $3 a day or purchase an annual pass for $125. Contact the park for camping, school trip and rental costs.
South Texas Plains
Located in Laredo, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park covers about 2,000 acres east of the city, including land and lake. Camping, barbecuing and biking are popular activities to partake in the park. In April art enthusiasts can check out Laredo’s Rio Grande Art Festival, incorporating both American and Mexican culture.
Stay at the park for just $4 a day, or enjoy camping (with electric and water hookups) for at least $15 a night.
If you’re looking to explore underground, check out Longhorn Cavern State Park in Burnet. The cavern, which is always 68 degrees Fahrenheit, holds a multitude of history dating to “prehistoric times.” The area has both historical and geological significance that makes it notable around the world.
Crawl the cavern on the wild cave tour, tap your knowledge on the geology tour, expand your photographic skills on the photo tour or scare yourself senseless on the paranormal tour.
Call the park for fees and group rates on this awe-inspiring, underground park.
Big Bend Country
Franklin Mountains State Park, located in El Paso, is the largest urban park in America, covering about 40 square miles. If you’re looking for simple outdoor offerings, this is the place to go
Rock climbing over 7,000 feet and hiking are popular activities at this Franklin Mountains park, which overlooks the Rio Grande River and downtown El Paso. Gather family, friends or a scout troop for a ranger-led tour.
Pay a $4-a-day patron fee if you’re looking to get away to peaceful, south Texan wilderness.