State Parks Getaways E-Newsletter: Fall Edition

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family camping, kids geocaching

In This Issue: Help Plant 4 Million Trees in Bastrop | Join the 2013 Geocache Challenge - Begins Oct. 1 | Bringing History to Life Outside | Parks Rebound From Wildfire | Government Canyon SNA to Open Campground | Bison Celebration Days This Weekend | Your Ticket To Outdoor Fun: A State Park Pass | Original Tram Car Returns to Franklin Mountains | Try Outdoor Livin’ At Lake Livingston


Join the 2013 Geocache Challenge - Begins Oct. 1

3 kids  sitting, learning about geocaching
Within our treasured parks, hunt for even more treasure. The upcoming 2013 Geocache Challenge is a great excuse to spend time in nature while you can practice your GPS skills hunting for hidden caches within participating state parks. Pick some basic tips in this Geocaching Intro video.   

We have hidden a special geocache in many state parks, historic sites, and natural areas for you to find. The state will be broken up into seven different regions and a different prize will be available in each region.

Get ready with a Geocaching 101 workshop at a state park near you. Dozens of state parks will be hosting these September how-to-geocache workshops including teaching you what to bring with you.

Sign up to receive Geocache Challenge Updates by email.

Bringing the family or the neighborhood kids? Kids age 12 and under always get in free. But if your party consists of more than one adult / children over 12, you will save money by purchasing a Texas State Parks Pass. For $70 the pass will get you and all of the occupants of your vehicle into every state park at no cost for a full year. The Texas State Parks Pass can be purchased at any state parks or by calling (512) 389-8900.

Help Plant 4 Million Trees in Bastrop

table holding trays of loblolly pine seedlings
Bastrop State Park is ready for visitors.

And it’s getting ready for some new permanent residents - a couple of million trees. That’s the goal of a five-year replanting effort announced in August to restore the historic Lost Pines Forest as well as help Central Texans in the affected area gain access to native tree species for replanting on private land. Watch this video update on the park and reforestation project.

The Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign is a public-private partnership to raise money to plant more than 4 million trees on public and private land. The Arbor Day Foundation will lead forest recovery fundraising, while the state parks and forest agencies will serve as on-the-ground partners in the five-year effort. The foundation has already secured financial commitments from several corporate sponsors, including Mary Kay, Inc., FedEx, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Nokia and Apache Corporation. Read more details in this recent story.

One dollar will buy one loblolly pine tree seedling. Anyone (you) can donate online, as well as find links to volunteer opportunities.

The September 2011 fire destroyed more homes than any other in state history, and it raged through 95 percent of the 6,600-acre Bastrop State Park, as well surrounding private forest lands.

"He who plants a tree plants a hope." - Lucy Larcom

Bringing History to Life Outside

red stagecoach, picket fence, people in costume
History’s better outside, especially in state parks. We’re talking frontier forts, pictographs, battle sites, farms, historic missions, Buffalo Soldiers, and the Civilian Conservation Corps just to name a few. Have a favorite type of history?

Check this list of historic opportunities. The calendar of history events includes talks, tours and re-enactments sure to bring the past into the present.

Parks Rebound from Wildfire

wide view of lake, wooded shore, skyline
"PK is OK!" That translates to: Possum Kingdom State Park is ready for you!   The park's cabins and campgrounds weren’t damaged in the fires of 2011 and 2012, and they are ready for visitors wanting to enjoy the famous crystal-clear waters of this North Texas paradise.  Visitors can rent canoes, boats or fishing equipment at the park store and marina.  Check this video and plan at trip to Possum Kingdom State Park for an “A-OK” family getaway!

New green growth blankets Davis Mountains and Davis Mountains State Park, too. The park is bouncing back after last year’s Rockhouse fire.  Flames scorched about one-quarter of the 2,700-acre park in April of 2011, but recent rains have provided a soft green blanket of fresh vegetation that envelopes the park’s campground and the historic Indian Lodge. Some visitors ask if they are in Ireland!

Make your reservations online today for your next trip to either of these parks.

Government Canyon SNA to Open Campground

rocky creeky with woods along bank
For the first time since it opened in 2005, Government Canyon State Natural Area will allow overnight camping in its front country, walk-in tent campground beginning Friday, October 5. Visitors can find a unique and rustic camping experience in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. Read more detail in this story.

The campground will be open Friday and Saturday nights only, and will offer 23 walk-in campsites and 2 walk-in group campsites for tent campers only. Vehicle parking spaces will be located nearby, with pedestrian trails leading to each site. Water faucets and two self-composting toilets will be centrally located throughout the campground. Campsites will cost $18 per night, plus the standard per-person entrance fee of $6 (entrance fee waived with valid Texas State Parks Pass).

Visit the Government Canyon web page to see campground maps and campsite photographs.  Reserve a campsite online.

Bison Celebration Days This Weekend

bison close up in field
For a last-minute outdoor destination, try this weekend’s Bison Celebration Days at Caprock Canyons State Park. Get close to the descendants of the Southern Plains bison herd that once dominated the Great Plains. Living history encampments, an outdoor classroom field day, and a benefit BBQ lunch will keep you entertained. And a Sunday afternoon performance by Texas’ own Grammy Award-winning Asleep at the Wheel will get your toes tappin’. Bring your bike to take full advantage of the 64-mile Rails to Trails opportunity and your blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the concert.

Visit the website for the event schedule and show tickets.

Thanks to these sponsors for their generous support of the 2012 Bison Celebration Days event: ASCO Equipment Rental, Inc, Thunder Heart Bison, Caprock Partners Foundation, Texas Bison Association, Napa Auto Parts, Valley Farm Store, Cowboy Up Energy Drink, Happy State Bank and First National Bank, Quitaque.
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Your Ticket to Outdoor Fun: A State Park Pass

State Park Pass
If you're looking for some cheap family thrills, invest in a State Parks Pass.  You can choose between purchasing a single pass for $70 (admits one carload of visitors each trip) or the two card option for $85. If you purchase a single Pass card, a second card can be added anytime after the original purchase for $25. In addition to granting you and your carload of guests unlimited entry to more than 90 state parks, a Texas State Parks Pass also gives you benefits like discount camping coupons and a 10% discount on items purchased in State Park Stores.

A State Parks Pass can be purchased during your next visit to a state park or by calling our Customer Service Center at (512) 389-8900.

Hundreds of camp sites, thousands of miles of trails, 900 miles of bike paths, endless wildlife watching, fishing (no license needed in state parks), climbing, caves, and memories await. Cheap, healthy thrills where your dollars go further and the memories last forever.

Original Tram Car Returns to Franklin Mountains

aerial view of tram gondola
“Old #2” gondola was a bit of an endangered species. Back in 1960 the Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park was known as the El Paso Aerial Tramway when it first opened to the public.

When its first two passenger gondolas, known today as “Old #1” and “Old #2” were replaced in 1970, Old #2 retired to life as a telephone booth at Utility Trailer Co., the design firm for the new gondolas. When the company went out of business in 1974, Old #2 stayed behind, and the Barnett Harley-Davidson opened there.

In 2001, a park visitor who noticed the tram car in the Harley-Davidson parking lot worked with park staff and Mr. Barnett to return the tram car to the park. So, after a 42-year absence, Old #2 is finally back home at Wyler Aerial Tramway and will soon join its buddy, Old #1, on display to the public. View a part of the Tramway’s history and ride the present-day tram for a mile-high vista (catch a glimpse in this park video).

Try Outdoor Livin’ at Lake Livingston

father and two children fishing
Where in east Texas can you camp, picnic, mountain bike, horseback ride, study nature, fish for crappie, perch, catfish and bass and ride around in a boat? And find it all about 75 miles north of Houston? If you answered, “Lake Livingston State Park, I presume,” you’d be right.

East Texas piney woods and one of the largest lakes in the state make Lake Livingston State Park a great fall destination. Take a look at the park in this video.

Need some camping practice? This park will host a Texas Outdoor Family workshop October 27. Can't make the date? Check the Calendar for future workshops in other parks.

The Park Store and Marina is privately operated and open all year long, with limited hours from December to February. The store offers groceries, ice, bait, tackle, firewood, camping and RV supplies, souvenirs, T-shirts and mountain bike rentals. The marina offers fuel on the water and boat rentals. Boat rentals include paddle boats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats. Horse rentals are also nearby.

Make reservations online or by calling (512) 389-8900.
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Thanks to the following sponsors and partners:
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