Texas National Parks

March 10, 2023

national parks in Texas

Texas is home to 14 national parks, ranging from easy-to-access historic sites to remote locations that require more effort. Each offers something different for travelers looking to explore the state’s natural beauty.

For example, Big Bend National Park has trails for every level of hiker. Visitors can also explore gypsum dunes and canyons, or see the 265-million-year-old fossilized reef that formed when a tropical ocean covered the area.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

One of America’s least-visited national parks, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a breathtaking Southwest getaway. Located in western Texas, the park protects a rugged desert terrain with mountain wilderness.

This pristine natural setting supports a diverse set of ecosystems, or life zones, including the harsh Chihuahuan desert, lush streamside woodlands and rocky canyons, and mountaintop forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet, stands proudly at the park’s center. Explore a stunning landscape with dramatic natural beauty, winding trails through serene forests, captivating local history and the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef.

In addition to the spectacular natural wonders, the park protects many historic sites. Some include remnants of the Williams Ranch, a preserved ranch house built in 1908; ruins of Pinery Station, an old stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route; and Frijole Ranch, a complex where the Smith family forged a life along the flanks of the mountains.

Lake Meredith National Park

Lake Meredith National Park is a popular Texas national park that features a variety of outdoor activities and scenic views. This park is located in the Texas Panhandle and is a great destination for families and tourists alike.

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of recreational activities at the park, including boating, swimming, and fishing. A large number of campsites are also available at the park.

Aside from being a popular place for recreation, the park is also home to many wildlife species. Some of the most common wildlife found in the area include deer, elk, and turkeys.

The park also offers a range of interesting visitor attractions, such as the McBride Ranch House and Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. In addition, there are a number of ranger programs that visitors can participate in.

Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve is a unit of the National Park Service and is located in Southeast Texas. It was established in 1974 and consists of nine land units and six water corridors totaling more than 113,000 acres.

The preserve is known as a “biological crossroads” that combines the biological influences of southeastern swamps, eastern forests, central plains and southwest deserts. It supports an incredible variety of plants and wildlife, including nearly 186 different kinds of birds.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities at Big Thicket. There are about 40 miles of trails within the park that provide a chance to explore a variety of ecosystems. Other activities include canoeing and kayaking on creeks, bayous and the Neches River.

Blackwell School National Historic Site

The Blackwell School National Historic Site consists of the original 1909 adobe schoolhouse and smaller 1927 classroom building known as Band Hall. It is managed by the Blackwell School Alliance and open to visitors.

The site traces the history of de facto segregation in Texas and serves as a reminder of how racial discrimination permeated the educational system for generations. It is the only surviving structure in Marfa, Texas, to tell this story.

Until now, fewer than 30 formerly segregated schools across the country have been preserved and made available for visitors to explore.

The national park designation allows the agency to share more of this important history with the public, explains Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. NPCA will work closely with the Blackwell School Alliance to preserve and interpret this significant historic site for future generations.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

The remote mineral deposits of this national park are like no other in the world. Here, Native Americans have quarried flint since the Ice Age for its superior durability.

Prehistoric hunters fashioned projectile points, weapons and other tools from the silicified, or agatized, dolomite found at Alibates Flint Quarries. Prized for its color, this material entered one of the largest and most extensive trade networks in North America.

The National Park Service preserves these flint quarries and an Antelope Creek village site as a reminder of the rich cultural history of the area. Archeological evidence from these sites reveals how Antelope Creek people traded painted pottery, shell and turquoise jewelry, pipes and obsidian with peoples to the west and north.


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