Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Area
Forty miles east of El Paso in West Texas, Hueco Tanks offers a beautiful landscape and bountiful history. Native cultures flocked to this natural area for thousands of years to use the park’s namesake natural rainwater deposits. Many cultures left their mark at Hueco Tanks in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs.
Due to the fragile nature of these ancient markings, park visits are limited each day by permitted self-guided and guided tours. It’s advised to call ahead before a visit, especially for the busy season between November and March. Rock climbing is another popular activity at the park, and permits are also required to scale the impressive rock features at Hueco Tanks.
Address: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1, El Paso, Texas
Camping Reservations Reopen At Texas State Parks
TEXAS â Starting Wednesday, May 27, reservations resumed at Texas state parks with arrival dates between June 1 and September 7.
What You Need To Know
- Wearing masks recommended
- Social distancing required
- Need to bring own hand sanitizer
All guests, including annual pass holders, are required to purchase day passes and overnight reservations in advance. People can make reservations at texasstateparks.org or by calling 512-389-8900.
State parks are operating at a limited capacity. All transactions at parks, equipment rentals, and in-person interpretive programs are suspended. All headquarters, visitor centers and nature centers are closed.
âEven in this limited capacity, we are glad that we can get more Texans and their families safely back on the trails and in the campsites to enjoy all the many unique spaces and places that make Texas state parks so special,â said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
â TX Parks & Wildlife May 26, 2020
Pedernales Falls State Park
The Pedernales River carves through a series of ancient limestone steps at the north end of this popular state park. This twisting and turning display of gravity creates the park’s namesake feature and a fantastic place to spend a sunny afternoon. Due to the turbulent nature of the river, swimming is not allowed at Pedernales Falls. Rock hopping around to see the impressive falls, however, is time well spent.
Pedernales Falls State Park is under an hour’s drive west of Austin. Swimming is allowed in other areas of the park, and the river provides a refreshing place to cool off during a Texas summer.
Camping is also enjoyed at Pedernales Falls, as is hiking on a variety of trails. The park’s longest hiking trail, the 10-mile , is as standard for mountain bikers as it is for hikers. The park also has equestrian-exclusive trails.
Visitors need to be aware that the Pedernales River is subject to flash flooding, even if it’s not raining at the park. Adhere to park signs and warnings when visiting.
Address: 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, Texas
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Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway
Fifty miles southeast of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Caprock Canyons is home to magnificent bluffs, roaming bison, and miles of multi-use trails. The rugged landscapes of the state park host activities like mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. Water sports are also popular on the 120-acre Lake Theo.
Caprock Canyon is a great state park for tent camping with over 80 walk-in primitive campsites available.
The state park also lends access to the unique Caprock Canyons Trailway. This 64-mile-long converted railway offers a rugged path to hike, bike, or ride a horse. Camping is allowed along the trail for multi-day pursuits. The trailway is broken up into sections, and the Clarity Tunnel is one of the most popular areas to explore, home to a nesting colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Visitors need to exercise caution when exploring this deserted railroad tunnel.
Address: 850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, Texas
Museums In Texas State Parks
Explore what life was like on the frontier at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, where the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm can be found. A Texas-German family, the Sauers settled in Texas Hill County in the late 19th century, working on the farm and caring for their livestock. Today, guests can watch costumed interpreters create the life the Sauers, along with their ten children, lived.
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Texas State Parks Upgrades Reservation System Allows Same
by Pam LeBlanc | Jun 8, 2021
Pam LeBlanc sits under the spillway at Blanco State Park. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Ive spent more than a few frustrated hours at my computer, struggling to reserve a camping spot or cabin at a Texas state park.
Im happy to report that the Texas State Park Online Reservations webpage has been updated with some useful new features.
Visitors can now see and reserve available campsites for the same day and for the upcoming weekend via the Camping This Weekend tab. The page shows visitors where tent camping sites, RV/trailer sites and lodging are available, and you can narrow results by park or city. If your first choice park is booked, the website will direct you to a nearby park to explore.
The reservation system also allows park goers to make same-day overnight camping reservations online or by calling the customer service center before 4 p.m. each day. Before, you had to contact the park directly.
Texas State Park reservations can be made online anytime or by calling the Texas State Park Reservation Center at 512-389-8900 on weekdays. Overnight reservations can be made up to five months in advance, and day passes can be reserved up to 30 days in advance.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Near the city of El Paso in West Texas, Franklin Mountains State Park offers over 27,000 acres of elevated landscapes to explore. Popular activities at the state park include camping, rock climbing, and exploring the over 100 miles of trails that traverse the area. A rugged landscape defines the Franklin Mountains, and visitors should prepare for the wild environment.
The Tom Mays Unit is on the northern edge of El Paso and is the most accessible area of the park. The Tom Mays Unit contains the densest collection of developed campsites. Visitors from El Paso can reach the various entrances of the Tom Mays Unit by car in 15 minutes. Several hiking trails stretch from the Tom Mays Unit, including extensive Upper and Lower Foothills loops.
Address: Tom Mays Park Access Road, El Paso, Texas
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Purchase A Day Pass To Avoid Crowds And Guarantee Time
Visitors can purchase day passes up to one month in advance, guaranteeing access to parks even during busy times. To purchase a day pass or to reserve a campsite, visit the Texas State Parks Reservation System page at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or call 389-8900.
Guests, including annual pass holders, who have reserved day passes or campsites but are unable to visit are encouraged to cancel their reservations, so others have an opportunity to visit the park.
Those visiting state parks are encouraged to recreate responsibly and follow posted rules and regulations to ensure safety during the ongoing pandemic, including wearing a mask when inside buildings or when gathered with others. See the online state park guidelines to stay safe and healthy. Local and statewide limitations and restrictions apply and can change rapidly. TPWD recommends checking social media or calling parks directly for updates before traveling.
For those who are unable to make your Texas State Park reservations in time but still want to enjoy the outdoors this Spring Break, there are many other options besides state parks. Texas Nature Rocks is a great resource to find local city and county parks, green spaces, nature centers and other outdoor opportunities near you. Visit the Texas Nature Rocks website for more information.
Beaches In Texas State Parks
The main swimming area along a dam at Blanco State Park is a favorite among residents and tourists alike, providing a great spot for cooling off from the scorching summertime heat. At this park, you can either choose to float on the rather chaotic river waters or enjoy the more peaceful, tamer man-made pool.
At Balmorhea State Park, take a refreshing dive into the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world. This swimming hole is incredibly clear, cool, and amazing perfect for an afternoon excursion.
The Devils Watering Hole, situated within Inks Lake State Park, is the most popular swimming hole in Texas. Splash around in the river or enjoy a peaceful lounge on an inner tube. This well-known attraction is surrounded by the picturesque Colorado River, as well as pink granite walls, which makes it perfect for those looking to swim while taking in breathtaking views.
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Did You Know That You Can Now Make Reservations Online For Texas State Parks
To make Texas State Park reservations is really easy. The system recently had an update, and now you simply create an account, pick out which site you want to reserve, and then show up with your confirmation number! This information will also apply to making day-use reservations as well.
Reserve America is the powerhouse behind the updated system, and this company has its own independent site you can use to reserve campsites wherever youre looking to stay.
Ive used it while traveling, so know it has a great reputation for being able to locate sites efficiently.
Best Texas State Parks & Campgrounds
6 Popular Places to Camp in Texas
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
- Matagorda Bay Natural Park
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park
- Guadalupe River State Park
Where: Near the Texas-Mexico border, about 5 hours from El Paso
A more secluded but equally stunning wilderness area, Big Bend Ranch State Park is located adjacent to Big Bend National park in southwest Texas. The entire area features river canyons, desert, and mountain landscapes, with geological marvels like the Santa Elena Canyon, abundant wildlife, and historic ruins. The State Park is quiet, remote, and well-worth a visit. Visitors should be aware the roads to the interior of the park can be rough. High clearance vehicles are recommended, although not required.
When To VisitThe most popular time to visit is spring , when the desert blooms and days are warm and sunny. Evening temperatures are moderate and dark night skies offer visitors a chance to see thousands of stars. Summer can be hot and there’s a higher chance of rain through October. Snow is a rare possibility in winter.
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Where: On the Gulf of Mexico, about 2.5 hours from Corpus Christi
When To VisitEarly Spring and late Fall are the best time to visit in order to escape the summer heat and humidity.
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Where: Northern Texas, 1 hour and 45 minutes from both Amarillo and Lubbock
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Colorado Bend State Park
Less than two hours north of Austin, Colorado Bend State Park is a choose-your-own-adventure destination. The state park encompasses over 5,000 acres, including six miles of Colorado River shoreline. Activities at Colorado Bend take place on land, water, and underground. The state park is also a prime spot to spend the night, with a variety of camping options.
The best and only way to explore the caves at Colorado Bend is through a guided tour. Above the caverns, Colorado Bend State Park features over 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. The most popular trail at the park, Gorman Falls, leads hikers to one of the best waterfalls in Texas. This approximately three-mile hike is strenuous at times, but the 70-foot spring-fed waterfall is well worth the effort.
Address: 2236 Park Hill Drive, Bend, Texas
Guadalupe River State Park Editor’s Choice
Thirty miles north of San Antonio, this picturesque state park is on the banks of the Guadalupe River. The river environment provides ample recreation options, including fishing, swimming, and tubing. Other popular things to do at Guadalupe River State Park include camping, hiking, and spotting wildlife. Sunsets at Guadalupe River State Park provide a beautiful moment among others to snap some pictures.
The park also features an interactive Discovery Center. This education space enables children to engage with the natural environment. Eighty campsites at Guadalupe River State Park range from full hook-up RV spots to primitive sites to pitch a tent. A recommended trail to check out is the half-mile Bald Cypress Trail, which follows a significant portion of the Guadalupe River.
Address: 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch, Texas
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Calendar of Events
Fishing In Texas State Parks
There are a great many fishing holes in Texas thanks to its massive size and sprawling lands. One of the most popular ones is the 30,000-acre Lake Ray Roberts at Ray Roberts Lake State Park, which is filled to the brim with largemouth bass and white bass. Channel catfish are also plentiful in this incredible body of water.
Eisenhower State Park offers some of the best fishing opportunities in Texas too. Situated within it is Lake Texoma, which boasts of large populations of striped bass, blue catfish, and a number of varieties of bass. Fish from this lake have gone on to win state records in 2004, a blue catfish weighing 121.5 lbs was caught from it.
Avid anglers should also cast their lines at Cooper Lake, located within Cooper Lake State Park, where tons of crappie and bass varieties may be found. The town of Cooper is also home to Millers Pharmacy, which many say make the best soda fountain ice cream in the United States. So even if the fish arent biting, you are!
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Reserve A Day Pass If You Plan On Visiting A Texas State Park
With Spring Break just around the corner, Texans will be looking to get outside. Texas State Parks are already seeing day passes and campsites filling up for the spring and summer months, so visitors planning a state park adventure this Spring Break are encouraged to make their reservations as early as possible.
Those looking for a change of scenery during the holiday are encouraged to consider visiting on a weekday as they typically see fewer crowds than on the weekends.
Many popular parks, especially those in Central Texas, are already seeing reservations for Spring Break and the summer months. Parks that are already seeing a high rate of both day use and overnight reservations include Garner, Inks Lake, Pedernales Falls, Guadalupe River, Mother Neff and Enchanted Rock state parks.
Visitors can avoid the large crowds by exploring a new state park this year. Several parks throughout the state have day-use and overnight reservations available for the upcoming season, including Goose Island, San Angelo, Lake Somerville and Sea Rim state parks.
Texas State Parks are operating at a limited capacity, so those who are planning to hit the trails for a day trip at a park should reserve day passes in advance, as many parks reach capacity daily. Some State Park facilities remain closed due to the recent weather, so visitors are encouraged to check with their park before departing.
Tom And Stacie Langland Rv Texas Y’all
Hey yâall! We are Native Texans and Full-Time RVers documenting the adventures, challenges, and joys of RV life as we travel across the Great State of Texas and North America. We love camping and hiking in State and National Parks, cooking outdoors, discovering history, visiting interesting and quirky places, and exploring small towns. Our goal is to live like a local everywhere we go and share those experiences with you! We value healthy living and believe itâs important to learn something new every day. In 2019, we became Registered RV Technicians and Certified RV Inspectors. Learn more about us!
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Other Outdoor Attractions in Texas: Many of the top places to camp in Texas are in the best state parks. The best waterfalls in the state also find homes in state parks, as well as other natural areas across Texas. For some underground exploring, our guide to the best caverns in Texas dive deep into the Earth for a unique adventure to be had.
Exploring Big Bend National Park: Encompassing over 800,000 acres, Big Bend National Park is one of the largest national parks in the country. It takes time to explore this massive public space in West Texas, and the top campgrounds at Big Bend National Park enable overnight adventures. For some daytime explorations, our guide to hiking trails in Big Bend National Park will lead you down some memorable paths.