State Parks Getaways Vacation 2013

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Vacation 2013 kid swimming in goggles

 In This Issue:


Five Ways to Beat the Texas Summer Heat

family swimming in river

When it’s too hot to waltz across Texas, Texans know what to do: get in the water!  Try these five ways to beat the Texas summer heat - lakes, rivers, creeks, beaches, and pools. Check out all your state park swimming choices where you can cool off while enjoying the outdoors.

Whatever your splashy destination, swim safely with these smart safety tips:

  • Learn to swim before heading out to any swimming area.
  • If you are not a strong swimmer or are becoming fatigued, wear a life jacket. Children are strongly encouraged to always wear a life jacket while swimming in lakes and rivers.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – lakes, rivers and streams are natural environments and by their very nature can change frequently including sudden drop offs, changing bottoms and potential for unseen limbs, rocks, etc.
  • Stay hydrated – the summer heat can contribute to dehydration, even when swimming.  It’s wise to take frequent breaks, wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
  • Swim in designated areas where provided.
  • Because of drought conditions, call ahead to your park destination to check on water levels.

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Kids Play Free in Nature in State Parks

junior ranger backpack and contents

Think way back. Did you ever skip rocks, watch clouds, study a bug or run across a field? Besides being just plain fun, playing free in nature helps kids be healthier, happier and smarter and is one of the most enriching activities for children. And there’s no better place for it than a Texas State Park where there is always room to roam, and park entry is always free for children age 12 and under.

And now your kids can be outdoor detectives – for free. Parents can check out a Junior Ranger Explorer Pack at any of the 30 participating state parks, giving kids ages 7-12 a fun way to explore state parks while learning about nature. Each pack includes a pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass, animal tracking key, sketchbook, pencil, crayons and watercolors, colorful guides to identify the flowers, birds, butterflies, trees, rocks, wildlife and plants, plus a journal.

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Paddling Makes a Summer Splash

Park ranger helps child with safety vest

Being on the water is a cooling activity. Learn what state parks have canoes, kayaks or paddle boats to rent and more helpful info on the Paddling Activity page. The Texas Paddling Trails program has added nearly 115 miles of newly launched paddling trails, giving Texas’ 1 million paddlers more room to roam.

Get yourself launched with some quick video tips in “How to Paddle a Canoe”

Follow common sense safety tips, such as:

  • Always wear a life jacket. Children younger than age 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD) while underway.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Be especially careful on personal watercraft.

Read more about boating safely.

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A message from a Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsor

ADV La Quinta

New License Plate to Support Parks

3 new conservation plate choicesHelp us select the design for a new specialty license plate benefiting Texas State Parks. Take a look at the 3 design options and vote now in a very short survey. The new plate, available in the spring of 2014, will join the popular Bluebonnet conservation plate as a second way to benefit state parks.

The plates will be available for your vehicle, motorcycle or trailer for $30 a year in addition to your regular registration fees, with $22 going directly to Texas State Parks.

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Enjoy Stars Over Your Parks on Summer Nights

contest finalist: man, backpacking, night sky

Summertime is a great time to enjoy “Stars Over Your Parks,” a new program that provides quality night-sky viewing for park visitors.  What better place to learn about the wonders of the cosmos than under a dark sky at a Texas State Park near you?

Park staff members at more than 20 state parks offer programs using a “Night Sky” trunk that includes a telescope, binoculars, star charts and location devices, books and reference guides. Find a state park near you and call ahead to see if they have a “Night Sky” stargazing program.  Or, visit the Stargazing Events Calendar to find a star party, moon party, storytelling under the stars, and other ranger programs that will teach you about the night skies. You know what they say about the stars at night in Texas… so come on out and get some stars in your eyes!

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Photo: Finalist from the 2013 State Park Photo Contest

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Preserving Natural Resources: Take It Personally

Kevin Fowler public service announcementProtecting Texas water is not someone else’s problem, says Kevin Fowler in this newly released public service announcement about the Take Care of Texas campaign. Everyone has a role to play in protecting our natural resources – starting with water, which Texans have consistently ranked near the very top of public priorities. City dwellers, farmers, those on well water, and those whose water comes from reservoirs – it’s all Texas water and it’s all connected. 

“I’ve always been an outdoorsman, a big hunter and a big fisherman, and I’m big into land stewardship and water conservation,” says Kevin Fowler. Watch his interview in this behind-the-scenes video.

Learn what you can do in the newly launched campaign to protect all Texas’ resources. Take the online pledge to help and we’ll send you a free Texas State Park Guide.

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Staff Hike Picks: Monument Hill Kreische Brewery

monument, skyline behind

For some Texas history and diverse natural beauty, try this less-traveled hiking trail at Monument Hill Kreische Brewery State Historic Site, a favorite hike of State Parks Director Chris Holmes.

  • Directions: From site headquarters, hike left on Historic and Scenic Trail, left onto Brewery Lane, left onto Schulenburg Ferry Trail, right onto Brewery Lane, left onto Kreische Stairway Trail, and left onto Historic and Scenic Trail for the return to headquarters. Download the park map to help guide you along.
  • Trail length: 1.5 miles, moderate difficulty. Allow 2 hours. Only the Scenic and Historic Trail is wheelchair-accessible.   

Your reward will include a Texas Independence monument to fallen solders, historical structures, woodlands, a chance to see diverse plant and wildlife, Hill Country grasslands, and a spectacular view from the bluff above the river.

Tours of the house with its newly restored furnishings occur most weekends, a perfect ending to one of Texas’ best kept almost-secret hikes.

 When hiking:

  • Tread lightly on natural resources: stay on the trails, don't litter and take nothing but photos.
  • Protect the integrity of historic structures by respecting out of bounds areas.

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A message from a Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine advertiser

advertisement Visit El Paso climber cliff

Make Camping Reservations Online 24/7

family at picnic table, with tent nearby

It’s midnight and you just remembered to make your camping reservations for today. Don’t lose any sleep! You have up to 5 a.m. to plan your next trip to a state park with online reservations. 

  • We strongly recommend that all new customers create an account before using this site. Once you’ve logged in, choose a park destination from the Selected Parks Menu and select your trip dates.
  • A list of campsite names and their availability will appear at the bottom of the page. If a particular campsite option is unavailable, click on the Calendar Search icon to see a full listing of available dates for the next eleven months.
  • After you select a park, input your Equipment/Lodging Type and the Number of People per Site to further narrow your search.
  • On the next screen, you can choose the number of sites to reserve.
  • Make cancellations and find information on your reservations at My Account. For problems logging in and making reservations, Click on TROUBLESHOOTING at the top of the page 

Plan ahead and reserve your state park camping accommodations today

Group Facility, Cabin and Hotel Room reservations can be made by calling the State Park Telephone Reservations at (512) 389-8900, weekdays 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. A short, quick menu routes calls directly to a specialized customer service agent to help you with your particular need. 

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View “Park-tacular” Photo Contest Winners

1st prize - bridge across water at sunset

How do we love our state parks? Entries to the 2013 State Parks Photo Contest help us count the ways. Take a look at the winners and honorable mentions and all the great entries from this year's contest.

Learn more about taking great pictures. Attend a state park photography workshop from our Photography workshop calendar and check out this collection of “how to” articles from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

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Enjoy a Brief Hike Down TPWD’s Memory Lane

vintage park visitorsThrough good times and lean, much needed brain and brawn to keep the parks humming along has come from park volunteers, beginning with the first friends group formed to support Washington-on-the-Brazos in 1955.

Learn more about volunteers’ contributions to over 50 state parks in “My Best Friend is a Park” from the special 50th anniversary issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Then enjoy the full issue exploring 50 years of protecting Texas’ wild places and creatures.

You know times have changed when you watch “Planning Parks for People,”  a 1970s video that describes planning a new park without benefit of Google Earth, GIS mapping or any of today’s routine technological tools. Check out the cars and camping gear too.

Sign up to become a Texas Parks and Wildlife Ambassador and pledge to do things like visit state parks, take a kid hunting or fishing, or share a story or photo showcasing what makes life better outside in Texas. We’ll send you a free “Life’s better outside” window sticker and a free copy of the 50th Anniversary issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. 

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Thanks to the following sponsors and partners:

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Nature Rocks