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5 Beautiful Texas State Parks: Exploring the Diverse Landscapes of the South

Five Texas Parks I’m Looking Forward to Visiting When I Come Back to America

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The Lesser-Known Side of Texas: Milton Reimer's Ranch Park - Photo Credit: Alex Temple


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I’m a Texas girl, born and raised. I’ve been living abroad for the past year, and I can’t wait to get back to the land of Tex-Mex, margaritas, and the Great Outdoors. During my travels, when I tell people I’m from the Lone Star State, they immediately think of deserts and tumbleweeds. What they don’t realize is that Texas is so much more than that. While this stunning desert scene can be explored in the western part of the state, Texas has 268,596 square miles of diverse landscapes and climates. With deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, cave systems, plains, and much more, it’s easy to see why Texans are proud to call this great state home.

Here are a few Texas parks I’m looking forward to visiting when I return to the States:

red rock mountains covered in trees in the background, a swamp in the middle, and a pretty meadow with a camping chair set up in the foreground

Colorado Bend State Park - Photo Credit: Alex Temple

Colorado Bend State Park

Bend, TX

When I think of Colorado Bend State Park, I think of the dazzlingly clear, green water and the jutting cliffs of the Colorado River canyon. This park has over 5,000 acres, featuring natural springs, breathtaking canyon views, and numerous caves. As you make your way through this park, you’ll see waterfalls, emerald-green mossy rocks, and plenty of crystal-clear swimming holes.

I’m mostly looking forward to visiting Gorman Falls, the park’s 70-foot spring-fed waterfall. The landscape of Colorado Bend is what I describe to non-Texans when I want to explain just how beautiful and ecologically diverse this giant state truly is.


scraggly trees loom over a meadow filled with beautiful vibrant blue purple wildflowers

Wildflowers at Milton Reimers Ranch Park - Photo Credit: Alex Temple

Milton Reimers Ranch Park

Dripping Springs, TX

Milton Reimers Ranch Park has been my main outdoor climbing haunt for years, but it offers almost 2,500 acres of other beautiful outdoor opportunities as well. This incredible canyon along the Pedernales River never fails to impress me. Almost as soon as you leave one of the well-paved parking lots, you’re transported to a completely different world.

First, you find yourself in a field of Texas’ unique wildflowers and plants. Then, as soon as you start your descent into the canyon, you find yourself in a lush, green world of dense vegetation and springs. There are incredible rock formations all along the cliff sides that are well-loved and well-utilized by local climbers.


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Crockett Gardens Falls: Cedar Breaks Park - Photo Credit: Meghan

Cedar Breaks Park

Georgetown, TX

Cedar Breaks Park is one of the lesser-known parks in Texas. Located on Lake Georgetown, this park is better suited for camping and lake activities. What I’m really interested in is returning to the park’s main attraction, Crockett Gardens Falls. Shaded by Texas’ prominent cedar trees, the hike along the San Gabriel Goodwater Loop leads you to this astonishing spring-fed waterfall. The clear water dripping from the cliffside ferns creates a magical shower-like effect.


A Gator lurks in a swamp covered with algae, he just wants to say hello

Can you spot the Alligator? Brazos Bend State Park - Photo Credit: Alex Temple

Brazos Bend State Park

Needville, TX

Brazos Bend State Park will always have a special place in my heart. Nothing brings out my Houston pride better than telling people about the local state park where over 200 alligators call home. While there is plenty of wildlife to see, the gator reigns as king of the almost 5,000-acre park. Brazos Bend will bring that deep-rooted feeling of southern nostalgia as you look out over the coastal prairie and sprawling pecan trees. While you’re marveling at the water lilies in the marshes, you’ll hear the haunting sound of the gators bellowing - it’s truly a unique experience.

This park has plenty of easy hiking trails, tons of plants and flowers to see, and, of course, an abundance of gators. These creatures may look scary, but they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Try to always stay at least 30 feet away from them, and be vigilant about where you’re walking. You can read more about alligator safety while visiting the park here.


fat bottomed trees they make the rockin world go round. They certainly make Big Thicket National Preserve look good, situated deep in the crystal green waterways of the region

Big Thicket National Preserve - Photo Credit: Larry Rana

Big Thicket National Preserve

Kountze, TX

Big Thicket National Preserve is a whole different ballgame from the rocky Hill Country of Central Texas and the marshy Southeast. This massive East Texas national preserve offers over 113,000 acres of dense hardwood forests and calm waterways. You can even see four different types of carnivorous plants here. What you experience in this area is a sense of otherworldliness - there’s just something about these swampy forests that bring a bit of spiritual magic you can only find along the Texas-Louisiana coastline.


Clear blue water looks Carribean-esque as it flows through the waterway into a man made waterfall system

Texas abounds with sparkling, crystalline waterways - Photo Credit: Alex Temple

Just writing about these places is getting me excited to return home for a spell. Gallivanting abroad has offered so many exciting opportunities, but nothing beats coming back to the place that you call home. I look forward to the riverside rock climbing, the waterhole swimming, and the gator watching with the ones I love. It may be difficult to fit all these parks into my brief homecoming, but a girl sure can try.


About the Author:

Guest Blogger Alex Temple is a rock climber and adventurer who travels the US and abroad to appreciate all that mother nature has to offer. To see more of her travels, check her out on IG @atemptemp and her blog here.


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