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RANGERS’ Recomme ndations
The Very Best of THE PRAIRIES AND LAKES
Who knows your state parks better than the people who maintain and enjoy them? Here, park staff members offer their top destinations for a wealth of recreational activities and natural wonders.
Cedar Hill State Park Often called the “Central Park of Dallas,” Cedar Hill has 350 campsites, just 18 miles from downtown Dallas. You can stay at the park and go see a beloved Dallas sports team play.
Fairfield Lake State Park The waters are always warm here because they cool an electrical power plant, resulting in fantastic fishing year-round. The lake is regularly stocked with fish. Don’t miss the inland red drum fishing or the bass tournaments in winter.
Ray Roberts Lake State Park With over 300 campsites here, it’s easy to carve out a bit of nature for yourself. Both water/electric sites and more primitive hike-in sites are available. The park offers pushcarts to help you carry your stuff! Lake Tawakoni State Park This park is the newest overnight camping park added to the Texas state park system. It features 78 campsites and picnic areas with tables and grills. Palmetto State Park Camping near the banks of the San Marcos River is hard to beat. Take a beautiful float down the river during your stay and create some great family memories.
Meridian State Park This is a prime trout fishing spot, especially in January when the lake is stocked. Largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and bream are also abundant here. Fort Boggy State Park Trout stocking takes place in January. The serene lake is well suited for small non-motorized boats. The park is day use only, and is FREE. This is a great stop between Houston and Dallas. Eisenhower State Park Lake Texoma is a great place to snag smallmouth bass and stripers. A full service marina offers boat rentals and local advice.
Eisenhower State Park
Purtis Creek State Park This clear-water impoundment was actually designed for trophy bass, and anglers are required to catch and release largemouth bass.
WILDLIFE VIEWING Fort Parker State Park Keep an eye out for one of the many park residents: raccoons, coyotes, beavers, bald eagles, wood ducks and eastern blue birds all live here. Lake Mineral Wells State Park Sign up for one of this park’s birding tours, where you can see and hear several species such as the painted bunting. Don’t forget your binoculars! Dinosaur Valley State Park Birders will appreciate the chance to glimpse the rare and gorgeous black-capped vireo here. They build a cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tree branch 2 to 4 feet above the ground.
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Fairfield Lake State Park This is the perfect spot to see bald eagles, which nest and hunt here. You can also see eagles at Lake Whitney, Eisenhower, Cedar Hill and Ray Roberts Lake state parks.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park Swimmers can cool off at the swimming beach, while anglers and others rent row boats, kayaks, and canoes to cruise the wonderfully tranquil lake.
Lake Whitney State Park Here, birds of prey abound, including eagles and osprey, which hunt for fish on the lake.
Ray Roberts Lake State Park The 30,000-acre reservoir is popular with windsurfers and kite surfers. Feeling less adventurous? There’s also a swimming beach and lighted fishing pier.
Ray Roberts Lake Kids love to look for great blue herons. At four feet tall, they’re easy to spot flying above and standing in the lake.
EQUESTRIAN Dinosaur Valley State Park With 100 acres of equestrian trails, you’ll never get tired of exploring here. Cooper Lake State Park Bring your horse and your tent! Cooper offers equestrian camping and horse-friendly trails.
WATER RECREATION Lake Somerville State Park The shallow swimming area at Nails Creek unit is wonderful for small children, and canoes are also available to rent. Cleburne State Park Enjoy the clear spring-fed lake created by an earthen dam built by the CCC. Swimming is popular here. Bonham State Park This park surrounds a 65-acre lake where you can boat, canoe, swim, fish, or just picnic on the shore.
Purtis Creek State Park Rent a canoe or paddleboat and explore during the day. If you are feeling adventurous, ask about a full-moon canoe tour and enjoy the park at night.
TRAILS Lake Mineral Wells State Park This park includes 20 miles of rails to trails, offering hiking, equestrian, and mountain bike opportunities. Lake Somerville State Park The Trailway connecting the Birch Creek and Nails Creek Units offers 13 miles of multi-use trails, great for hiking, mountain biking, horseback
riding, backpacking, birding, outdoor photography and nature study. Bonham State Park Dirt lovers will enjoy the 12-mile Mountain Bike Trail, which ranges from easy to moderate difficulty. Dinosaur Valley State Park Great hiking and biking trails meander through the uplands with trailheads near the campgrounds. Stephen F. Austin State Park Hike or bike 5 miles of beautiful trails that meander through a pristine bottomland forest and camp along the Brazos River. Cleburne State Park Approximately 8 miles of hiking and mountain biking opportunities with scenic overlooks of Cedar Lake.
OUT OF THE ORDINARY Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site History comes alive at Barrington Farm. Handcrafted reproduction log buildings and cropland demonstrate the working of a Brazos Valley farm, circa 1850. Fairfield Lake State Park
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Next, make your way to NXj_`e^kfe$fe$k_\$9iXqfjJkXk\ ?`jkfi`ZJ`k\% While Santa Anna’s army besieged the Alamo in March 1836, Texans met in an unfinished building at Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare independence from Mexico. Don’t miss the Barrington Living History Farm, which was the home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas. Stay overnight in the town of Brenham and visit Blue Bell Ice Cream.
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Finally, head southwest to Dfeld\ek ?`cc Xe[ Bi\`jZ_\ 9i\n\ipJkXk\?`jkfi`ZJ`k\j% The monument is dedicated to the 1842 Dawson and Mier Expeditions, famous for the legendary “black bean” incident in Texas history. Picnic on the beautiful park lawn and tour the Kreische House and ruins of the brewery. Then go to see the painted churches of Schulenburg.
For more roadtrip ideas, visit
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Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site There are few places where you can go to experience what travel was really like in Texas in the 1800’s. Take a ride in a horsedrawn stagecoach at the Inn and step back in time.
The Best Green Gear
Map and Guide
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Gear companies are doing their part to preserve natural resources by offering eco-friendly products. Here are just a few of the innovations you can use for your state park adventure.
Lake Whitney State Park This park boasts a radiocontrolled airplane field, as well as a real airport. Fly in, and camp out Eisenhower State Park Don’t miss the 7-acre park designed for dirt bikes, 4-wheelers and go-carts. Bastrop and Buescher State Parks The experience of bike riding the park road that connects these two parks is often compared to a scenic rollercoaster ride. Sebastopol State Historic Site Sit in a rocking chair on the porch of Sebastopol House and imagine what home life might have been like in early Texas. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Discover life under the water of Texas lakes, streams and ponds as you’ve never seen it before, with over 300,000 gallons of freshwater exhibits, dive show and a tram ride through the hatchery. Explore the wetlands trail or try your luck fishing for trout, catfish and bream in the heavily stocked casting pond. Athens, Texas (903) 676-2277 www.tpwd. state.tx.us/tffc
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>l`[\ Exciting articles and info for exploring Your Texas State Parks today!
SteriPEN Adventurer Water Purifier & Solar Charging Case Whether you’re camping, backpacking, or traveling abroad, a reliable water purifier is a must. SteriPEN is a chemical-free alternative to messy drops and iodine tablets. Best of all, you can charge it using the solar powered case. $149.95 (set); www.steripen.com
Coleman PVC Camp Shower Compact and lightweight, this 5-gallon bag uses solar energy to heat water for all your washing needs. Convenient features include a strong handle for easy hanging and carrying and a handy on/off valve connected to the shower head. The compact design is great for backpacking. $12.99; www.coleman.com
Solar Lite Hybrid This solar-powered flashlight holds a single charge for more than 3 years. It uses a super-bright 1 Watt LED; an 8-hour charge provides 16 hours of burn time. The back-up battery has a 7-year shelf life. And if that’s not cool enough, it’s 100% waterproof. $24.95; www.hybridlite.com
CleanWell Natural Hand Sanitizers Most hand sanitizers are made with alcohol and petroleum products. Not CleanWell. This nontoxic, natural germ killer is chemical-free, kid safe, biodegradable and kills 99.99% of germs. $2.99 (1oz bottle); www.cleanwelltoday.com
Nothing in the Park Visitor Welcome Kit should be taken to imply endorsement of products, services, or activities of advertisers by any governmental agency.
Bastrop State Park
Located close to Austin, Bastrop and Buescher state parks are adjoining parks connected by 12 miles of scenic road that winds through the pines. The park road is perfect for biking or for enjoying a leisurely drive. Set among the beautiful â€œLost Pines,â€? Bastrop invites camping under tall trees near a small lake. In addition, there is an 18-hole golf course and a large, oval-shaped swimming pool. Stay in one of the beautiful rustic cabins or pitch a tent. (512) 321-2101 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ bastrop
(903) 583-5022 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/bonham
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(512) 237-2241 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buescher
CR9Nf@cPFBDdML3Tgi4 Close to downtown Dallas, this park has 10 lanes of boat ramps giving access to the 7,500-acre Joe Pool Reservoir. Crowds are easily accommodated at the more than 300 developed and walk-in campsites. The Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association built 15 miles of trails that suit novices and experts alike. Penn Farm is open daily for self-guided tours. (972) 291-3900 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cedarhill
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Cleburne State Park J6
Wildlife abounds at this park that is ideal for camping or day use. Hike-andbike trails zigzag through white limestone hills and bluffs and ruggedly beautiful wooded terrain.
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(254) 562-5751 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fortparker
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CRNfcPFBaML3Tg !iHOb4 South Sulphur Unit; (903) 945-5256 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cooperlake
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Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway J5
In addition to the lakeâ€™s fishing and swimming, adventurers can climb and rappel on cliffs. Cowboy poetry and stargazing are some of the programs offered at the new Lone Star Amphitheater. (940) 328-1171 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lakemineralwells/
CReNfcPEFBaMLTXgiH4 Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway K8
Located between Austin and College Station, the two units of Lake Somerville State Park make for great family getaways. Roads and trails wind among meadows and woodland campsites. The Birch Creek unit group trailer area offers a setting for families or friends traveling together. The Trailway system connects the two units. Birch Creek Unit; (979) 535-7763 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lakesomerville Nails Creek Unit; (979) 289-2392 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lakesomerville
CReNfcPhE5FBadMLTiHb Lake Tawakoni State Park K5
The 351-acre park sits on the 36,700-acre Lake Tawakoni reservoir with five miles of shoreline, a four-lane boat ramp located in a picturesque, hardwood sylvan setting, and more than eight miles of hike-and-bike trails, just east of the DFW area. (903) 560-7123 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/laketawakoni
RfPFBLTiHb Lake Whitney State Park J6
Boating, water skiing, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and swimming take center stage at this 23,000 surface-acre reservoir with its boat ramps, lakefront beach, shoreline fishing point and record-size catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass and striper. (254) 694-3793 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lakewhitney
CRNfcPFBdMLTgiHb Lockhart State Park J9
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Doctors Creek Unit; (903) 395-3100 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cooperlake
Cooper Lake, a relatively new state park, offers both land-and water-based recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy the A6G:9D breath-taking sunsets and spectacular scenery by boat, foot or horseback. Day visitors can picnic under towering oak trees, swim at the sandy beach, explore developed trails or boat and fish on the 19,300-acre lake. Overnighters can choose from wellappointed cabins, shelters and developed or primitive campsites. Both units offer limited service cabins.
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This beautiful wooded park on the Navasota River is a relaxing getaway within a few hoursâ€™ drive from major metro areas. The park has a fishing pier, hike-andbike trails, a nature center and rental canoes and kayaks. Enchanting wildflowers abound from March to early June. Screened shelters and a group recreation hall serve all kinds of groups. The group barracks sleep up to 96 people! Primitive campsites are also available.
Fort Parker State Park K6
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(817) 645-4215 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cleburne
This small rustic park is set in a rolling forested terrain. The large, secluded hilltop refectory â€“ built by the CCC in the 1930s era â€“ is a perfect setting for reunions, parties and weddings. There is a quaint nine-hole golf course (club and cart rental available), a small campground popular with RVers, a swimming pool, a State Park store and a creek for avid anglers. (512) 398-3479 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lockhart
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Meridian State Park H6
Meridian surrounds a 72-acre lake that is excellent for catching largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and bream. Trails for hiking take birders out to search for additions to their lifetime lists, including the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. Complete group facilities with shelters host family reunions and special group outings throughout the year.
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(254) 435-2536 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/meridian
Come picnic or camp in the shade of tall pecan trees in this charming park on the Leon River. Mother Neff is considered to be the first Texas state park. Isabella (Mother) Neff donated the land to be used as a public gathering place, and her son, Texas Governor Pat Neff (1921 to 1925), pushed for the creation of a state park system. Peace and quiet can be enjoyed whether fishing, birding, hiking the trails or viewing the river valley from the rock tower. (254) 853-2389 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/motherneff
eNf@cPFBdL3Ti4 Palmetto State Park J9
Named for the dwarf palmetto found in its swamps, this 289-acre riparian refuge resembles the tropics more than the surrounding brush country. This botanical wonderland attracts more than 200 bird species. The San Marcos River flows through the park, making it a perfect take-out point for canoe trips that start in Luling, 14 miles upriver. (830) 672-3266 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/palmetto
Nf@cPFBadMLTiHO4 Purtis Creek State Park K6
This 1,582-acre park is known for its heavily wooded, well-shaded campsites and its exceptional bass fishing. The clear-water impoundment is managed for trophy bass, and anglers are required to catch and release largemouth bass. The 355-surface-acre lake is limited to 50 boats at a time. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are also available at the park store. (903) 425-2332 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/purtiscreek
CReNfcPFGBaML3TiH Ray Roberts Lake State Park J4
Set amid a mixed forest and prairie environment, this state park has numerous sub units with access to the 30,000-surface-acre reservoir. Isle du Bois is a full-service park with six boat lanes. It also has equestrian, water and electric, and walk-in campsites, a swimming beach and lighted fishing pier. The park store is open from spring break through November. Johnson Branch is a full-service park with four boat lanes, campsites and accessible trails that are ADA compliant. The park store opens weekends from spring break through November. Isle du Bois Unit; (940) 686-2148 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/rayrobertslake Johnson Branch Unit; (940) 637-2294 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/rayrobertslake
CReNfcPhEFBML3TiHb4 Sebastopol House State Historic Site H9
Sebastopol House is the best surviving example of a limecrete structure in the American southwest. In an 1854 visit, Frederick Law Olmstead, architect of New York Cityâ€™s Central Park, found it noteworthy that a remote Texas town would be utilizing advanced building techniques less than 20 years after their introduction in eastern states. (830) 379-4833 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sebastopol
A52L Stephen F. Austin State Park
This beautiful recreation park occupies the moss-draped pecan bottoms along the Brazos River and the Mexican land granted to Stephen F. Austin, â€œFather of Texas,â€? for the first Anglo colony in Texas. It has camping and group facilities. Guests can access an 18-hole golf course near the park. Nearby San Felipe SHS is now operating under the management of the Texas Historical Commission. (979) 885-3613 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/stephenfaustin
CNPFBadML3TgO Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site K8
While Santa Annaâ€™s army besieged the Alamo in March 1836, Texians met in an unfinished building at Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare independence from Mexico. Two weeks later, the delegates adopted a constitution for the Republic of Texas in the middle of the night. Today visitors can enjoy the many exhibits at the Visitor Center and at the Star of the Republic Museum, which houses a collection of more than 20,000 artifacts. (936) 878-2214 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/washingtononthebrazos
Ac5B2MLT4 Barrington Living History Farm
This was the home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas. Handcrafted reproduction log buildings and cropland demonstrate the working of a Brazos Valley farm, circa 1850. Interpreters in period costume work the farm as it was done long ago. (936) 878-2214 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/barringtonfarm
C Biking Trails / R Boat Ramp / S Boat Rental / Q Cabins / 9 Cabins-Full or Limited / e Campsites-Primitive/Walk-in / N Campsites-Tent / f Campsites-Water & Electric / @ CCC / A Day Use Only / c Day Use Group Facility / P Dump Station / h Equestrian Facilities / E Equestrian Trails / 5 Exhibit or Interpretive Center / F Fishing / Y Golf B Hiking Trails / 2 Historic Site/Museum / D Mountain Biking Trails / a Nature/Interpretive Trails / d Overnight Group Facilities / M Park Store / L Picnic Tables / T Restrooms / X Rock Climbing / g Screened Shelter / i Showers / H Swimming / I Swimming Pool / O Water, Electric & Sewer Sites / b Water Skiing / 4 Wheelchair Accessible
Map by Newhouse Design
Cedar Hill State Park J5
Cooper Lake State Park K4
Buescher State Park is joined to Bastrop State Park by 12 miles of scenic road winding through the pines that is perfect for biking or a leisurely drive. Rent canoes or hike along the 7.7-mile loop trail through the forest. Fishing is excellent. A CCC-built group facility is available for rent.
Mother Neff State Park J7
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Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site K8
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(903) 344-1116 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fortboggy
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Escape to the laid-back atmosphere of this quiet park surrounding a 65-acre lake. Water activities include boating, canoeing, swimming and fishing. A gently rolling terrace is dominated by tall mature trees that cover the area, making it perfect for hiking, walking and picnics or just relaxing. Developed campsites and a group complex enhance overnight stays. A newly renovated indoor complex now sleeps 94 and includes a game room.
Park Features Legend
Bonham State Park K4
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Spend the day picnicking, fishing or just taking in the natural beauty of this quiet and serene day-use park. Set beside a picturesque lake well suited to canoes, kayaks or small boats, the park has a beautiful beach and nature trails, as well as an ADA-compliant, open-air picnic pavilion. The park is open Wednesday â€“ Sunday.
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Buescher State Park J8
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Bastrop State Park J8
(979) 968-5658 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/monumenthillkreischebrewery/
Fort Boggy State Park K7
(903) 389-4514 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fairfieldlake
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The monument is a tomb for Republic of Texas patriots, a place recognizing fallen heroes. A beautiful view from the bluff overlooking the winding Colorado River is one of the many stops on a nature trail that connects the monument and brewery historic sites. During the 1860s, Kreische started one of the first commercial breweries in Texas here.
(936) 873-2633 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fanthropinn
Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites J9
Within a few hoursâ€™ drive of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Waco, the park has bragging rights to lakefront camping and walk-in primitive campsites. Headquarters, restrooms and the group dining hall are all wheelchair accessible, however campsites are natural and do not offer ramps. Equestrian trails are day use only.
The restored Fanthorp Inn offers visitors an opportunity to walk through a historic inn that served as a 1850s stagecoach stop. A communal dining table, frozen in time, is covered with mock food, conveying a real sense of the travelerâ€™s life.
(903) 465-1956 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/eisenhower
The parkâ€™s heavily forested shoreline of rolling hills and limestone bluffs has been called the Texas North Coast. It overlooks Lake Texoma, the 89,000-surface-acre watery playground for yachts, sailboats and every kind of splashing recreation.
Eisenhower State Park K4
(254) 897-4588 // www.tpwd.state.tx.us/dinosaurvalley
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Fairfield Lake State Park K6
Let the kids put their little feet in the world-renowned dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy riverbed. Since the riverbed tracks are only visible when the water is low, a replica in the parkâ€™s exhibit is also available for viewing. This park is popular with campers and RVers year-round.
Dinosaur Valley State Park J6
Welcome to the birthplace of early Texas Independence. Rich with history, this region is home to the first Texas State Park (Mother Neff) and other historically significant sites. The number of waterways in the region served an important role in developing commerce, allowing for the transport of goods to and from the area. Plus, youâ€™ll see wildlife aplenty, and even ancient dinosaur tracks. For recreation, there are lakes, campgrounds and hundreds of miles of trails for biking, hiking, horseback riding and more! For more information, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/prairiesandlakes
The Headwaters of Texas History
PrairIes & Lakes