State Parks FAQs

Find answers to common questions about Texas State Parks.

Topics

Alcohol

Can I drink alcohol in a state park?
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).

Fire safety

May I build a campfire in a state park?

You can build a campfire in most state parks, unless a county burn ban is in place. However, you must follow these 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!
  • Refer to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134 (h).
How do I know if a park is under a burn ban?

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.
Can we bring fireworks to a park?
Fireworks and explosives are not permitted in state parks.

Hammocks

Can I use a hammock in a state park?

Yes, hammocks may be used under the following conditions:

  • No permanent anchors such as screws or eyebolts may be used.
  • Trees must be at least 8” in diameter at the point of strap contact to ensure they are strong enough to support the hammock.
  • Straps must be at least two inches wide, preferably made of nylon or polypropylene.
  • We recommend using padding underneath straps to protect tree bark.
  • No more than two straps may be attached to a single tree.
  • You may not prune or cut plants to make room for a hammock.
  • Hammocks used for overnight camping must be hung within the bounds of the assigned campsite.
  • Hammocks may not be attached to park structures such as shade shelters, lantern posts or buildings unless specifically authorized.
  • Check with park staff to ensure there are no site-specific rules or requirements.

Handguns

May I carry my handgun into a state park when I am traveling?
Our rules state that you may not show/display or fire your gun in a state park. If you have a valid Handgun License, you may carry your handgun in many state parks. But even with a license, 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).

Hiking

Where can I find information on hiking at Texas State Parks?
You can hike at most state parks! Check out our Hikes & Nature Walks page for some ideas.
Do you have any suggestions for safe hiking?
Check out our Trail Safety page for some guidelines.
Are there any books available which summarize day or overnight hikes in the Texas State Parks?

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.

Maps & Guides

Can I view a map of a specific state park so I can become familiar with the park layout before I get there?
Sure! You can download park maps and trails maps for many parks – find park maps here.
I am interested in obtaining a single map with all state parks, and if possible, federal lands. Does such a map exist? 

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.

Where can I get a state park guide?

Park passes

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?
You can purchase park passes online or at any state park! Learn more on the Texas State Park Passes page or call 1-800-792-1112 for more information.
Is my National Parks Pass accepted at state parks?
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.
What is a Parkland Passport? Do I qualify and where do I obtain one?
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.
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?
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.

Pets

Can I bring my pet to a state park?

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:

Refer to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134 (c) for more detailed information on animals.

Reservations

How do I make reservations for a state park and what is required?

You can make reservations two ways:

  • Online: Check availability, make and cancel reservations for campsites, screened shelters and cabins at Texas State Parks Online Reservations. You must use a credit card to confirm reservations. To reserve group facilities, you must call the number below.
  • Telephone: Check availability, make and cancel reservations for campsites, shelters, cabins and group facilities. Call (512) 389-8900 Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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)
  • Credit card information (Discover, Visa, MasterCard)

Learn more on the Reservations Information page.

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.

You may, depending on site availability. You can do this through our online reservation website or by calling the Customer Service Center. 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. Call the group desk at (800) 389-8920 to reserve group sites.

Learn more about making reservations on our Reservation Information page.

How long may I stay at a state park?
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.

Technology

Is wireless internet access available in parks?
Some parks have wifi in at least some areas of the park. Use our state park map to search for those parks.
Is geocaching allowed in Texas State Parks?
Yes! Almost every state park has at least one geocache. Learn more about geocaching on our Geocaching page.
Can I place a geocache in a Texas state park or historic site?
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.
Can I fly a drone or other remote control aircraft in a state park?
Two parks offer zones for flying remote controlled aircraft (including drones): San Angelo and Martin Dies, Jr. You can request a filming permit for your craft at any park by contacting that park. Allow several weeks for us to review your request.

Things to do

Can I ride my bike in state parks?
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.
Where can I go birding?

You can bird at any state park! For a short list of great parks for birding, visit our Birding 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.

Do you have bird checklists for the parks?
See a complete list of Bird Checklists on our Publications page.
Can I ride my horse in a state park? Are there any special rules?

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.

Refer to Rules and Regulations 59.134(c)1.

What state parks have golf courses?
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 permanently closed. Visit our Playing Sports page to learn more.

Visiting a park

How much does it cost to visit a park?

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).
  • Customer Service Center will give you rates when you make reservations at (512) 389-8900.
  • Visit Texas State Parks Online Reservations.
Who do I call to check on weather conditions that might cause parks to close?
Check on the State Parks Alert Map. You can also contact the park directly, or check the park’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Could 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?
Each park’s website has a short list of nearby attractions.
How can I find out about hotels and attractions near each park?
The local Convention and Visitors Bureaus are excellent resources for finding out information related to area special events, lodging and destinations.
What state parks' rules will I have to follow when I visit state parks?
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.

Waterfalls

Which parks in Texas have waterfalls?

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.