by Elijah Johns| staff writer
State parks are just one of several ways students can make the most out of their summer. Lucky for us, Texas has a lot of different kinds of parks available to the public. Whether you want to hike, swim, or just relax, there is something for everybody.
Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park is one of the closest state parks, being only 30 minutes from campus. This park offers four miles of riverbank which allows for scenic bike rides and long kayak and canoe rides. They also offer geocaching, which is a trend among Texas state parks where there is hidden “treasure” that anyone can go and find. If you are more into land-based activities, you can also ride horses or hike along the 13 miles of hiking trails. Another perk is that it only costs $7 per adult to enter the park and reserving a campsite is free. If you don’t want to drive far out of your way, Guadalupe River State Park is for you. Please click here for more information.
Pedernales Falls, speaking from personal experience, is by far the best park on this list. Not only can you swim here and cool off after a long day of hiking, you can also ride your horse along the 10 miles of horse trails or go fishing in the lower pools. It also offers full electricity for camp sites for only $5 a night. If you are more into roughing it, you can also hike off site and sleep in a primitive sight for free. The admission to the park is only $6 a person, which is well worth it. Although it is about an hour drive from our area, it is a must for the summer. For more information click here.
While Texas may have nice views and pretty sunsets, it does lack in terms of variety of trees. But at Lost Maples State Natural Area, you are transported into the northeastern United States. The whole park is filled with maple trees. Lost Maples has trails that extend all of the 2,174.2 acres and also has some hidden swimming holes. The park website does say to swim at your own risk, because these pools are not monitored. Due to the abundance of maple trees, there is also a large variety of exotic birds to be seen. Fees are only $6 a person, which includes a full day of fun. If you want to feel like you’re not in Texas anymore, Lost Maples is only an hour and 45 minute drive from San Antonio. Click here for more information.
Hamilton Pool is a naturally-occurring collapsed canyon that has created a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. Only one hour and fifteen minutes from San Antonio, Hamilton Pool provides a serene watering hole that gives you a place to cool off during the hot summers. The only down side is as of May 15, you have to make a reservation in advance to be able to swim in the pool. This is mainly due to the high traffic that is brought in by the amazing sites that the pool provides. After the reservation, it costs only $10 per car that parks at the park. Make sure to call early because spots fill up quick. Click here to learn more.
Old Tunnel State Park
Old Tunnel State Park is not the normal Texas park. While it is run by the Texas Park and Wildlife Commission, it offers only one real attraction, which is a viewing of over 3 million Mexican Free-tailed bats coming out of the cave for a nightly feasting. One great thing is there is no entrance fee to get in, and it is only an hour north of San Antonio near Fredericksburg. Click here for more information.
Garner State Park
Garner State Park. One of the prettiest parks on this list by far, this park offers clean rivers and long hiking trails. The Frio river, while very cold (Frio means cold in Spanish), is also one of the cleanest and clearest. You can also stay the night in one of the screened cabins, or in your own tent. The admission for the park is $7 and is two hours away from San Antonio. One of the best things about this park is there is a dance hall. Click here for more information.
Mckinney Falls State Park
At McKinney Falls State Park, you can swim, bike, and hike only 13 miles from Austin. Even though it is a very short drive from downtown Austin, it feels like youare actually in the wilderness. Like the name says, this park includes lots of waterfalls. In Austin, where the summer high is 95 degrees, all these pools are essential to not having a heat stroke on your hikes. For only $6 a person, this park offers a lot to do for a full day of fun. Click here for more information
Definitely the most popular park on this list, Enchanted Rock gives the best views of any of these parks. A giant rock surrounded by small lakes provides a tranquil experience for people of all ages, and is even pet-friendly. You can also chose to climb the backside of the rock with rock-climbing gear. On the other side is a fairly steep walk up to the summit of the rock, where you can see the sunrise and sunset. On days with clear skies, you can see too many stars to count and and noticeable celestial bodies. The park is an hour and a half away and only cost $7 a person to see the best views in Texas. Click here for more information.