TEXAS, USA — The Lone Star State is full of outdoor adventure.
The Central Texas landscape changes drastically as you travel from west to east. West of Austin, you'll find the hills which give the Texas Hill Country its name. To the east of Austin, you'll find the tall pines surrounding Bastrop State Park.
Big Texas views and beautiful chilly swimming holes can be found all across the region, bringing people from all around the United States, any time of the year.
Click through this interactive map to check out just a few of the great Central Texas parks.
We toured through some of the state parks and outdoor areas in Central Texas. Here's what we found:
There are 13 state parks in Central Texas. Each park is different in its own right.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
The park offers beautiful hiking trails around and up large, pink granite domes. The trails are steep, so be ready for a big hike, but there are easier trails available if you would just like to enjoy the views from down low. The views at the top of Enchanted Rock are stunning and near the trailhead, you will find different wildlife.
The park will have closures when they reach a certain capacity, so it is best to call ahead before heading out to the park and arrive earlier rather than later. It is also best to go earlier in the summer due to how hot it can be at the top of the dome in the afternoons. Be sure to bring plenty of water before heading out to this park.
Longhorn Cavern State Park
Longhorn Cavern State Park, about an hour and a half northwest of Austin, offers beautiful tours of a Texas Hill Country cave.
The park is located near Burnet, Texas, and has beautiful views and a lot of history all around the grounds.
While you wait for your cavern tour to begin you can explore some of the old buildings around the area that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and find great places to hike and a quick bite to eat.
While entry to the park is free, cavern tours come with a fee.
Inks Lake State Park
Just down the road from Longhorn Cavern State Park is Inks Lake State Park.
Inks Lake State Park offers great hiking and water fun just outside of Burnet, Texas.
The park also offers campsites and cabins for those wanting to spend an evening in the stunning Texas Hill Country.
Colorado Bend State Park
Stunning views come with the different hike options in the park. One hike in particular takes you to Gorman Falls.
The falls are like a tropical oasis after you hike through the Texas heat. Make sure you take plenty of water before you hike the trail.
When you arrive at the falls, there is a nice place to get in the chilly water before it dumps into the Colorado River.
Colorado Bend State Park is another park that tends to fill up with people quickly on the weekends, so be sure to arrive early.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park, 30 miles west of Austin, offers stunning views of a large waterfall along the Pedernales River.
You'll find great hiking areas in the park with wonderful views. While you can't swim near the falls, there are labeled areas to swim within the park and places to mountain bike, picnic, bird watch and ride horses.
Blanco State Park
The park is just an hour from Austin and offers nice areas to picnic and swim in the Blanco River.
You can also fish in the river, which is stocked with trout.
McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is the closest state park to Downtown Austin, located southeast of the city.
The park offers great places to hike, bike, camp, fish and swim along waterfalls.
The park also has a rock shelter where water drips after heavy rain.
Bastrop State Park
The park offers a different landscape than what you will see in Austin and into the Texas Hill Country.
Tall pines will offer beautiful hiking trails through the forest. The park also offers great camping, swimming, biking, fishing and picnic areas. You will also find a nice overlook in the park, which is a great spot to catch the sunset.
There are nice cabins to stay in within the park as well.
There are plenty of other parks in Central Texas that are not designated state parks.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
To get into the park you will need a reservation, which can be hard to get in the summer.
Once you are in the park you will find a great hiking trail which leads down to the swimming hole.
The swimming hole features a beautiful trail around the swimming area with a waterfall pouring into the swimming hole. Fish swim along the banks and don't show much fear of people, so don't be surprised if they come up close to you.
Wimberley Blue Hole Regional Park
The swimming hole offers multiple rope swings to jump into the cool water.
One of the best things about the swimming hole is that it has a good amount of tree cover, making it a great spot to cool off on a hot, Texas summer day.
Jacob's Well Natural Area
Just down the road from Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley is Jacob's Well Natural Area.
Jacob's Well is a beautiful, popular swimming hole and you will have to make a reservation in advance if you are planning a trip there.
At Jacob's Well, you will find a giant spring that you can jump into from rocks along the edge. In the crystal clear water, you can see fish swimming nearby.
There are also a few hiking trails within the park with views of the Texas Hill Country.
Krause Springs is a family-owned swimming hole you can find about 30 miles west of Austin.
The park is owned by the Krause family and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property is stunning and the swimming holes are beautiful.
There are multiple waterfalls throughout the property and cool places to swim along tall trees that give plenty of shade to visitors. You'll also find a nice rope swing at one of the swimming holes.
The property also offers areas for primitive camping and RV sites.
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