13 Beautiful State Parks Near San Antonio

The accessibility to outdoor activities in Texas is almost endless. Between the size of the Lone Star State and its resources of private, municipal, state, and national parks, there will always be a place to spend time and enjoy nature–and where better to start than with some of the best state parks near San Antonio?

Texas state parks have always been known for how organized and clean they are for visitors to enjoy, making them easy getaways from the city.

Within a few hours of San Antonio, you can find a wide variety of parks to enjoy, from desert environments to crystal-clear rivers.

Looking for the best Texas state parks near San Antonio? Here’s where to go!

photo of a trail sign in one of the texas state parks close to san antonio with a trail visible in the background

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State Parks Near San Antonio Within a 1-Hour Drive

Far away doesn’t always mean better. Take a look at these parks, only a short 1-hour drive or less from the city. 

Guadalupe River State Park

At this state park, the Guadalupe River takes center stage. Known for a place to float and swim in the river, this park is much more than fun in the water. 

Also available in the park are over 13 miles of hiking and biking trails. Fishing, bird watching, picnicking, and camping are all at one’s disposal. 

The park provides 85 electric and electric hookup campsites along with 9 walk-in tent sites.

If you happen to forget your fishing or camping gear, don’t worry. Both fishing and camping rentals are available to the public. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

55 minutes.

Guadalupe River State Park with cypress trees in the background and the river in the foreground. This park is home to some of the best camping near san antonio tx

Government Canyon State Natural Area

So close to San Antonio, yet with a feeling of complete wilderness, the Government Canyon State Natural Area is a great place to spend a day or weekend near the city. The rolling hills and canyon walls make you think you are further out of the urban area than you really are. 

With over 12,000 acres and over 40 miles of hiking trails, you can spend days exploring or taking a guided hiking tour with a group to see the area’s natural beauty and its overlooking bluffs. While hiking, don’t miss the dinosaur tracks left behind by prehistoric creatures.  

Twenty three walk-in camping sites are available, along with two walk-in group camping sites. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

40 minutes.

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Old Tunnel State Park

This small state park is all about the bats! An abandoned railroad tunnel is now home to over three million Mexican free-tailed bats that can be viewed flying out in the evenings from the park’s viewing areas and is one of the best places to watch bats in Texas

Due to the risk to the native bat population, the park does not allow camping or pets inside the park. There is a half-mile nature trail open in the park for hiking. 

Great for educating children about bats and nature, this park is popular with schools and parents who are homeschooling their children. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1 hour.

Colony of Mexican free tail bats in a cave in Texas HIll Country

Lockhart State Park

Our next state park may be the swiss army knife of Texas state parks. Not only can you go for a swim, but you can play a round of golf on the same day.

Built during the great depression by the CCC and WPA programs, Lockhart State Park offers multiple activities for those who wish to get away for a few hours or days. 

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Activities other than golfing and swimming are hiking, camping, fishing, and biking. The park offers over 20 camping sites with either full hookups or at least electricity. 

Don’t forget to run into town for some of the best BBQ in the world. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1 hour.

picnic building in lockhart state park, one of the state parks near san antonio texas

Palmetto State Park

With its dwarf palmettos growing around the area, this park can have you believing you are visiting a natural area along the Gulf Coast. This is Central Texas, though, and the palmettos are indigenous due to the many water sources that flow into the park. 

Unique to the area, Palmetto State Park provides for a large variety of animals and plants to observe in this habitat as you walk its extensive trail system. 

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The waterway and swamp area provides a good opportunity to kayak in nature. 

Camping is available at the 19 tent and 18 RV sites. The park even has one of the largest group camping sites where you can share your experience with up to ninety-nine of your friends and family. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1 hour.

boardwalk framed by trees dripping spanish moss in palmetto state park texas

Blanco State Park

The Blanco River’s tree-lined banks provide wonderful shade in the Texas heat during the summer and make you feel at home in what appears to be the wilderness, and is one of the best Texas state parks near San Antonio.

Blanco State Park is well known for its trout fishing across the state, so bring a pole to catch your fill. Other fish, such as bass and catfish, are also available in the river for catching. 

The small park also offers cool swimming in the Blanco river as well as nature watching, canoeing, and kayaking. 

Blanco State Park also has about 30 campsites with full to electric-only hookups. Each has a fire ring and are all close to restrooms. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1 hour.

Small waterfall in a river in Blanco State Park near Austin TX

State Parks Close to San Antonio Within a 3-Hour Drive

A 3-hour drive in Texas can change your scenery quite a bit, and offers a wide variety of state parks close to San Antonio!

South Llano River State Park

Located on the southwest edge of Texas’s hill country, the South Llano River State Park is known as a great family park. Swimming is the main attraction in the Llano River, but there are also other things to do during your stay.

The slow-moving river has several access points so that you can put in with a kayak, canoe, or tube and be able to exit again downstream. Hiking and biking are also available in the park, with an added bonus of spotting the local turkeys in their natural habitat. 

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Fishing is available without a fishing license within the park, and loaner rod and reels can be provided upon request. 

Camping is available with 58 electric hookup sites. There are also a few walk-in and hike-in primitive sites for camping within the park. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

2 hours.

South Llano River State Park with the river in the center of the photo, one of the best texas state parks near san antonio tx

Choke Canyon State Park

This state park close to San Antonio is located south of the city, and prides itself on its Choke Canyon Reservoir. Great for fishing and water activities, this park has two main sections. One is for day use, and the other is a full-service overnight park. 

Not only does Choke Canyon State Park offer the normal activities of state parks like hiking and camping-they also offer sports complexes for playing soccer, basketball, and tennis. Group pavilions and even a gymnasium are available for rental. 

Most of the fun takes place on the 26,000-acre reservoir where swimming and boating are some of the best in the state. 

Multiple campsites are available at Choke Canyon State Park with full hookups. There are also around 20 cabins for rent for those who would rather sleep with a little less of nature. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1.5 hours.

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Garner State Park

No list of Texas state parks near San Antonio would be complete without the beloved Garner State Park. Garner has long been a Texas favorite with its hundreds of available camping sites and the Frio River running through the park. 

Garner State Park offers hours of fun swimming or kayaking in the river and multiple trails throughout the park system. 

This park is a must stay for a weekend or longer to enjoy all it has to offer. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

1.5 hours.

Clear waters of the Frio River in garner state park, one of the best texas state parks near houston tx

Texas State Parks Within a 6-hour Drive of San Antonio

Davis Mountains State Park

Barely making it into our 6-hour driving window is Davis Mountains State Park. This oasis, surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, affords great mountain views. 

Take a hike over the mountain to the national park where the 1880s era fort is still standing for a tour. The state park also offers a lodge with a swimming pool for those who do not wish to sleep in an RV or tent. 

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Just up the road from the state park is McDonald Observatory, one of the best places to go stargazing in Texas. Take a tour and stay for the star party for one of the best views of the Milky Way Galaxy from Texas. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

5 hours, 30 minutes.

covered wagon at fort davis state park

Balmorhea State Park

Also located within our 6-hour drive and west of San Antonio is the great and classic swimming hole of Balmorhea State Park. 

This natural spring turned into a giant modern swimming pool, allowing you to enjoy the fresh, clear water of this legendary spring. 

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Bring a snorkel & mask to enjoy watching the fish and turtle as they swim around you in their natural habitat. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

5 hours.

Swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park in west Texas as seen from the diving board

Kickapoo Cavern State Park

If spelunking is your pleasure, Kickapoo Cavern State Park offers over 20 caves to explore and is close enough to San Antonio to make the short trip worthwhile.

Along with cave exploring, the park also offers hiking and biking trails for those who want to stay above ground. 

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There are a few campsites with hookups in the park and a large group camping spot for up to 30 people. 

Driving Distance from Downtown San Antonio

3 hours, 15 minutes.

4 photos of texas state parks close to san antonio: enchanted rock, palmetto, guadalupe, trail. black and red text on a white background reads "13 fun state parks near san antonio"

1 thought on “13 Beautiful State Parks Near San Antonio”

  1. Sorry to see that you skipped over LBJ State Park, which requires no advance reservations, and the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. They’re a nice day use park for an easy nature trail hike and a step back in time. A beautiful spot to gaze upon spring wildflowers, bison and longhorns, too.


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