Texas may be known for rodeos and barbecues, but its national parks are also worth discovering when on an adventure.
Texas has breathtaking scenery and shorelines that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Landscapes in Texas are unparalleled, from the vast wilderness of Big Bend to the scenic dunes of Padre Island.
Explore the 11 Best National Parks in Texas
Technically, Texas has only two national “parks”: Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, both of which are located in far west Texas.
Each of these properties is included in our comprehensive list of national parks in Texas.
National parks in Texas offer affordable and diverse vacation options–no matter where you live in Lone Star State, there’s (at least) one particular park within a day’s drive of you!
Check out our top picks for national parks in Texas to be surrounded by natural beauty and rich history.
Best National Parks in Texas to Visit
1. Big Bend National Park
Texas National Park along the Rio Grande
Big Bend is rightly one of the largest national parks in Texas. It is located on the Rio Grande River’s large bend, close to the US-Mexico border.
The terrain is incredibly diverse here. It includes everything from desert land to deeply carved river canyons to towering mountain peaks. Big Bend National Park may be the most Instagrammable national park in Texas.
Spend your time biking, hiking, or fishing. Take a river trip or go horseback riding for something a little different.
Long, scenic drives can be taken on both paved and dirt roads. They also take you deeper into the park, where fewer people usually go.
2. Amistad Reservoir
Del Rio National Recreation Area in Texas
The Amistad Reservoir is located along the Rio Grande, straddling the border between the United States and Mexico. The area smites photographers because of its scenic landscapes and sparkling water.
It’s ideal for an afternoon of boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports. Prehistoric rock paintings known as pictographs can be found on land.
In the area, over 325 pictograph sites have been documented. This is one of the most beautiful national parks in Texas.
3. Big Thicket National Preserve
Beaumont National Preserve is a national preserve in Texas.
The National Park Service’s Big Thicket National Preserve has 40 miles of hiking trails. You can go bird watching in the spring or fall.
Canoes and kayaks can be rented to explore the lakes and bayous. Big Thicket offers hunting for part of the year and off-road biking for the rest.
Big thicket national preserve, also known as “America’s ark,” is one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems.
There are 60 mammal species, 86 reptile and amphibian species, 300 bird species, and 1,320 tree species in this habitat. But wait, there’s more!
There are numerous other flora and fauna species to be found throughout the park.
Paddling, hiking, fishing, hunting, and backcountry camping are popular activities in the Big thicket national preserve. This is one of the most beautiful national parks in Texas.
4. Alibates Flint Quarries
Fritch National Monument in Texas
The colourful Alibates of flint Quarries that drew prehistoric people to this site can be seen by visitors. The area is also densely forested with petroglyphs’ ancient carvings in dolomite.
This Texas panhandle National Monument is steeped in history. More than 13,000 years ago, mammoth hunters came to what is now known as the Alibates Flint Quarries to gather stones for their tools.
To see them up close, take a ranger-led quarry tour. Catch a glimpse and learn about the indigenous people who once lived on this fertile land during the tour.
5. Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Park
Johnson City, Texas National Historic Park
Johnson National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of the US located in central Texas, about 50 miles west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.
The park protects Lyndon B. Johnson’s birthplace, home, ranch, and final resting place as the 36th President of the United States.
During Johnson’s presidency, the LBJ Ranch has dubbed the “Texas White House” because the President spent roughly 20% of his time in office there.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas tells the story of our 36th President originally and comprehensively.
The narrative begins with Lyndon B. Johnson’s ancestors, tracing the impact his family and the Texas Hill Country put on the boy and the man.
Visit this significant National Historic Park to learn about our country’s 36th president. Begin your tour at the Johnson Settlement, home to Lyndon B. Johnson’s grandparents in the 1860s.
Your next stop should be President Johnson’s childhood home. He lived in this Texas Hill Country home from five until he graduated from high school. Johnson National Historical Park is one of the fantastic national parks in Texas.
You can take a tour of the sites surrounding the Lyndon B.J. Ranch 14 miles west. It includes the well-known Texas White House, which served as the Johnsons’ private residence.
A wreath-laying ceremony is held at the Johnson family cemetery every year. This event commemorates the President’s birth anniversary on August 27.
6. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Salt Flat National Park in Texas
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas is home to the world’s largest Permian fossil reef. According to the reef, this area has been underwater for five million years!
Guadalupe mountains national park’s stunning vistas have made it a hiker’s paradise. This national park in Texas also contains the state’s four highest peaks and 80 miles of hiking trails.
The difficulty level of the trails is easy to moderate to strenuous. If possible, stay the night. Back country camping in Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains national park provides an unrivaled opportunity for stargazing.
7. Palo Alto Battlefield
Brownsville National Historical Park is located in Brownsville, Texas.
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park was established to commemorate an important historical event while protecting numerous natural resources. More than 3,400 acres of undeveloped land are surrounded by park boundaries.
The park is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life, including many species found only along the US-Mexico border.
The Palo Alto Battlefield park’s defining feature is the broad coastal prairie, which was the site of the first battle of the United States-Mexico War.
This coastal plain is covered in clumps of razor-sharp cordgrass and other low-lying grasses and flowers. It stretches for miles to the east, toward the Gulf of Mexico. It is only broken up by a few trees, yuccas, and prickly-pear cacti.
This National Historical Park preserved the 1846 Battle of Palo Alto Battlefield grounds. The battle was sparked by a border dispute following the Republic of Texas annexation.
It was called the first major battle of the two-year war between the United States and Mexico.
Visitors to the Palo Alto Battlefield can experience life during the war through living history programs. In living history camps, you can see musket and artillery demonstrations and interact with soldiers.
Put on a replica 19th-century military uniform to experience the sensation of wearing a wool uniform.
You can take a self-guided tour to take you through the battlefield, where historical markers explain historical events. It even welcomes pets!
8. Padre Island National Seashore
Corpus Christi National Seashore in Texas
Padre Island National Seashore is the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island, stretching for 70 miles. It safeguards vital ecosystems, such as the nesting beach of the world’s most endangered sea turtle, the Kemp’s ridley.
Visitors can watch hatchlings being released into the wild, usually from mid-June to August.
Relaxing on the beach, swimming, fishing, camping, kayaking, biking, picnicking, and bird watching are some of the other activities available in this lovely park.
The Padre Island National Seashore is on North Padre Island, not South Padre Island.
9. San Antonio Missions
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is located in the city of San Antonio, Texas.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the four southernmost Spanish colonial missions of San Antonio missions: San José, Concepción, San Juan, and Espada.
In the 18th century, Spanish priests built these walled compounds along the San Antonio missions River.
The Hike and Bike Trail connect downtown San Antonio to all four missions and the Alamo. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is free for everyone.
10. Flint Quarries National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is an archaeological site in northwestern Texas, in the United States. It is located near Borger, 30 miles (48 kilometres) north-northeast of Amarillo.
The border comprises Lake Meredith National to the North and Recreation Area to the west. The monument was established in 1965 as Alibates Flint Quarries national and Texas Panhandle Pueblo Culture National Monument.
Natives of the Clovis complex began extracting the richly coloured and veined Alibates flint from dolomite outcrops in the Canadian River breaks around 12,000 years ago to make projectile points and other sharp-edged tools.
Until about 1870, native peoples continued to quarry flint. The monument also contains several ruined dwellings built by Plains Village Indians who lived in the area between 1150 and 1500 CE.
11. El Ca mino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail
The El Camino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail is a national historic trail that covers the United States portion of the El Camino Real de Los Tejas.
It was a thoroughfare from the 18th-century Spanish colonial era in Spanish Texas that was important in Texas’s settlement, development, and history. Well, in 2004, El Camino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail was added to the beautiful National Trails System.
The modern highways Texas 21 (along with the Texas OSR) and Louisiana 6 roughly follow the trail’s original route.
So these were some of the best national parks in Texas to visit.
Have you visited the national park in Texas mentioned in our list? If yes, which one has been your utmost favourite? If not, which one are you planning to visit next time? Comment below to let us know!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many national parks are in Texas?
Despite its enormous expanse, Texas only boasts Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park as its only official National Parks.
2. What is the most visited national park in Texas?
At the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, trekking Guadalupe Mount is the most popular activity among tourists. The round-trip journey takes about six and eight hours, and the summit offers magnificent scenery of the park.
3. What is the most beautiful state park in Texas?
The biggest state park in Texas is Big Bend Ranch. It is located in West Texas, close to the border with Mexico, and spans more than 300,000 acres of high-desert landscape, offering countless options for adventure.
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