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butterfly on a flower at a state park near midland texas

Butterfly at a state park near Midland. Photo: Park Facebook page

Explore stunning sandstone canyons, gaze out over mounds of sand dunes that stretch as far as you can see, and enjoy an unmatched view of the shining stars of the Milky Way Galaxy.

These are just a few of the experiences you can have at the Texas state parks in the Panhandle Plains, near Midland, Texas.

Given its diverse landscapes, no visit to any of the region’s state parks is the same. Plan your next vacation in the expansive Texan outdoors for a trip you will never forget.

Map of State Parks Near Midland TX

Here is a map of the Texas state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Midland

Below are each of those state parks with their distance from Midland and the features that make each worth a visit.

1. Big Spring State Park

Location: 1 State Park Rd 8, Big Spring, TX 79720

Big Spring State Park offers more than trails and nature. They also offer an outdoor theater that hosts symphonies and plays for some local culture. Add in options for hiking, cycling, and competition runs for outdoor activities. Also, find out local history about the Comanche Native Americans and the Spanish who settled the area back in the late 1700s.

Take the whole family for the day so kids can enjoy the Ranger program and rock carvings. Everyone will enjoy the nature trails and the wildlife. Animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and roadrunners, as well as a variety of bird species, can be spotted on the walkways. The location is also surrounded by large woody plant species such as mesquite, shin oak, skunkbush sumac, and redberry juniper.

In Howard County and Big Spring State Park, three natural habitats collide. The western Rolling Plains are to the north and east, the Edwards Plateau is to the south, and the Southern High Plains are to the west. Look for overlapping flora and animals from each place surrounding each door for surprising surprises. The park, however, does not offer camping, despite the fact that there is an outdoor dining space large enough for 200 people with restrooms nearby, and admittance is free for everyone.

2. Lake Colorado City State Park

Location: Farm to Market 2836, Colorado City, TX 79512

About eighty miles northeast from Midlands sits Lake Colorado City State Park near Morgan Creek. The lake was developed in 1949 to provide cooling water for the Morgan Creek Power Plant, a water supply for Colorado City, and recreation with warmer than normal water perfect for outdoor activities and fishing. Offering 500 acres of parkland and more than five miles of shoreline provides for various outdoor activities for lake swimmers, skiers, jet skiers, campers, hikers, and naturalists.

The park features eleven cabins with air conditioning, 110 campsites, a pavilion, and a group hall if you just want to relax at a campground or cabin. In addition, restrooms, showers, electric and water campsites, dump stations, cabins, a recreation hall, interpretive trails, picnic areas, a group picnic pavilion, a designated swimming area, parking lots, boat ramp, fishing barge, fishing pier, and a playground are among the amenities and services available at the park.

The park is located in a portion of the western Rolling Plains known as the Mesquite Plains. In addition to the many mesquite trees and greenery, white-tailed deer, mallard ducks, raccoons, armadillos, and squirrels are among the animals that may be observed and photographed at the park. Find plenty of fish in the park, including largemouth bass, channel catfish, and sunfish. Enjoy the robust mesquite trees that can withstand droughts, which add to the beautiful view of the river and grasslands.

3. Monahans Sandhills State Park

Location: Exit 86, 2500 I-20, Monahans, TX 79756

Monahans Sandhills State Park is located out in the desert, far from the rest of the world. The Permian Basin park features 70-foot-high sand dunes that feel like they belong in another country. Furthermore, the Sandhills offer a variety of activities for a fun-filled day, such as sand sliding. Take a one to two-day excursion to try out hiking, horseback, riding, or see an ever-changing landscape ready for the whole family, including the dog!

The park does not have established trails due to its ever-changing nature. As a result, it’s easy to get lost with hills that often appear the same but tend to change with the wind. Exploring practically everywhere in the park, on the other hand, provides opportunities to see a diverse range of plant and mammal species that flourish in this harsh climate, including one of the world’s largest oak wood.

Stay at one of the 25 campsites with tons of amenities such as fire rings, shade, electricity, and more. One group site allows for a fun destination for a crowd, while those with horses can find three sites along with larger vehicles and trailers. The park costs just four dollars a day per person, and it’s only fifty minutes southwest of Midland.

4. San Angelo State Park

Location: 362 FM 2288, San Angelo, TX 76901

The San Angelo State Park takes about two hours to get to from Midland, but it’s worth the scenic drive to enjoy the Concho River. It’s home to the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd, but there is so much more to see and do. Enjoy hiking, cycling, or horseback riding across quiet meadows sprinkled with cactuses and mesquite trees on lonely routes that loop over gently sloping High Plain’s hills. Adults and children thirteen and up pay only four dollars to enjoy the peaceful solitude the park offers.

Keep your eyes peeled for bison, deer, longhorns, javelinas, and some of the more than 350 species of birds that call this place home. Before trying your luck at catching a few fish in Javelina Pond, explore the park and look for American Indian rock art and ancient animal tracks. With over fifty miles of unmarked trails, you will have plenty of time to look for all the animals and the unique landscape.

Children will want to explore the two-mile dinosaur trail with fossilized trackways and walk around the shoreline. Then, rent a boat and fishing gear to do a little fishing before heading back to your campsite. Next, stay at one of several sites with electricity, more primitive sites, or at the group camps. The park even offers several equestrian sites perfect for those who want to allow their horses some extra room. Lastly, the park offers cabins and a single bunkhouse with tons of amenities for a perfect experience.

5. Balmorhea State Park

Location: 9207 TX-17, Toyahvale, TX 79786

Find an oasis in the high desert at the Balmorhea State Park, about two hours away from Midland, close to the New Mexico and Mexican borders. The park opened in the 1930s to provide tons of outdoor recreation to those local and far away. Visitors can enjoy swimming, camping, scuba diving, studying nature, and bird watching. In addition, you can visit “cienegas,” or desert wetlands, home to a variety of endangered fish and other animals.

The park is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day for a low entry price of seven dollars for those over thirteen. If you arrive in the morning, you can eat at The PupFish Café for a nice meal, and the cafe also rents and sells water sports equipment. After that, you can engage in some of the park’s activities, including a massive pool ready to impress. Keep in mind the pool does not have a lifeguard, and kids need to be watched as over 15 million gallons of water from the San Solomon Spring gush into the pool every day.

Stay overnight at one of the 34 campsites or rent a cabin or suite but check to ensure they are not closed for renovation. Entrance costs seven a day per adult over thirteen, and you can enjoy the pool, park, trails, and the fresh spring water from geologic faults. When not camping or swimming, check out the animals, including some unique desert fish, including the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish. White-tailed deer, javelina, ground squirrels, turtles, lizards, and dragonflies are all possible sightings.