Summer is in full swing and what better way to enjoy it than a visit to one of the many great state parks that Texas has to offer! Whether you find delight in a brisk hike or a peaceful picnic, Texas’s natural beauty provides unique opportunities for all to take in. Grab your loved ones, load the van and check out a few of the many state parks found nestled within.
There is nothing more rewarding after a good hike than getting to stop and gaze at a captivating backdrop. In the heart of the Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park provides an unforgettable experience likely to charm visitors with a rainbow of vivid colors, towering cliffs, and geological formations carved over millions of years by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The park offers lively performances that are sure to entertain visitors of all ages in their Pioneer Amphitheater, featuring the TEXAS Outdoor Musical running Tuesdays through Sundays during the summer.
Traveling down towards the center of Texas, we find Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a go-to site for many Hill Country visitors looking to connect with nature. Through the park’s variety of trails ranging for beginner to advanced hikers, visitors have the opportunity to reach the summit of the iconic pink granite dome and revel in panoramic views, explore hidden caves, and witness the magic of the park’s dark skies, perfect for stargazing.
With the summer heat, a refreshing cool-down in Texas waters is the way to go! Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Pedernales Falls State Park, which welcomes all with the picturesque sight of cascading waterfalls. Visitors have the opportunity to swim, tube, and fish in the cold waters of the Pedernales River. With over 5,200 acres of beautiful landscapes, nature trails, and campers, this park is ideal for all outdoor lovers. Pedernales Falls is located about 10 miles west of Johnson City, a small town right in the heart of wine country and hometown of President Lyndon B. Johnson, a must-see stop after the park with many sweet experiences to check out such as vineyards, museums, and antique shops.
Inks Lake State Park is another great option for those with families looking to splash around! Visitors are welcome to swim, boat, and even water ski at the state park and are encouraged to bring their own or rent paddle boards, canoes or kayaks at the park store. The lakeside cabins and campsites make for a perfect weekend getaway and a whole lot of cannonballs and backflips off of the park’s granite overhangs.
A GLIMPSE OF HISTORY
What better way to keep the Texan spirit alive this summer than stepping back in time into the early history of this great state! Located in the eastern piney woodlands of Texas, the rich history of Mission Tejas State Park shares its story of the European settlement and influence through the 1700s, with a full replica of Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, an important Spanish mission which marked a spot in El Camino Real, a trail that expended past 2,500 miles that linked colonial towns from Guerrero, Mexico, to Louisiana. The park is ideal for exploring nature trails, learning about the indigenous cultures that once thrived in the region, and stepping into day-to-day colonial life.
Traveling about 150 years forward, Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site preserves the remnants of an 1800s frontier fort and unveils the stories of the soldiers who protected settlers during the turbulent times of the Indian Wars. The park allows visitors to enter and see the well-preserved buildings, including officers’ quarters, the hospital, and the bakery on Saturdays and Sundays for self-guided tours and offers guided tours Tuesday through Friday as well. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in interpretive exhibits that offer a fascinating glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of frontier life.
Cover Photo Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2023
Diego Cantu is a proud Texan and dedicated Telecommunications student at Texas A&M University with a passion for immersing himself and sharing adventures that bring to life the beauty of diverse cultures, captivating landscapes, and the richness of human experience.