Texas, the second largest state in the US, is a great place for explorers. With four corners, it offers something unique that other states don’t have.
In the northern Panhandle region, you’ll find evidence of the country’s first inhabitants finding ways to bring down immense predators. If you head west, you’ll find national areas and preserves packed with cacti, where the stars glimmer with endless optimism in the night sky.
In other national parks in Texas, you’ll find murky bayous whose tea-colored water reflects the hot Texan sun. Elsewhere you’ll find areas where the Rio Grande carves its way through vast rock that leads to craggy mountains.
Texas is a large and diverse state, home to 10 amazing national parks. Here are the 10 best, in no particular order:
1. Big Bend National Park
This park is a must-see for anyone visiting Texas. It’s located in the southwest corner of the state and offers stunning scenery, hiking, camping, and more.
2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in west Texas and is known for its dramatic landscape. Hiking and camping are popular activities here.
3. Padre Island National Seashore
This park is located on a barrier island off the coast of Texas and is home to beautiful beaches, wildlife, and more. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
4. Sam Houston National Forest
This park is located in east Texas and is a popular spot for camping, hiking, fishing, and more. The forest has a variety of wildlife and is a great place to escape the city.
5. Big Thicket National Preserve
Big Thicket National Preserve is located in southeast Texas and is known for its diverse ecosystem. The Preserve is home to many different species of plants and animals.
6. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
This park is located in the Panhandle of Texas and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, and more. The lake is a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
7. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
This park is located in central Texas and is dedicated to the 36th president of the United States. The park offers a variety of activities, including ranger-led programs, hiking, and more.
8. Amarillo National Grasslands
This park is located in the Panhandle of Texas and is a great place for hiking, camping, and birdwatching. The grasslands are home to a variety of wildlife.
9. Caprock Canyons State Park
This park is located in west Texas and is known for its beautiful canyons and hiking trails. The park also offers horseback riding, camping, and more.
10. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Panhandle of Texas and is known for its dramatic canyon views. The park offers a variety of activities, including hiking, camping, and horseback riding.
11. Fort Davis National Historic Site
If you’re interested in the history of the military’s settlement of Texas, Fort Davis National Historic Site is the place for you.
You can explore the historic site by walking the trails between the buildings, including the old commissary and hospital, and the battle-worn barracks. The trails are surrounded by craggy cliffs, and if you take the steep trail to the summit you will be rewarded with a great view.
Kids under 14 can explore Fort Davis in greater detail with the park’s regular ranger programs. The tours typically last between one and two hours.
12. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
The Alamo is certainly a popular destination, but don’t forget about the rest of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park! Arrive early to see the Alamo, but take your time to explore the other four 18th century frontier missions in the park.
The park has 300 years of history and culture and is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. You can explore the park on the Hike and Bike Trail. Each location is 2.5 miles apart along the San Antonio River.
The most popular tourist sites include Mission San Jose, the largest mission, as well as Mission Concepcion, the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States.
13. Amistad National Recreation Area
The Amistad National Recreation Area is a beautiful park located on the US-Mexico border along the Rio Grande. This park is popular among photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike and is a great place to explore during the winter months. Even though it is located in the southern part of the state, the recreation area still has balmy temperatures.
The Rio Grande floating into the Amistad Reservoir provides ample opportunity for boating and fishing. The reservoir is also home to a plethora of bass, catfish, and alligator gar, making it a hotspot for anglers.
You can discover a historic park home to well-preserved petroglyphs and nature paths when you’re off the water. The park has several beautiful paths that lead to campgrounds and deep into the backcountry.
14. Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
An amazing story began thirteen thousand years ago when hunters came to what is now known as the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. Here they created tools to hunt the wooly mammoths. This story is a veritable mix of history and nature.
If you want to explore the sights and learn about the history of the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, you’ll need to join a ranger-led tour. The tours are offered in the summer months and take you on a one-mile hike. You’ll be able to see the Alibates flint up close and discover a world of petroglyphs.
These are just a few of the many amazing national parks in Texas. So get out there and explore all that this great state has to offer!