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11 Stunning State Parks Near Houston

Texas is filled with natural wonders, and that includes many that are located in Texas state parks near Houston! From the rolling hills of East Texas to the mesquite-lined scenery of Austin to the coastal breeze of Houston, the difference in the scenery around Texas is vast and unique.

Whether you are a nature fanatic or you just need a quick break from the hustle and bustle of city life, Texas has many escapes to nature that await you.

Here are the best state parks near Houston, all reachable on a day trip or weekend escape!

fall foliage in lost maples state park texas with a pond to the right side of the photo

State Parks Within 2 Hours of Houston

Sea Rim State Park

Sea Rim State Park is positioned just perfectly in order to combine multiple ecosystems.

Located near Beaumont, Texas, Sea Rim State Park offers many different activities to do while you are visiting. There is a boardwalk within the park that allows you to view the marsh and the beach at the same time. There is also a path along the beach that you can drive on, along your drive you can roll down your windows to soak up the salty air and listen to the crashing waves.

You can set up a tent within the park or even rent out the floating campsite in which you kayak out to your spot and set up for the night. No matter where you are within Sea Rim State Park you are pretty much guaranteed to catch a glimpse of some remarkable wildlife as well.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

1 hour, 50 minutes.

Man camping on the beach in an open tent with seagulls flying nearby in a state park near houston texas

Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park is located just 45 miles south of the city, making this Texas state park near Houston one of the easiest to reach on a day trip from the city.

In this beautiful park, birds fly overhead, and alligators lurk in the water below.

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Within the park is the George Observatory where you can soak in the stars above after you have hiked all day.

Spanish moss blankets the trees as you hike throughout the park and you are sure to catch a glimpse of wildlife amongst the various ecosystems within the park.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

55 minutes.

View of a pond at Brazos Bend State Park as seen from a wooden deck, one of the best day trips from Houston TX

Huntsville State Park

Sitting next to Lake Raven is the beautiful Huntsville State Park.

While you are in the park you can get out on the water by renting a paddleboat, canoe, and even a kayak to truly experience what Lake Raven has to offer.

Located right next to the Sam Houston National Forest, Huntsville State Park is full of towering pines and immense wildlife.

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Whether you are visiting for the day or deciding to soak up the park for the weekend, Huntsville State Park offers multiple accommodations from screened shelters, campsites, and even RV hookups.

Lake Raven is also full of fish of all shapes and sizes so make sure to bring your fishing pole where you can fish from the fishing dock or out on the water. There are multiple trails throughout the park to explore, the Lone Star Hiking Trail is a 129-mile trail that you can only access within the park and crosses through the Sam Houston National Forest.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

1 hour, 20 minutes.

Overlooking a lake in Hunstville State Park, home to some of the best hiking trails near Houston TX

Galveston Island State Park

Without a doubt, Galveston Island State Park is among the most popular Texas state parks around Houston, and home to one of the most popular beaches in Texas!

Whether to come to hike, birdwatch, or simply relax on the beach, Galveston Island State Park makes for a fantastic coastal getaway from Houston.

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Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

1 hour, 5 minutes.

Seagulls sitting on wooden beams on the beach in Galveston texas

State Parks Near Houston Reachable in Under 3 Hours

Goose Island State Park

Beautiful Goose Island State Park is a birding paradise with birds ranging from small sandpipers all the way up to the famous whooping crane that migrates through the area and has multiple spots within the park set up with bird feeders where you can sit and birdwatch all day long.

As you enter Goose Island you will see a sign for the Big Tree which is also a part of the park, here you can view a tree that is over 1,000 years old and has survived everything that time brought its way.

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There are also spots to fish, hike, as well as a boat dock where you can load your boat into the waters that surround Goose Island.

Goose Island State Park is within minutes of the beach town Rockport, and makes a fantastic addition to a Texas beach getaway!

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

2 hours, 45 minutes.

large live oak tree at goose island state park, one of the best texas state parks near houston tx

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park is just 10 miles from the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, and is full of opportunities for outdoor adventure.

You can view falls throughout the park that flow over smooth limestone bluffs and splash into the pools below. There are many trails throughout the park where you can most likely find wildlife and get a good workout in at the same time.

While you are at McKinney Falls State Park, you can also stop by and visit Old Baldy which is one of the oldest cypress trees in Texas.

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You can swim and fish at McKinney Falls and fishing within Texas State Parks doesn’t require a license.

McKinney Falls is a great oasis within minutes of the capital city and absolutely worth visiting.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

2 hours, 30 minutes.

Small waterfall over limestone at MicKinney Falls State Park TX

Fort Parker State Park

Fort Parker State Park is a lesser-known Texas state park around Houston that boasts a lot of history as well as beautiful scenery.

Nestled among Fort Parker Lake, Fort Parker State Park is a perfect place to catch the most magical sunsets while you soak in the wildlife from the peninsula.

Birds love Fort Parker State Park, so make sure to bring your binoculars to catch glimpses of pelicans, cormorants, and more.

If you are a fan of watersports, you can spend the day paddling one of many kayaking trails that run throughout the park.

If you would rather stay on dry land there are plenty of hiking trails, and spots to picnic throughout the park as well.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

2 hours, 30 minutes.

Small river in Fort Parker state park close to Houston Texas with trees lining either side of the river

Texas State Parks Less Than 6 Hours from Houston

Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park in East Texas greets you a stunning drive as soon as you arrive in the park. Surrounding you are towering pines on either side and as you continue to drive you are greeted by a beautiful lake that draws you in.

Tyler State Park has multiple hiking trails for all experience levels to enjoy. One such trail is the Whispering Pines Nature trail where you can hike through an educational path that has trees marked with information so you can learn as you go.

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There are multiple fishing piers located throughout the park that allow you to catch bass or sit back and bird watch while you soak up the scenery that surrounds you.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

3 hours, 40 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

Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park is located east of Tyler and is one of the most unique and beautiful state parks within driving distance of Houston.

Caddo Lake is known for kayaking through the huge cypress trees that are blanketed with pounds of Spanish moss. As you kayak through these waters you are left in awe of the beauty these trees bring to your journey and the wildlife that inhabit them.

Besides Kayaking there are plenty of spots to hike throughout the park and set up for the night at one of their cabins, campsites, or screened shelters.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

4 hours.

Family in an inflatable kayak paddling through the cypresses in Caddo Lake State Park TX

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area is known for the bright colors that paint their trees in the fall. The whistling maple trees slowly change into colors of reds and oranges that resemble a masterpiece as you go through the park.

Lost Maples is a smaller state park with a fewer number of camping sites than most, but that doesn’t take away from the robust beauty it offers.

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Besides the fall color, Lost Maples has great hiking trails that give you beautiful overlooks such as West Trail and fun sites such as Monkey Rock.

Another amazing aspect of Lost Maples is the abundance of primitive campsites that you can hike into and truly experience everything this amazing park has to offer.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

4 hours, 40 minutes.

Lost Maples State Park in central texas during fall foliage season, one of the best central texas day trips from austin

Garner State Park

Nestled along the Frio River and known for its crystal-clear waters, Garner State Park is a Texas oasis that offers fun for the whole entire family. You can hike throughout the park and find diverse plants and wildlife as well as float or swim in the cool waters of the Frio River.

Another amazing aspect of Garner State Park is that they have a place to do laundry, a restaurant, a miniature golf course, and a place to dance on summer nights. Garner State Park is a must-see on your Texas travel list, especially when the temperatures teeter on the 100-degree mark.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

4 hours, 30 minutes.

View of the turquoise water of the Frio River in Garner State Park, one of the best weekend getaways from Austin TX
Possum Kingdom State Park

Beautiful Possum Kingdom Lake is a huge lake that is stocked full of fish such as bass and perch that people come from miles around to catch.

There are many times while you are visiting Possum Kingdom Lake that you will catch glimpses of tons of boats that are preparing to partake in a fishing tournament.

At the camp store you can buy all the bait you need to fish from the dock or your boat.

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If you are not into fishing, sit back and soak up the glistening waters of the lake or take a hike up the Campground Trail overlook.

Make sure to stay around long enough to catch the sunset that overtakes the lake with colors of oranges and pinks and is sure to leave you in awe.

Driving Distance from Downtown Houston

5 hours.

Map of Texas State Parks Near Houston

2 photos from texas state parks, one of frio river and one of a forested path. black and red text on a white background reads "11 fun state parks near houston tx"

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