KATY MAGAZINE l JUNE 2019
By April Carroll and Jennifer Miko
Pack the car, the snacks and the kids and head on a family road trip adventure to one of these amazing Texas State Parks destination. Whether you're looking for hills, lakes, woods, dinosaurs, or beaches, there's a Texas state park just for you. Check our guide to discover which park has the activities and amenities for your next family getaway and the distance to each park from Katy.
STEP BACK IN TIME
1629 Park Rd 59 Glen Rose, TX 76043
Travel time from Katy: 4 hours
Pack the car and travel back to caveman time. In Glen Rose, Texas, visitors can walk (weather permitting) in dinosaur tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River. Dinosaur Valley State Park is home to world-class examples of fossilized theropod and sauropod tracks. The 1930s’ discovery of the 113-million-year-old tracks changed the field of paleontology. To better find the prints, download maps on a GPS-enabled smartphone.
At the park, visitors can also enjoy a relaxing picnic, watch for wildlife, or bike and hike along the 20 miles of trails. For more fun, swim or fish in the river where dinosaurs once roamed. To add some high-tech adventure to your park visit, search for geochaches.
Horses are welcome, too, and if you bring your own you can explore the 100-acre South Primitive Area. To enjoy the spectacular views along the park’s scenic trails, schedule a guided tour on horseback or horse-drawn wagon rides. Beginner trails are suitable for ages 3-14.
Campsites at the park accommodate various comfort levels. At the “Primitive Campsites,” guests hike between one and two-and-a-half miles across the river to pitch their tent. Other sites provide water and electricity hook-ups.
CAMP OUT IN HUNTSVILLE
565 Park Road 40 West
Huntsville, TX 77340
Travel time from Katy: Less than 90 minutes
The beautifully-wooded Huntsville State Park, located in the Sam Houston National Forest offers plenty of activities for your nature-loving family.
Campers can swim (in designated areas) or relax on the shores of Lake Raven. For more water adventures, rent a canoe, kayak or paddle boat to travel along the lake’s 210 acres. If you want to cast a line, bring your own poles or borrow them to use on the property. The lake is stocked with crappie, perch, catfish and bass, and guests have access to the fishing piers and cleaning stations too.
Trails for Hiking and Biking
On land, explore the park while hiking or biking along the 21 miles of trails. Then, visit the bird blind and the nature center. Little ones can also keep busy on the parks’ play grounds.
Alligators live in the park – remember to brush up on safety tips in case you encounter one.
Guests can pitch tents among the 160 campsites or rent a screened-in shelter with or without amenities. Weekends and holidays book quickly, so contact the park to reserve your campsite.
RETREAT TO A LAKE
300 Park Road 65 Livingston, TX 77351
Travel Time from Katy: Under 2 hours
Make family memories at this Pineywoods park, north of Houston. Hike or bike on the quiet trails through the forest, picnic by the shore, swim, geocache and so much more!
With one of the largest lakes in the state, visitors might catch catfish, crappie, bass or perch from the fishing pier or off the banks. The park has three boat ramps and two fish cleaning stations.
For fun on the water, bring or rent a small water craft. Save time by using their website for self-service rentals to reserve from their fleet of double kayaks and stand up paddleboards. At the onsite store, guests can also rent canoes and single kayaks, or borrow a can fishing pole.
The park offers a variety of camping options from tent sites with nearby water, to sites with cull hookups. Screen shelters are also available for rent, some of which are ADA accessible.
HEAD TO THE BEACH
14901 FM 3005, Galveston
Travel time from Katy: 2 hours
Visit Galveston Island State Park to enjoy 2,000 acres of the last undeveloped land on Galveston Island. Here, the public has access from the beach and Gulf waters, through the coastal prairie, and into the wetlands toward the bay.
Things to Do
With access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Galveston Bay, your group can spend the day swimming or fishing. The park also has canoe/kayak launches (must bring your own water vessel) and a fish cleaning station.
Note: You do not need a fishing license to fish from the shore in a state park.
Hike or bike on the four miles of trails through the park’s varied habitats or stroll the boardwalks over dunes and marshes.
The park rangers have recorded more than 300 bird species in the park. Visitors can observe wading and shore birds, mottled and mallard ducks, and more.
The park has designated campsites on the beach or bay side, as well as lodges for rent.
Visit the park’s nature center to learn more about the plants and animals of Galveston Island, the park’s programs, star parties, paddling tours and more.
HIKE IN HILL COUNTRY
234 RR 1050 Concan, TX 78838
Travel time from Katy: 4.5 hours
Garner State Park in Concan, TX, is about four-and-a-half hours west of Katy. The park sits on 2.9 miles of the Frio river bank, and 1,774 acres in the Texas Hill Country. Relax and enjoy the scenery or hike the 16 miles of trails. Garner State Park also has geocaches on site for your family to discover.
Cool off by swimming in the refreshing, clear Frio River or grab some poles and catch some fish. To keep everyone entertained, grab the whole family to float on tubes, or have fun navigating a paddle boat or kayak.
Overnight guests can rent screened shelters or cabins or pitch a tent at a campsite.
During the summer nights, visitors meet at the concession building and dance pavilion for a tradition started in the 1940s - the Jukebox Dance. Park staff members recommend getting there early because the parking lots fill up and sometimes the gates close as early as 8:30 pm.
BIKE AT THE BEND
Big Bend National Park, TX
Travel time from Katy: 9 hours
Pack the RV, or at least lots of snacks, for a trip to Big Bend National Park. During the nine-hour drive west from Katy, your co-pilot has plenty of time to visit the Big Bend website and plan an itinerary or choose one of the park’s pre-planned itineraries.
Exploring the Terrain
The Big Bend area derives its name from its location on the bend of the Rio Grande that creates a natural border between the United States and Mexico. The park’s setting combines the river, desert and mountain environments. The diversity of the terrain has become home to many species of plants and animals, its remoteness rewards visitors with the most incredible night sky viewing in the country.
Don’t miss: the Fossil Discovery Exhibit. Here, visitors can marvel at the evolution of Big Bend’s plants and animals over the past 130 million years. Then follow a short trail to appreciate a breath-taking panoramic view.
Plan ahead before hitting the road. Big Bend National Park gets very busy during school breaks, weekends and holidays.