Texas is an American state that is located in the South Central region of the United States. The state also has the nickname Lone Star State, owing to its former status as an independent republic.
Texas is the second largest American state after Alaska and the area of the state is bigger than that of other countries like Japan, Germany, or France. Shared as an interesting fact to draw an actual image regarding the size of the state, Texas would be the 39th largest county in the world, if ever gets considered as an independent nation.
As it is such a large territory, the state includes different types of geographical areas like coastlines, plains, grasslands, and forests. Texas has around 10 climatic regions, 11 different ecological regions, and also 14 different soil regions.
Being a state with such varied nature, Texas is also home to some of the most varied plants, animals, and other areas that have geographical significance.
While it is very difficult to classify all the regions of the state as they have a lot of differences, the state is basically classified into five major provinces – The Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, Basin, and Range Province.
With such a rich and varied flora, fauna, and topography the natural environment of the state is highly in need of conservation from the modern problems that affect them.
While nature and natural life face many different problems for their healthy survival, the state of Texas is leading the way through its well-maintained and operated national parks.
Here we will be discussing the top 15 national park in Texas that is known for the beautiful nature and wildlife that they conserve and ensure the survival of.
List Of Top 15 National Park In Texas 2023
- Padre Island National Seashore
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
- Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
- Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
- Amistad National Recreation Area
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- Big Thicket National Preserve
- Chamizal National Memorial
- Sam Houston National Forest
- Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
- Davy Crockett National Park
- Fort Davis National Historic Site
- Angelina National Forest
- Big Bend National Park
- Sabine National Forest
15. Sabine National Forest
The Sabine National Forest is one of the four national forests in the state of Texas and is located in the piney woods of Eastern Texas. The forest also forms a natural boundary with the neighboring state of Louisiana, on the western slope of the Sabine River.
The forest is spread over an area of around 160,873 acres and it is spread across five counties of the state Sabine, Shelby, San Augustine, Newton, and Jasper.
The Sabine National Forest is said to have a very rich history associated with it and is also said to have been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, making the National Park a pivotal structure that needs to be conserved.
There had been records of communities like ‘Tejas’ living in the protected area a long time back in history and the place still holds evidence of such early settlements.
The Sabine National Forest is known for different hardwood trees that grow in the forest, mainly the American beech and other trees like the loblolly pine, longleaf pine, white oak, Florida maple, and many more.
Today, the national park also offers different types of recreational activities to visitors. People who visit the park can try out different activities like picnicking, camping, boating, fishing, and hunting and also explore the natural hiking trails.
If you are planning a visit to the Sabine National Forest, then it should be kept in mind that while the park allows activities like hunting, hiking, and horseback riding, there is a restriction on the use of bicycles, any type of wheeled vehicle and mechanized or motorized equipment.
14. Big Bend National Park
The Big Bend National Park is located on the Western side of Texas and is closer to the border that the state shares with Mexico. One of the major rivers of the Southwestern United States, the Rio Grande, flows through the park.
The national park got its name Big Bend from a feature of the river that passes through the park. The Rio Grande takes a large bend when it flows through the park, thus giving it the name Big Bend National Park.
The Big Bend national park also holds another peculiarity when compared to other national parks in the country. Big Bend national park covers the Chisos mountain range and it is the only mountain range in the country that fully falls within the limits of a protected national park.
Big Bend National Park secured the 14th spot on the list of national park in Texas. The Big Bend National Park is one of the national parks in the country that shows one of the most extreme climatic conditions.
The extreme difference in the climate in different areas of the park is due to the huge difference in their topography. The temperature of the park during the summer days is said to be scorching hot while the winter days have freezing temperatures sometimes.
Also, there is a wide variation in temperature and other features between the higher latitude ranges and the low-lying lands in the park.
Due to the huge difference in climatic condition, the plant’s and animals’ life in the park is one of the most vibrant and different. Some species like the Chisos oak trees are nowhere to be found in the country.
13. Angelina National Forest
The Angelina National Forest is one of the four forests that is located in the piney wood region of the state, other than the Sabine National Forest. Just like the majority of the protected forest in the state, the Angelina National Forest is also said to have traces of human settlements from around 8,000 years ago.
Archeologists have received evidence to support this claim too. The forest is spread over 153,180 acres and across four counties too, namely San Augustine, Angelina, Jasper, and Nacogdoches.
The forest is situated in the upper Gulf Coastal region of the state and it experiences hot and humid with short and cold winters.
Due to its historic and biological significance, the forest is protected strictly. The Angelina National Forest mainly consists of trees like longleaf pine which is the predominant type of tree that is found in the southern portion of the forest. The rest of the forest is mainly covered with trees like shortleaf pine and loblolly.
In order to improve the overall experience of visitors that come to the national park, the national forest also offers different types of recreational activities like fishing, boating, and skiing. The forest also has provisions for activities like fishing and camping too.
12. Fort Davis National Historic Site
The Fort Davis National historic site is one of the major National Historical sites in the country and is located in Jeff Davis County of Texas. The exact location of the spot is the unincorporated community of Fort Davis located in Jeff Davis County.
The site is located in the western region of Texas and is close to the Davis mountains. Fort Davis was given the status of a national historic site in 1961 and from then on, the site is a highly protected area.
Fort Davis is a reminder of the past glory of the place and today is composed of the remains of what used to be a major part of history.
Currently, the historic site is made up of different restored historic buildings which are around 24 in number. The site also has over 100 ruins and foundations of what once was the mighty David Fort.
Along with the ruins and restored buildings, the national historic site also attracts a lot of visitors for being a hotspot to spot some of the indigenous wildlife of the area.
The site around the fort is known for its variety of wildlife. Visitors who wish to enjoy the wildlife of Western Texas can easily find this place to be worthy. The major attraction of the area includes animals like different types of lizards, black bears, kangaroo rats, mountain lines and so much more.
11. Davy Crockett National Park
Located close to U.S. Highway 69, the Davy Crockett National Forest is a forest that is considered a part of the Piney Woods region. The total area of the forest is over 160,647 acres and is spread across the two counties of Houston and Trinity. The forest is located in Kennard, Texas.
The Neches River marks the border of the forest on the northeast side. One of the major attractions of the forest is the 45-acre Ratcliff Lake which is located inside the forest.
The national forest is minted for its natural significance and is also used for different purposes like recreation, hunting, oil production, lumbering, and grazing. A part of the life around the area depends on the forest for their daily life.
Davy Crockett National achieved the 11th position on the list of the top 15 national park in Texas.
The Davy Crockett forest received the status of a national forest from then-president Franklin Roosevelt on October 15, 1936. Currently, the forest offers different kinds of recreational activities for visitors.
The major attractions and recreational activities surround the 45-acre Ratcliff Lake which is located in the forest. People have a chance to enjoy swimming, camping, and picnicking with the visitors.
Along with these activities, people are also free to explore the forest lake and its surroundings through adventurous nature hiking. One thing that should be kept in mind is that horses, bikes, or any kind of off-road vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
10. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Located around 30 miles north of Amarillo, Lake Meredith National Recreational attracts a lot of visitors throughout the year. The site is a national recreational area and Lake Meredith, which is a reservoir created by the Sanford Dam, is one of the major attractions of the site.
The lake is spread over around 10,000 acres and offers different recreation offers to its visitors. The headquarters of the national park is allocated in Fritch.
Being such a beautiful location with such a big lake, the site offers different kinds of recreational activities for visitors.
The area surrounding the lake is free for people to use as a campsite and experience camping. Visitors can also take up hiking and explore the beauty of the forest from a much closer site. With such a big lake on the property fishing, swimming, and boating are also offered to people.
Unlike many popular tourist sites, hunting is also allowed in the Lake Meredith National recreation site. If you just need a place to relax and be free, the site is also the best for that too as it is surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna.
9. Sam Houston National Forest
Sam Houston is one of the four National forests in the state and it is obvious from the name that it is located near Houston, the largest city in Texas.
The forest is located just 50 miles away from Hiouron and is spread across four different counties namely Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Walker. Just like most of the other posts, the Sam Houston National Forest also expresses extreme summers and winters.
There has been evidence found from the forest that proves that it had been inhabited around 12,000 years back.
The Sam Houston National Forest is managed under the multiple-use concept, which means that along with protecting the local wildlife and plant species, the forest is also used for other purposes like recreation activities, collecting fish and wildlife, grazing, soil, and minerals.
The balance of the forest is maintained properly in a way that does not disturb the natural balance of the forest.
As for the additional recreational activities, the forest provides chances for people to indulge in camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and also hunting.
8. Chamizal National Memorial
The Chamizal National Memorial is a national park service site. The location and the purpose behind the memorial are also very significant. The Chamizal National Memorial is located in the city of El Paso, which is very close to the international border between the United States and Mexico.
The purpose behind the Chamizal National Memorial is to commemorate the peaceful settlement that was made over the dispute regarding the Chamizal boundary. The memorial park covers a total area of 59.90 acres and also includes different facilities that provide a look into the history of the land.
The Chamizal National Memorial and the area surrounding the memorial include different attractions like an amphitheater, different art galleries, and also a theatre.
A person who visits the memorial will get a look insight into the history of the border between the United States and Mexico.
The site was authorized in 1966 and was recognized as a national park service unit in 1974. The park stands as a symbol to honor the peaceful decision that was made over a 100-year-old border dispute between the United States and Mexico.
7. Big Thicket National Preserve
The region which is called the Big Thicket National Reserve is a biosphere reserve that is recognized by UNESCO. This recognition alone can prove the fact that the area is very rich in its biodiversity and is a place that should be protected from being destroyed in any manner.
The Big Thicket National Preserve does not have very clear-cut boundaries like most other national parks. It is located in the southeast area of Texas and it is a heavily forested area. As the area is a certified biosphere reserve, often different studies and surveys are carried out in the region.
Along with proper maintenance and proper regulations, the area also has different attractions that bring in tourists from all over.
The Big Thicket National Preserve also offers different recreational activities to the visitors like hiking, camping, or paddling. Being an area that has a very wide variety of plants and animal species a hike or camping at the site is said to give an unforgettable experience.
The area has almost 15 different units that focus on different wildlife or activity.
6. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located in the Guadalupe Mountains, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park includes the highest point in Texas, the Guadalupe Peak. The mountain has a height of 8,751 feet and the mountains known for the scenic beauty that they possess.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the national park in Texas which serves the duty to protect and preserve the area that has such great geographical value, sciences, and also wildlife population.
The area features different types of geographical areas like valleys, mountains, and open desert land which is a very great and beautiful spot to spend time and reconnect with nature.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park includes the highest point in the state which stands at around 8,751 feet high. The experience of hiking through the high grounds is a very refreshing experience for travelers and offers a beautiful view from different watch points on the hiking trail.
As the area is a bit detached from the rest of the busy area surrounding, it will be a good experience and escape if you want to get away from your chaotic life. If you are planning to visit the area, just be prepared with enough gas for your car.
5. Amistad National Recreation Area
Managed by the National Parks Services, the Amistad National Recreation Area is a national recreational area that is around the area that surrounds the Amistad Reservoir. The reservoir is located in an area where rivers like the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers meet, near Val Verde County in the state.
The reservoir was formed as a result of the construction of the Amistad Dam in 1969 and today the reservoir and the area surrounding it are the sites of a national recreation center.
Unlike some other recreational sites that are only available to people during a particular time of the year, the Amistad National Recreation Area is open for recreational activities all around the year.
The major recreational activities at Amistad National Recreation Area take place depending on the reservoir. Just like almost every recreational site, the Amistad National Recreation Area also has facilities for activities like boating, fishing, scuba diving, swimming, and also water skiing.
There are provisions for visitors to book houseboats and other boating equipment. People can rent those facilities according to their needs. Apart from these activities, the area is also known for being a much-preferred location for camping, hiking, picnicking, and also hunting.
The place is also known for its rich plant and animal population and also has archeological significance too.
4. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
Located near the city of Brownsville, the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park protects a historically significant area – the grounds of the Battle of Palo Alto.
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is a unit of the National Park Service and is aimed at preserving the historically significant ground where the Battle of Palo Alto took place on May 8, 1846.
The site is considered a major landmark in history as the battle is one of the earliest major conflicts that happened regarding the border dispute between the United States and Mexico. The site aims at portraying the causes and consequences of war from both sides involved.
The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park received the status of a national historic landmark on December 19, 1960, and became the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Site in 1978.
The site also has a soldier and sailor database that contains all the available details of sailors and soldiers who took part in the battle.
The feeling of walking through the track once traveled by soldiers gives off an unexplainable feeling and will take us back into history for sure.
3. Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is located near the city of Plano Texas. The park is spread over around 200 acres and includes a wide area of scenic beauty.
The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve features different amenities that are aimed at making the experience for tourists magical. The place has a spectacular watch tower that offers a great view of the city.
The park can be divided into three different zones namely Blackland prairie, Riparian Forest, and Upland Forest. Along with the different types of plants and animal life in the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, there is also a pond that is named after Vasil Levski.
The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is rich with different types of animal life like owls, woodpeckers, snakes, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, and different types of fishes too. Along with enjoying this variety of wildlife, visitors can also indulge in different recreational activities like a simple walk or jogging in the park, hiking, fishing, and other such outdoor activities.
The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve has an off-road bike trail that stretches over 2.8 miles, a covered pavilion, a playground, and also a restroom.
2. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is located in Texas Hill County and the nearest town to the national historic park is the town of Austin.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park was established with the aim of protecting the historic place associated with the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.
The area protects the birthplace, home, ranch, and also grave of Lyndon B. Johnson. The Johnson City District and the LBJ Ranch District together make up the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is one of the popular historic national park in Texas.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park was recognized as a national historic park in 1980 and currently is spread over an area of 1,570 acres.
The house that Johnson used to live in was often called the Texas White House as he spent almost 20% of his time in office at his own home. The area gives the visitor a complete look into the circle of life of one of the notable presidents in the history of the country.
1. Padre Island National Seashore
As mentioned before, the landscape of Texas is very different in each region and the Padre Island National Seashore is one such spot that is different from all the other spots that we have mentioned above. The Padre Island National Seashore is located off the coast of south Texas, on the Padre Islands.
The Padre Island National Seashore is the fourth designated national seashore in the country and is said to offer the visitor a wonderful experience at the site. The place is well known for its white sand beaches and if you are someone who loves beaches, Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best locations for you.
The majority area of the island is still untouched by development and it is maintained in a natural way. There are some areas of each that allow entry of four-wheeler vehicles.
Camping is another activity that is allowed in Padre Island National Seashore. The site is one of the best preserved national seashores in the country and if you are planning to visit there, it will definitely be a memorable experience.
National parks serve different functions and are an integral part of protecting our plants, wildlife, and also some of the historic sites of our state. Texas is a state that is blessed with nature and the state is highly diverse in its geographical factors.
There are grasslands, coastlines, forests, lakes, and all kinds of natural wonders in the state, and most of them are protected the best by the authorities.
The top 15 national park in Texas mentioned above are some of the best spots in the state to have a good time as the majority of these national parks offer different kinds of recreational activities too. So, make sure to check out those spots and enjoy your time with nature.