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15 Beautiful State Parks Near Dallas, including Dinosaur Valley State Park

Texas

15 Beautiful State Parks Near Dallas, Including Dinosaur Valley State Park

The Big D is a popular tourist destination in and of itself. Still, not everyone realizes that the many state parks surrounding Dallas provide a beautiful array of natural beauties and historical history just a few hours outside of the city boundaries.

We’re going to go through all of these beautiful North Texas state parks up ahead, some of which are well-known and others that provide more off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Not far from Dallas, almost every environment may be found, from family-friendly destinations to hiker paradises to stunning boating lakes.

We’ve broken down things to do and see in each location, as well as some natural species to look out for.

So go through this blog to start planning your next big city getaway to one of these incredible state parks!

If you’re looking for additional places to visit, have a look at our list of 18 spectacular weekend getaways from Dallas, which includes more nature excursions as well as some nearby cities in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and central Texas.

15 Beautiful State Parks Near Dallas

Texas has a multitude of lovely state and national parks, but these Dallas state parks may just take the cake.

Not only can you experience one of the best and brightest cities in the American South (there are so many things to do in Dallas! ), but you can also visit all of these natural beauties within a short drive from downtown!

Here are all the attractions, must-sees, as well as price information you’ll need to plan your next outdoor expedition, including some of Dallas’ best trails.

Read: 19 Incredible Day Trips from Dallas

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley, a spot as entertaining as it is beautiful, is maybe the most fun state park near Dallas for people of all ages.

Allow yourself to be transported to a fascinating past and envision a period when dinosaurs walked the Earth, leaving tracks that you can still see as you hike through the park today. Be prepared to get wet as you splash around the Paluxy riverbed, which was once an old ocean, as these dinosaur footprints and tracks can be discovered throughout.

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The area is prehistoric in appearance and may be thoroughly explored via miles of hiking paths, mountain biking, canoeing, and other activities. This site was also included in our list of the best Texas road excursions, so you know it’s worth a visit. A day pass costs $7 for adults. However, children under the age of 12 are free.

Cedar Hill State Park

Cedar Hill State Park has something for everyone, with its cool, quiet lake, smooth hiking and bike trails, and a staggering 350 campsites.

At Cedar Hill, two ecosystems collide, allowing visitors to see prairies brimming with beautiful native grasses and wildflowers, as well as jagged limestone rocks.
Birds and fish, in particular, are abundant and simple to identify with a keen eye.

Meanwhile, history fans may appreciate the Penn Farm Agricultural History Center, a working farm from the mid-nineteenth century with intact structures.

This location is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Dallas, so it’s easy to make a day trip out of it, but there’s enough to keep you busy for a weekend.

A daily pass costs $7 per adult, while an overnight pass costs $5. Children under the age of 12 are admitted for free.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

You can observe the city’s gray transform into beautiful green beauty as you drive from Fort Worth and Dallas to Lake Mineral Wells.

This state park caters to more energetic visitors, who can hike various trails ranging in difficulty, meandering along the lakeshore, or plunging into the forests.

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Lake Mineral Wells also has one of the region’s only natural rock climbing spots, as well as canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards for rent so you can cool off after a hike or climb on the water.

A day pass costs $7 for adults. However, children under the age of 12 are free.

Cleburne State Park

Cleburne is a tranquil and quiet hamlet with a lovely spring-fed lake and moderate forest trails, and it’s a beautiful location to stop and recharge about an hour outside of downtown Dallas.

Make the trip early in the spring, when the fields are ablaze with Texas’ state flower, the bluebonnet.

Hiking, boating, and wildlife watching are all great year-round activities, while those seeking a little more adrenaline can attempt the park’s 6-mile mountain bike loop.

A day pass costs $5 per adult, while children under the age of 12 are free.

Ray Roberts Lake State Park

About an hour north of Dallas, Lake Ray Roberts is a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers who like hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.

The lakeshore has some of Dallas’ best beaches, which feel more like a coastal escape than landlocked central Texas and are ideal for swimming.

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The park also has woodlands, marshes, and prairies, allowing you to see some of Texas’ most amazing species, like beautiful willows by the river and armadillos and roadrunners on land. Bald eagles frequently arrive at the nest in the winter.

A day pass costs $7 for adults, while children under the age of 12 are free.

Fort Richardson State Park

Many state parks surrounding Dallas highlight the area’s natural beauty, but Fort Richardson allows visitors to step back in time to the Civil War era.

Fort Richardson, which was built in 1867, still has seven original buildings that have been renovated and opened to the public, including a hospital, officer’s quarters, and bakery.

After your visit, take a nine-mile trek, bike, or equestrian track through the forests and along the banks of several picturesque rivers and lakes. Along the journey, there are numerous opportunities to swim or fish.

Fort Richardson is only a 12-hour drive from Dallas, making it ideal for a day excursion.

A day pass costs $4 per adult, but kids under the age of 12 are free.

Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower State Park is an excellent place for swimming, picnicking, and just spending time outside with the family. It’s slightly over an hour’s drive from Dallas, close to the Oklahoma border.

Fishing is one of the most popular hobbies, and if you don’t have your equipment, you can easily rent it from the park.

On land, there are more than four kilometers of paths to explore. Keep an eye out for local wildflowers and prehistoric fossils along the journey.

If hiking and riding aren’t enough for you, the park also has a backcountry area where you may ride ATVs or dirt bikes.

Before traveling, look at the events calendar to see what ranger-led programs are available, such as stargazing and Dutch oven cooking.

A day pass costs $5 per adult. However, children under the age of 12 are free.

Possum Kingdom State Park

One of the better state parks near Dallas for water activities is the Possum Kingdom, roughly three hours west of downtown. Water skis, wakeboards, kneeboards, and tubes can all be rented.

Spend the night in one of the park’s air-conditioned cabins or lakeside campsites when you’re tired of all the fun, then wake up to breathtaking vistas and another full day of outdoor activities.

The Lake Possum Kingdom has some of the clearest water in the area, making it a unique chance to snorkel or scuba dive in North Texas.

A day pass costs $4 per adult, while children under the age of 12 are free.

Fairfield Lake State Park

Fairfield Lake, barely 12 hours outside of Dallas, has some of the most spectacular sunset landscapes in Texas, capturing all the hues on its placid surface.

Like many other Dallas state parks, it has a long history of being occupied by Native Americans and early farmers.

Boating, fishing, and swimming are all great ways to spend a summer day at Fairfield Lake, and nature watching is possible year-round.

From November through February, you might even see a bald eagle, the United States’ national bird.

A day pass costs $4 per adult, but kids under the age of 12 are free.

Palo Pinto Mountains State Park

Palo Pinto Park, unlike the other parks on this list, is still relatively underdeveloped. The public can visit Tucker Lake, which is located in the heart of the property, although the surrounding region is still under construction.
Fishing, boating, and birding are all popular water activities, and motorboats are restricted, so your private wilderness experience will be uninterrupted.

Palo Pinto’s rough environment, which includes plateaus, gorges, and wooded hills, is spectacular to see from the lake, despite the lack of hiking opportunities.

The park will have vast paths and viewing areas for some of the state’s clearest night skies once it is fully operational.

It’s about a 12-hour journey from downtown Dallas and not far from many of the picturesque central Texas communities tourists adore.

Lake Tawakoni State Park

 

Lake Tawakoni State Park, located an hour east of Dallas, is known for its sandy beaches, beautiful forests, and variety of wildlife.

Tournaments are held throughout the year in what is characterized as a “fisherman’s paradise.” Foxes, bobcats, and even cougars have been seen on the ground.
Lake Tawakoni State Park is also notable for being home to the world’s largest spider web, which some consider a fun fact while others find disturbing.

Don’t fear, and the 37,879-acre reservoir is spider-free and largely full of friendly fish for squeamish tourists.

A day pass costs $5 per adult, but kids under the age of 12 are free.

Lake Whitney State Park

 

Lake Whitney is located 12 hours from downtown Dallas, just off the main body of the great Brazos River.
It’s teeming with wildlife, and you can often see white-tailed deer, armadillos, wild turkeys, and a variety of other natural species along the walking trails.

The fields are blanketed in a carpet of vivid wildflowers in the spring, including electric bluebonnets and flaming Indian paintbrushes.

It doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to campsites near Dallas. The locations are lakefront, easy to get to, and ideal for family vacations.

A day pass costs $5 per adult. However, children under the age of 12 are free.

Cooper Lake State Park

This is one of the best state parks near Dallas for a relaxing weekend of camping and outdoor enjoyment, yet it’s only 12 hours from downtown.

On both sides of Cooper Lake, creeks provide nearly infinite fishing, hiking, biking, and boating options.

If you possess a horse, the park has equestrian routes and equestrian campgrounds for multi-day trips.

Try geocaching if you’re looking for something different to do. Pick one of the hidden items listed on Geocaching.com, enter the GPS coordinates, and start searching.

Once you’ve discovered anything, please write your name in the log and leave it for other explorers to find.

A day pass costs $5 per adult, while children under the age of 12 are free.

Purtis Creek State Park

Purtis Creek is famous for its excellent fishing, and comfortable campsites are hidden from the scorching Texas sun. The largemouth bass is plentiful but must be caught and released, whereas catfish can be kept and eaten.

Both rustic campsites that need a trip in more accessible water and electricity alternatives are available in the park.

There are many options to spend the days canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking. Purtis Creek’s serene panoramas will enchant you even if fishing isn’t your thing.

The park is about an hour from downtown, so plan a day trip or spend the weekend seeing some of the nearby little villages.

A day pass costs $5 per adult; however, children under 12 are free. An overnight fishing permit is available for an additional $2.

Tyler State Park

You’ll adore this relaxing retreat in Northeast Texas! Tyler State Park has a 64-acre spring-fed lake, as well as 100-foot-tall trees and historic houses. Play at the lake, have a fishing trip, go for a hike in the woods, or relax with your binoculars.

Boating, fishing, swimming in the lake, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, geocaching, camping, bird watching, and studying nature are all available in Tyler State Park. There is enough to do here whether you come for an afternoon or a weekend.

On more than 13 kilometers of trails, you may explore the Pineywoods. The Whispering Pines Nature Trail is a must-see, set out by the Civilian Conservation Corps more than 70 years ago. Use our Interactive Trails Map to take a virtual tour.

Crappie, perch, catfish, and bass can all be found in our lake. Three fishing piers and a boat ramp are available in the park. As part of the TPWD’s Tackle Loaner Program, we also loan fishing rods, reels, and tackle boxes. Remember, in a state park, and you don’t need a fishing license to fish from the shore!

You can rent a boat or bring your own to this location. Motors are permitted, but only at a speed of 5 mph.