State Parks Getaways – May 2022

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Road Trip! Mustang Island

Mustang Park beach, with video link

Named after wild horses that once roamed here, Mustang Island is just south of Port Aransas. The horses are long gone, but a taste of the wild remains in this park located along 5 miles of unspoiled beach. 

You'll find 98 campsites, 20 miles of paddling trails and plenty of space for  beachcombing. At the end of day, build a campfire on the beach, then watch the sunset and thousands of stars light up the night sky.

Waters around the park are rich in sea life, including sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins. Avoid stingrays and jellyfish in or out of the water. If you're into fishing, some of the best is right here – and you don't need a license to fish in state parks. 

Come for the day, a weekend or longer – but don't forget to make reservations before you head to this must-see seaside park. 

So Many Sweet Spots for a Swim

Swimmers leaping into Inks Lake, with video link

Summer heat has started creeping in, but our natural waters are still crisp with spring's chill. Ready for a refreshing swim? There are 48 parks with lakes, rivers or creeks for your swimming delight. Here's a sample:

If you want to bring a group for a swim day, great idea! But be sure to get all your day passes ahead of time. It's also a good idea to contact the park directly and tell them you plan to swim if you have a group of 10 or more.

To find out how supporting the future of wildlife can also help preserve water quality, watch our short video Act Now to Save Fish and Wildlife! 

Take These 4 Steps to Water Safety

2 boys in life jackets splashing in water

Water activities like swimming and floating can be big fun – especially in Texas, where we have so many places to play. But don't forget basic swimming safety.  Take these 4 simple steps to safety:

1. Supervise children closely

2. Children should wear a life jacket when around water

3. Avoid alcohol if you plan to get in the water

4. Learn how to swim and teach your children to swim

If you swim in the Gulf, stay aware of rip currents and thunderstorms by checking the Surf Forecast.  

Pets at Parks: Be a B.A.R.K. Ranger

Ranger John holding puppy, video link

Ranger John is back with a new sidekick, Queso the puppy. They share the do's and don'ts of bringing pets into parks in the video, B.A.R.K. Ranger Program. B.A.R.K. stands for:

  • Bag your poop
  • Always be on leash
  • Respect wildlife
  • Know where pets can go

Look over the Leave No Trace principles Ranger John mentions. These are the 7 best actions we can all take to minimize impact when we're in parks and other wild spaces.

State Parks license plate, link

Wonderful Wild Things in Your Parks

Dan holding trail cam, with video link

Porcupines and prairie dogs, fish and foxes, birds and bats – these are just a few of the wild things that call your parks home. 

Daniel Torres is a resource specialist at Ray Roberts Lake, and he uses trail cameras to keep tabs on the wildlife – until the raccoons steal them! See his discoveries in our video, Watching for Wildlife

otter poking its head up out of water, with video link

Watch for wildlife next time you visit a park, but keep a safe distance. Check out the list of park wildlife for an idea of what you'll find. 

Our wildlife and wild spaces will have a better future if the Recovering America's Wildlife Act passes – and you can help. See the story "Speak Up for Our Wildlife and Wild Spaces," below, for details.

Speak Up for Our Wildlife & Wild Spaces

river flowing out of a canyon, with video link

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) is a bill that will provide Texas with funds to preserve our wildlife, as well as the water and wild spaces wildlife needs to survive. The passage of this bill would cause an increase in outdoor recreational areas and outdoor-related jobs. Watch the video Recovering America's Wildlife Act Is a Game-Changer for Texas Wildlife to learn more.

Speak up for our wild things. Contact your federal representative and senators, and tell them you expect their support of RAWA. You can make a difference. 

Toyota Tundra ad with link

Messages from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine advertisers:

Houston Botanic Garden, with link

Lunatec ad, with link