State Parks Getaways - July 2016

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Family fishing

Top Family Fishing & Boating Spots at State Parks

Looking for a family-friendly area for fishing this summer? Do you need a new place to paddle or take out the boat? These four Texas state parks have made this year’s list of America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots:

#19 – Galveston Island State Park / Gulf of Mexico & Galveston Bay

#54 – Blanco State Park / Blanco River, in Central Texas

#62 – Cedar Hill State Park / Joe Pool Lake, in North Central Texas

#95 – Mustang Island State Park / Gulf of Mexico & Corpus Christi Bay

Nearly 650,000 votes determined this year’s choices, so you know they’re worth the trip. Texas state parks are perfect for fishing because you can always fish there for FREE – no license required. Even better, you can borrow fishing gear from many parks to use while you’re there. Just bring bait, sunblock and a smile. 

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Cool Hikes in Summer

Up high

You wouldn’t think that West Texas could keep you cool. But Davis Mountains State Park, at a mile above sea level, has moderate temperatures and little humidity. Hike the Indian Lodge Trail, which passes between sheer cliffs of ancient lava. You’ll find many other trails across this iconic park.

Davis Mountains views

Under trees

This summer, visit a state park that will shield you from the Texas sun with a canopy of trees. Try a hike at Buescher State Park, home of the famous Lost Pines. Or walk Tyler State Park, where the pines grow 100 feet tall and you can cool your feet in a spring-fed lake. 

Tyler hiking map


To REALLY get out of the sun, visit a state park with a cave. At Longhorn Cavern State Park, the cave is a chill 68 degrees year-round. Near Austin, Longhorn Cavern has a variety of tours, even a nighttime paranormal tour! Kickapoo Cavern has formations more than 8 stories tall and offers tours by reservation only.

Caving Events

Summer Park Events


Feel like getting wet this summer? Then join in state park events that get you down to the water and up close to aquatic life. Galveston Island’s Bay Explorations will take you to meet saltwater animals like shrimp and crab. Or check out Inks Lake's Underwater Discovery and explore the freshwater life in the lake.


One popular way to make an outdoors meal is in a Dutch oven, which is a cast iron pot and lid. Come out and learn Dutch oven cooking at your state parks. Some parks offer a series of classes, including Martin Creek Lake. Lake Ray Roberts has a class focused just on desserts. These classes are free with your park entrance fee, but don't forget to bring your own spoon and plate! 


Parks are tailor-made for outdoor activities, so they're good places to find sports-related events. Like to jog? Join the Run for Wellness Free 5k at the San Jacinto Battleground. Or let us introduce you to a new sport – archery, anyone? LBJ hosts free archery clinics and they also supply the equipment for the clinic. Try it!

All State Park Events

Two ways to show your love for Texas State Parks

The Night's Watch

Heavenly Views

Once you get away from artificial lights, the sky itself switches on - stars, planets and the Milky Way gleam overhead. Since many state parks have very little light pollution, they’re the place to be for stargazing. In fact, Copper Breaks and Enchanted Rock are official International Dark Sky Parks. Some parks host star parties, where you can admire celestial bodies through a telescope. Have you ever seen the Milky Way? You’ll find it at night, in a state park.  

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Twilight Flights

Twilight is the right time on summer nights - because that’s when the bats come out! It’s exhilarating to see them burst out of their cave, spiraling upward. Visit any of these 4 parks to watch them: Devil’s Sinkhole, Kickapoo Cavern, Old Tunnel or Caprock Canyons. The bats are usually in Texas from April to September, so summer is the best time to catch their show. We’re lucky they live in our parks, since bats can eat their weight in insects nightly.

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ADV Arts in the Parks

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It’s like a scene right out of Bambi! This curious fawn is seeing a squirrel, for what seems like the first time, at Lake Mineral Wells. You never know what you might discover at a state park, but it’s very likely you’ll see something new. Keep up with all the latest and greatest surprises at Texas state parks by following us on Twitter. 

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Texas State Parks conserve public lands not only for people, but also for wildlife. So when the staff at Martin Dies Jr. discovered this nest-building turtle, they equipped it with an orange cone so it wouldn’t get hit by the lawn mower. See more feats of creative wildlife management by visiting us on Facebook.

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