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5 amazing outdoor adventures in Texas

Explore diverse landscapes, experience new thrills and enjoy everything nature has to offer

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Travel Texas

Danny Fulgencio
Updated: 6 days ago
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Looking to experience some unforgettable outdoor adventures on your next vacation? Great news: Texas has you covered.

Boasting seven ecologically diverse and equally exciting regions, Texas is jam-packed with a massive array of exhilarating outdoor activities—from abseiling to zip lining—to suit thrill-seeking enthusiasts and nature-loving explorers alike. 

Here are five must-experience outdoor adventures awaiting travellers to the Lone Star State. 

1. Spectacular state parks

Big Bend National Park© Nick Simonite
Big Bend National Park

One of the best ways to kick off any outdoor adventure in Texas is to head to one of its 89 state parks, each of which offers its own unique activities tailored to the landscape. Be it trekking through the lush forests of Piney Woods, scaling Big Bend National Park's towering rock faces, descending into the canyons of the Panhandle Plains or hitting the water along the Gulf Coast for a day of kitesurfing, every state park throughout Texas is a veritable one-stop adventure shop providing ample opportunities to embrace nature. 

Not a daredevil? Not to worry! Texas state parks have plenty to satisfy visitors who prefer more low-key outdoor adventures, too, including geocaching, cycling, bird watching, and some of the most beautiful swimming holes in the United States.

2. Majestic mountains

Chisos Mountains© Ian Shive/ Tandem
Chisos Mountains

Among the multitude of natural wonders across Texas are some 90 mountains, each one offering breathtaking vistas and stunning panoramic views whether visitors drive, hike, walk or bike their way to the top. 

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park around Pine Springs Canyon have some of the highest peaks in Texas—including El Capitan, Bush Mountain, Shumard Peak and Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest point in the state and towers roughly 8,751 feet (or about 2.7 kilometres!) skyward. Spider Mountain, located on Lake Buchanan in Hill Country, is a mountain biker’s dream and the only year-round lift-served mountain-bike park in the U.S. And skilled hikers can test their mettle climbing to Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, while beginners might enjoy easier, more relaxed ascents along the trails of the Davis Mountains in west Texas.

3. Plentiful climbing and caving

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site© Danny Fulgencio
Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site

Whether you prefer to explore upward or inward, Texas is an enormous outdoor-adventure playground for anyone eager to scale imposing bluffs and crags or go spelunking through subterranean caverns. 

Rock climbers can choose from top-notch locations across the state, including the McKelligon Canyon or Sneed’s Cory areas of Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso; Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, which offers some of the best bouldering in the world; and Enchanted Rock, an enormous pink-granite monolithic dome in central Texas.

Cavers, meanwhile, have myriad caving options, ranging from the simple to the sublime. Natural Bridge Caverns, north of San Antonio, offer both guided casual tours and much more physically strenuous expeditions. Inner Space Cavern, north of Austin, features four different types of tour depending on skill level and ability. Cave Without a Name, a National Natural Landmark in Boerne, has six rooms of formations to explore. And the sprawling Caverns of Sonora include the Crystal Palace, two miles of awe-inspiring cave passages.

4. Wonderful fishing

© Clay Hayner Photography

Texas has more than 80,000 miles (that’s almost 130,000 kilometres) of rivers and streams, and over 550 kilometres of bays and coastal shoreline, making it a fantastic fishing destination for anglers of all abilities and interests. Inland, Lake Whitney, an hour’s drive north of Waco, is a prime location for blue catfish, and large- and smallmouth bass. Drop a line in Lake Fork, about two hours east of Dallas Fort Worth, for largemouth bass, catfish and crappie. Or, spend the afternoon on Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas, then cook up your own fresh-caught blue catfish or striped bass for dinner.

Prefer saltwater fishing? Charter a boat in Port Aransas or cast your line off of Horace Caldwell Pier; visit Laguna Madre, on the west side of South Padre Island, for unparalleled open-water angling; or snag the perfect spot along the Seawall or on one of the piers, in Galveston and you might reel in flounder, speckled trout, redfish or Spanish mackerel.

5. Magnificent glamping

StarStruck Glamping
StarStruck Glamping

Sure, when it comes to camping, Texas boasts countless campgrounds, RV parks and wilderness locales in which to pitch a tent and rough it. But the state also has a superb selection of “glamping”—i.e., “glamorous camping”—options for visitors seeking more luxurious outdoor-living accommodations and amenities.

Palo Duro Glamping, outside of Amarillo, invites guests into fully furnished, air-conditioned cabins, each with its own porch swing. Marvel at celestial wonders from solar-powered geodesic domes at Starstruck Glamping, nestled in the 80-acre Dark Sky Reserve near Big Bend. It’s hard not to become immersed in the enchantment of the night skies. At Green Acres, outside of Austin, choose from yurts and Airstream trailers, or settle into the 672-square-foot “eco-lodge” made of reclaimed farm lumber. Or, for a truly one-of-a-kind stay, climb into an ancient cypress—and right into your bed—in one of Cypress Valley’s opulent treehouse suites. 

No matter what type of adventure you crave, Texas is the prime destination for a great escape to the great outdoors. 

Visit Travel Texas for more information, and to request a free Texas Travel Guide. And visit our Hello, Texas hub to see what else Texas has in store. 

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