Anyone from Texas knows that ~97% of the land in Texas is private. It means options for a quick weekend boondocking trip – which usually involves public lands – are a bit limited. There are a small handful of National Forests, a couple National Parks, and a National Seashore, but with our location in Dallas/Fort Worth, the 7-10 hour drive isn’t always feasible for a quick weekend trip. With nearly 90 State Parks in Texas operated by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, getting out in nature is a bit easier. Plus, the convenience of RV hookups, bathrooms, showers, etc., doesn’t require a ton of planning to get our family out to a state park.
We are very thankful to have the Texas State Parks, and we have found some amazing places so far! While we still have so many parks left to visit, below are a few of our favorites.
CAPROCK CANYONS STATE PARK
Hands down, this is my favorite Texas state park that we have visited. Bison. Prairie Dogs. Views. Hikes.
I simply cannot recommend it enough. If you haven’t experienced the bison up close and personal, you need to do it.
DINOSAUR VALLEY STATE PARK
We have not actually stayed overnight at Dinosaur Valley. We have, however, done multiple day trips there.It’s a great park with some scenic views, great hikes, and as the name implies, a rich history of dinosaur activity in the area.There is also a swimming hole, which is a great way to cool off after a long hike on a Texas Summer day.
There are a lot of great family activities in the area. If you visit Dinosaur Valley, check out Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. It’s an amazing experience, and the whole family will have a great time.
LAKE WHITNEY STATE PARK
It seems that nearly every Texas State Park has a lake of some sort on the property. Just because it has a lake, doesn’t mean it’s a lake destination. We have visited two parks that are true lake destinations: Lake Whitney State Park and Possum Kingdom State Park.
We visited Lake Whitney State Park over July 4th weekend in 2020. There are some great aspects to this park, most notably, the lake itself. They have a nice beach area where you can get in the lake and swim. We were able to set up a pop up awning and really enjoy our time out there.
POSSUM KINGDOM STATE PARK
Prior to me being born, my family lived at Possum Kingdom for a couple of years. Ironically, I had never been to PK until we went this year.
If you haven’t been, it’s a beautiful lake with big rolling hills all around. Similar to Lake Whitney, they have an area where you can setup for the day, with covered tables and grills. A nice perk is the general store that is right there. You can get some basic necessities there in a pinch.
They do have some spots that are right on the water. We decided to go pretty last minute, and got the one and only spot that was available in the park.
All in all, both Lake Whitney and Possum Kingdom are great spots if you want a lake vibe.
MUSTANG ISLAND STATE PARK
This is more of a P.S.A. rather than one of our favorites. If you want to go camping on the beach, do yourself a favor and drive down the road to the Padre Island National Seashore. You’ll be glad you did.
MONAHANS SANDHILLS STATE PARK
It is fun as a “layover” spot, but I would not want it to be the destination. Perhaps I’m short-sighted. I feel like once you have looked at it for about an hour, you’ve soaked up everything it has to offer. While White Sands National Park is much prettier than Monahans Sandhills, I felt the same way when I left there.
I have a friend that takes his family there for a 4 day trip every year. Personally, I don’t get it, however, it is a fun way to break up the drive to Big Bend.
LAKE MINERAL WELLS STATE PARK
This is a great spot for many reasons. Every time we’ve been, we have seen tons of deer, among other wildlife. It’s only about an hour from us, so it’s easy for a quick getaway.
There are some good hiking trails, good camping spots, and if you’re into rock climbing, this is a great spot for that.
COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK
This is a little hidden gem that you can usually reserve for a last minute getaway. It is even an International Dark Sky Park, even though our one and only visit there was cloudy the entire time. There are some good hikes, and our boys rode their bikes down the trails. Not near as scenic as Caprock Canyons, but like I said, you can usually book it last minute. Reservations aren’t easy to come by these days, so having places like this in the pocket are nice.