Texas is located in the South Central region of the United States, bordering Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Renowned for its cowboys, rodeos, guns, and barbecues this state represents an age-old view of what America is like.
Texas truly has its own state of mind but the beauty of this state will have you falling in love with the scenery within moments of arriving.
You can expect huge, open spaces, clear starry night skies, and different experiences every day. Every corner of this state is bursting with beauty and influences from times gone by.
As the saying goes everything is bigger in Texas and that is definitely true when it comes to the two national parks that are in this vast state.
The Lone Star State is home to Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We take a look at both parks, what they are famous for, activities you can do when visiting and more.
If you are planning a trip to Texas these two national parks should definitely be on your itinerary.
Big Bend National Park
Walking through this park you would expect John Wayne to come galloping on horseback in front of your eyes. This park is picture-perfect at every turn and is exactly what you would imagine Texas would look like.
The Big Bend National Park is the biggest national park in Texas, stretching across over 801,000 acres of land. Texans and tourists alike are in awe of the scenery this huge space has to offer, offering amazing views of the canyons formed by the Rio Grande which is its namesake.
The national park was named after a large bend in the river Rio Grande that still to this day flows through the park, dividing America from Mexico along certain stretches.
This national park is one to note as it is the only national park that houses an entire mountain range within its borders, the Chisos Mountains.
These mountains provide a challenge for even the most avid of hikers and attract people every year as they try to take on the mammoth challenge of hiking this mountain range.
Peak visitor season runs from November to April when the temperatures are slightly cooler but due to the size of the park, you will never find yourself in the midst of a crowd of people.
The national park tends to be quieter during the summer months when temperatures can soar up to over 100-degrees.
Activities To Do In The Park
There is a huge range of what you can do in the park, including hiking, driving, backpacking, camping, wildlife observations, and much more!
Take a look at the below and make sure you add them to your list of things to do if you get to visit this amazing park.
- Join a ranger – find out the history of the park by taking a guided hike with a park ranger
- Take a dip in the hot springs – enjoy a dip in these natural pools at the Rio Grande Village
- Birdwatch – Big Bend National Park is home to a large number of birds, bring your binoculars or head to a specific birdwatching space to meet other enthusiasts
- Camp out under the stars – the park is a national Dark Sky Park, so there is no light pollution giving you the perfect view of the night sky
- Drive the Ross Maxwell scenic drive – for breathtaking views of the mountains and desert
- Hike the Saint Elena Canyon – it has an elevation of only 80 feet so it is perfect for hikers of all standards
- Canoe the Rio Grande – book with an operator in Lajitas and Terlingua if you don’t have your own equipment
- Visit The Window lookout point – for a perfect view of the national park, the terrain is easy to walk and the trail is only 0.3 miles
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature with mountains, valleys, and beautiful open skies everywhere you look.
This park is significantly smaller than Big Bend National Park, covering over 86,000 acres but it is home to the biggest mountain in all of Texas, Guadalupe Peak, or Signal Peak as it is often called, is the highest natural point in Texas.
There are incredible lookout points that offer insanely beautiful views, showcasing all that Texas has to offer. This national park is incredibly remote so it is important to come prepared. Make sure you bring enough water, food, and gas.
Gas is particularly important as you may need to travel 35 miles to fill your tank and that sounds like the start of a horror movie! Similar to Big Bend National Park, peak visitor season stretches across Fall and Spring but the park is open year-round.
If you are planning to hike or backpack make sure you check temperatures as they can vary greatly between daytime and nighttime. There are over 80 miles of hiking trails with three main trails in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and all three offer very different things.
If you want a quad-burning hike that will place you at the top of Texas then the Salt Flat is perfect for you.
If that doesn’t sound adventurous enough for you, consider testing your rock-scrambling skills along the steep Devil’s Hall Trail. For a walk filled with nature take the trail through McKittrick Canyon.
Activities To Do In The Park
Alongside all of the hiking trails, there are other activities that can be done in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. They are:
- Visit El Capitan – the famous cliff face that is tackled by free climbers every year
- Spot the local wildlife – take the Smith Spring Trail to see elk, mule deer, and much more as they take shade from the desert heat
- Visit the Pine Springs Visitor Center – to learn stories about the history of this park and speak to local rangers in detail about the wildlife that calls this large space home
Other Beautiful Park To Visit In Texas
While Texas may not have as many national parks as other states, like California, there are still a lot of parks and sites to visit that hold importance within the state. We recommend checking out some from the list below:
- Waco Mammoth National Monument, Waco
- Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site, Comstock
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, and Stonewall
Regardless of what you do you will never be left feeling bored in Texas. With vibrant cities and beautiful national parks, there is something for everyone.
All that’s left is for you to plan your itinerary, pack your bags, and hit the road.