Have you been to a Texas park recently? If not, it’s a good time to change that. The National Park Service turns 100 this year. And National Parks Week is the third week in April.
Officially, there are two main national parks in Texas: Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains, both in west Texas.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Salt Flat is the world’s premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era. The park is known for its extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities in one of the nation’s most pristine wilderness areas.
While you’ve probably heard of Big Bend, how about Big Thicket?
It’s a national preserve in Beaumont that protects the incredible diversity of life found where multiple habitats converge in southeast Texas. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous.
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There’s Amistad, in Del Rio, whose name comes from the Spanish word meaning friendship. It’s best known for excellent water-based recreation, camping, hiking and rock art.
Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. And it’s a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.
Alibates Flint Quarries in Fritch was well-known 13-thousand years ago by mammoth hunters as a place to get the best stone for their tools. The colorful flint found in today’s Texas panhandle never lost its value and usefulness.
And Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo is Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Texas. It’s the second largest canyon in the country and its intricate geologic layers and steep, colorful walls, do bear some resemblance to its bigger, grander counterpart in Arizona.