Thinking of planning a visit or moving to Dallas in the northeastern part of the Lone Star State?
A booming economy is the number one reason people relocate to the city known as “Big D.”
There’s that—and so much more—dozens of distinct neighborhoods, a lively arts scene, spectacular museums, and exciting nightlife make Dallas a vibrant and flourishing community.
There’s so much to explore in Dallas. Still, if you’re feeling the pull of getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and exploring the great outdoors, there are many intriguing opportunities close by.
Many are state parks that are easily accessible and affordable for everyone wishing to get out and about in the natural world.
Map of State Parks Near Dallas TX
Here is a map of the Texas state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Dallas
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department State (TPWD) plays a prominent and vital role in preserving the state’s natural treasures and protecting its wildlife.
Visiting these scenic sites supports resource development and protection.
Let’s explore the state parks near Dallas and see what makes them interesting and exciting places to visit.
1. Dinosaur Valley State Park
Location: 1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043
Imagine walking amongst the tracks of dinosaurs along the edge of an ancient ocean—this may seem impossible—but at Dinosaur Valley State Park, not only can you see the footprints, you can touch them!
Dinosaur Valley State Park is about an hour and a half southwest from the bustling city of Dallas—a world (and an eon) away as you look for Acrocanthosaurus (three-toed) imprints and Sauroposeidon (elephant-like) impressions along the Paluxy River.
As intriguing as the tracks are, the park offers a whole host of other outdoor activities: swimming, fishing, or paddling in the river or camping, hiking, and picnicking in the park.
The park’s other unique features are an interpretive center, geocaching, and equestrian adventures—from horseback riding to horse-drawn wagon rides.
Helpful tip: The dino tracks are not always visible because of river or weather conditions. Check the park’s FaceBook page for up-to-date information.
2. Ray Roberts Lake State Park
Location: Isle du Bois Unit, 100 PW 4137, Pilot Point, TX 76258
Looking for a vast stretch of sandy beach without driving hours south to the Gulf of Mexico? Head about an hour north of Dallas, and you’ll find your piece of paradise at the popular Isle du Bois swimming area.
The Johnson Branch Unit on the north side of Ray Roberts Lake is equally captivating but with fewer visitors because it is a bit more of a drive.
If hanging out in the sun isn’t your thing, there’s no end to the many other activities you can partake in—avid anglers cast their lines for largemouth, and smallmouth bass, two types of crappie, white bass, and three species of catfish, to name a few.
Land-bound activities include hiking, biking, rollerblading, picnicking, camping, and Ranger Programs for groups.
Helpful tip: Fishing from the shore or pier in Texas State Parks is free.
3. Cleburne State Park
Location: 5800 Park Road 21, Cleburne, TX 76033
About an hour southwest of Dallas, you’ll find Cleburne State Park and Cedar Lake, a serene spring-fed body of water surrounded by cool, dense woods and Texas prairie where you can kick off your shoes and relax to your heart’s content.
The flowing springs and rich, diverse landscape in and around the park have attracted people for millennia. They continue to offer solace for those wanting to get away from heavily populated towns and cities.
There are activities here for everyone, from hiking and biking on trails that range from easy to strenuous to camping and fishing to observing nature.
This gem of a getaway will recharge and renew your spirit.
Helpful tip: If you plan your visit here in the spring at just the right time, you’ll be greeted by fields of bluebonnet, the Texas state wildflower.
4. Eisenhower State Park
Location: 50 Park Road 20, Denison, TX 75020
Eisenhower State Park is an hour’s drive north of Dallas and is situated along rocky and spectacular shoreline bluffs and cliffs of Lake Texoma. There’s a lot to marvel at here no matter what time of year you visit.
From March to November, wildflowers mature and blossom in a rainbow of colors. The wildlife is plentiful— you might spy armored armadillos, rushing road runners, treacherous tarantulas—even stealthy scorpions.
For other activities, you can fish, paddle, or splash around in the sandy swimming cove, and there’s hiking, biking, OHV trails (permit required), and picnicking. There’s even a marina where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and boat slips.
Visually stunning no matter what time of year you visit, Eisenhower State Park does not disappoint.
Helpful tip: Eisenhower State Park has a plethora of fishing gear available to borrow for use within park boundaries—no fishing license required.
5. Possum Kingdom State Park
Location: 3901 State Park Rd. 33, Caddo, TX 76429
Possum Kingdom State Park is a bit of a haul from Dallas, about a two-hour and 15-minute drive.
Still, this state park located in the scraggy canyon country of the Palo Pinto Mountains and Brazos River Valley and its accompanying lake are well-worth mentioning for the scenery and the amazing array of watersports you can partake in.
The clear water of Possum Kingdom Lake makes it an excellent location for snorkel or scuba diving.
And with 20,000 acres of deep water and 310 miles of steep cliffed shoreline, it’s no wonder that the lake is the spot for waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, fishing, paddling, boating, and every other imaginable water activity.
There’s camping, hiking, biking, and picnicking if you want to take a break from being on the lake.
Interesting fact: Hell’s Gate, a sheer break in the cliffs around the lake, and Devil’s Island with its steep banks are iconic landmarks in the area and are interesting to see. Plan accordingly; these spots can be heavily trafficked.
6. Cedar Hill State Park
Location: 1570 West FM 1382, Cedar Hill, TX 75104
Cedar Hill State Park is only 25 minutes from Dallas and one of the closest state parks to the city that we’re featuring.
The park is unique because two ecosystems meet here. One is an endangered native tallgrass prairie refuge, and the other is a limestone escarpment (a sloped area) that runs from Kansas to Mexico.
One of the park’s primary functions is to protect the precious tallgrass and rolling prairie.
Cedar Hill is renowned for bird watching, with over 200 species calling this spot home.
The painted bunting is the avian that bird-watchers come here seeking; the male is brightly colored, featuring bright red, green, and blue. The female is less so, and the male is often mistaken for an escaped tropical bird.
Located along the shores of Joe Pool Lake, swimming, fishing, boating, and paddling are popular, and with 350 developed campsites, there’s no shortage of places to pitch your tent.
Cedar Hill State Park also offers primitive campsites, check for availability, and make sure the trails to the sites are open.
Interesting fact: Argentine ants, an invasive, non-stinging ant species, reside in the park. Texas Parks and Wildlife is consulting with ant experts to reduce their numbers without harming other wildlife.