It’s said everything is bigger in Texas and that includes its beauty. Second only to Alaska, with regard to U.S. state size, Texas covers 261,797 square miles (678,051 square kilometers). So clearly there’s a lot of nature packed into this massive state. If next on your travel plans is to immerse yourself in natural beauty, read on to uncover what Mother Nature has abundantly bestowed on the Lone Star State with these 10 best natural wonders in Texas.
1. Big Ben National Park: beloved West Texas treasure
Marked by breathtaking vistas, Big Ben National Park offers a raw beauty that is vast and enticing. Comprised of desert landscapes, steep limestone cliffs, a magnificent mountain range, and so much more, Big Ben National Park will easily steal your heart. But Big Ben National Park isn’t just about the views. The area also boasts many diverse life forms from black bears to ponderosa pine trees. Located near the Mexican border, check out Langford Hot Springs, an area with pictographs and the remnants of an old bathhouse. Big Ben National Park is the go-to spot for all nature-loving Texans.
Insider tip: visit the Window, a large rock canyon that cuts directly through the Chisos Mountains rim. Definitely a Big Ben National Park must-see for an unforgettable view!
Big Ben National Park
Address: 29.1275° N, 103.2425° W
Website: Big Ben National Park
2. Hamilton Pool Preserve: idyllic lagoon-like retreat
Attracting visitors from all over the world, Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most inviting spots in Texas, especially on a hot summer day. Situated in the Texas Hill Country, Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool formed thousands of years ago when the surface above an underground river collapsed! The revealed picturesque grotto of Hamilton Pool Preserve, along with the shade of the cave and the cypress trees that line the watering hole, is a spot as beautiful as it is refreshing.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Address: 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Website: Hamilton Pool Preserve
3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park: pure wilderness beauty
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is known for its bright-white Salt Basin Dunes, abundant wildlife, and fossilized reef mountains. And with the dramatic Guadalupe Peak, standing at 8,750 feet (2,667 meters), Guadalupe Mountains National Park boasts the tallest point in all of Texas! A highlight of the area is El Capitan Peak. During the era of U.S. westward expansion, it was used as a landmark for pioneer wagon trails. The remains of an old wagon station can still be seen there today.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Address: 31.9452° N, 104.8725° W
Website: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
4. Beauty and bats in one place at Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area!
With a total depth of over 350 feet (106.6 meters) and measuring 320 feet (97.5 meters) in diameter, Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area is the largest single-chamber cavern in Texas. A vertical chasm comprised of limestone bedrock, Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area was registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1985. If traveling to Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area in late spring to early fall, visitors receive a mind-blowing extra bonus. Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area is also home to the state’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats, which emerge from the caverns nightly! To get a ringside seat to this wondrous display you must make a reservation in advance. Don’t miss out on a truly unique and thrilling experience.
Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area
Address: 30.0575° N, 100.1091° W
Website: Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area
5. Padre Island National Seashore: pristine aquatic paradise
Adorning 70 miles (112.6 kilometers) of the Texas coastline with windswept sands, crystal blue water, and formations of pelicans and other various shorebirds along the seaside, is the magical Padre Island National Seashore. While known as a haven for spring-breakers, Padre Island National Seashore is actually so much more than kegs and college kids. Considered the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, according to the U.S. National Park Service, Padre Island National Seashore is home to nearly 400 species of birds, one of the world’s largest sea turtle populations, and some of the most remote beach areas to explore!
Padre Island National Seashore
Address: 27.4641° N, 97.2977° W
Website: Padre Island National Seashore
6. Explore mysterious & magical Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Within the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area resides one of the largest natural rock formations in the United States. Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet (129.5 meters) above the ground, and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970. This massive domed piece of pink granite rock has enthralled visitors, and the area provides a great adventure for hiking, rock climbing, and camping. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb Enchanted Rock. Reach the summit and you will certainly be rewarded with amazing panoramic views of the surrounding Hill Country!
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Address: 30.5066° N, 98.8189° W
Website: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
7. Discover sandy bliss at Monahans Sandhills State Park
While it may not rival Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes or New Mexico’s White Sands, Texas’ Monahans Sandhills State Park offers some pretty majestic-looking dunes, and a tranquil environment that thousands of visitors flock to every year. Most of the dunes are stabilized by vegetation, in fact one of the common plants is a shin oak. Possessing the appearance of a large dwarfed tree, shin oak is actually a plant that produces an abundance of acorns. Luckily, the dunes within the park are still active. Responding to seasonal and prevailing winds, Monahans Sandhills grow and shift in shape to create a breathtaking and dynamic landscape.
Monahans Sandhills State Park
Address: 2500 E Interstate 20 Exit 86, Monahans, TX 79756
Website: Monahans Sandhills State Park
8. Palo Duro Canyon: an artist's inspiration!
Located in the Texas panhandle and formed by a fork of the mighty Red River, Palo Duro Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” Palo Duro Canyon may be the second-largest canyon in the country, but its stunning display of beauty is surely first rate. With glorious rock towers, multi-hued walls, sheer drops, and a collection of natural cave formations, it’s not surprising Palo Duro Canyon served as an inspiration to acclaimed American painter Georgia O'Keeffe.
Palo Duro Canyon
Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015
Website: Palo Duro Canyon
9. Caverns of Sonora: glistening gem beneath the Texas landscape!
Offering less hustle and bustle than the more touristy Natural Bridge Caverns, Caverns of Sonora does provide just as much natural beauty, possibly more. Caverns of Sonora has an extensive cave system, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, which features exquisite calcite mineral formations, and a particular “room” that is enchanting and awe-inspiring called the Crystal Palace. Caverns of Sonora does not disappoint. Tours are conducted every 2 hours, and an expert guide takes guests down 155 feet (47.2 meters) below the surface!.
Caverns of Sonora
Address: 1711 Private Road 4468, Sonora, TX 76950
Website: Caverns of Sonora
10. Big Thicket Natural Preserve: watery & woodsy wonders
Lying on the coastal plains of southeast Texas, Big Thicket Natural Preserve showcases an unbelievably beautiful forest land that is the result of nine ecosystems converging, making it a must-see for nature enthusiasts! Big Thicket Natural Preserve consists of a wide-ranging biodiverse landscape of nearly 100,000 acres (40,468.5 hectares) that features hills, cactus, swamps, and pine trees. As a result, Big Thicket Natural Preserve has been referred to as “America’s Ark.” A feast for the eyes, Big Thicket Natural Preserve is a great place to explore nature’s wonders by hiking, camping, or simply taking a leisurely stroll.
Big Thicket Natural Preserve
Address: 30.4722° N, 94.3473° W
Website: Big Thicket Natural Preserve
Deep in the heart of Texas
Texas is a bona fide gold mine of natural wonders. Blessed with the serene beauty of rolling hills, gloriously beautiful canyons that cut through the expansive landscape, rivers that crisscross the land, tall pine trees in wooded areas, and so much more, Texas is an excellent slideshow of nature and a place, designed by Mother Nature, to be lived outdoors.
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