If you were to attempt to drive across the width of the state of Texas, it would take you approximately 14 to 16 total hours, thus allowing you many opportunities to survey one of the 88 total State Parks in the area. Luckily, Southern Living has compiled a trusted list to help parse down that directory to just nine “Best State Parks in Texas To Visit for a Lone Star Adventure,” an article by Kaitlyn Yarborough.
The state of Texas is so large that it is not only twice as large as Japan or Germany, but it’s also 10% larger than France. Because it is the second-largest state in America, averaging a length of approximately 790 miles and a width of 773 miles, there’s plenty of area for a variety of landscapes and a diversity of natural features across its total landmass. One of the most surprising facts about the state of Texas is that the Lone Star State “is so large that El Paso, Texas is closer to San Diego, California than it is to Houston, Texas. Similarly, Orange, Texas is closer to Jacksonville, Florida than it is to El Paso, Texas.” Because of this massive size, there are dozens of state parks ready to be explored throughout the state that occupies approximately 7% of the total land and water area of our country.
State Park attendance in the United States has reportedly “skyrocketed across the South in recent years,” according to Southern Living Magazine, so there’s never been quite a time like this upcoming summer season to survey what the great state of Texas has to offer, whether it be deserts found in Western Texas or the bayou-adjacent areas of Eastern Texas.
One of the featured State Parks on the list that had near-immediate name recognition among the trendy and well-traveled is Pedernales Falls State Park. As the entry notes, Texan singer-songwriter Willie Nelson once penned a ballad to the Pedernales River, a water feature to which this State Park owes its cascading waters. Located just 30 miles west of the “weird capital of the country,” Austin, this park is quite popular among visitors to the vibrant city with many of them driving over for an extended afternoon or weekend trip, and it’s for good reason!
What makes Pedernales Falls State Park is its collection of off-beat landscape features, namely its impressive system of massive cascading slabs of limestone that are leftover from prehistoric eras. What results is some of the most beautiful and unique scenery in all of the Texas Hill Country. The area is lush with several miles of trails that allow visitors many different pathways to survey the terrain and its various nooks and crannies that can be found among the boulders in the riverbeds and along the sandy shoreline of the Pedernales River.
As mentioned above, the landscape of Eastern Texas can sometimes resemble the more water-centric State Parks of Florida or Louisiana, especially when one visits a terrain that is wholly different from the other State Parks in the area. Caddo Lake State Park is just one of those parks that you have to actually visit in order to truly understand that it’s located in Texas. The collection of Texan bayous, sloughs, ponds, and bald-cypress trees that are draped with the iconically-southern Spanish moss all attribute to a bizarre experience to any visitors who have driven in from the Western perimeter of the state. Check out one of the campsites in the area to truly take in the variety of wildlife and water activities that can be experienced in one of the most unique parks in Texas.
Lastly, one stand-out among the State Parks featured on Southern Living’s list is indicative of the out-of-this-world scenery that is often attributed to the West Texas area. Located near the New Mexico border, Texas’s Monahans Sandhills State Park features acres upon acres of rolling sandhills that resemble an ocean- especially with the locals who like to surf along the top of the dunes on rentable sand discs. Similarly, the extraterrestrial-adjacent area also offers visitors an 800-acre equestrian area for some of the most desert-theme horseback riding that you can experience in the Lone Star State.
For more travel-related news and information, click here.