The United States is full of natural beauties and wonders. From one coast to the other, majestic slopes of towering mountains, verdant, tree-covered hills, endless plains full of green and amber crops and grasses, and haunting deserts and wastelands leave an indelible mark on your brain.
Since Captain Israel Ward Raymond and U.S. Sen. John Conness conceived the first state park in California in 1862, the National Park Service has become a reminder of the country’s commitment to land preservation. In fact, the National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016. If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about yourself, here are four National Parks in Texas with some of the best sights in North America.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is over 800,000 acres of land sitting along the Rio Grande, right where the river turns north and creates the big dip along the western edge of the state. Big Bend is such a beautiful location that it sits right up against an equally big national park south of the border in Mexico. Just to the park’s west is Big Bend Ranch State Park, another 300,000 acres of steep mountains and rocky hills. Here you can hike, drive, take river rides, and stargaze in the clear desert air.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The Guadalupe Mountains share a border with a different Mexico: New Mexico. The park isn’t as big as Big Bend, but it does feature a mountain range of coral reef which formed back when the central part of North America used to be underwater. Climbing the mountain isn’t an easy hike, but it’s worth it to see some of the highest-altitude oceanic fossils in the world.
Padre Island National Seashore
Because Padre Island is one of the longest barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, the Padre Island National Seashore protects a full 70 miles of its length from human development and interference. That makes it the longest stretch of protected barrier island in the world. It’s one of the few safe nesting grounds of endangered and threatened sea turtle species, and it’s a great place to visit to get in touch with nature and work on your tan at the same time.
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
In the Texas Panhandle, you can find the Alibates Flint Quarries. These sites have produced colorful and valuable flint for Native American tribes throughout the Great Plains for thousands of years. Flint was a valuable stone before metal came along. Not only could you chip it into a sharp, durable blade, but also Alibates flint was unique in its range and variety of colors. Everyone who was anyone used Alibates flint for knives and hatchets. You can see why when you visit the quarries along Lake Meredith.
Texas is a big state, so it only makes sense that it’s full of big and beautiful national parks. Whether it’s for the centennial or just for fun, there’s always plenty of the great outdoors to enjoy in the Lone Star State.
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