Top 10 Texas State Parks in 2022


Fall Foliage on Trees Lining the Rocky Crystal Clear Frio River at Garner State Park, Texas. | Image by Richard A. McMillin, Shutterstock

The first Texas state parks opened in the 1930s, and there are now 86 operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

The TPWD breaks the Lone Star State into seven different regions, each containing its own state parks. The regions are Big Bend Country, Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Panhandle Plains, Pineywoods, South Texas Plains, and Prairies and Lakes. The number of parks in each region can vary, with the Prairies and Lakes region being home to the most, with 22 parks, and the South Texas Plains region having the least, with seven total parks. 

The number of visitors at each region and park varied as well. The Texas State Parks hosted over nine million visitors in the 2022 fiscal year. The Prairies and Lakes region had the most visitors for the year, with over 3.1 million, followed by the Hill Country region, with over 2.3 million visitors, as reported by KXAN Austin.

Some individual state parks also had high numbers of visitors during the 2022 fiscal year, but which parks had the most?

Inks Lake State Park had the tenth most visitors, with a total of 232,690 in FY 2022. The park has a lot of activities, as the TPWD says, “you can swim (no lifeguards on duty), boat, water ski, scuba dive and fish.”

The park with the ninth most visitors in FY 2022 was Guadalupe River State Park, attracting a total of 238,841 visitors. At the park, the TPWD says there are over 13 miles of hiking trails ranging from the “2.86-mile Painted Bunting Trail to the 0.3 Mile River Overlook Trail, which leads you to a scenic overlook of the river.”

Dinosaur Valley State Park ranked eighth for the most visitors in FY 2022, with a total of 243,001 visitors. As one might expect from the name, “it’s easy to find dinosaur tracks in the park,” all visitors have to do is “just head to the river!” according to the park website. 

Brazos Bend State Park was the seventh most visited Texas state park in FY 2022, which attracted 272,837 visitors. Located just 45 miles from Houston, the park is described as a “nature lover’s paradise. The TPWD reminds guests to “be sure to bring your walking shoes, binoculars, and camera” so they can enjoy their visit to the full. 

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area ranks sixth among the most visited Texas State Parks in FY 2022, drawing in 307,686 visitors. The park’s centerpiece has been around for a long time, as the TPDW states: “The massive pink granite dome rising above Central Texas has drawn people for thousands of years.”

Cedar Hill State Park, located just 20 miles south of Dallas, welcomed 324,420 visitors in FY 2022, ranking it fifth among Texas State Parks. There is a lot to do at this park, as the TPWD says visitors can “relax by the lake, tour an old Texas farm, or explore our rugged limestone hills and rare prairie pockets.”

Ranking fourth for the most visitors is McKinney Falls State Park, with a total of 335,332 visitors in FY 2022. The TPWD website states that there are over 81 campsites at the state park, located within the city of Austin, with nearly nine miles of hiking trails throughout the park.

The top three most visited Texas State Parks in FY 2022 start with Palo Duro Canyon State Park, ranking third with 442,242 visitors. Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States, and the TPWD says visitors can “experience the canyon’s rugged beauty and enjoy its colorful history.”

Coming in second for most visited state parks is Garner State Park, with a total of 517,317 visitors in FY 2022. According to the TPWD, it is not uncommon for Garner State Park to have frequent repeat visitors, as its website says that “Fun traditions and beautiful scenery bring people back to Garner State Park time after time.”

Finally, the most visited Texas state park in FY 2022 was Ray Roberts Lake State Park, which hosted 885,173 visitors in 2022. Located just an hour north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the park’s location makes it the perfect place to “escape the bustle of the city and get back to nature,” according to TPWD.

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L. Powell
L. Powell
1 month ago

The “where” would have been nice on each of the parks. Who, what, where…etc. Longtime editor’s suggestion to help readers….

1 month ago

This ranking is just by attendance, not by beauty

1 month ago

My son’s GreatGrandFather donated part of his land which makes up Dinosaur Valley State Park. Near Glen Rose, there is a place called “Shakey Springs”. It is just the side of the road piece of dirt with the barbwire fence. When ‘things are right’, you jump up and down in the air and the fence will shake, because of the water table. If it’s been dry, ya will look foolish, because nothing happens when ya jump up and down on that piece of dirt. The town sure has changed in 50 years.

1 month ago

Just north of the town of Uvalde is Garner State Park along the clear flowing Frio River (Uvalde County).
I still have a 4″ scar on my leg from that Park when I was there in the early 60’s.
In the mid-1980’s, my young son and I were exploring Garner State Park before heading to Mexico.
He came running back to me and said that he found a cave across the river. He said “Come on!” After crossing the river, we made our way up a cliff side to the wide entrance of the cave.
I walk in behind him as the light starts to shadow fade. I am about to press my hand against the wall, but notice that the entire wall of the cave is “pulsing”.
My eyes adjust to the low light…
Without exaggeration, the walls of the darkened cave were completely and totally covered with Daddy Long Legs Spiders. They were all bobbing up and down. The walls were pulsing.
I jumped back! “Whoa! Look at all the SPIDERS!”
Ten feet ahead of me, my son laughs…“You scared?!”, implying that I’m a wuss. He tried to get me to follow him deeper into the cave.
I told him that I will stay back towards the cave entrance, and that maybe it is time we both should go and get back to my wife.
We verbally wrestled while I received a few teasing insults about my cowardice.
Finally, with a smile he graciously relented and we went back across the river.

Reply to  ThisGuyisTom
1 month ago

John Wayne’s movie “The Alamo” (1960)
About 20 miles west of Uvalde, as one heads towards Del Rio, is Bracketville.
On the north side of Bracketville is where the set for John Wayne’s “The Alamo” was built.

Brett Montgomery
Brett Montgomery
1 month ago

Can we have a map of where these are to visit.

Reply to  Brett Montgomery
1 month ago

this writer is waiting for the site to pay him for locations.

1 month ago

You guys missed the mark on this page.Two more lines in each parks description you could have told use the location of each park

1 month ago

Interactive Map of Texas State Parks

When a person does not see the information that they are looking for, a Search Engine can help.
For example:

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Here are some other Search Engines:
Search Encrypt
Even Yahoo sometimes gives results which can’t be found otherwise.
Archive.org (WayBackMachine) often contains lost links and more.