Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a large and spectacular state park that is nestled next to the much larger Big Bend National Park near the border town of Presidio. Best visited in the fall, spring or winter, this place features genuine Chihuahuan desert against a backdrop of low-lying mountains and strange rock formations. Big Bend Ranch borders the Rio Grande River and can be used as a put-in point for river rafters.
Galveston Island State Park
As one of the many seaside state parks, Galveston Island has just recovered from Hurricane Ike and is now open again. Seaside state parks in Texas stretch all the way from the Sabine River on the Louisiana border to the Port Isabel Lighthouse at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Mustang Island is a popular state park located adjacent to the Padre Island National Seashore.
Palo Duro State Park
Just outside of Amarillo lies the Palo Duro Canyon State Park with its colorful red rock formations. Georgia O'Keefe visited here when she lived and taught in Amarillo. You might want to spend time here painting and drawing as well; the rock formations are quite impressive.
Lake Livingston State Park
Lake Livingston State Park is right in the thick forested wetlands of East Texas. However, since this park surrounds a dam and man-made lake, not much of the "Big Thicket" is prevalent from this popular park. Explore some of the rural roads and visit the Big Thicket National Preserve near Kountze to get a better feel for this colorful term.
Guadalupe River State Park
The Guadelupe River is a very cool river that flows through the hot landscape of the Texas Hill Country. Some unique state parks can be found in this part of the state, including the Guadalupe River State Park that borders the popular tubing river. All across the hill country, the spring fields turn a brilliant blue and red when the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush blooms.
San Jacinto State Historic Site
San Jacinto is listed as a historic site and not a state park, but it is included here because of the key role that this battle between the Texans and Mexicans played in determining not only the fate of Texas, but the entire southwestern region of the United States. There is a large grassy field and tall tower; it's located here just outside of Houston that celebrates Sam Houston's 1836 victory over the Mexican Army, which was lead by Santa Anna. Even though it was a decisive victory for the Texas militia, the Battle of the Alamo--which occurred only two months previous--is a much more famous historical event.