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13 Dazzling State Parks Near Dallas

Texas’ incredible state park systems really capitalize on the various terrains throughout the region, and that includes throughout the best state parks near Dallas. Everything really is bigger in Texas, including the parks!

From rivers and valleys to canyons and creeks there is a little bit of everything to see. Various wildlife and flowers are local to so many smaller parts of Texas, and a state park is just the ticket to try to see as much as you can in one spot.

We organized this guide to the best state parks near Dallas by distance, focusing on parks within either day trip or weekend getaway distance.

No matter how far you’re willing to drive, a great scenic opportunity awaits you–and as you’ll see, not all of these state parks are even in Texas at all. Dallas’ proximity to surrounding states means that you can easily sample other state park systems from the city as well!

Hope to Visit Lots of Texas State Parks?

If state parks are your ideal getaway, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers an annual pass for $70, this covers unlimited visits to more than 80 state parks.

Click here to get your annual pass!

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State Parks Close to Dallas Within a 1 Hour Drive

Cedar Hill State Park

Cedar Hill State Park is the only state park near the “main” city of Dallas.

Trinity River runs through the heart of the city and this state park is along the pathway of the river as it flows downstream. It is really 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. 

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

25 minutes.

bluebonnets growing along a gravel trail in texas

Purtis Creek State Park

If fishing is your main interest, Purtis Creek State Park is one of the best state parks near Dallas for you.

This area is primarily known for catch-and-release bass fishing however they also have other fish that you can take home. The park has full facilities in place to catch and clean fish.

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The great thing about Texas State Parks is that you do not need a fishing license to fish within the perimeters of the park.

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

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

1 hour.

fishing rod being extended over the water at golden hour

Lake Texoma State Park

Less than 2 hours north of Dallas, you end up in the great ole’ neighboring state of Oklahoma!

Lake Texoma is the second-largest lake in the state and offers several aquatic activities aside from fishing. However, fishing is one of the highlights in this area.

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This lake sits right near the border and is known for striped bass fishing. If you’re not familiar with catching striped bass prior to arriving, the privately owned marina on the premises offers year-round guide services from renowned experts to help you get the most out of your experience.

Additionally, they have fishing expeditions available for booking with the guide, boat, and equipment included. 

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

1 hour, 45 minutes.

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

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park is absolutely one of the best state parks near Dallas for one simple reason: you can experience actual dinosaur fossils here! Embedded in the Paluxy River, ancient dinosaur tracks remain preserved for public viewing.

Another cool feature of Dinosaur Valley State Park is that a private equestrian company in the state park offers equestrian services if you want to see the park on horseback! The site is equestrian-friendly in the 100-acre primitive area allotted near the river. There are 20 miles worth of trails but if land exploration is not your thing there are plenty of other options available.

The river has a lot of aquatic activities including kayaking, with equipment available for rent if you’d rather not bring your own. 

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

1 hour, 30 minutes.

Dinosaur footprint in stone in Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas. A dollar bill is lying next to the footprint to emphasize size

Tyler State Park

When you think of Dallas, you typically don’t think of dense forestry–but it’s not a long drive from the city to reach some.

The Piney Woods is a subregion of forestry that span over Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Tyler State Park is part of this expansive forest.

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There are 100+-year-old trees, as well as several springs and creeks.

There are a few elements of this state park close to Dallas that were added in order to make the trip a truly family-friendly experience. There is a children’s wading pool and several campsites for the full family to enjoy. If you have younger kids this is the perfect place to make sure everyone has something they can get a thrill out of!

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

1 hour, 30 minutes.

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

State Parks Near Dallas Within a 3-Hour Drive

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.

This is a great place for beginner hikers, as the trail network is not super distant or complicated. Roughly 3.5 miles of trails provide a great look into the greenery available near Waco.

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While swimming and fishing are not allowed in this area, there are several opportunities to discover the local wildlife through geocaching or birdwatching.

Nearby Waco is typically known for college football and the Magnolia Silos, but add this state park within driving distance of Dallas to your list to round out a perfect weekend getaway! 

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

2 hours.

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

Caddo Lake State Park

The magical views at Caddo Lake State Park look like they’re right out of a movie… and they definitely don’t look like what the usual visitor expects from Texas!

This area is known for beautiful bald cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss that peek out of the water and provide a great contrast to the calm, smooth waters.

There are specific water bodies allowed for swimming and water activities. Caddo Lake is one of the only freshwater lakes in Texas and offers 70+ species of fish to try and catch from the fishing pier.

This is one of the rare state parks close to Dallas that has alligators, albeit they can be difficult to see on your own. If you want to take a peak from a safe distance, there are companies nearby that offer tours to go alligator viewing. 

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

2 hours, 30 minutes.

Caddo Lake in East Texas with cypress trees lining the lake

State Parks Within 6 Hours of Dallas

Beaver Bend State Park

Beavers Bend State Park is located in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.

Despite being a small town this area is very popular for naturalists of all disciplines. Hikers, fishermen, kayakers, and more love this area for the natural beauty it offers.

Even if you’re not a hardcore outdoorsy person, this area has some smoother offerings like a golf course on the premises.

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This area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Oklahoma and the photos will never do it justice. Trout fishing is very popular here, as well, and there are, not one, but two trophy areas all year long.

There are campsites, cabins, and a lodge available on site to make the stay comfortable especially if you intend on staying overnight for multiple days.

Additionally, if you’re into local history, is a cool Forest Heritage Center that gives tons of information about the local forestry and environment since prehistoric times.

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

3 hours.

flowing river in Beaver Bend State Park near Broken Bow Oklahoma surrounded by fall foliage

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

When most people want to see amazing rock structures and canyons they think of the Grand Canyon, but a little known fact is that Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the second-largest canyon in the country! It features a lot of the same breathtaking elements of the Grand Canyon.

While you’re there, be sure to hike to the Lighthouse formation–it’s one of the most unique sights in Texas!

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This state park is also adorable with its own sense of humor. They now offer “glamping” sites for those that take a little while to adjust to life outside of the city. They also have a musical which plays in the amphitheater! The performance often has a barbecue dinner to boot! If you want a fun and invigorating park experience, Palo Duro is the way to go!

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

5 hours, 40 minutes.

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

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Located in the Texas Hill Country not far from the adorable town of Marble Falls, Longhorn Cavern State Park is home to a unique cave that looks a little different than most of the typical limestone caves in Texas.

Longhorn Cavern State Park offers free entrance onto park grounds, however, the guided cave tours are an extra fee through a private company on the premises. The Texas State Parks pass offers a discount of 10% off of the cave tours!

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Definitely check this out if you’re on your way to Austin from Dallas, as it makes an easy side trip between the two cities.

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

3 hours, 30 minutes.

Interior of a cave in Longhorn Cavern State Park, one of the best day trips from Austin Texas

Crater of Diamonds State Park

Murfreesboro, Arkansas is truly a diamond in the rough. This state park gets its legendary name by being one of the only places the general public can mine for diamonds in the original volcanic source!

You can bring your own mining equipment (please read requirements online to ensure you are compliant with local rules and regulations), or you can rent some from the park.

The Diamond Discovery Center offers mining demonstrations, as well as viewings of uncut diamonds.

Over 30,000 diamonds have been found in this park, including “Uncle Sam” which is the largest diamond to be uncovered in the US. Take your stab at it, and see if you can find the next record-setting diamond!

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

3 hours, 45 minutes.

person wearing black gloves holding a wood tray sifting for diamonds in crater of diamonds state park arkansas, one of the best state parks near dallas texas

Colorado Bend State Park

A classic Texas Hill Country favorite, Colorado Bend State Park is home to beautiful views of the Colorado River (try out the Tie Slide Overlook trail for one of the best ones!), excellent swimming in the naturally-formed pools from Spicewood Springs, and a hike that leads to one of the best waterfalls in Texas: the 70-foot Gorman Falls, which looks positively out of place in the usually arid Central Texas climate!

With beautiful campsites right by the river, Colorado Bend State Park makes for an excellent overnight trip from Dallas, and is perfect for swimmers, hikers, and mountain bike riders alike!

If you’re looking for one of the best state parks near Dallas, you can’t go wrong with Colorado Bend State Park.

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

3 hours, 30 minutes.

Gorman Falls Texas in Colorado Bend State Park surrounded by green trees

Talimena State Park

Talimena National Scenic Byway is a 54 mile stretch through the Winding Stair Mountains between Oklahoma and Arkansas. Folks flock from all corners to come here during the fall time to witness the changing colors during the fall season as they drive up and down the peaks and valleys of the area.

This byway starts no other than at Talimena State Park. The park has trail networks into the famous Ouachita National Forest.

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This forest covers 1.8 million acres and has over 700 miles of trails to feed your fancy no matter how long or short your time is to explore.

After seeing this natural beauty, jump in your car and just coast on along to your next journey while taking in the beautiful views that surround you.

Driving Distance from Downtown Dallas

4 hours.

talimena scenic byway in the fall, with a road in the center of the photo

Map of the Best State Parks Near Dallas TX

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