Texas, also known as the Lone Star State, is the second largest state in the USA behind Alaska. It’s famous for its hot temperatures and BBQ. With all its space, it’s no surprise that Texas is also home to some awesome national parks.
In all, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department oversees nearly 100 parks, historic sites, and natural areas across the state. Of these, there are 16 national parks. Each one has something to offer and we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, no matter which one you choose.
Texas truly is the state to visit if you want to see it all—from mountains, to deserts and lakes. Keep reading for more information on four national parks in Texas you won’t want to miss.
The largest of the national parks in Texas, Big Bend National Park covers over 801,100 acres. It’s definitely too big to see it all in one day, but, if there’s one thing that should be on your itinerary it’s the Chisos Basin, a scenic mountain basin. The Santa Elena Canyon is another gem in Big Bend that you’ll want to add to your must-see list. The canyon has dramatically beautiful cliffs up to 1500 feet tall.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Big Bend National Park is sure to satisfy you. The park is home to javelina, tarantulas, hundreds of bird species, black bears, snakes, mountain lions and more.
The park is located in West Texas, specifically in the Chihuahuan Desert. Peak season is November through April.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the highest point in Texas, the 8,751-foot Guadalupe Peak. Once you’ve hiked to the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert floor.
The park also protects the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef and a diverse collection of plants.
The park has many trails which are surely worth the hike. For example, Devil’s Hall Trail is a 3.6-mile trail that features beautiful wild flowers and is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing. In the fall, the hardwood forests in McKittrick Canyon display beautiful colors.
The park is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180.
Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre. The park protects 66 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats. It is abundant in wildlife, including over 380 bird species. Many visit the park to admire the birds (including the beautiful Roseate spoonbill), sail, kayak, fish, and, during the summer, watch Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle hatchlings as scientists release them into the wild.
Padre Island National Seashore is located just outside of Corpus Christi. Specifically, it is found at the end of Park Road 22, at the northern end of Padre Island in Corpus Christi.
Nine different ecosystems—including long leaf pine forests—converge at Big Thicket National Preserve. The park contains over 1300 plant species and three endangered species. Don’t be surprised if you spot armadillos, alligators or woodpeckers here.
Big Thicket National Preserve also contains over 113,000 acres of land. Hiking and paddling are the most common ways to see the park. There are many other activities you can participate in while at Big Thicket, including fishing, hunting, birdwatching, picnicking, biking, horseback riding, and more!
Big Thicket is located north of Kountze in Southeast Texas.