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32 of the most Beautiful Texas State Parks and National Parks

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The Lone Star State has many State Parks and National Parks to explore and offer tons of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

So, either you are looking for some action packed activities, or a place to relax away from the city’s hustle & bustle, here are the Plano Moms’ top picks.

To get outside close to home, we have 23 of the Best Nature Trails and Hikes around Dallas

Chisholm Trail Plano

We’ve split out the list based on driving distance, so you can plan your trip according to the amount of time you can stay. As you scroll the post, you’ll find a Map you can use to visualize the distance from home.

Please visit the National Park Service for each park’s time of operations and its COVID-19 guidelines.

Are Campgrounds open in Texas State Parks?

We do have great campsites listed here, and many of them are open but may need advance bookings to secure your spot. It’s important to make Texas State Parks reservations.

We would not recommend showing up as they may have limited availability.

Why not rent an RV?

One of the best ways to explore Texas is by renting an RV! Recently, we discovered a great platform to connect with local owners called

A family RV vacation is one of the most Budget-friendly ways to travel and you can save up to 57% on your vacation costs!

Every rental booked includes roadside assistance and a 24-hour travel concierge and they help you find the best RV sites with full hookups.

Think of it like an AirBnB but for RV’s!!

Check out our Top Tips for your RV Rental !

Which are the most popular State Parks in Texas?

Many of these are huge favorites. The most notable ones are Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Big Bend National Park which we cover in our big Texas Travel Guide

Many of them surround some of the best Lakes in Texas. We have 45 Lakes and Beaches within Driving Distance to inspire you, in addition to these Texas State Parks.

We recently discovered a great App “RoadTrippers” you can use to plan your Road Trip en route to your State Park vacation. It’s free to use, but there is a paid upgrade which provides more benefits.

The App has 8 million points of interest and over 25 million trips have already been planned so far.
It’s a great way to plan a road trip, tell stories about places to stop and inspiration. It tells you about the best people and places you need to know about to help you plan stops and detours along the way.

State Parks within 2 hours drive of Dallas Fort Worth area

Within a 60-minute drive:

Cedar Hill State Park and Eisenhower State Park are both great Texas State Parks and super close to home. You could do this visit in a day!

We loved Eisenhower. Very nice. ❤️

– Caroline, Plano, TX

Within 1.5 hours drive from Dallas

Cooper Lake State Park, Bonham State Park and Lake Mineral Wells State Park are all within a 90 minute drive and beautiful places to visit for a day or for a weekend.

Lake Mineral Wells Texas
Photo Credit: Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Need to get Outdoors but stay close to home?

Check out 15 Outdoor Spots to explore close to DFW. We have a great list of options within Plano, Dallas, Fort Worth, a further drive outside of Fort Worth and North of DFW towards Oklahoma.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Texas State Parks approximately 2hrs drive from Plano and DFW

Dinosaur Valley State Park is one of the favorite parks of many Plano Moms’ members. Dinosaurs left footprints in the mud at the edge of an ancient ocean, and you can walk in their tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River.

How cool is that!

When the water in the Paluxy River is low enough, you can see imprints of dinosaur tracks. Maps lay out the five main track site areas, with some useful descriptions.

Glen Rose TX
Big Stones Park, Glen Rose Texas

There are more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. And when planning your trip during summertime, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit. You can swim anywhere on the river unless otherwise stated, but the Blue Hole is the most popular swimming area.

Must see places: Dinosaur State Park in Glen Rose and Fossil Rim Park for animals!


Take a Trip to 6 spots in Glen Rose?

Head to the Dinosaur Capital of Texas for a drive-thru Safari, small-town charm and a host of unique, family friendly things you can do this summer Fossil Rim is a really fun drive-thru safari, with all types of animals you can see from the comfort of your car, and some nice scenic views. 

Places to stay in Glen Rose, Texas

Instead of going South, you can also head to East Texas and visit the beauty of Tyler State Park

Texas State Parks between a 3 and 5 hours drive from the DFW Metroplex

The nearest parks around 3-4 hours are Mission Tejas State Park and the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the most popular attractions in Fredericksburg and ideal for Hiking.

Enchanted Rocks Fredericksburg

The massive pink granite dome, beautiful sceneries, fantastic rock formations, and a fascinating legend have drawn people for thousands of years.

It is an excellent place for hiking, camping, rock climbing and bouldering, stargazing, and bird watching.

Enchanted Rocks Texas

A great place to Camp, is Colorado Bend State Park!

Experience the best spot to go camping alongside the Colorado River!

Camping tent at campsite

Colorado Bend State Park offers you more than 35 miles of bike and hike trails, and to see the beautiful 60ft, Gorman Falls.

You can also cool off by swimming at some of the swimming holes by the Spicewood Springs trails and maybe go fishing, boating, or paddling.

Girl Camping at Colorado Bend State Park

You can also take the Wild Cave Tours to discover what lies beneath the park and educates you about its geology and history.

Longhorn Cavern State Park contains the Longhorn Cavern, an underground wonder created by the dissolving and cutting action of an ancient river, is the park’s main attraction.

It is one of the unique caverns in the world with so much history and geological formations. You can learn more about its history and geology on this 90-minute guided walking tour of the cavern’s 1.1 miles of developed passages.

With a 4 – 4.5 hour drive, you can visit Abilene State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park and Brazos Bend State Park

Video Courtesy of Trips to Discover

Texas State Parks within a 5 – 7 hour Drive from Plano and the DFW Metroplex

Guadalupe River State Park

One of the most visited parks during summertime, but you can always go at any time of the year. Guadalupe River is big, beautiful, iconic, and famous in Texas. Visitors can enjoy tons of outdoor activities, like tubing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and many more. Here you will find four miles of river running through the park so you can swim, kayak, fish, or go tubing.

More: River Tubing Near Me: the Best Places to Float a River

Caddo Lake State Park, Caprock Canyons State Park and Galveston Island State Park are all great spots to try around 5 hours drive.

Davis Mountains State Park is located high in the mountain of West Texas.

If you are looking for a peaceful and secluded destination, this is the best spot! Here you can enjoy camping, stargazing in a very dark and unobstructed sky, hiking, mountain biking, and a lot more outdoor adventure.

Garner State Park is a perfect place to visit throughout the year for the entire family! Garner State Park is an ideal place for any outdoor activities like trail hiking and biking, mini-golf, stargazing, and during summer times, swimming and tubing down the Frio.

Palo Duro State Park Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas” – home to the second-largest canyon in the United States.

It offers the most spectacular and scenic landscape in the Texas Panhandle.

Located just 25 miles southeast of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon State Park has an area of more than 25,000 acres, which offers hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, cabins, and other outdoor activities.

Palo Duro in Texas View

At 6hrs drive from DFW

Lost Maples State Natural Area was named for its abundance of maple trees, and it is the most popular spot during fall for its foliage.

However, it is beautiful the whole year-round. As it states in Wikipedia, the park is designated as a Natural Area rather than a State Park, which means the primary focus is the maintenance and protection of the property’s natural state.

Here you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, birdwatching, stargazing, swimming, fishing, etc, or just have a relaxing day.

Monahans Sandhills State Park is a unique destination located at West Texas park; it is home to gorgeous sand dunes that rise up to 70 feet.

7-9 Hours Drive From Plano and Dallas Fort Worth

Mustang Island State Park is a perfect place for families to enjoy the coastline for camping, shelling, fishing, and kayaking. You can also drive your vehicle on the sand, so it is easy to find a spot to get some peace.

Devils River State Natural Area and Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site are two great spots to visit along with Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park Texas

Big Bend National Park, one of Texas’ crown jewels, is the State’s biggest National Park.

Located at the most remote and amazingly unspoiled parks in the United States, Big Bend National Park should be on your top list of parks to visit.

Places to stay near Big Bend National Park

We recommend booking ahead, as the closer you get to the Park, the fewer the options for accommodation

There are canyons, rivers, deserts, and mountains; and thousands of beautiful species of plants and animals. Tag along the whole family, and you are guaranteed to have a fantastic time!

Big Bend Texas

You’re in for a real unique treat here: Guadalupe Mountains National Park offers spectacular views, diverse wildlife, and tons of great outdoor activities.  It protects the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef, revealing that this area had been underwater for five million years.

The park is also home to the state’s four highest peaks. It is, for sure, a place worth visiting!

Here are some other parks that you can visit on your next trip (estimate a 9 hour drive):

Franklin Mountains State Park and Hueco Tanks State Historic Site are both the furthest flung spots but still within the borders of the State of Texas.

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