A Quick Tour
Visit these outdoor destinations to enjoy the grand diversity of the state’s landscapes and habitats.
The Texas Department of Transportation operates 12 travel information centers for the convenience of the traveling public. See Travel Information.
City Location Phone Number Amarillo I-40 806-335-1441 Anthony I-10 915-886-3468 Austin Capitol Visitor Center 512-463-8586 Denison US 69/75 903-463-2860 Gainesville I-35 940-665-2301 Langtry US 90/Loop 25 432-291-3340 Laredo I-35 at US 83 956-417-4728 Orange I-10 409-883-9416 Texarkana I-30 903-794-2114 Valley (Harlingen) US 77 at US 83 956-428-4477 Waskom I-20 903-687-2547 Wichita Falls I-44/US 287, Exit 1C 940-723-7931
- These examples of mileage across the state will help determine distances:
Cities Distance El Paso to Orange 834 miles Amarillo to Brownsville 765 miles San Antonio to South Padre Island 286 miles Fort Worth to San Antonio 262 miles Dallas to Houston 238 miles El Paso to Big Bend 329 miles Houston to San Antonio 197 miles Dallas to Texarkana 178 miles Amarillo to Lubbock 119 miles Austin to San Antonio 79 miles Dallas to Fort Worth 30 miles
South Texas Plains
San Antonio The Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are linked via about 10 miles of hike-and-bike trail along the San Antonio River.
Laredo The Laredo Loop of the Heart of Texas East Wildlife Trail, which includes Lake Casa Blanca State Park, provides plentiful opportunities for birding. In addition, the 10th Laredo Birding Festival occurs in February.
GOLIAD Explore the grounds and museum of Presidio La Bahia, a Spanish military compound that appears as it did in 1836 during the Texas Revolution.
On the Trail
Floresville Walk or bike in the footsteps of history along the 2.5-mile El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail in Floresville.
Sand and Surf
Corpus Christi The 70 miles of undeveloped beach and habitat at Padre Island National Seashore provide opportunities for camping, fishing, beachcombing, paddling, birding, and windsurfing.
On the water
Aransas Pass The first Texas Paddling Trail—the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail—features four loops through a black mangrove estuary with views of the Lydia Ann Lighthouse.
Top of the island
South Padre Island Enjoy an expansive view of the Island from the five-story viewing tower at the SPI Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary.
KINGSVILLE Captain Richard King’s legacy of ranching and conservation lives on at the state’s largest ranch, King Ranch, which offers daily ranch and nature tours.
SPLASH OF NATURE
KARNACK Paddling can be one of the best ways to explore the bayous, sloughs, and ponds of Caddo Lake with its distinctive bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss.
KOUNTZE Big Thicket National Preserve is treasured for its biodiversity and preservation of habitat that once covered more than 2 million acres.
Smell the Roses
Tyler Billed as the largest public collection of roses in the United States, the Municipal Rose Garden features more than 32,000 bushes. The Texas Rose Festival in October celebrates the blooms.
CLEVELAND The 129-mile primitive Lone Star Hiking Trail roams through the Sam Houston National Forest. Spring and fall are the best times to visit.
PRAIRIES AND LAKES
Dallas The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has 66 acres of spectacular and colorful display gardens, along with amazing displays during its seasonal festivals.
Glen Rose Long ago, dinosaurs left their footprints in the bed of the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park, a National Natural Landmark.
WASHINGTON Sightsee and birdwatch at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, where history was made in 1836 when the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed there.
Fort Worth The former cattle shipping point known as the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is home to historic buildings, restaurants, shops, and saloons.
WILD ABOUT FLOWERS
AUSTIN The 284-acre Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s mix of cultivated gardens, an arboretum, managed natural areas, and wildlands serves to conserve native plants.
ROCKSPRINGS From late spring to fall, one of the state’s largest colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats make their home at Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark.
Vanderpool During the fall the bigtooth maples of Lost Maples State Natural Area transform with a spectacle of red, orange, and yellow leaves. The best time to visit is usually late October to mid-November.
FREDERICKSBURG Driving along Ranch-to-Market Road 965, it’s hard to miss the giant granite dome rising from the ground at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It makes you want to stop and climb it.
Big Bend Country
PINE SPRINGS Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to four of Texas’ highest peaks (with an opportunity to climb to the state’s highest point), along with canyons, desert, spectacular night skies, and the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK With more than 800,000 acres, the park is well known for hiking, rafting, and nature viewing, but its designation as an International Dark Sky Park also makes it one of the state’s best places to see the Milky Way.
FORT DAVIS A 75-mile route through the Davis Mountains provides two uninterrupted hours of majestic scenery and wildlife if you can resist the temptation to stop at Fort Davis National Historic Site, Davis Mountains State Park, and the McDonald Observatory.
El Paso Covering about 40 square miles within the city limits of El Paso, Franklin Mountains State Park is the nation’s largest urban state park. Visit for hiking, biking, and rock climbing.
INTERSTATE 40 Follow remnants of Route 66 from the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo and west to Adrian for a stop at the route’s midway point—1,139 miles to Los Angeles and Chicago.
CANYON The nation’s second-largest canyon, Palo Duro Canyon, is marked by colorful geologic layers. In spots, the layers have eroded, forming hoodoos, of which one of the most well known is the Lighthouse formation in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
San Angelo Enjoy a morning of quiet contemplation at the International Waterlily Collection in Civic League Park, which displays a changing variety of waterlilies that are best viewed April to October.
legends And Longhorns
Albany The Official Texas Longhorn herd resides at Fort Griffin State Historic Site, a western defensive fort from 1867 to 1881. Wander among the ruins and ponder what life must have been like.