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Pedernales Falls. Photo by Pierce Ingram

Featured Article

Fresh Perspective

From vast deserts to limitless coastlines, we’ve rounded up the best outdoor spots for rest and relaxation in Texas.

Monahans Sandhills State Park 

Slide, roll, or glide down the dunes at one of Texas' most unique state parks. Visitors can rent sand disks to explore the park, hike on unmarked trails, or stay at one of the park's campsites. A great place to soak in the quiet arid environment, the vast landscape is marked only by the occasional cactus, Mesquite tree, or other arid vegetation. 

Big Thicket National Preserve 

The Big Thicket National Preserve is home to one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. The preserve covers over 113,000 acres and includes hiking trails and waterways that travel through nine different ecosystems, including longleaf pine forests, central plains, dry sandhills, and southeastern swamps. 

Guadalupe Mountains National Park 

Situated in the arid Chihuahuan desert just south of the New Mexico border, Guadalupe Mountain National Park is known for its striking rock formations. Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, while El Capitan is probably the most photographed cliff in the state. Visitors can enjoy hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, birding, and more. 

McDonald Observatory

Attend a star party or other educational programming at the world-class McDonald Observatory, located under the dark skies of West Texas. The McDonald Observatory is home to the 433-inch Hobby-Eberly Telescopes – one of the largest optical telescopes in the world. Visitors can tour the observatory to learn more about the galaxy or catch a glimpse of Texas' starry sky. 

South Padre Island 

Known for its beautiful beaches and calm waters, South Padre Island gets more than 300 days of sunshine annually, making it the perfect destination year-round. Water enthusiasts enjoy the island's 34 miles of white sand and emerald water, while birdwatchers flock to the area to view migrating birds. Kiteboarding and windsurfing are other popular activities, and anglers can enjoy many fishing options.

Inks Lake State Park 

Inks Lake State Park offers a wide range of year-round activities on the Colorado River in Central Texas. There are scenic hiking trails through shaded forests and over rocky outcrops, but the main attraction is the lake. The water level stays constant, making it an excellent destination for swimming, boating, and water skiing. 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park 

Known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas," Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the country. Once inhabited by Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians, the park is located in the Texas Panhandle. The park has over 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as campsites, cabins, and glamping opportunities.

  • Pedernales Falls. Photo by Pierce Ingram
  •  Guadalupe Mountains. Photo by Chris Zebo
  • Opposite Page: Padre Island National Seashore. Photo by Tim Malek Monahans Sandhills State Park.  Photo by Chris Zebo
  •  Big Thicket National Preserve. Photo by Zack Frank
  • South Padre Island. Photo by Chris Zebo
  • Milky Way as seen near McDonald Observatory.
  • Colorado River at Inks Lake State Park
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo by Jaime Hudson
  • Padre Island National Seashore. Photo by Tim Malek