13 Lesser-Known State Parks In Texas That Will Absolutely Amaze You
By Katie Lawrence|Updated on January 26, 2022(Originally published January 20, 2022)
Katie Lawrence is a Southeast Texas native who graduated 18th in her high school class with a GPA of 4.25. She attended college in the Houston area and began writing for OnlyInYourState in 2015.
Today, Katie writes, edits, and performs several other tasks for OnlyInYourState and has never been more passionate about a job before. Outside of work, you can likely find her curled up on with a hot cup of coffee, practicing yoga, baking, or exploring the beautiful Lone Star State (in particular, the vast and mystical West Texas desert).
With the amount of state parks we have here in Texas, it’s safe to say very few of us have visited – or even heard of – all of them. To help you make a bigger dent in your bucket list, we’re telling you about 13 of our least-known state parks to visit in Texas that definitely deserve more recognition. Check them out:
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What's the oldest state park in Texas?
In 1916, Mrs. Isabella Eleanor (Mother) Neff donated six acres of land along the Leon River. This land would eventually became Mother Neff State Park, Texas' first official state park. It was opened to the public in 1937. Today, Mother Neff State Park, which is located in Moody, covers 259 acres and offers a wonderful variety of fun things to do outside in Texas, including hiking, camping, fishing, and picnicking. It's also a great destination for a day trip.
What's the smallest state park in Texas?
Old Tunnel State Park in Fredericksburg was established in 2012. Covering only 16.1 acres, it's also Texas' smallest state park. Old Tunnel State Park, a lesser-known state park in Texas, is comprised of a railroad tunnel of the Fredericksburg and Northern Railway, which shut down operations in 1942. Today, this tunnel is a bat cave that hosts more that 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats and approximately 3000 Cave myotis bats from May to October. The viewing of these bats is open to the public, and the best time to watch is at sunset. Although Texas' Old Tunnel State Park is quite small, it still offers a variety of outdoor activities such bird-watching, general wildlife viewing, picnicking, and hiking.
What's the most popular state park in Texas?
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Garner State Park is the most visited and one of the best parks in Texas. It features 1,774 acres of Hill Country terrain with 2.9 miles of the Frio River meandering through it. Visitors of the ever-so-popular Garner State Park won't run out of things to do because the park offers everything from swimming and camping, to fishing and paddleboating. Garner State Park also offers some of the best hiking trails in Texas.