Texas Road Trip Series: The Adventurer

September 26, 2018

Texas desert sky at night with stars and boulders

To live in Texas is to love Texas. Texans carry an enormous amount of state pride, and for good reason: Texas is AMAZING.

Between Gulf Coast beaches and the beauty of Hill Country, there’s plenty to see and do. In fact, it’s enough to fill an entire summer of vacations. This blog series will explore a variety of Texas weekend road trips, fit for every type of travel personality, in every region of Texas.

Weekend Trips for The Adventurer

You live life at 100mph. The couch is the last place you want to be on the weekend, and you’re aching for exploration. Here are some of our top picks for a Texas-style adventure weekend.

If you live in Northwest Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon is the 2nd largest canyon in the US, bested only by Arizona’s Grand Canyon. It’s 120 miles of slot canyons, gorges and gorgeous views. It’s a place Georgia O’Keefe once referred to as her “spiritual home,” inspiring awe and wonder to those who explore it. The multicolored layers of rock are a photographer’s dream, and its geological features are a hiker’s paradise (50 miles of marked trails). Hike to Lighthouse Rock—a 300-foot-tall hoodoo— or enjoy the otherworldly landscapes on horseback. Camp overnight to take advantage of cooler morning and evening temperatures.

Caprock Canyon

Caprock Canyon, where the bison roam free. Book a campsite, and enjoy a weekend of outdoor photo ops. Between the scenic red rock canyons and the majestic bison herds, you’ll find yourself snapping endless pictures of jaw-dropping scenery. The state park area also offers hiking, horseback riding, geocaching, biking, boating, fishing and swimming.

If you live in Northeast Texas

Caddo Lake

On the Texas-Louisiana border sits a cypress-lined maze of swamps and bayous, eerily beautiful and mesmerizing. Caddo Lake is a must-see destination for all Texans. Grab your kayak and enjoy the scenery while you cast your line into the swampy waters. Bass fishing is popular here, but be sure to keep your eye out for gators. In fact, you can book your own gator tour, night tour or other guided tours depending on your mood. This enchanting lake has something for every type of adventurer.

Trinity River

Texas is home to the largest hardwood urban forest in the United States, the Great Trinity Forest. The 6,000-acre forest sits just south of Dallas, with the Trinity River weaving through it, yet often goes unnoticed by the millions who live nearby. The river itself is 710 miles long, stretching from north Texas—just south of the Red River—down to Trinity Bay, a section of Galveston Bay that feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the longest river located entirely in the state of Texas. Bring, or rent, a kayak and explore to your heart’s content. You can fish or just paddle your way through, keeping an eye out for Great Blue Herons, beavers, turtles and the occasional bobcat. As the river meanders into southeast Texas, it becomes populated with Cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. In fact, this portion of the river is home to the largest Cypress forest on the Texas coast…and you may also spot a few gators.

If you live in Central Texas

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The massive granite dome—nicknamed the Pink Dome—is what initially draws people to Enchanted Rock, but there’s plenty more to do for a weekend of adventure. Rock climbing, hiking (11 miles of trails), backpacking and geocaching are all popular activities at the park, located 17 miles north of Fredericksburg. Enchanted Rock was voted Best Campsite in Texas in 2017, so be sure to pack your camping gear.

Natural Bridge Caverns

Just north of San Antonio sits one of the largest caverns in the state of Texas, discovered by two college kids in 1960. Natural Bridge Caverns is a must-see attraction for every Texas adventurer. They offer a variety of tours, catering to almost every type of adventure-seeker. The Discovery Tour will take you 180 feet below ground, where you will see stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws. If you want a true spelunking experience, sign up for the Adventure Tour. Hike, repel and climb your way through the caverns wearing authentic caving gear and a headlamp. Be prepared to get muddy as you explore caverns 230 feet below ground. Along with the caverns, the park area offers gem and fossil mining, a maze and a canopy challenge. Depending on the time of year, you can also witness the largest bat colony in the world emerging from their cave.

If you live in Southeast Texas

Deep Sea Fishing

Marlin fishing is often said to be the pinnacle of offshore game fishing (not for novice fishermen). If you want to experience the battle of a lifetime, try reeling in a 400-pound Blue Marlin. While Blue Marlin can be found throughout the Gulf Coast of Texas, Port Aransas is the sweet spot. Port A’s deep waters are also home to dozens of fishing tournaments throughout the summer. If you’ve got competition running through your veins, consider entering one of the tournaments. In fact, the oldest fishing tourney on the Gulf Coast—the Deep Sea Roundup—is hosted in Port Aransas every July.

Surfing Safari

Texas beaches may not be world famous, but we still love ‘em! From Galveston to South Padre Island, there are plenty of locations to take your board and catch some waves.  South Padre and Matagorda are Texas classics, and offer fairly reliable surf. If you want something more unconventional, try catching super tanker waves in the Galveston Ship Channel.

If you live in Southwest Texas

Big Bend National Park

Heading to Big Bend for a weekend requires smart planning, because it’s one of the most remote areas of the lower 48 states. That being said, this 800,000-acre national park is an adventurers dream. Choose between 4x4 tours, paddling or rafting the Rio Grande (there are five river canyons to choose from), horseback riding, air tours and much more. Big Bend has something for everyone (even spa packages!), so choose your own adventure.

Guadalupe Peak

Reach the top of Texas by climbing the highest mountain in the state. Guadalupe Peak rises 8,749 feet above the ground near the New Mexico border, about 150 miles east of El Paso. A round-trip hike to the peak is about 8.5 miles, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Be prepared to hike for six to eight hours. Wildlife in the area includes black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, rattlesnakes and coyotes. For a safe (but rewarding) adventure, don’t hike this mountain solo.

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