State Parks Getaways Spring Edition

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In This Issue:

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Turns 50

man admiring panoramic view at sunsetLovers of state parks, wildlife, and life outside have many reasons to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Texas Parks and Wildlife, which was created by the 1963 merger of the Texas Game and Fish Commission and the State Parks Board.


Visit our birthday card to you to see vintage photos, watch a video that just may give you goose bumps, and enjoy tales of memorable moments in the Texas outdoors.

Here a few key state park accomplishments of the last 50 years:

  • 1967 – The Texas legislature approves the first-ever parks bond issue, the “Connally Bonds.” The result: $75 million, nine new parks, seven historic areas and a scenic area. Later, park entrance fees helped retire the bonds.
  • 1981-1988 – TPWD acquires 24,000 acres in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso County, creating the largest urban wilderness park in the United States and doubles the acreage of state park system with the purchase of the 215,000-acre Big Bend Ranch.
  • 2008 – The Texas Outdoor Family Program kicks off. Since then, 2,708 urban families have participated in the one- and two-day workshops at dozens of state parks, learning how to camp, cook outdoors, identify wildlife, fish, kayak, geocache and more.

    Be a part of our 50th anniversary celebration. Share your Texas stories and photos that show “life’s better outside,” and become a Texas Parks and Wildlife Ambassador by pledging to take one or more actions (such as introducing someone to the great outdoors, visiting a state park, volunteering or buying a fishing or hunting license). We’ll send Ambassadors a free “Life’s better outside” window sticker.

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State Parks Photo Contest: Enter Your Finest

man, 2 kids explore a foggy creek

A picture says a thousand words about the wonders of state parks. Enter your most inspirational state park photo(s) in the Texas State Parks Photo Contest, March 1 – April 30, 2013.  Prizes include a GoPro video camera ($400 value) from Whole Earth Provision Co., a Weekend Camping Excursion in the state park of your choice and a Texas Outdoor Family Workshop.

To enter, go to the contest page. Sign into Flickr. Select “Join This Group” to be added to “Texas State Parks Photo 2013 Contest,” then upload your entries. Be sure to tag the state park where the photo was taken.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department photo contest is open to all photographers 18 years of age and older, except TPWD employees and their immediate family. Winners will be contacted on or about May 15 through their Flickr accounts. Read complete contest rules.

Image: "Foggy Falls" by Witt Duncan taken at McKinney Falls State Park, TPWD Spring Break 2011 photo contest winner, People/Activity Category.

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Great Texas Birding Classic Comes to State Parks

hummingbird at a feederThe world’s biggest, longest and wildest bird-watching tournament – the Great Texas Birding Classic – is going statewide this year! See what the tournament is all about. As always, registration fees contribute to conservation grants and winning teams help select which projects are funded. Read more in this story.

In the new State Park Tournament, teams can choose to stay within a park boundary for the tournament day and compete against other state park teams through the state. The Classic runs from April 15 to May 15 (a new month-long format), and teams can choose on the fly what day they wish to participate based on weather, personal schedules, work, school, other obligations, etc. Registration ends April 1.

Whether your birding interest is intense or casual, you can join the tournament excitement by birdwatching in your favorite state park. Find more detailed information online about how to participate, tournament categories, registration fees, tips from past participants, birding ethics and tournament rules.

All ages welcome. For a taste of the Birding Classic, watch the action of the "The Thrashers," a youthful team from 1997 that won its category by focusing on birds instead of chicks.

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A message from a Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine advertiser

Ad: AT&T Performing Arts Center

Use promo code EARLYBIRD for 20% off tickets.

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Fishing Is Free and Always Fun in State Parks

close up of fishing bobber, anglers in backgroundHuck Finn would have loved fishin’ in Texas' state parks where fishing is always free  (no license required) and the fish are usually plentiful. We can’t promise they’ll always take your bait, but we can promise it'll be a terrific way to spend some relaxing time in the outdoors.

Adults and youth can learn to fish or sharpen their skills through the many fishing classes and derbies on tap at state parks this spring. Find state parks where you can fish as well as fishing 101 tips and how to fish videos.

The kids in your life will never forget learning about one of America’s favorite pastimes and the time you spent together making memories on the water.

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Backpack through a Texas State Park

man, woman hiking woodsy trail with gearWant to simplify your weekend? Few things are as liberating as hitting the trail in a Texas State Park with everything you need for a couple of days of scenery and solitude on your back. Enjoy wildflowers and quiet creeks on a Saturday morning, as you search for the perfect home-away-from-home at one of a park’s primitive walk-in sites.

As the sun sets, weekend pioneers take in the sounds of the wild from a campsite under some of the darkest skies in the state. After coffee and a backcountry breakfast, they can lazily enjoy the last of a hiking loop and make their way back to civilization. Ready for your next adventure? These parks have popular backpacking loops you can try:

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Easter Egg Hunts Don't Last. Geocaches Do.

hand holding GPS deviceMove over, Easter Egg Hunt! The search for treasure can last all year.  Geocaching weaves nature, technology and learning into one fun, exciting package. Spring is a great time to join this ongoing treasure hunt in state parks.

Specially hidden treasures or “caches” can be found at about 90 state parks across Texas using a global positioning system (GPS) unit or app on your smart phone. Watch this video to get the idea. Read up on how it’s done in “´╗┐Natural Treasure Hunt” from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Locate the coordinates of Texas State Parks’ caches. Prizes await those who complete a Geocache Passport.

Searching for a reason to get the kids or the family outside in the spring weather? This could be it. To jump start the fun, attend a Geocaching 101 workshop.

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Something for Everyone at San Angelo State Park

biker speeding along trailWhat do nature hikes, mountain bike races, fishing with a ranger, trail clean-up, bird walks, wildflower tours, and wiener dog races – yes, wiener dog races – have in common?  All of these activities and more are yours at San Angelo State Park during March and April.  Sample the action in this video.

In this 7,677-acre park visitors can picnic, camp, ride their horses, watch wildlife, and check out the three-level orienteering course. Not enough? Try viewing prehistoric rock art and ancient animal tracks or admiring a portion of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. Truly something for everyone! Make a reservation for your next overnight visit or stop by for a day visit anytime.

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Go Where You Want to Go With a State Parks Pass

State Park PassIt’s more than a pass. It’s a passport to some of Texas’ best places. As a Texas State Parks Pass holder, you and your carload of guests can enjoy unlimited visits to more than 90 Texas State Parks, without paying the daily entrance fee. You can also receive discounts on camping, park store merchandise and recreational equipment rentals.

State Parks Passes can be purchased on site at any Texas State Park location, and can be used on your very first visit. Or, you can purchase your Parks Pass from the State Park Customer Service Center, by calling (512) 389-8900.

The single Texas State Parks Pass (Primary Pass) may be purchased for $70. An additional pass may be issued at the time of purchase for an additional $15. Additional passes sold any time after the original transaction may be purchased for $25. Primary and secondary pass holders must reside at the same address.

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