Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I drink alcohol in a state park?
A: It is against park rules to drink or display an alcoholic beverage in a public place at any time. All outdoor areas are public in a state park. Also, we cannot sell alcoholic beverages within a state park. Refer to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134 (b).
Q: Can I ride my bike in state parks?
A: Almost all state parks offer road or mountain biking, or both! Many parks have long stretches of road (some winding and hilly). Many of our parks have multiuse trails. Visit our Biking page for detailed information on places to bike.
Q: Where can I go birding? Do you have a bird checklist?
A: You can bird at any state park! For a short list of great parks for birding, visit our Birding page. See a complete list of Bird Checklists on our Publications page. You might want to check out the Great Texas Wildlife Trails, which list places to see wildlife around the state, including in state parks.
Q: May I build a campfire in a state park?
A: You can build a campfire in most state parks, unless a county burn ban is in place. However, you must follow fire safety guidelines.
- Fires may be built only in campsite grills, fire rings, or fireplaces. Most developed campsites have fire rings, and some have waist-high grills as well.
- Some parks allow only containerized fuel fires (i.e. camp stoves).
- Campfires are not allowed at most primitive campsites. Be sure to ask at park headquarters.
- Some beach sites allow ground fires on sandy areas, if approved by the park superintendent.
- You can only gather firewood if the park superintendent allows it.
- Do not leave your fire unattended!
- Fireworks and explosives are not permitted.
- Refer to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134 (h).
Burn bans: County judges and/or county commissioners’ courts can implement county-wide burn bans at any time if dry or dangerous conditions develop. A park must observe its county’s current burn ban, unless it has been granted an exemption.
Ask about campfires and burn bans when you make your reservation, or call the park or Park Information (1-800-792-1112, option 3; Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST) before your park visit.
- View the latest map of Texas counties with burn bans.
- Find more information on outdoor fire safety from the Texas Interagency Coordination Center.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Q: Which state parks were built by the CCC?
A: Go to our CCC web page for more information.
Q: Can I bring my pet to a state park?
A: You can bring your pets to almost all state parks! However, we do have some rules:
- Pets must be on leash, in a car, or in a crate at all times. The leash can be no longer than 6 feet.
- You must be with your pet at all times. You may not leave your pet unattended in the park, in a vehicle, or at your campsite.
- Do not bring a noisy or dangerous dog to a state park.
- Pets are not allowed in any state park buildings. This includes motels, cabins, screened shelters, group facilities and restrooms.
- You must pick up your pet’s waste and put it in the trash.
- Pets are not allowed in the water or on the land around a designated swim area.
- Your pet must have a current rabies vaccination, and you must have proof with you.
- If you break these rules, you and your pet may be asked to leave!
Some of these rules do not apply to service dogs helping a person with a disability.
Several of our parks do not allow dogs in specific areas of the park. This is to protect the park’s natural and cultural resources, and also to protect your pet. Parks with pet restrictions include:
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
- Government Canyon State Park
- Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
- Seminole Canyon
Refer to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134 (c) for more detailed information on animals.
Q: We are frequently turned away or told that we can only get one night's stay because all spaces are reserved. Many times we have returned the next morning early and seen that MANY of those reserved spaces were not used. What gives?
A: When a camper makes a reservation, he or she pays for at least the first night’s stay. We will then hold a campsite for that camper, no matter the time of arrival. Sometimes the camper never arrives, hence the empty campsite. Refer to Operational Information from our Reservations page.
Q: Where can I find fee information for individual parks?
A: You can find fee information in several places:
- Click on the "Fees & Facilities" link at the top of the page on each park’s website.
- Call the Park Information line, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 1-800-792-1112 (option 3 - option 3).
- Central Reservation Center will give you rates when you make reservations at (512) 389-8900.
- Visit Texas State Parks Online Reservations.
Q: Is geocaching allowed in Texas State Parks?
A: Yes! Almost every state park has at least one geocache. Learn more about geocaching on our Geocaching page.
Q: Can I place a geocache in a Texas state park or historic site?
A: You will need to talk to the park superintendent. Some parks or historic sites may be entirely off-limits to geocaching due to sensitive resources. Superintendents may limit caches in some areas to protect endangered species, keep visitors safe, or limit damage to archeological or historical areas. If you get approval, you will need to fill out a geocache permit before placing a geocache.
Q: What state parks have golf courses?
A: Lockhart State Park has a nine-hole course, while Garner State Park has a miniature golf course that is open seasonally. Bastrop State Park’s golf course is closed at this time. Visit our Golfing page to learn more.
Q: May I carry my gun into a state park when I am traveling?
A: Our rules state that you may not show/display or fire your gun in a state park. If you have a valid Concealed Handgun License, you may carry your handgun in many state parks. But even with a CHL, handguns are not allowed in parks that are leased from the federal government. Check with the park before you go. Refer to Texas State Park Regulations for specific regulations - 59.134(d).
Q: Are there any books available which summarize day or overnight hikes in the Texas State Parks? A top 50 list of the best hikes? We would love to get such a book.
A: We recommend several books:
- Hiking Texas: A Guide to 85 Of The State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures by Laurence Parent, 1996.
- 100 Classic Hikes in Texas by E. Dan Klepper, 2009.
Q: Where can I find information on hiking at Texas State Parks?
A: You can hike at most state parks! Check out our Hikes & Nature Walks page for some ideas.
Q: I would like to see a page on your site listing the historical markers in the state.
A: The Texas Historical Commission writes and erects historical markers. Visit the Texas Historic Sites Atlas, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Q: I want to bring my horse to a state park. Are there any special rules?
A: Our Horseback Riding page lists all parks that allow horses. You must show proof of a negative Coggins test within the prior year for any horse you bring to a park.
We have a few rules:
- Horses are only allowed in designated areas.
- Don’t ride dangerously!
- Don’t allow your horse to stand unattended or loosely tied.
- Don’t hitch your horse to a tree, shrub or structure in a way that can cause damage.
Q: Can I view a map of a specific state park so I can become familiar with the park layout before I get there?
A: Sure! You can download the map from the specific park’s web page or the Park Maps page. We also have trails maps for many parks – look for those on each park’s web page.
Q: I am interested in obtaining a single map with all state parks, and if possible, federal lands. Does such a map exist? Also, would you send me information on activities in the area surrounding the parks so that I can plan to make day trips from our camping spot?
A: The Texas State Official Travel Map, by the Texas Department of Transportation, shows state parks, national parks, national forests, grasslands and wildlife refuges. Ask for the free packet with the Texas State Travel Guide, Accommodations Guide, and Official Travel Map, from traveltex.com (The Official Site of Texas Tourism) or order by phone at 1-800-452-9292.
Each park’s website has a short list of nearby attractions.
Q: I have seen a large Texas State Parks Map put out by Texas Parks and Wildlife with the Texas tourist regions on the back, as well as other park information. How can I get one of these?
A: The Texas State Parks map is available for sale at some state parks, but is due for an update. It will be for sale at most state parks after the update (possible in 2016).
Q: Can you send me information on Big Bend National Park and other national parks?
A: Visit the National Park Service website or call the Federal Information Line, 1-800-688-9889.
Q: Is my National Parks Pass accepted at state parks?
A: Texas does not recognize annual pass programs of other state park systems or the National Park Service. However, we offer our own park passes. Learn more on our Park Passes page.
Park Pass/Parklands Passport
Q: What is a Parkland Passport? Do I qualify and where do I obtain one?
Q: I am a disabled veteran (60 percent) and I read on your fee page this statement: If you are a veteran with at least a 60 percent disability, you will continue to receive free entrance into state parks. Who do I need to contact to find out about getting this pass?
Q: What is the Texas State Parks Pass that grants me free entry into all Texas State Parks, where can I purchase one and how do I benefit from it?
A: You can purchase any type of park pass at any state park! Go to the Texas State Park Passes page, to learn about the passes, and how you may qualify for one. Call 1-800-792-1112 for more information.
Q: How do I make reservations for a state park and what is required?
A: You can make reservations two ways:
- Online: Check availability, make and cancel reservations for campsites and screened shelters at Texas State Parks Online Reservations. You must use a credit card to confirm reservations. To reserve cabins and group facilities, you must call the number below.
- Telephone: Check availability, make and cancel reservations for campsites, shelters, cabins and group facilities. Call 1-800-389-8900 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can use a credit card to confirm your reservation, or send payment within five business days. Note: The call center is busiest on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
Be sure to have the following information handy when you make a reservation:
- Home and work telephone numbers
- Trailer or motor home lengths (if applicable)
- Payment information:
- Credit card information (Discover, Visa, MasterCard) OR
- Check: Include your name, address and phone number, your personal i.d. number and all reservation numbers.
Rules and regulations
Q: What state parks' rules will I have to follow when I camp in state parks?
A: Thanks for asking! We do have rules to protect both you and the park’s plant and animal life. Read them on our Park Rules page.
Q: May we reserve five specific sites if we know which ones we want? We have a group of five families that want to be together. Some may have large trailers and may need an especially deep site.
A: At this time, we do not offer site-specific reservations (except for some portions of Lake Livingston State Park). Call the Customer Service Center to make your reservations, and let them know your situation and site requirements. We will do our best to accommodate your group.
You might also consider reserving a group site, if one is available at the park you have in mind.
Q: How long may I stay at a state park?
A: Generally, you can stay 14 consecutive days. Some parks have established other limits, with some offering weekly/monthly/seasonal rates. Check with the agent when making reservations, or visit the park’s website.
Q: How do I get the Texas Travel Guide?
A: The Texas State Official Travel Map, by the Texas Department of Transportation, shows state parks, national parks, national forests, grasslands and wildlife refuges.
- Ask for the free packet with the Texas State Travel Guide, Accommodations Guide, and Official Travel Map, from traveltex.com (The Official Site of Texas Tourism) or order by phone at 1-800-452-9292.
- Download the Texas State Park Guide or pick it up at any Texas state park.
Q: How can I find out about hotels and attractions near each park?
A: The local Convention and Visitors Bureaus are excellent resources for finding out information related to area special events, lodging and destinations.
Q: Which parks in Texas have waterfalls?
A: Several of our parks have waterfalls; they may be dependent on rainfall.
- Big Bend Ranch State Park has three waterfalls you can reach by trail: Mexicano Falls, Rancherias Spring Falls (at the end of Rancherias Canyon Trail), and Ojito Adentro Waterfall in the Sauceda interior. Many other “pour-offs” occur after rain events.
- McKinney Falls State Park has two falls - McKinney Falls and the Upper Falls, both of which are about an 8-foot drop during normal creek flow.
- Pedernales Falls State Park has a gradual, cascading fall of about 300 feet on the Pedernales River. A short nature hike will take you to an overlook of Twin Falls, on a creek draining into the river.
- Colorado Bend State Park has Gorman Falls. Visit via a 2.4-mile round trip hike, or on a guided tour.
Q: Who do I call to check on questionable weather conditions that might cause total or partial closures of parks?
A: Contact the park directly, or check the park’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.