This is the last post of our series reviewing the top parks in Texas. We’ve covered some beautiful landscapes around this great state, so it’s apropos that we’re ending with the top parks in West Texas. From the jagged mountains in Big Bend to the beautiful springs in Balmorhea State Park, the western parts of the Lone Star State feature some amazing and inspiring terrains. Here are 4 of the parks that topped our list in West Texas.
1) Balmorhea State Park. It’s the perfect park for summertime primarily because it has the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. The natural pool stays between 72 and 76 degrees year-round, and its clear waters make it perfect for scuba divers, snorkelers and swimmers. In addition to swimming, nature buffs can visit the restored cienegas (desert wetlands) to view endangered fish and other wildlife. Campers can choose from 34 campsites or visitors can stay at the rustic old-school yet charming motel, San Solomon Springs Courts.
2) Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These 2 adjoining parks make them larger than the state of Rhode Island (The Guardian)! Big Bend is made up of many different terrains ranging from desert and rugged mountains to a river valley. The climate in Big Bend changes drastically through the year, as it gets hot in the summer and frigidly cold in the winter. Big Bend is also a hiker’s paradise offering over 200 miles of trails that range from easy day trips to more intense week outings. In addition to hiking, visitors can horseback ride around the area or cool off by floating down the Rio Grande River. Lastly, due to its vast terrains, Big Bend is also a great place to visit for bird watching as it sits along a major migration pathway for hundreds of species of birds.
3) Guadalupe Mountains National Park. While it seems impossible to imagine, parts of Texas were actually under the ocean millions of years ago and home to a major coral reef. Over time, portions of the reef were naturally preserved into the Guadalupe Mountains. According to the National Park Service, The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the “world’s premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era.” In addition, this park is known for a range of hiking and backpacking opportunities.
4) Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site. While this park is the rock-climbing mecca, the real beauty lies is in its name “Tanks.” The term “tanks” means “the small water-carved depressions pitting the rocks” (The Guardian), and among those depressions are historical pictographs painted on the rocks. According to The Guardian, Hueco Tanks has the largest number of mask paintings in North America, with more than 200 identified throughout the park. Note: Due to the historical rock pictographs fragility and value, access to the park is limited, so the park lets in only 70 visitors a day so you must make reservations ahead of time.
What do you think about our suggestions for these top parks in West Texas? Do you have any recommendations? Share them in the comments!