Texas is one of the biggest states in the US, having a wide variety of terrain and nature to explore. With its vast plains, wide open skies, and bigger is better attitude, it’s no wonder so many people come to Texas to vacation or even to make a home. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures to do while you are visiting Texas.
Swimming in Hamilton Pool
This majestic hidden pool is perfect for a swim on a hot summer’s day. The best part? It’s only a short drive away from Austin, one of Texas’ biggest and most popular cities. The pool is partially underground, so it feels very secluded, this includes a beautiful waterfall that you will want to bring your camera for. Once you get to the Hamilton Park Preserve, you will take a short hike over to the pool where you can then go swimming or just relax on the small bank. To preserve the pristine conditions of the pool, you do need to make a reservation before you go. The maximum amount of time you can spend there is four hours, but the pool is open seven days a week.
Camping in Marfa
Marfa is one of the most unique places in Texas. It is a small town located in the western part of the state, but it has developed a reputation over the years as a hub for the arts and culture. You can opt to stay in hotels or other lodging options in Marfa, but if you want a more rugged outdoor experience, consider going camping instead. There are many campsites that offer both RV camping and tent camping just outside of town. The beautiful desert atmosphere allows you to see the stars and really get away from the hustle and bustle of the city while still being close to the convenience and cultural attractions in town.
Hiking Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas, far away from any of the big metropolitan areas. It is known for its beautiful hiking opportunities, where you can see stunning sunsets and dramatic vistas with rock formations. There’s hiking available for all levels here. You can hike to hot springs and other interesting natural features in the area. With so much to explore in Big Bend, it’s helpful to camp in the park so you can spend multiple days enjoying it.
Relaxing at Padre Island National Seashore
South Padre Island is one of the best places in Mexico to soak up some sunshine. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, this is where Texans come for beach vacations, and it has some of the most stunning coastal views in the area. The northern part of the island is where all of the resorts are, but it has become very developed over the past few decades. To experience pristine, undeveloped beaches with marine wildlife, try taking an ATV or any four-wheel drive car out to the southern part of the island. This area is a particularly great place to go windsurfing or kiteboarding as well, because the water is usually quite calm, but there are winds coming off of the Gulf to propel you.
Canoe or Kayak on the Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is one of the biggest rivers in Texas, and it actually forms part of the US/Mexico border. While you can’t necessarily go out onto the border, there are plenty of places where you can explore the river’s many tributaries and other nearby water features. In particular, the town of Del Rio, which is located just north of the border, is a must visit. It is very close to Lake Amistad, where there are plenty of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, as well as other water sports like fishing.
Explore Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is one of the biggest canyons in Texas. It is often compared to the Grand Canyon because of the beautiful scenery and the range of activities available to do there. The canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, so there is plenty of ground to explore here. It is particularly popular for mountain biking and hiking, and it also is a fun destination to try horseback riding. Since the canyon is so big, many people opt to camp there as well.
Getting to Texas
Texas is a very big state, and there are many different ways to get there, depending on where you are coming from. You can fly into one of the many airports in the state, which offer flights to and from cities around the world. Houston and Dallas are the two largest cities, and they have two airports each. Austin is another large city with an international airport. There are also many smaller airports which will get you closer to your outdoor activities. Since Texas is so big, it helps to have a car to get around, particularly when exploring outdoors. However, if you can’t or don’t want to drive, you can also look for guided tours that will provide transportation.
International Travel to Texas
If you are traveling to Texas from outside the United States, you will need to apply for ESTA online before coming. ESTA is a travel authorization system that screens travelers from a list of pre-approved countries in lieu of getting a visa. You need to apply for ESTA online at least three days before you leave to ensure timely approval. To apply, you’ll just need your passport and some basic information about your citizenship status. In some cases, you may need to provide further details about your residence and employment. The application typically takes just 15 minutes to complete. Once you have been approved, your ESTA status is valid for two years and can be easily renewed online.
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