Detailed List Of 42 Central Texas State Parks

Trees In a Neighborhood Park

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This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

I’m on a mission to discover all the outdoor adventures tucked away in the 41 Central Texas State Parks; each one offering a unique view of this great state. In order to find the top hill country destinations, I have compiled a ranking of every Texas State Park within a 3-hour drive of Austin.

Texas Parks and Wildlife requires reservations for day and overnight use, so be sure to plan ahead.

Rating Central Texas State Parks

You’ll likely see the same few parks on every site when you google “best places to hike in Austin”. I’ve been to those – a lot, and I’m bored. I’ve set out to find the most beautiful and underrated state parks in central Texas and have not been disappointed. I started this project to discover lesser-known state parks to explore near me, so I haven’t been to all of these (yet), but places I had never heard of now sit at the top of my list for places to visit

To uncover what each park has to offer, I searched Google images, user-submitted Yelp images, the park websites, and various blogs then compiled the information into one location to make finding the best central states parks easy to research. I rated the parks based on how many attractions they have that interest me; here’s what I was looking for:

  • Mountain/landscape views
  • wildlife/birding
  • Challenging Hikes
  • Wildflowers
  • Unique Attractions

The more the park has or the more unique, the higher the rating.

Texas State Parks Near the Austin Area

Texas state Park

Rating

Best For

Not Great For

Distance From Austin

Mckinney Falls State Park

5/5

Birding, waterfall, camping, walking trails

Challenging hikes

30 minutes

Bastrop State Pare

1/5

Camping, fishing

Challenging hikes, views

1 hour

Buescher State Park

1/5

Lake, picnic, walking trails, views, fishing

Challenging hikes, wildlife, swimming

1 hour

Inks Lake State Park

4/5

Birding, lake, swimming, camping, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, wildflowers

History, unique attractions

1 hour

Lockhart State Park

1/5

Walking trails, picnics

Challenging hikes, views

1 hour

Longhorn Cavern State Park

5/5

Caverns, history, walking trails, beginner and experienced cavers

Wildlife, challenging hikes, pets not allowed in caverns, camping

1 hour

Pedernales Falls State Park

4/5

Waterfalls, swimming, birding

Long or challenging hikes

1 hour

Blanco Falls State Park

3/5

Swimming, tubing, fishing, camping, birding

Hiking, wildflowers, views

1.25 hours

5/5

Lake, vegetation, walking trails, history, swimming, tubing

 wildflowers, views, wildlife

1.25 hours

5/5

Waterfalls, views

Shade, many parts of the trails are in an open field making summer hikes tough

1.5 hours

4/5

Birds, beach, wildflowers, challenging hikes

Views, fishing

1.5 hours

5/5

History, wildlife, wildflowers, creeks, Christmas Decor

Camping

1.5 hours

Mother Neff State Park

2/5

Walking trails, camping, watering hole, limestone wall

Views, challenging hike

1.5 hours

Texas state Park

Rating

Best For

Not Great For

Distance From Austin

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

4/5

Stars, views, picnics, camping

Birding

1 Hr 45 Min

Old Tunnel State Park

2/5

Views, bats

Hiking, camping

1 Hr 45 Min

Fort Parker State Park

2/5

Lake, birding, fishing, hiking trails

Challenging hikes, views, wildflowers

2 hours

Government Canyon State Natural Area

2/5

Hiking, dinosaur tracks, views, wildlife conservation

Dogs are not allowed on most trails, fishing, boating

2 hours

Guadalupe River State Park

4/5

Lake, river, views, swimming, birding, camping

Challenging Hikes

2 hours

Lake Whitney State Park

1/5

Lake, fishing, swimming, camping

Hiking, wildlife

2 hours

Meridian State Park

4/5

Wildflowers, camping, hiking trails, birding (home to the endangered golden-cheeked warblers)

Challenging Hikes

2 hours

Stephen F. Austin State Park

2/5

Birding, wildlife, hiking trails, history

Challenging hikes, wildflowers, views

2 hours

Honey Creek Natural Area

5/5

Creeks and streams, wildlife, wildflowers, educational guides

Hiking, camping, spontaneous trips (only available through reserved guided tours)

2 hours

Dinosaur Valley State Park

4/5

Swimming, lake, dinosaur tracks, watering hole

Challenging hikes, views, birding, wildlife

2.5 hours

Goliad State Park and Historic Site

3/5

Mission Rosario and Zaragoza Birthplace Historic Sites, weddings, fishing, kayaking, birding

Hiking, views, wildlife, wildflowers

2.5 hours

Hill Country State Natural Area

5/5

Horseback riding, hiking, wildlife, birding, stargazing

Swimming, fishing, boating, camping (very few campsites available)

2.5 hours

Lake Brownwood State Park

1/5

Camping, fishing, boating

Hiking

2.5 hours

Fort Boggy State Park

1/5

Lake, fishing, boating, water sports, camping, cabins

Hiking, wildlife, wildflowers

2 hr 45 min

South Llano River State Park

5/5

Birding, wildlife, tubing, camping, stargazing, hiking

Wildflowers, history, education

2 hr 45 min

Battleship TEXAS State Historic Site

4/5

Battleship, history

Currently closed for an undetermined time frame for repairs, hiking, swimming, wildlife

3 Hours

Brazos Bend State Park

5/5

Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife, birding

Stargazing

3 Hours

Cedar Hill State Park

3/5

History, hiking, fishing

Views, camping (crowded sites)

3 Hours

Choke Canyon State Park

2/5

Calliham and South Shore Units, lake, birding

Hiking, views

3 Hours

Cleburne State Park

1/5

Waterfall, lake

Challenging hikes

3 Hours

Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area

2/5

Bats, birding

Hiking, camping, views, lake

3 Hours

Garner State Park

5/5

Views, tubing, hiking, camping, lake

wildlife, wildflowers

3 Hours

Huntsville State Park

3/5

hiking trails, lake, picnic, alligators, birding, hiking, weddings

Views

3 Hours

Lake Corpus Christi State Park

1/5

Birding, fishing, camping

Views, hiking

3 Hours

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

5/5

Rock climbing, lake, views, hollow (similar to slot canyon), camping, hike, swim, fish, beginner and challenging hikes, birding

Wildlife

3 Hours

5/5

Fall foliage, moderately challenging hikes, views

camping (there are sites, but they are limited and book a year out), wildlife

3 Hours

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park (currently under development)

4/5

Views, fishing, hiking, camping stargazing.

Boating

3 Hours

Possum Kingdom State Park

3/5

Fishing, camping

Wildlife, birding, hiking

3 Hours

Sheldon Lake State Park

3/5

Fishing, camping

Wildlife, birding, hiking

3 Hours

San Angelo State Park

4/5

Birding, wildlife (bison and longhorns), fishing, challenging hikes, horseback riding

Views

3.5 Hours

PIN IT FOR LATER

Wooden beams frame a yellow flower in a grass field - Central Texas State Parks Pin
Central Texas State Parks Pin -Small water puddles at the fall of Mckinney Falls

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a project manager by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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