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san marcos river running through state park near san antonio texas

San Marcos River running through a state park near San Antonio. Photo: Park Facebook page

Texas offers endless opportunities to spend outside as the second-largest state. The state parks offer some of the best options with activities for the entire family and even the family dog! Find out why so many people come to Texas to enjoy the local parks as an easy getaway.

In the San Antonio area, you can find a variety of parks with unique landscapes from deserts to impressive rivers and much more. The city offers so much more than the Alamo and River Walk because once you leave the city, you can find many natural havens ready to reset your life.

With eight parks within a two-hour drive of the famous city, you can begin a new camping or water adventure and learn about the unique characteristics of the park. However, plan ahead as the parks fill up often, and it’s best to make reservations to enjoy the wilderness.

Map of State Parks Near San Antonio TX

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

List of State Parks Near San Antonio

Here is a list of six state parks with their distance from San Antonio and what makes each special.

1. Government Canyon State Natural Area

Location: 12861 Galm Rd, San Antonio, TX 78254

If you want to follow dinosaur tracks, then visit the Government Canyon State Natural Area about thirty miles northwest of San Antonio. For just six dollars a day for people over twelve years old. Visit between 7 am and 10 pm except for Tuesdays and Thursdays or if you are camping.

Enjoy nature with forty miles of trails, geocaching, picnicking, and nature. Kids will love the playscape nature-themed playground and a discovery trail designed to inspire a love of the outdoors. After, get them out on bikes before heading over to visit the prehistoric dinosaur tracks.

Find tons of walk-in tent campsites and rent anything you need at the park. Kids can even borrow an explorer pack with tools and a journal. Inside the park, you will find tree-lined dirt roads and tons of trails but do not pick this park if you are looking for lots of water or aquatic sports. You can enjoy restrooms with showers, water, and campfires, though, making this a fun place for an outdoor adventure.

2. Lost Maples State Natural Area

Location: 37221 RM 187, Vanderpool, TX 78885

Lost Maples is well-known for its fall foliage, but it is also beautiful all year. Countless wildflowers, high canyon walls, and the picturesque Sabinal River may all be seen at any time of year. Lost Maples State Natural Area sits just ninety-two miles away from San Antonio. October and November are the busiest months as people love to check out the foliage.

While small, the park has a beautiful quaint charm ready to become your personal haven with an ever-changing landscape. Moreover, the park sits close to many fun towns and attractions for added adventure. Start out with ten miles of hiking trails, including a beautiful cliff, and end the night with a campfire.

As a Dark Sky Park, you can forget about the world and think about space while camping under the stars. Next, go geocaching too with a fun app and treasure hunts for children. After, go fishing on the river or the nearby creek by the same name. The park hours are 8 am to 4:30 unless you are camping, and the fees are six dollars a day per person over thirteen. Finally, the park offers 30 campsites with water and electricity and primitive sites too.

3. Honey Creek State Natural Area

Location: Spring Branch, TX 78070

About forty miles north of San Antonio, you will find Honey Creek State Natural Area, a pristine location reminiscent of the past and a 1.5-mile spring-fed brook on protected land. Keep in mind, though, that Honey Creek is only accessible with a guided tour, but it’s by the Guadalupe River, too, allowing for tons of water activities.

No other park offers stunning scenery with massive trees shooting out of the water. Also, it’s close to the Guadalupe River State Park, allowing you to see two impressive parks in a short period. If you want a quiet place to see water flowing over mossy rocks, then this is the park for you.

The best part of the park is it’s free to enter, but they do not offer camping, and you must be on a tour to see the best parts. Look for fossils in the limestone and remnants of sea creatures from long ago, making this park even more unique. Plan on being at the park by 9 am for the hikes.

4. Guadalupe River State Park

Location: 3350 Park Rd 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070

The Guadalupe River State Park offers more than just a 270-mile river across southern Texas. You can find tons of activities for swimming, water sports, and incredible views. Many people love to spend their getaway tubing down the lake on boiling summer days. Others spend their time rafting or kayaking as a more relaxed way to explore the whitewater rapids.

After spending some time in the water, switch to hiking shoes and check out miles of hiking and biking trails. Here you can find secluded spots along the river to animal watch, camp, or simply relax in nature. It costs just seven dollars per adult to enter the park (free for children under 12), and it’s about an hour north of San Antonio. The drive is well worth it as the water comes with impressive trees bordering the water.

Set aside time to do a little fishing before camping for the night at one of the 85 campsites with electricity. You can also enjoy nine walk-in tent sites. If you want a more primitive experience, check out the remote Bauer Unit with challenging trails and varied terrain. Overall the route is between four and six miles.

5. Palmetto State Park

Location: 78 Park Rd 11 S, Gonzales, TX 78629

Sixty-five miles northeast of San Antonio sits the Palmetto State Park open year-round with options for hiking and parking. The peak season starts in March and ends in November with the best hiking and camping any time but summer. Furthermore, the par costs only three dollars a day for people over thirteen years or just seventy for the entire year for the whole family!

The park has five miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate in complexity. Because most of the paths are short, it’s possible to hike the entire park in a single day. The Palmetto Interpretive trail offers a short walk and a water tower at the end. Paddleboats are available to rent by the lake, or you can stick to land and bring your bike.

Try fishing or swimming at Oxbow Lake or at the river for water fun. You can even rent tubes for additional aquatic fun. Then, go camping at one of 38 tent sites, all under twenty dollars a night. With 18 RV sites and a secluded group site, you can have an amazing family adventure.

6. Hill Country State Natural Area

Location: 10600 Bandera Creek Rd, Bandera, TX 78003

With almost 5,000 acres of grassy plateaus, steep gorges, and babbling creeks, Hill Country State Natural Area is an outdoor lover’s dream. The state park’s miles of hiking and horseback riding trails are ideal for experiencing the Texas Hill Country. Entrance costs just six dollars for each person over twelve years old, and the park is open daily with spring and fall as the busy season.

The best part of this park is the horseback riding trails making it perfect for people with equines. Next, the landscape shifts from prairies to canyons making it perfect for horses and camping. Choose from a lodge, primitive camping, and hike-in campsites with toilets but no showers and options for horses. Finally, take this trail to explore grasslands, canyons, and West Verde Creek, making a perfect oasis among limestone cliffs.