The 6 Prettiest State Parks in Texas

Written by Jude Speegle
Updated: June 5, 2023
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Texas has maintained its status of rich history and lush and diverse wilderness for thousands of years. People have survived and thrived within this massive state since humanity first began. 

You can discover this exact past while exploring some of the state parks and what the state offers. Texas has many diverse habitats to explore, from massive cave systems to the beautiful canyons cutting across it. 

Some parks show more preserved wilderness, while others are likely to be maintained by people. Nothing beats traversing the edges of canyons or exploring underground caverns. Here’s the ones we think are the prettiest examples;

Let’s take a look at these state parks that Texas provides to the public and explore a little bit of what they are like.

1. Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park has the beautiful Gorman Falls waterfall.

©JB Manning/

It should be no surprise that the Colorado Bend State Park is on this list as it has some of the most surprising habitats located within its acreage. There are 35 miles of trails that are not the typical grasslands you would expect.

Instead of plains, there are beautiful landscapes that are a hiker’s dream. Mixed within the rocky canyons are plenty of thick forests and lands to relish. The only way to visit the caverns is through a guided tour.

The Gorman Falls waterfall is a picturesque scene framed by leaf-draped plants and moss. The spring-fed waterfall positively glows in the early morning mist that the falling waters bring to rise.

Among the 35 miles of trails include trails as little as 1.1 miles and trails that go up to 9.5 miles at the Lemon Ridge Pass Trail. Some trails are easy and scenic, while others are longer and rocky. All lead to beautiful experiences with nature, exposing you to views you’d never have seen otherwise.

2. Inks Lake State Park

Inks Lake State Park is known for cliff jumping.


Geology is the study of rocks throughout their history. Inks Lake State Park has geology that dates back 600 million years to what is known as the pre-Cambrian period. There are pink rock islands among the limestone, and these outcroppings are hosts to their own mini-habitats to observe. 

The plants that grow on these pink rock islands break down rocks over millions of years, which is why there is so much gravel to travel over.

The lakes for which this state park is named are waterholes amidst the outcropping and are famous for fearless cliff jumpers taking the leap–right into the water below. Cliff jumping is intimidating to most, so only the brave-hearted go this route to the water below.

3. Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake Louisiana

Caddo Lake is known for excellent fishing and its rich historical background, including Bigfoot sightings!


Found near the border of Texas, Caddo Lake State Park has a plethora of trees covered in waves of Spanish moss. This park is different from others because Texas has vast swathes of different environments.

Only thirty miles away from Shreveport, Louisiana, Caddo Lake State Park resembles much of the classic Louisiana swamp life. This is because borders don’t change territory; they are just laws and lines imposed by the humans who inhabit them.

Get ready to see alligators inhabiting the swamps so common in this area, as East Texas is still the deep south in nature.

There are 26,000 acres of swamp, lakes, and animals to explore. The views among these acres are magnificent. Extraordinary views mingle with the fabulous fishing, making this a wonderful place to kayak, with 50 miles of paddling trails available.

4. Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park has one of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pools


Balmorhea State Park holds one of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pools. The water is crystal clear and surrounded by concrete, giving it a modern type of feel. There is a historic motel to explore and stay in, along with beautiful sights to see.

This state park is a lovely surprise in Texas’s hot, arid air. There are many different camping areas to check out, along with the brilliant cool water of the spring. The swimming pool goes down to a depth of twenty-five feet and holds 3.5 million gallons of water.

Located in the middle of the sweltering desert, Balmorhea State Park is truly an oasis.

5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park was formed by a fork of the Red River.


Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is known for having the second-largest canyon in the United States. It cuts a stunning image against the Texas plains, where giant slabs of rock are welded together to tower over an 800-foot canyon.

Canyons develop from natural erosion over the years, usually due to water winding its way through for thousands of years. The Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River is what made its mark on this Texas land.

There are more than 25,000 acres of trails to hike within the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. These trails wind through both archaeological and paleontological sites. Since there is so much history within this park, it is integral that travelers don’t interfere with the landscape and potential important sites.

6. Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls

Pedernales Falls State Park is prone to flash flooding.

©Tricia Daniel/

Slabs of limestone are placed through the river like ancient, giant steps. The limestone cuts its way dramatically through the scene, giving an almost supernatural feeling like looking at the sky as a young child.

The waters are too rough for swimming in this area, but the adventure isn’t in the water itself; it’s what the water has already done. It has carved its way through the soft limestone and curls out to a beautiful waterfall at one end of the park.

Swimming is allowed in other areas, and tubing is recommended to take in all the sights. There is camping available, horse trails, bike trails, and hiking. A lovely butterfly garden is available to peruse as well. There is even a 10-mile hiking trail for the hikers who really want to make a day of it.

Flash flooding is common in the area, so it is recommended to be in tune with the weather when visiting.

No matter where you end up in Texas, there is always something intensely marvelous that nature has to offer.

Summary of the 6 Prettiest State Parks in Texas:

Name of ParkLocationFeatures
Colorado BendCentral Texas, between San Saba and LampasasGorman Falls; 35 miles of hiking trails
Inks LakeCentral Texas, next to Buchanan Dam and Lake; between Llano and BurnetPink rock islands and cliffs
Caddo LakeEast Texas, 30 miles from Shreveport20,000 acres of swamps and lakes; 50 miles of kayak paddling trails; excellent fishing
BalmorheaFar West Texas between Fort Stockton and Van HornSpring-fed swimming pools
Palo DuroPanhandle of Texas near Amarillo2nd largest canyon in the US; 25,000 acres of hiking trails
PedernalesCentral Texas near Johnson City5212 acres; waterfall, tubing, horse and bike trails and hiking

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

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats.

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