Texas is a huge place with a vast and diverse variety of scenery and things to do. If you’ve never been to Texas, you might think that the landscape is all desert and hot and arid, but that’s not the case at all.
Texas is home to some absolutely beautiful national parks. There are over 100 national parks and state parks found throughout Texas.
Lots of them are covered in lush vegetation and are extremely green and vibrant. Some of the others are more desert-like.
If you want to experience natural beauty in all its glory, The Lone Star State is the perfect place for you to explore.
In this article, we will be showcasing some of the best national parks you can find in Texas, so if you don’t know where to start and you’re looking for one to explore, keep reading!
Big Thicket National Preserve
You can find Big Thicket National Preserve in Southeast Texas. It is now a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve and is home to four different types of carnivorous plants.
If you’re looking for a great example of diverse ecology, Big Thicket is the place you want to explore.
There are nine different zones and environments and over 100,000 acres within the Preserve, stretching from lush pine forests all the way to swampy bayous.
You will have a range of different things to explore if you head to this national park.
The selection of flora and fauna within Big Thicket is so diverse that you won’t have to worry about running out of things to see.
If you love to hike, Big Thicket offers a huge hike for you. The trail overall is 40 miles long.
You have the option to walk the shortest route which is only 0.3 miles, but if you want to see the full hike through, it will take you a full day and you’ll be walking 20 miles.
There are parts of the Big Thicket you can’t reach by walking, however, so if you own a kayak or you can rent one, you can access the more hidden areas and you can explore a vast selection of creeks and rivers that are found throughout the park.
Big Thicket has no admission fee and most camping permits are free of charge too, so if you want to head here on a more spontaneous adventure, you can!
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
You can find the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas, between El Paso and Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park was once a part of an ancient and vast coral reef around 256 million years ago.
In the modern day, the park is one of the best examples of a fossilized reef in the whole world.
As well as the fossilized reef, Guadalupe is also home to gypsum dunes and deep canyons.
The whole park is one of the highest latitude places in all of Texas.
There is a trail that starts in Pine Springs and goes on for a stretch of 4.2 miles, ending at the summit of Guadalupe Peak.
The summit itself is 8,750 ft, making the views absolutely breathtaking.
Another great thing about this national park is it’s more secluded than a lot of the other ones listed, so you don’t have to worry about large crowds and you can enjoy the views in peace.
There are no paved roads on Guadalupe because the park is federally designated wilderness.
The lack of paved roads is purposely done to keep the environment natural and wild.
If you enjoy hiking, mountain climbing, and really feeling the energy of the wilderness, this national park is perfect for you.
Alibates Flint Quarries
You can find the Flint Quarries in Northern Texas, around 40 minutes away from Amarillo.
This national park was once home to Wooly Mammoths around 13,000 years ago and the mammoth hunters would mine the Alibate Flint to use for hunting spears.
The colors of the rocks in the Alibates Flint Quarries are one of the highlights of the whole national park, and one of the main reasons people keep coming back here.
To get up close to the quarries, you will need to join a tour led by rangers. It is a two-mile hike, so not too difficult and is easily accessible when you follow these rangers.
These tours usually run in the summer months.
You can also camp here in one of the free camping grounds that are adjacent to the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, which is a man-made lake.
If you are an enthusiast of prehistoric monuments and history, this is a great national park for you to explore.
Big Bend National Park
The Big Bend National Park is regarded as one of the most famous national parks in all of Texas. It is in the far west of Texas and is about 5 hours away from El Paso.
The whole national park is bigger than the state of Rhode Island and has over 200 miles of hiking trails to explore.
Because it is the biggest national park in all of Texas, you can really immerse yourself in the energy of the Texas Wilderness.
If you are an avid star-gazer, Big Bend is the perfect place for you to feast your eyes on the cosmos.
The national park is a hotspot for dark skies, so if you set up in the right area, you will see extraordinary stars in the sky.
It has a gold-tier International Dark Sky rating which was awarded in 2012.
There are lots of stargazing events that are held in Big Bend National park, so if you enjoy this activity, this is quite literally the perfect location for you to do so.
The Rio Grande river runs through the park and it’s what divides Texas from Mexico in this location.
It can get dangerously warm in the summer in Big Bend National park, so keep that in mind when you choose to visit!
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Fort Davis is a popular national park to visit because it gives you a glimpse into the past.
Fort Davis was once a military post that was at the forefront of western expansion.
Most of the remains of the houses that date back as early as the 1800s still exist in some form today and when you visit, you get to have an in-person idea of what living in frontier Texas would have been like.
This small town went through many owners and switched many hands during the Civil Ware, but was eventually given protection as a National Historic Site.
Many of the buildings left there are in ruin, but a few have been restored, so you can walk through them and there are lots of people dressed in period clothing that are there to answer any questions you may have about Fort Davis.
If you consider yourself a history enthusiast, specifically American History, this park is the perfect place for you to visit.
You also have the option of seeing Fort Davis from a different perspective if you follow any of the hiking trails in the area and they all have spectacular viewpoints.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
San Antonio has millions of visitors every year.
It connects the four Spanish colonial missions, Concepción, San José, San Juan Capistrano, and Espada, together and gives you a glimpse into what the areas and churches would have looked like in the 1700s.
Religious services still happen at all four of the churches today, and many regard the trip as a spiritual experience in itself.
The Mission Trail is 6 ½ miles in total, so if you are planning on trekking the full trail, make sure you dress appropriately and bring plenty to drink.
You do have the option to drive, which is more advisable for the peak of a Texas summer, and you can also go on one of the biking trails.
The Mission Concepción is the oldest church in the entire country and is filled with original architecture and paintings.
Mission Espada was the first church to be built in Texas, sometime in 1690.
Having these historical churches in the area really gives the visitors a sense of what life was like in San Antonio back then.
Admission to the San Antonio Missions and Park is completely free, so take advantage of that and soak in the history of the land!
Texas is rich with history and beauty and it’s really reflected in the stunning views each of its natural parks boasts.
Because of its huge size, there are so many national parks and wonders you can explore within Texas, and you’ll still have a huge list of more places to discover in the state afterward!
The parks we’ve listed in this article are considered the best in the state, so if you’re looking to plan a trip to Texas, don’t miss out on your chance to see these beautiful national parks for yourself!