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With COVID-19 pushing many people to rest outdoors, state parks across Texas are more popular than ever. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has worked to control the crowd by limiting capacity and requiring advance bookings. The combination of lower capacity and increased interest has made it difficult to book a weekend day pass or camping reservation at many parks, especially those that were already crowded before the pandemic. If you’re staying away from the most popular parks and looking for an outdoor getaway, consider these seven state parks that are among the least-visited in the system, according to the TPWD.
Annual visitors: 1,505
This hill country nature area is famous for its bat population. More than 3 million of the creatures appear at night during the high season from May to October. Park rangers also host nature and bird watching walks on the 1,860 acre property. However, due to the availability of COVID-19, you should call ahead to inquire about availability. This park is currently only open for daytime use.
Annual visitors: 5,929
Close to Devil’s Sinkhole is Kickapoo Cavern State Park, which is characterized by scrub-covered limestone mounds and plenty of wildlife. The rugged park offers camping, occasional caving, and bird watching – bird watchers have spotted over 240 species in the park.
Annual visitors: 15,330
Mission Tejas is located north of the Davy Crockett National Forest in East Texas and is a portal through time. The Civilian Conservation Corps created a historically accurate replica of the mission of the same name, which was founded in 1690 as Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first mission in the New Spanish province of Texas. Parts of the trail have remains of El Camino Real, the Spanish-built path that connects Mexico with Louisiana. The park also offers secluded hiking and fishing opportunities.
Annual visitors: 17,123
Stay at a local cabin and explore this east Texas park, known for its 15 acre Lake Sullivan. Fort Boggy in Centerville near Boggy Creek was a private facility that protected border settlers from Native American raids in the mid-19th century. Now the park is a quiet place between hectic and fast-paced Dallas and Houston.
Annual visitors: 17,197
Village Creek is known for its quiet paddle trail and a great place to relax in a canoe. On the edge of Big Thicket, just 10 miles north of Beaumont, the state park offers fishing, biking, bird watching and camping along the free flowing creek.
Annual visitors: 17,599
The aptly named natural area is northwest of San Antonio in Bandera and comprises 5,000 acres of plateaus, gorges, and scenic nature trails that you can traverse on foot, by bike, or on horseback. Stay at a hiking campsite, equestrian campsite, or the park’s 1930s ranch house.
Annual visitors: 17,265
As part of the World Birding Center in the Rio Grande Valley, Resaca de la Palma is one of the best places in the state to spot tropical and migratory birds. The 1,200-acre park features wetlands, forest, and savanna habitats that make it a prime habitat for rare and endangered species, as well as plant and animal species found nowhere else in the United States. This park is currently open for day use only.
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