The Best State Parks to Visit in Central Texas

By |Published On: December 6th, 2022|
Central Texas State Parks

Even though cities in Texas have a lot to offer, the beautiful landscapes surrounding our towns will give you a chance to decompress or unwind. Here are some of the best central Texas parks to visit when you need to escape from society. Texas state parks offer amazing views and fun water features!

State Parks to Explore Near the Texas Hill Country

Are you looking for state parks near Austin, TX? You have a lot of great options. Whether you want to find a place to do a little mountain biking on the weekends or wish to float down the cool water of an ancient river while being protected by the shade of beautiful bald cypress trees – there’s a park or natural area right for you. 

Here are some popular state parks around Central Texas and the Hill Country. 

Blanco State Park

State parks near Texas Hill Country

Blanco State Park hugs a mile-long stretch of the Blanco River in Blanco County before it joins the San Marcos River. The river is the perfect setting for an afternoon float trip, and it’s just an hour from Austin and San Antonio. Visitors can rent tubes or kayaks from the park store. Or, if you would rather stay dry, there are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy at Blanco State Park. 

Lake LBJ 

Texas Hill Country State Parks

Lake LBJ is located on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country. The area is a top-rated weekend destination for boating, wakeboarding, water skiing, sailing, fishing, and many other recreational activities. In addition, many visitors enjoy the amenities offered by Horseshoe Bay Resort, which Golf Digest called one of the best golf resorts in the Southwest. 

President Lyndon B. Johnson was born near Johnson City, so many area attractions bear his name. Consider visiting the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site to enjoy the beautiful scenery and learn more about this famous Texan. 

Enchanted Rock State Park

Enchanted Rock State Park

Spend a day trip near Austin at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This Central Texas state park is named for the beautiful rock formations, as the ancient, pink granite dome has been a regional landmark for thousands of years. While this park is the perfect natural area for those who want to rock climb and experience Central Texas wildlife, it’s also ideal for stargazing, hiking, and bird-watching. 

Jacob’s Well Natural Area

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well Natural Area is not a part of the Texas State Parks system. However, it features a great swimming hole and is just a short drive from Austin. Check online before visiting because you may need reservations to be able to take a plunge.

Pedernales Falls State Park 

Pedernales Falls State Park

The Pedernales Falls State Park covers over 5,200 acres and offers six miles of Pedernales River frontage for camping, horseback riding, hiking, and off-road bicycling. While many come for the hiking and biking trails, there’s much more to do. Visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website to learn more. 

Longhorn Cavern State Park

state parks in Central Texas

While many Texas state parks have water recreation options, Longhorn Cavern State Park draws visitors interested in geology. While entry to the park is free, those who wish to explore the cavern must pay for guided tours. Take time to tour the exhibition about the Civilian Conservation Corps and its work in Texas before or after you go spelunking. Longhorn Cavern State Park is only 1.5 hours northwest of downtown Austin.

Guadalupe River State Park

Guadalupe River State Park in Texas

Even though many people travel from San Antonio or Austin to Guadalupe River State Park to swim, plenty of other outdoor activities are available. Trails in the park range from the 2.8-mile Painted Bunting Trail to the 0.3-mile River Overlook Trail. Camping sites are also available. 

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Park

We love the name of this natural area. The Bigtooth Maples are labeled “lost” because most maples live in cooler climates. This variety is the only one to survive in this region – making the trees seem out of place. Texans visit the Lost Maples State Natural Area to see a bit of fall foliage. Of course, the area is open year-round to hikers and campers. 

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park checks off all the boxes of a perfect recreation area in Texas. You’ll be able to see the beautiful Gorman Falls, cool off in Spicewood Springs, fish or paddle the river, or take a cave tour. Book your visit for a long weekend because there are over 35 miles of hiking trails available at this beautiful state park.

Inks Lake State Park

best state parks in Central Texas

Named after one of the original board members of the Lower Colorado River Authority, Inks Lake State Park is a great place to fish. When Valley Spring Creek is running, you can explore waterfalls upstream of the lake or take a dip in the Devil’s Waterhole. This rocky state park has wildflowers to photograph and pink granite hills to climb. Inks Lake State Park is only an hour from downtown Austin.

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park is only 13 miles from Austin, but its proximity to the state capitol isn’t the only thing that makes this state park so popular. You’ll be able to camp, hike, bike, or picnic in the beautiful Texas Hill Country when you visit the park. Make sure you save time to splash in Onion Creek, see the remains of an early Texas homestead, and (of course) visit the breathtaking McKinney Falls.

Central Texas Parks Are Great! But Why Not Live in a Place Surrounded by Nature?

Do you spend your weekends traveling miles down a state highway to your favorite recreation areas mentioned on our list? If you dream of miles o