New Guides Make Texas State Park Visit a Breeze

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texans still looking to take a summer trek amid a sputtering economy without breaking the bank need look no further than a nearby Texas state park for an affordable and enjoyable vacation destination. To help you plan and make the most of a visit to many of the state’s natural and cultural gems, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers two new, free publications.

The 112-page, sixth edition of the Texas State Park Guide puts at your fingertips all you need to know to discover why the more than 90 state parks are "getting better all the time." And, once visitors arrive at their chosen park, they can pick up a Park Visitor Welcome Kit tailored to the Texas tourism region in which the park is located.

The Park Welcome Kit is available at 93 state parks include not only a fold-out Texas state park map with the featured area and the region’s parks highlighted and detailed in brief vignettes, but also a wildlife and plant guide, safety tips, ideas for children’s activities, an outdoor gear guide, eco-friendly ideas and a regional calendar of events. In addition, each "Go Guide" gives park rangers’ recommendations on which parks in the region feature the best scenery, camping, biking, hiking, fishing and other activities, and provides a suggested road trip to see the area’s notable attractions.

The digest-size Texas State Park Guide provides a broad overview of the state park system and a centerfold map showing all park locations. Readers can learn about the millions of dollars in state park improvements made possible by increased state funding and bond issues. Today’s park visitors will find in many instances upgraded park facilities, reopened campgrounds and hiking trails, improved maintenance, more interpretive programs and better customer service.

"We are creating a world-class park system that will generate tourism dollars and help Texans reconnect with nature," says Walt Dabney, state parks division director.

As in past state park guides, this year’s edition features dozens of parks and historic sites within an hour’s drive of Texas’ major metro areas, as well as snapshots of "far-flung" parks, such as Palo Duro Canyon and Big Bend Ranch, worth the going the extra mile to visit.

The guide also directs readers to the wealth of state park information available on the TPWD Web site. Visit the State Parks & Destinations section of the Web site to access an interactive state parks map, a drop-down list of individual sites and facilities, downloadable park maps and information. There also is a link there to make camping reservations online. You can even "Shop the Outdoors" online for conservation license plates, wildlife posters and stamps, maps and other featured products.

The park guides are available at any Texas state park, state natural area or historic site, as well as TPWD law enforcement offices, Sea Center Texas, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, and most Texas Department of Transportation travel information centers, convention and visitors bureaus and chambers of commerce throughout Texas. You also can print selected sections of the guide from the TPWD Web site. The state park guide also is available online in Spanish.

Both the state park guide and welcome kits are printed on recyclable paper and were produced at no cost to the state. Funds to underwrite the publishing of the Texas State Park Guide were provided by Toyota, with additional support from advertisers.

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