Did you know that Texas has 90 mountains reaching altitudes of a mile or more, or that approximately ten percent of Texas is covered in forest, including four national and five state forests? Although famous for vast cattle ranches and oil booms, Texas’ natural wonders inspire travelers when they visit the state.
While hiking in Texas you'll find a variety of natural wonders like, scenic canyons and dense forests. Explore mysterious caverns or relax on undisturbed beaches. People have been exploring and admiring these family-friendly and awe-inspiring sites for hundreds and even thousands of years.
Hike To Big Mountain Views
In terms of Texas parks, Big Bend National Park ranges in elevation from less than 2,000 feet along the Rio Grande River to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, encouraging visitors to explore its massive canyons, rock formations and vast desert expanses. “El Despoblado,” as the Spaniards called it, offers biking, boating, camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and opportunities for magnificent photographs. After exploring Big Bend National Park, visitors can go next door to Big Bend Ranch State Park, with 17 miles of trails and 30 miles of gravel road perfect for hiking, horseback riding, 4X4 driving and bicycling.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, located in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, contains the highest point in Texas, the 8,749-foot Guadalupe Peak. Visitors can see the ruins of an old stagecoach station, and camp at nearby Pine Springs Campground. The 135-square mile park also contains McKittrick Canyon, which in the fall months, comes alive with a blaze of colorful bigtooth maple trees.
Explore Caverns Or Canyons
Visitors who want to explore Texas “down under” must see Natural Bridge Caverns, named to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of Interior, recognizing sites that have an important role in preserving cultural history. Located 13 miles north of San Antonio and named one of America’s “10 great places to get nature on film,” this cave is one of the world’s premiere show caves and largest natural attractions. Visitors can view more than 10,000 different formations in underground chambers with either a guided tour or a self-guided tour on tape. Other award-winning state caverns include The Cave Without a Name and Cascade Caverns in Boerne, as well as Longhorn Caverns and Sonora Caverns.
South of Amarillo, the colorful slopes of Palo Duro Canyon State Park encompass more than 20,000 acres. Famed as the country’s second-largest canyon, it was formed primarily by water erosion from the Red River almost one million years ago. The canyon was dubbed “Palo Duro” (Spanish for “hardwood”) by early Spanish explorers in reference to the abundant mesquite and juniper trees, and offers hiking, horseback riding, cowboy cookouts, magnificent photo opportunities and outdoor theater events such as the renowned musical drama “TEXAS!”
National Forests & Preserves
Tarzan would have had a ball in the 97,000-acre Big Thicket National Preserve, which boasts 85 different tree species, nearly 1,000 flowering plants and brings together the eastern hardwood forests, the Gulf coastal plains and the Midwest prairies. A wonderful place for hiking, camping or canoeing, travelers who prefer the milder months can enjoy bird watching, as The Big Thicket is on the Central and Mississippi migratory flyways. The state’s national forests include the Angelina National Forest, Davy Crockett National Forest, Sabine National Forest and Sam Houston National Forest.
Whether you're looking for your next mountain to climb, a scenic canyon, tranquil forests or hiking trails in Texas, the state is surrounded by natural beauty. Bring a friend or the whole family and get outside this weekend. Start exploring the state one natural wonder at a time.