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Cool off at a Texas state park!

Family swimming Inks Lake

State parks offer multiple places and ways to cool your heels during the broiling days of a Texas summer.

Do you enjoy floating or paddling on a spring-fed river? How about body surfing on the coast? Or do you prefer splashing in a cool, clear swimming pool?

You can do all of these in your state parks. What are you waiting for?

Planning Your Visit

We continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines in the parks. Read through our recommendations before your visit.

State parks are very busy at this time of year, especially on weekends and holidays. Guarantee entry by making day pass and overnight reservations online or by calling (512) 389-8900.

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Hike Pick: West Cottonwood Trail System

Franklin Mountains State Park

Hiking West Cottonwood Spring Franklin Mtns

The West Cottonwood Trail System gives hikers multiple ways to explore the high desert mountains in Franklin Mountains State Park.

Take the 1.5-mile West Cottonwood Spring Trail to a lush oasis with shade trees. The Agave Loop Trail offers a scenic route to the spring. Enjoy a spectacular view from the top of the granite rock nearby.

If you're feeling adventurous, continue to climb for half mile to Mundy's Gap at the mountains' ridgeline for a grand scenic overlook. From there, you can add another 2 miles and tackle North Franklin Peak, at 7,192 feet in elevation.

Whichever route you choose, take plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun.

TPW Magazine: State Park Adventures

Up on Your Feet at Ray Roberts Lake

Boat pulling water skier on Lake Ray Roberts

As with a lot of things, the hardest part is starting. For beginning water skiers, getting out of the water can feel like solving a physics problem while a boat jerks them around. But once they figure it out, the glorious thrill of gliding across a Texas lake awaits them.

Ray Roberts Lake (north of Dallas-Fort Worth) has 28,646 surface acres to explore, making it one of the top water-skiing destinations in North Texas. Ray Roberts Lake State Park's two main units have boat ramps; six satellite units of the park have ramps as well. You can be on the lake in no time, feeling the spray of water and the wind in your hair.

Read more Up on Your Feet…