The top 3 outdoor places in Texas we have been to are Big Bend National Park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Caddo Lake
A. Big Bend
The crown jewels for outdoor activities in Texas is without a doubt the Big Bend National Park in the southern boarder of Texas. We enjoyed the big bend thoroughly in a 7 day trip and will visit there again.
|Big Bend Landscape|
1) Trip plan - link
2) The big bend experience - be quiet, enjoy the quietness of the wilderness; the starry sky is a marvel to cherish as well - link
3) River Rafting in Santa Elena Canyon is a must - link
B. Palo Duro Canyon
The Grand Canyon of Texas is a great place for camping and hiking. It has great landscape, amazing trails, it is second only to Big Bend in Texas!
|Palo Duro Canyon|
1) Trip plan - link
2) Fall, Winter and Spring should be good time to visit there, and many trails to hike - light house trail is must - link
3) Camping for two night would be best for full enjoyment of the Canyon - hiking under starry sky (remember to bring flashlights) and see Sunrise and Sunset - link
C. Caddo Lake and East Texas
Caddo lake is the only natural lake in Texas. It is a great place for camping, star gazing and kayaking or canoeing. It is a bit humid to camp there in summer, but the starry sky, the sounds of insects at night or the canoeing in mill pond in the morning in the forest of cypress tress all make it worth it!
|Mill Pond by Caddo Lake|
The best time to visit there is late October, early November - when humidity is low, air is crisp and the cypress trees turn golden!
There are a few smaller state parks in east Texas which is quite different from other parks in Texas - they are typically small, and less crowded. We went to Cooper State Park and Bob Sandline Park and liked them.
D. Austin, Texas and Surrounding areas
Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake - a beautiful place to hike and paddle with Austin city skyline near by - link
|Lady Bird Lake at Austin|
Pandernales Falls is about a hour or so outside of Austin - a good place to sit on rocks in the middle of shallow pools, and to wade in water a bit
Inks Lake - a good site for camping by the lake and swimming at Devil's hole, a great place to paddle as well. Hiking trail is good. You can see people dare devil at Devil's hole.
Enchanted Rock is a place to hike in rocks and to be in awe of this huge billion year old rock. Camping by the rock and hiking in early morning was great.
E. Dallas and Surroundings
White Rock Lake and Arboretum are the best places to go for outdoor activities in the city. White rock lake is a great place for jogging, biking and paddling. It is also a great place to watch migrating birds in winter, and see mansions by the lake in late spring and earhilly ly summer. Arboretum is a great to place to see flowers, plants, outdoor concert, art display and picnic! There is a great energy park which is good for children and adults alike to enjoy hands activities.We have been to both places numerous times.
Another our favorite local place is Ray Roberts Lake - it is a state park about a little bit over 1 hour from Dallas, paved trails good for hiking and biking, We went camping, biking, jogging, swimming with many families of friends many times during late spring , summer or fall. It is good for the whole family to get away from computers, cell phones, internet without much hassle. We have been to Lake Ray Roberts southern shore so many times, eventually we decided to visit the north shore - a little further, less people and an equally great park to spend some time in.
|Rainbows at Lake Ray Roberts|
Lake Texoma is another big man made lake near Dallas. It has rocky beach, good foliage if you go there in fall, a good alternate to Lake Ray Roberts. Eisenhower State Park is where one can camp, hike and motor boating.
Fossil Rim is anther great place to go, especially for families with younger children or older adults to see animals in the "wild" in the comfort of vehicles with minimum walking. Dinosaur Valley is close to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and a place to dinosaur footprints, hiking and camping
Lake Mineral Wells is over 2 hours away from our home, a good place for kayaking and
F Southern Texas
The main reason I visited San Marcos is for kayaking in San Marcos River. Aquarena is where the spring lake is, which is the head water of San Marcos river. It is a great place for families to visit. Glass bottom boat tour of the lake is popular. Kayaking in glass bottom kayak leisurely is a great way to get close to wild life
|Nutria at Spring Lake San Marcos|
|reserved kayaks for us at Aquarena, San Marcos|
Lost Maple Natural area is a famous Texas destination for foliage, but it is a bit far from Dallas for a weekend trip and camping site is very difficult to reserve during peak foliage season. We visited there during a Thanksgiving week 4 days trip. In addition to foliage, it is also a beautiful place to hike and camp.
Natural Bridge Cavern is place near San Antonio and it provides a totally different experience than the parks and lakes! It is under ground, it is dark.