The State of Texas is huge and so is the state park system. There are currently 80 state parks in Texas waiting to be enjoyed. They make nice destinations, but frankly. most of them are pretty ordinary. Insert generic campsite in the woods here. If you want to be around a bunch of fellow RV’ers, any one of them will do.
If you want something a little better though, you have to dig a little deeper. There are a few gems in the Texas state park system that you truly must add to your bucket list.
These are parks that you must see, even if you do not live in Texas. The ones that are worth traveling across the country to see.
So, without further delay, here is my list.
#3 Palo Duro Canyon
When most people think about Texas, they think about vast stretches of flat ranch land. While that is true about much of the state, there are special places like Palo Duro Canyon. If you were just looking at a picture of Palo Duro Canyon, with no explanation, you would think it was taken in Arizona.
The Canyon is actually the second deepest in the country which makes it so amazing that so few people really know about it. I guess it is hard living in the shadow of the Grand Canyon.
The Palo Duro Canyon is around 120 miles with an average width of about miles. It has an average depth of about 800 feet but it does sink down further than 1000 feet in some places.
Palo Duro Canyon Tips
- Drive The Loop
While ate the park, be sure to take the Palo Duro Canyon Loop. It is a roughly 30 minute drive without stops but it should take you much longer if you stop to take in the views along the way.
- Stop At The “Big Cave”
You can’t miss it as it is just off the main road. A very short hike gets you to an interesting site with a lot of photo ops.
- Bring Lots Of Water & Sunscreen
Do not underestimate how much hotter it is on a canyon floor.
- Bring A Mountain Bike
If you bike, bring it. These trails are made for mountain biking and you will be able to cover so much more ground.
#2 Big Bend Ranch State Park
Vast is the word that best describes this 300,000 acres state park along the Mexico border. If you truly want to feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, this is where to go.
If you decide to plan a “bucket list” trip to Big Bend, you might be confused because there are actually two Big Bend parks in the area. You have Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. The national park is much more developed and nearly 3 times the size. If you have an RV, that would be the place to go.
For me though, if you want the real experience, you want the State park, Big Bend Ranch. It has only one paved road in the park and very desirable primitive roadside camping.
#1 Devils River State Natural Area
The most undisturbed and natural river in the state of Texas. Named for the Whitewater river that flows through it, the Devils River State Natural Area is mad of 3 ecosystems. You have the Edwards Plateau, The Tamaulipan mezquital and the Chihuahuan Desert
The Devils River State Natural Area is about as natural as it gets, so be prepared to pack it in and pack it out.