Discover 10 national parks in Texas. Whether it’s a day trip to a nearby park or a multi-day adventure, the national parks in Texas offer the opportunity to escape the everyday.Less
In the southwest of Texas, Amistad National Recreation Area is the United States portion of International Amistad Reservoir, formed on the Rio Grande along the border of the U.S. and Mexico. While the park is known for its world-class fishing and boating, you can also go camping, kayaking, hiking, or even scuba diving. Don’t miss the dramatic prehistoric Native American paintings, accessible by boat or on foot in the upper reaches of Amistad Reservoir.
With over 40 miles of hiking trails, and camping, kayaking, canoeing, and birdwatching opportunities, Big Thicket is the perfect national park escape. About 90 miles outside of Houston, this park was established to protect its unique biological diversity. Its hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems. With 15 separate sections, or units, of developed or primitive parkland, there’s lots to explore – make sure to grab a map!
If presidential history is more your speed, make sure to visit Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, also known as the Texas White House, just 90 minutes outside of San Antonio. The park tells the story of our 36th President, including the influences of his family and the surrounding Texas Hill Country, as well as his impact on his hometown.
Nothing can compare to a day at the beach. Get away to Padre Island National Seashore to explore 70 miles of uninterrupted seashore, take in the gulf’s breeze, sandy beaches, prairies, and wind tidal flats, and maybe even spot some of the area’s precious marine wildlife. The park is the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, and serves as an important nesting beach for the Kemp’s ridley, the most endangered sea turtle in the world.
Preserving the scene of the 1846 clash between Mexican and U.S. troops, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, located in the southern tip of Texas, is the only NPS site with a primary focus on the US-Mexican War. The battle was the first in a two year-long war that changed the map of North America. Walk in the footsteps of history by exploring the park's trails, go birdwatching, or take a guided tour of the site to learn more about the area’s history.
Laying just south of downtown San Antonio, this park protects four Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves the history and legacy of Spanish missions, part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Trace the footsteps of the mission friars and the people indigenous to the region who foreswore their traditional life to become Spanish.
A couple of hours outside Austin, Waco Mammoth National Monument is a paleontological site protecting the only nursery herd of Columbian mammoths in the U.S., discovered in 1978. Explore fossils of female mammoths, a bull mammoth, and the ancient relatives of antelope, alligator, giant tortoise, and more. Tour the Dig Shelter, where the fossils are housed in situ, meaning still in their original position within the bone bed.
A remote destination in the southwest of Texas along the Mexican border, Big Bend National Park is a great spot to seek solitude and relaxation. The park itself is larger than the state of Rhode Island, and features 150 miles of hiking trails, unparalleled dark night skies perfect for stargazing, a stretch of the Rio Grande, paved driving trails, and more. When planning your trip to Big Bend, make sure to set aside time to get to and from this expansive park!
In northern Texas lies Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, the site of hand-dug quarry pits of flint used by people for thousands of years. Prehistoric people came to this spot for the raw materials for their tools and weapons – this flint being distinctive for its many bright colors. Take a ranger-guided hiking tour of the monument’s flint quarries, a one-mile round-trip hike, or catch a hands-on demonstration at the park’s visitor center.
In western Texas near the Texas-New Mexico border, Guadalupe Mountains National Park features the highest point in the state. Below Guadalupe Peak lies a national park of striking natural beauty, with winding trails that meander through serene forests, spots of captivating local history, and the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef. Campers, hikers, and thrill-seekers will love exploring the park’s deserts, dunes, canyons, mountains, and much more.