National Parks in Texas! There are some genuinely great national parks in Texas, from the untamed west of the Chihuahuan Desert to the towering trees of the Piney Woods. We’ve collected this guide to encourage you to visit each one of the national parks in Texas!
The second-largest population in the United States is in Texas. Texas is the second-largest state in terms of population after California, but smaller than several European nations.
Texas, which should not be confused with the same-named theme parks, used to recognize and fly the flags of six countries, including the United States, Mexico, France, Spain, and the Republic of Texas. Yet, that only amounts to five.
The sixth was once the Confederate States flag, replaced in the 1990s with a design known as the Flag of the Old Southern States.
The Caddo Indian word “teycha,” which means “friends or allies,” is the source of the name Texas. The local inhabitants who inhabited this area before the Spanish conquest gave it its name.
An early Spanish explorer wrote “Tejas” on a map of the native American tribe’s territory; this name eventually became the one we use today.
The state of Texas still has “Friendship” as its motto, which perfectly captures the warm Southern friendliness for which it is recognized.
Although Houston is one of the most populous cities in the United States and has the highest population in the state, Austin (formerly known as Waterloo) continues to hold the title of capital of Texas.
1. Facts about Texas
There are actually only two national parks in Texas: Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, both in far west Texas.
The National Park Service, on the other hand, oversees a total of 16 national park assets throughout the state, including national monuments, historic sites, national recreation areas, and even a national seashore! Each of these places is featured in our comprehensive list of national parks in Texas.
In Texas, there is always time to pause and appreciate the surroundings. In fact, Tyler is the location of the biggest rose garden in the nation, a 14-acre space with 38,000 rose bushes of as many as 500 different types.
Here are some astonishing facts about Texas right now! Did you know that the state serves as a significant centre for space travel?
All NASA space missions’ Mission Control is located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The nation’s top training, research, and flight control projects have been carried out here for over 50 years.
You can even get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into human space travel on a tour of the facilities.
One of the oddest roadside attractions in Texas may be a Prada store that has been meticulously replicated and is situated alongside a peaceful roadway.
The store was constructed in 2005 and is permanently installed as art in Marfa, Texas, in the extreme west.
A 24-foot-tall dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant, a home fashioned entirely of beer cans, and a copy of the Eiffel Tower can all be seen alongside other motorways around the state (topped with a giant red cowboy hat).
Everyone who enjoys having a good time—or a nice happy hour deal—calls! It is only fitting to have one or two frozen margaritas when visiting Texas, as it is where they were first created.
Texas is home to several top-notch arts, history, science museums and some less serious establishments.
More than a thousand toilet seats adorned with anything from light switches to dental instruments can be seen at Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio.
Donations are optional, and admission is free. You may even donate your own toilet seat!
National parks in Texas provide both economical and diversified vacation options—no matter where you live in the Lone Star State, there’s (at least) one park within a day’s drive of you!
2. National Parks in Texas
2.1 Big Bend National Park
Many Texans and national park enthusiasts consider Big Bend National Park a must-see trip.
It’s no surprise! This park is one of the country’s largest and most isolated national parks, featuring some truly breathtaking vistas of the canyons carved by the Rio Grande. It is also noted for having a variety of bird and animal species within its boundaries.
Furthermore, this is the only park that encompasses a complete mountain range. Even the most experienced hikers will find the Chisos Mountains a challenge.
Natural treasures range from various types of stones to fossilized dinosaur fossils. There are almost 150 kilometres to explore and various gorgeous drives to enjoy. That is why it’s on the top of our Texas national parks list.
2.2 Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park has approximately 80 miles of hiking paths that will lead you to some of the most stunning viewpoint sites in Texas, including, if you’re up for the effort, the highest point in Texas. The secluded setting makes you feel like you’re the only one for miles.
To prepare, ensure you have adequate food, drink, and petrol! There is no petrol for 35 miles on either side of the park, so make sure to fuel up at either Dell City or Whites City, depending on where you’re coming from!
And that is why it’s number two on our list of national parks in Texas.
3. National Historic Parks & Sites in Texas
3.1 San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
No visit to Alamo City is complete without seeing at least some of the San Antonio Missions, one of the city’s most distinctive features.
When someone attended a mission, they pledged to become Spanish and adopt a new faith and culture. Despite the grim past, the site has persisted in maintaining an essential chapter in the evolution of American history.
The sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they have inherent worldwide worth that warrants their preservation.
This route connects San Antonio’s five ancient missions: The Alamo, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada (the Alamo is not officially part of the national park, although it is a UNESCO site). Now you know why it’s on our list of national parks in Texas.
3.2 Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
The US-Mexican War significantly influenced this region, and this park is committed to preserving that history at the site of the first disastrous fight.
There is a soldier database for the conflict that might assist you to find the soldiers and sailors that fought during this time. The impressions produced on this land have never been forgotten since 1846.
Hikes across the park take you along many pathways that troops previously traversed on their way to war.
More interactive displays and a bookstore related to the area’s history may be found at the visitor’s centre.
3.3 Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in the beautiful Texas Hill Country celebrates LBJ’s boyhood home and legacy, set on the ranch he loved.
The Texas White House, where LBJ frequently worked as president, and the tiny “Air Force One and a Half” plane, which he also used throughout his presidency, are popular with visitors.
There is a short 1.2-mile route that takes you through several ancient cottages and waterways. During the summer, you may swim in the pool or go wildflower viewing in the spring. The environment is wide and wild, with bison pastures and livestock wandering freely.
The LBJ ranch offers self-guided tours that include LBJ’s birthplace, the school he attended as a child, and the cemetery where he is buried. This is a fantastic location for anybody interested in US history!
3.4 Fort Davis National Historic Site
Fort Davis, set strikingly against the Davis Mountains, is a well-known historical site in Texas military history. Even throughout commercial history, it was a deterrent to criminals and robbers travelling.
During the gold rush, it became an important stop for travellers heading west. There is a tourist centre with a wealth of information, but you may also explore on your own with a self-guided tour. If you prefer to venture out on your own, hiking routes are accessible.
There are a few days a year when there is no entrance price, so it’s a terrific cheap outing for the whole family!
Pets are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash. Now you know why it’s on our list of national parks in Texas.
4. National Recreation Areas in Texas
4.1 Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
A large portion of the Texas Panhandle is notoriously dry. However, a large lake gives relief from the generally parched landscape, and Lake Meredith is also one of Texas’ national parks.
There are several excellent hiking routes along the river where you may stop and view the local fauna. You may even camp along the coastline if you like. There are several options to pitch your tent, and if you have an RV, there are also spots available.
There is free camping available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can remain for up to 14 days in a row, with access to fire rings and non-potable water. There are also additional campgrounds with more facilities on-site. However, some of them may charge a fee.
4.2 Amistad National Recreation Area
In the town of Del Rio, on the extreme border of Texas, there is a shoreline that spans far and wide, with some of the best aquatic vistas in the country.
Amistad is derived from the Spanish word for “friendship.” It symbolizes the relationship between the United States and Mexico. This is one of the most spectacular swimming, fishing, or boating locations.
The environment of Del Rio is desert-like, making it an ideal location for photography. This spot is exactly in the heart of the route Monarch butterflies follow when migrating south, so it’s a perfect place to get a once-in-a-lifetime photo!
5. Texas’ National Seashore
5.1 Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island is the world’s longest stretch of unspoiled barrier island. It connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Laguna Madre.
During the sea turtle season, you may observe public releases of hatchlings or go beachcombing for seashells. The aquatic activities are virtually limitless!
You may go swimming or fishing, or if you’re feeling daring, you can rent a kayak or a canoe and paddle out into the open water. This location is also well-known for its windsurfing. Consider it a beach getaway without the travel!
6. National Monuments in Texas
6.1 Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
As you might expect from the name, this area is rich in a stone known as Flint. Around 13,000 years ago, this stone was utilised to make hunting implements and was extremely valuable for mammoth hunters.
The Alibates Flint is unique to this location and has contributed to the development of the Texas Panhandle over time. The visitors centre includes excellent educational tools, including museum displays and a movie!
The Flint Quarries were established as one of Texas’ first national monuments. The park service crew has also created attractive paths and gardens.
A ranger-led trek is available if you are new to the region or hiking. The best aspect is that the quarries are free to see!
6.2 Waco Mammoth National Monument
While Waco is currently renowned as a DIY hub, it was originally famed for Columbian Mammoths.
These massive beasts weighed over 10 tonnes and stood over 14 feet tall. Their remains were discovered in Waco, and the resulting specimens are now recognized as the first and only documented evidence of a nursery herd.
The fossils were discovered in 1978, and discoveries have continued ever since. The remains are still being kept for public viewing and scientific investigation.
Hike the paths inside the park sections to learn more about the creatures and vegetation that lived during the Ice Age. The Dig Shelter, which houses the specimens, requires a ticket, but it’s a great value at only $5 per person!
7. National Historic Trails in Texas
7.1 El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
The Spanish phrase “El Camino Real de Los Tejas” translates as “The Royal Road of the Tejas (Indians).” This historic route has been around for over 150 years and has witnessed many historical occurrences. It’s among the best national parks in Texas.
This path has seen everything: mass migration to adjacent Louisiana or Spanish efforts to missionize Native American tribes. The region is divided into four sections: South Texas, San Antonio-Goliad, Brazos, and East Texas-Caddo. These areas extend from the Mexican border all the way to Louisiana.
The trail’s website has numerous excellent viewing areas, including Drexel Rio Grande Overlook, San Pedro Springs, and Fort Boggy State Park. There is so much to see that you will never be bored!
7.2 El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
In contrast to El Camino Real de Los Tejas, this road leads from Texas to New Mexico. El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro translates to “The Royal Road of the Interior Land” in Spanish.
This path begins deep in Mexico’s mountains and extends all the way up to Santa Fe. This trail is significantly older, dating back over 300 years, and some very interesting stops have formed along the way.
The trail in Texas includes the San Elizario Historic District and a few famous Missions. Each stop has left a mark on the fabric of American history.
8. More of Texas’ National Park Service Destinations
8.1 Chamizal National Memorial
Chamizal National Memorial is a national park near the city of El Paso, Texas. The memorial marks the conclusion of a land dispute between the United States and Mexico that lasted 100 years.
The Nuestra Hacienda mural is one of the most visible manifestations of this decision. This land is a light of optimism and a reflection of the beauty in the two nations’ enduring relationship. It is steeped in history for both towns. Now you know why it’s on our list of national parks in Texas.
8.2 Big Thicket National Preserve
Big Thicket National Preserve gathers together some of the most nostalgic aspects of the country. Big Thicket National Preserve is a diverse and scenic national park in Texas, ranging from the bayous in the southeast to cypress-lined woodland. It also has some of the greatest hiking in the Houston area.
The park is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This implies that it is frequently utilized for biodiversity and sustainability research and teaching. The variety of habitats makes it a unique spot to go hiking, kayaking, or camping.
There are 15 separate sections around the park, each focusing on a particular type of animal or activity! It’s the best park to visit from the list of national parks in Texas
8.3 Rio Grande Wild + Scenic River
The Rio Grande has been Texas’ wild and flowing boundary for decades. This is maybe one of the most well-known border crossings in the United States. Its influence on Mexican American relations has been profound and unrelenting for the duration of its existence.
This area’s canyons and cliffs make it one of the greatest spots to observe from the water. It envelops you in breathtaking grandeur and transports you to a time when water was a more popular mode of transportation.
You may spend days here and never completely appreciate the power of it all, making it a terrific site to keep coming to. You’ll always view it differently from the last time you saw it.
Now, I’m sure after reading this complete list of national parks in Texas, you are very eager to take a visit around them.