15 Beautiful North Texas State Parks to Visit

State parks are an absolute gem across the Lone Star State–and that includes the many North Texas state parks within easy reach of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Regardless of what kind of landscape you are looking for, there is an enormous variety of beautiful state parks in North Texas to explore.

Some great natural sites are preserved through the park system, additionally, several older man-made sites such as historic homes and other buildings continuously are maintained to allow newer generations a chance to connect with history.

The parks also often have equipment for rent which facilitates activities from kayaking to fishing, ensuring that there’s always a fun way to get out in nature in North Texas.

Here are the best state parks in North Texas to visit!

Child in a red shirt fishing on the shores of lake texoma, one of the most popular lakes in texas

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Planning to Visit Lots of North Texas State Parks?

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department offers an annual pass that offers unlimited entry to the state’s 89 parks.

It cost $70 a person, and if you purchase additional passes for people with the same address it is an additional $25 per person.

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The pass grants you entry and also offers up discounts on equipment rental and camp fees!

This is definitely a great purchase if you’re interested in exploring more of Texas’ natural beauty firsthand.

father and son looking at texas dinosaur tracks in the riverbed at dinosaur valley state park

The Best State Parks in North Texas

Ray Roberts Lake State Park

Located just an hour outside of Dallas, near Denton, Ray Roberts Lake State Park is the perfect spot to go exploring.

This fun lake makes for a great day trip, and if you wanted to stay overnight they have camping locations and a lodge on site.

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A big perk of visiting this park is the wonderful views of the water.

There are lots of aquatic activities that are great here such as swimming or paddling but you can also fish and grill here using the picnic pavilions available for rental.

The 20-mile trail network is one of the most extensive networks near the Dallas area and it’ll provide for a really great hike no matter if you prefer paved or off-road trails.

sunset over lake ray roberts, one of the best things to do in denton texas

Cedar Hill State Park

Cedar Hill is a great North Texas state park to explore near Dallas, with hundreds of acres of open land and trails to explore.

The park really is a substantial natural preserve, sitting on 600 acres of land.

A fun, interactive feature of the park is the mini half-mile nature walk with an online guide to teach you all about the wildlife in and around the park.

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In the state of Texas, state parks allow free fishing (meaning fishing without a license front the shore or pier) in lakes enclosed within the park.

In addition to great trails and hiking, there is access to Joe Pool Lake which features water skiing and boating for all the waterbugs in your life.

It is a fun spot to catch some sun and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city!

aerial view of joe pool lakes, one of the best lakes in dallas tx

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Dallas and Fort Worth make up the epicenter of North Texas, however, there are really luscious green spaces right at the outskirts of the city.

Seated right on the edges of Lake Mineral Wells, this park offers the benefits of climbing as well as beach vibes from the lake.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park is great for those who love rock climbing or rappelling.

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There are specific route maps for climbers that are available on the park’s website.

If you want something a little more lowkey, fossil hunting is another great activity at this park!

It is said that there are remnants of life from thousands of years ago still present in the beds there.

Lake Mineral Wells as seen from above at an overlook, home to some of the best hikes near Dallas

Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower Park is one of the best North Texas state parks to head to if you’re a bit of a history buff.

Not only can you hike and camp in the state park, but the nearby Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site will allow you to learn more about the president that the park was named for as well.

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The park is a little over 460 acres in area and provides unique waterfront hiking opportunities which are about as beachfront as you can get in North Texas!

There are even fossil beds located along the trails to show explorers the rich history of the area.

Lake Texoma offers up great fishing and boating experiences as well!

lake texoma as seen from above

Lake Tawakoni State Park

Lake Tawakoni serves as a 35,000+ acre reservoir and features some great spots to fish and even greater spots to take in the greenery.

The beautiful oak forests are extremely popular here, and for good reason.

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Feel free to set up camp, or rent out some equipment to try out a new activity.

This area is great in the warmer months because you can go from a great round of mountain biking straight to splashing around in the lake!

Lake Tawakoni as seen from the shore on a sunny day, one of the best state parks north texas

Cleburne State Park

Cleburne State Park is wrapped around Cedar Lake and has a huge, sprawling trail network.

Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps continue to provide amenities to the park and also built the historic bridge over Camp Creek.

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There are 13 miles of trails that provide for a wonderful afternoon hike.

Mountain biking is also very common here with some hilly, wooden trails.

Cleburne State Park is a great laid-back North TX state park that is a perfect place to go birding or search for local wildflowers.

Bridge in Cleburne State Park with a tree boasting fall foliage in the foreground. This state park is home to some of the best hikes near Dallas TX

Dinosaur Valley State Park

As the title suggests, this park is where dinosaurs were known to roam, and it is one of the most unique state parks in North Texas.

There are still visible tracks left in the waterbeds of the river!

This state park near Fort Worth encompasses 20 miles worth of trails and has a laundry list of activities throughout the area.

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The river also is used by avid kayakers, there is a rental facility on-site if you’re not able to bring your own.

Additionally, you can go horseback riding with your own horses or through a private company.

Exploring this area on horseback is a whole different feel and will give you a sense of discovering the country in a whole different way.

fossilized dinosaur tracks in dinosaur valley state park, one of the fun road trips from ft worth tx

Bonham State Park

Bonham State Park is a smaller North Texas state park but it is great for a day trip to sit and relax.

If you’re looking to go exploring, there are 9 miles of trails for hiking and biking.

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Additionally, there is a 65-acre lake with a fishing pier for a quiet spot to fish canoe.

Paddle Boats, kayaks, and canoes are available for rental.

small road leading into bonham state park north texas
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Purtis Creek State Park

Purtis Creek State Park is a great fishing spot in North Texas.

You can go overnight fishing, even if you’re not camping there, for a small fee!

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The park is primarily known for catch-and-release bass fishing.

The park has full facilities in place to catch and clean fish.

If you’re a first-timer, they offer supplies such as rods, tackle boxes, and reels to get you started on your adventure!

fishing rod being extended over the water at golden hour

Meridian State Park

Meridian Park is one of the smallest state parks in North Texas, and it makes for a perfectly quaint little getaway.

There is a small trail that is around 2 miles long.

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The accompanying lake is around 72 acres, and you can find a great spot to sit and enjoy a book or listen to the water flow around you.

You can also take a paddleboat out or go kayaking–given the size of the park, there really isn’t a shortage of things to do!

people swimming in a lake at sunset in meridian state park tx

Tyler State Park

Tyler is the Rose Capital of America, but aside from the sprawling rose gardens, this city also has some beautiful views thanks to the Piney Woods.

Tyler State Park is known for its thick forestry, and although greenery is not uncommon to see in northern TX, this view is something else altogether.

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The Piney Woods is a subregion of forestry that spans parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

There are 100+-year-old trees and several springs and creeks that make this area so picturesque.

In addition, Tyler State Park is one of the less-famous Piney Woods state parks in Texas, as well as the most accessible from the DFW area, making it a fantastic escape.

two labordoodles sitting in front of a lake at sunset in Tyler State Park, a texas state park within driving distance of houston tx

Mother Neff State Park

Mother Neff State Park is one of the oldest state parks in Texas!

Much of the original land was given as a donation, and since then the park has been named after the original donor, Isabella Neff.

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This is an area that is good for hiking and nature walks, unfortunately, swimming and fishing are not allowed in this area.

As a nice “dry” alternative, there are several opportunities to discover the local wildlife through geocaching or birdwatching.

wooded trail surrounded by trees in mother neff state park, one of the best texas state parks close to dallas tx

Fort Richardson State Park

Fort Richardson is known for two separate lakes, Quarry Lake and Lake Jacksboro.

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The park is established in conjunction with a historic site and creek, so there is plenty to do and see when you arrive.

This park is equestrian-friendly so you can explore this area on a whole different plane.

You can paddle, hike, bike, or fish, whatever your heart desires!

fishing pier on a texas lake

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Located just half an hour from Amarillo, not far from Route 66, sits the second-biggest canyon in the USA and one of the best state parks in North Texas: Palo Duro Canyon!

There are plenty of hikes and overlooks to choose from, but be sure to prioritize hiking to the lighthouse formation!

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The trail is scorching and can be a bit grueling, especially during the final ascent, but the payoff is absolutely worth it.

If you happen to visit during the summer, don’t miss a chance to see the classic Texas Outdoor Musical at the park’s outdoor amphitheater, either.

Kate Storm standing in front of the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas

Lake Whitney State Park

Lake Whitney State Park is a short drive out of the Waco area.

It is a great day trip from Dallas or Fort Worth as well.

You can add this as a stop along the way of a larger day trip or spend the weekend at one of their campsites!

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If you’re looking for other things to do other than home goods shopping and Bears games this is a great idea!

This North Texas state park is a really great place to go fishing, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert.

In June, there is an annual youth fishing competition that could be a really great family experience to try!

2 photos of women in north texas state parks: palo duro canyon and caprock canyons. black and red text on a white background reads" 15 cool state parks in north texas"

1 thought on “15 Beautiful North Texas State Parks to Visit”

  1. Love all the input! I am a great believer in the positive effects of nature on the human spirit!
    May I add to the info on the Palo Dura State Park? It is the second largest canyon in our great country!
    It is amazing and beautiful with great hiking trails of all degrees. We grew to love this park when our children were going to college in that area. I am just surprised it isn’t a national park!
    Thank you for the information on all our great state parks.😍


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