Here's the big list of National Parks in Texas, along with other notable public land spots, that you're going to want to visit.
Texas, the 28th state in union, became part of America in 1845. Ever since (and even before) then its natural beauty and dynamic, diverse landscape has been a big draw for people from all corners. If it weren't for the state of Alaska, Texas would be the largest state in the country by land area. Being that big means there's a lot to see and do there.
Of course, the National Parks Service has recognized these facts, and worked to dedicate parcels of land to federally-protected, publicly-accessible parks, rec areas, and seashores for everyone to enjoy. If you want to see some amazing outdoor sights, Texas is one of the best places to try.
We'll start by sharing the two National Parks with Texas, then move on to the rest of the national monuments, sites, and areas.
The National Parks of Texas
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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One trip to this location near Salt Flat, Texas known as Guadalupe Mountains National Park will only leave you wanting more. It boasts the world's most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas, and a view of the truly spectacular Guadalupe Mountains like no other. This is the place where visitors can experience mountains, canyons, desert and dunes all at the same time.
Big Bend National Park
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This spot may be a bit more familiar to some as "The Big Bend of the Rio Grande." This National Park on the border of Texas and Mexico is where outdoor enthusiasts can see birds resting in their sanctuaries, watch the cactus bloom, and encounter a black bear in the same day. It is both mountainous and riparian, a spot where the Rio Grande River has carved its bed out of ancient limestone formations for generations. The beauty of Big Bend can take your breath away.
Those are the only two official National Parks in the Lone Star State. What follows is a list of national recreation areas, monuments, preserves, historical sites and historic trails that anyone would love to see. The list and info comes from the National Park Service.
Alibates Flint Quarries
Located in Fritch, Texas, this national monument site is renowned as being the location where mammoth hunters some 13,000 years ago mined for the flint that they used on their hunts. A visit to the Alibates Flint Quarries grants you a view of the many colors of the beautiful Alibates flint that still exists in the Texas panhandle.
Amistad National Recreation Area
Located in Del Rio, the Amistad National Recreation Area is considered to be an oasis in the desert. For most outdoorsmen and women, the Amistad is best known for its superb water-based recreation, camping, hiking, rock art viewing, and its rich cultural history.
Big Thicket National Preserve
Beaumont, Texas is home the Big Thicket Preserve where hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different plush regions, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. Texas is known for its tremendous wildlife biodiversity, and this is one of the best places to view it in all its glory.
Chamizal National Memorial
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In an age when immigration and border issues weigh heavily on our minds, this park in El Paso is a reminder of the harmonious settlement of a 100-year boundary dispute. It is easy to find and easy to visit, and although a bit more urban in its setting, is a wonderful place to relax and visit.
El Camino Real de los Tejas Historical Trail
El Camino Real de los Tejas celebrates both Texas and Louisiana as it shares a border and pleases folks from every direction. This is a great place to come to learn about the growth of cattle ranching during its Mexican period, and the movement towards eventual Texan independence and statehood.
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Historial Trail
A great place to visit to walk and learn the details of its history, this historical trail occupies the opposite border between Texas and New Mexico. Here is where the truth about hundreds of years of conflict along our shared borders was resolved using cooperation, cultural exchange, and simple understanding of the mutual needs of many different peoples.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
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Fort Davis, Texas is the backdrop for this learning site that is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the entire Southwest region. Strategically located on the Chihuahua Trail, Fort Davis was a hub for the mail coaches and freight wagons that kept the frontier open for those who wanted to begin a better life.
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Also located in Fritch, Lake Meredith is replete with water-based opportunities for travelers that would not only like to see where ancient humans lived and hunted, but do it from the water. This beautiful lake system has many hidden coves and is a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife that come to rest on their journey both north and south.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical park
Named after one of Texas' most famous citizens, the Lyndon B. Johnson park in Johnson City celebrates the life and times of our 36th President in an amazing setting.
Padre Island National Seashore
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The name alone is synonymous with outdoor recreation and fun, but the fact remains that Padre Island near Corpus Christi provides protection for some 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with wildlife. This area is well known for being one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
Palo Alto Battlefield
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Brownsville, Texas marks another in a long line of battles between the budding United States and Mexico, but it is meant more to preserve the site of this notable battle and provide an understanding of why it happened.
Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River Area
The southwest Texas Rio Grande river system beautifully winds its way through stunning desert expanses and canyons of stratified rock that can be seen by anyone willing to take to the waters and relax. It is said to be the ultimate in solitude and reflection for those who choose to visit it.
San Antonio Missions
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is located in the beautiful city of San Antonio. It's a place where visitors can see and hear all about the famous conflict, but more importantly, come to understand why early humans settled there for not only its beauty, but for its reliable sense of community for all. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
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This Waco, Texas monument site is where all the history of the hunt for the wooly mammoth can be learned to remind us of the difficulties of survival for early humans in the southwest. As the National Park Service tell us, "Today, the fossil specimens represent the nation's first and only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of ice age Columbian mammoths." It is amazing to know that these creatures roamed what is now the Lone Star State.
Why You Should Visit Texas National Parks and Recreational Areas
Beyond providing visitors with hiking trails, guided tours, great road trips, horseback riding, kayaking, boating, and history, tourists can find an amazing array of things to do in Texas that go above and beyond the reach of just seeing the big cities.
Texas really is quite big. In fact it is said that you can travel across the state form sunrise to sunset and still not make it all the way through!
While this is probably true, the fact remains that this great state is home to abundant natural wonders. Take the steps to get all the right information that you need to see one of these incredible outdoor recreational areas, and embark on your own Texas adventure!