Discover 5 State Parks near Dallas

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: August 16, 2022
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Whether you live in the Dallas, Texas area or are visiting, there are many State Parks for hiking, biking, kayaking and fishing. Bring a picnic lunch and make it a day or load up the camper and spend a few nights. Here are 5 State Parks near Dallas that you will want to visit while you are in town.

5. Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway

Musky or Muskellunge

You can borrow some fishing gear and fish for catfish, crappie and bass on Lake Mineral Wells at the Lake Mineral Wells State Park.


Just west of downtown Dallas is Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. With scenic views of Lake Mineral Wells and the 20-mile Trailway there is lots to see and do at the park. Visit the lake for some swimming or rent a boat and enjoy some fishing. You can even borrow fishing equipment through the Tackle Loaner Program so you can catch some big catfish, crappie or bass. The park also has one of the few natural rock climbing venues in Texas from beginner to challenging rock climbing. Stay overnight at one of the 115 campsites including RV sites with water/electric.

Lake or RiverLake Mineral Wells, 640-acres lake
FishingYes, 6 fishing piers, catfish, sunfish, crappie, and largemouth bass
BoatingYes! Boat rental available as well (flat-bottom boats with trolling motors, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and rowboats) *No tubing, water skiing or jet skis
Bike TrailsYes
Hiking12.8 miles of park trails plus the 20 mile Trailway
CampingYes, 115 sites, RV and Tent, some electric/water
Rock ClimbingPenitentiary Hollow is a natural rock climbing venue in the park
What makes it greatAdventurer’s dream: biking, kayaking, rock climbing all in one spot!

4. Lake Tawakoni Park

Lake Tawakoni

One of the 5 State Parks near Dallas is Lake Tawakoni State Park. Drive out to the beautiful park area to fish, boat or camp overnight.


Only 50 miles east of Dallas, Lake Tawakoni has everything you are looking for in a day at the beach. The lake is 37,879 acres, with a sandy beach swimming area and boat rentals. You can borrow fishing gear and fish from the shore (no license needed to fish from shore) or try your luck from your boat. Anglers have pulled in catfish, crappie, Striped and hybrid striped bass, white bass, and largemouth bass. There are five miles of hiking and biking trails as well as a campsite with 75 campsites. Come for the day or stay for a week, there is lots to enjoy in this state park near Dallas!

Lake or RiverLake Tawakoni, 37,879-acres reservoir
FishingYes, catfish, crappie, Striped and hybrid striped bass, white bass, and largemouth bass
BoatingYes, kayak rentals on site
SwimmingYes, designated swimming beach
Bike TrailsYes, 5 miles
HikingYes, 5 miles
Camping75 campsites, RV/Tent, some with full hookup
What makes it greatOne of the best lakes near Dallas!

3. Dinosaur Valley Park

Camarasaurus Dinosaur Herd 3d illustration

What kind of dinosaurs roamed the land where Dallas is now? Come find out at Dinosaur Valley State Park.


Dinosaur Valley State Park is known for its dinosaur tracks left millions of years ago that you can see by the riverbed. There are 5 different areas to look for tracks left by what researches think were Sauroposeidon proteles and an Acrocanthosaurus. Check the website to see if tracks are visible before your visit since their visibility can change due to the weather conditions. Visit the interpretive center to learn about when these tracks were made and what kind of dinosaurs lived in what is now Texas. If you’d like to explore the 100-acre South Primitive area, stop at the Eagle Eye Ranch to schedule a horseback ride. There is a 59 site campground right in the park as well!

Lake or RiverPaluxy River
BoatingCan paddle on the river
SwimmingYes, in the river, check conditions before swimming
Bike TrailsYes
Camping59 sites, RV and Tent, some electric
Horseback ridingPrivate Horseback Riding ranch offers trail rides
What makes it greatDownload the coordinates of Dinosaur tracks and try to find them yourself, just like a real paleontologist!

2. Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site

Everglades National Park - Kayaking

Launch a kayak on Lake Jacksboro for a day of exploring the lake. Visit the historic fort to find out how soldiers lived in the 1860’s.


Visit the site of the former largest U.S. Army installation where some of the original buildings still stand. You can take a self-guided tour or a ranger-led tour of the village and learn all about how soldiers protected the settlers back in the 1860’s and beyond. The park also offers a swimming beach, fishing, kayaking and trails for hiking and biking. You can fish in either lake with Quarry Lake being stocked with catfish and bass and in the winter, trout. Lake Jacksboro offers a sandy beach for swimming and a boat launch for kayaks. Stay overnight at the campground that offers 69 RV and Tent sites with some having electric and water. There are also 11 cabins you can rent if you prefer!

Lake or RiverQuarry Lake and Lake Jacksboro
FishingYes, catfish, bass, trout
SwimmingYes, sandy beach on Lake Jacksboro
Bike TrailsYes, 12 miles of trails for bike, hike, horse
HikingYes, 9-mile one way Lost Creek Reservoir Trailway
CampingYes! RV w/electric/water, Tent, cabins, horseback riders sites
What makes it greatTaking a step back in time to the 1860’s!

1. Cedar Hills State Park

Joe Pool Lake

If you want to stay close to downtown Dallas, one of the best state parks near Dallas is Cedar Hills State Park.


One of the best state parks near Dallas is also the closest to downtown Dallas located in Cedar Hills, TX. This urban park is on the shores of Joe Pool Lake which is a 7,500 acre recreational lake. You can swim at the beach, fish for crappie, catfish or bass and paddle along shoreline in a kayak or SUP. Another highlight is the developed mountain bike trails, made and maintained by the Dallas Off Road Biking Association (DORBA).

The park is also the site of the historic Penn Farm which was a working farm from the mid 1800’s all the way to the mid 1900’s where they raised horse, sheep and cattle. If you want a place to stay near downtown Dallas, camping at Cedar Hills State Park is a great option with 318 campsites from RV sites with hookups to hike-in primitive sites. Some of the campsites sit right on the lake for a wonderful place to enjoy your morning coffee!

Lake or RiverJoe Pool Lake, 7,500 acre lake
FishingYes! Crappie, catfish, bass, perch
BoatingYes, boat or paddle
SwimmingYes, there is a gravel beach with swimming area
Bike TrailsYes, mountain bike trails that cover the 1,200 acres of the park
Camping315 campsites, RV sites with electric and water, primitive tent sites
Historic SitePenn Farm
What makes it greatOnly 20 miles SE of everything in downtown Dallas!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Trong Nguyen/

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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