With summer coming to a close pretty darn soon, I’m scrambling to get in as many outdoor activities as possible – and I’m sure y’all are as well. But Texas is just so full of beautiful natural wonders that it can be overwhelming picking just a few.
That’s where we step in. We do all the research so you don’t have to. After scouring the internet looking at pictures, reading reviews, and of course, adding some personal opinion, we’ve determined that these 11 places in Texas comprise the ultimate outdoorsy person’s bucket list.
1. Hamilton Pool (Dripping Springs)
Of course this mystical grotto had to make the bucket list. I always feel like I've stepped into "The Little Mermaid" every time I come here. The water is a beautiful blue-green, and the waterfall that trickles down onto a limestone rock below is amazingly picturesque. You don't even have to be super agile to enjoy this gift from nature. There's a short, easy hike to the pool, and after that, you can walk around and explore or just lie on the sand and admire the beauty.
2. Lost Maples State Natural Area (Vanderpool)
Lost Maples is an absolute must-visit in the fall. It's pretty much constant gratification rather than, for example, climbing a mountain, when the only excitement is reaching the peak. Throughout the entire hike, you'll see towering, whimsical maple trees with leaves so bright you'd think they were photoshopped.
3. Big Bend National Park
The Chisos Mountains have a beauty that's almost magical in nature. The feeling when you reach the summit, look out over the horizon, and listen to the deafening sound of silence around you is indescribable. Everyone who loves the outdoors needs to experience this at least once.
4. Palo Duro Canyon (Canyon)
You can't call yourself a nature lover if you haven't been to the second largest canyon in the nation. That's right, the Grand Canyon of Texas is second in size only to the real thing in Arizona. Those perfect layers of rock that show millions of years of evolution are absolutely breathtaking to look at.
5. Gorman Falls (Bend)
If you want to step right into a scene from "Tarzan," this is the place for you. It only takes about a 1.5 mile hike before this stunning scene unfolds before your eyes. I guarantee you won't even feel like you're in Texas anymore.
6. Tubing on the Guadalupe River (New Braunfels)
Tubing is one of those obligatory Texas activities. If you haven't had the opportunity to leisurely float all day with music blasting, a cold drink in hand, and good company by your side, you haven't lived yet.
7. Guadalupe Mountains (Dell City)
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually multiple mountain ranges in Texas - not just the Chisos (AKA Big Bend.) The Guadalupe Mountains are another particularly beautiful set of peaks and valleys out West that every outdoorsy person needs to see. The level of serenity you feel when you're thousands of feet in the air, surrounded by miles and miles of untouched desert, is unmatched by any feeling in the world.
8. Caddo Lake (Uncertain)
Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas! Mother Nature herself carved this body of water a very long time ago, and we're fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it. The simplicity of kayaking underneath the wispy trees as they sway in the gentle breeze brings about a peace like no other. And if you're lucky, you might pass by an abandoned speakeasy that rests on pillars somewhere in the lake. I can't speak with certainty to its exact location, but if you find it, I'd love to know!
9. Blue Lagoon (Huntsville)
This is definitely a hidden gem - most people have no idea such a gorgeous waterhole exists just outside of Houston. And that reflection of the trees on the surface is just breathtaking.
10. Davis Mountains (Fort Davis)
How relaxing does this road look? Driving with towering mountains rising up on either side of you is one of the most tranquil things you can experience. Not to mention, this area is one of the best for seeing the Milky Way band at night.
11. Santa Elena Canyon (Big Bend National Park)
This canyon may be part of Big Bend, but it has a beauty all its own. The Rio Grande splits the two massive rocks apart, and families enjoy swimming and paddling through the waters.
Have you been to any of these beautiful nature spots in Texas? Which one is your favorite? For a more all-encompassing bucket list, check out