Texas State Parks

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Texas State Parks

It’s not the Bahamas, but Texas State Parks can offer surprisingly enjoyable getaways for a fantastic price. The Hill Country offers a bevy of beautiful state parks within a two hour drive. Whether it’s a day of picnicking and fishing or a full-fledged camping trip, there are over a dozen state parks in the Hill Country region alone.

Less money in the vacation budget this year doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is destined to spend the summer hanging out in the backyard. Even if camping, hiking or fishing have never been activities someone has tried before, a day spent at a local state park may offer some surprisingly simple fun.

At a little over an hour’s drive, Inks Lake State Park is a great example of a fast, fun getaway. If tent camping sounds a little too rustic, Inks Lake SP offers small air-conditioned cabins. However, the prettiest campsites are those right along the edge of the lake, which have water but no electricity available. Bathrooms with showers are located throughout the well-maintained park. Basic camping equipment, like a tent, sleeping bags and cooking supplies can be bought for less than price of one airline ticket.

If a day trip for hiking sounds a little more doable, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is the perfect destination. The park just north of Fredericksburg Texas is a popular weekend destination, so a weekday trip may offer a better opportunity to fully enjoy all this park has to offer.

Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970, and opened as a State Park in 1986. It is said that the huge, pink granite dome has attracted visitors to the Enchanted Rock area for 11,000 years, including the Tonkawa Indians who gave it the name Enchanted Rock for the explorers who seem to disappear into the magical rocks. Hikers of all levels can enjoy exploring the rock face that rises 1825 feet above sea level and covers 640 acres.

Farther destinations include Colorado Bend, Garner, Devil’s Sink Hole and Kickapoo Caverns. All of these state parks offer their own unique beauty, from prehistoric caverns to rocky terrain to peaceful lakes. Tons of helpful information about all of the Texas State Parks can be found on the web at the state of Texas website.

Throughout the year the state parks offer a variety of activities. This month, for example, the closest park McKinney Fall SP is offering a day at the park for kids to ride bikes, go on nature hikes, learn about archery and study fossils. Or adults can take a free class to learn the basics of flyfishing.

Perhaps the Texas State Park service says it best: “Few states can match the breadth of activities offered by Texas state parks. From horseback riding and aerial tram rides to world-class fishing, mountain biking and beautiful scenery, our state parks have it all.” So go exploring this spring and discover what’s right in Austin’s own backyard. It sure beats sitting around the house.