The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will open six new state parks over the next 12 to 15 years amid a statewide drive to expand parkland.
The department highlighted these future parks in a special commemorative issue of its magazine, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state park system.
Texas State Parks Director Rodney Franklin said that there is a need to provide more recreational opportunities for the state’s growing population.
“Until the recent passage of Proposition 5, we haven’t had the funds to develop some of the properties we have in our inventory,” Franklin said in a statement. “So, it’s exciting that we can build new state parks for future generations of Texans to enjoy.”
Texas lags behind most others states in state parkland, according to a report by the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. The state ranks 35th in the nation for state park acreage per capita, with 636,000 acres of parkland for a population of over 29 million as of 2019.
In 2019, voters approved Proposition 5, which stated that money generated from the existing sales tax on sporting goods can be given only to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Now, Texas lawmakers are considering legislation that would, with voter approval, create a fund to invest $1 billion to buy more land for the state parks system.
Currently, Texas has 89 parks, natural areas, and historic sites. New parks in development include Palo Pinto Mountains State Park near Fort Worth, the Dan A. Hughes Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area near Del Rio, Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area near Boerne, Powderhorn State Park near Port Lavaca, Chinati Mountains State Natural Area near Presidio and Davis Hill State Natural Area near Houston.
Scroll below for more information on what’s to come.
- Palo Pinto Mountains State Park comprises 4,871 acres of former ranch land located about 75 miles west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. TPWD has not set an opening date for this park. Plans for the park include an extensive network of multiuse trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The 90-acre Tucker Lake, the centerpiece of the park, will offer opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming. Campsites will include RV sites, as well as walk-in tent sites and primitive camping areas.
- Acquired in 2010, the new Dan A. Hughes Unit of Devils River State Natural Area comprises 17,669 acres 13 miles downriver from the existing Del Norte Unit purchased in 1988. Construction of the new unit began in early 2023 and is slated to wrap up in early 2024. The natural area harbors a variety of native plants including Texas sotol, ocotillo, giant sycamores, pecan oaks, and old-growth junipers. Among the many animals who who call the park home are migrating songbirds, bald eagles, gray foxes, black bears, jackrabbits, deer and an array of snakes and lizards.
- The Albert & Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area comprises 3,757 acres located about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio. The natural area is in the late planning and design phase; TPWD said it anticipated ABK will open to visitors within the next five years. Described as “a very special piece of the Hill Country,” the natural area boasts a variety of rare and endangered plants and animals including the golden-cheeked warbler, alligator lizard, sycamore-leaf snowbell, big-toothed maple, Boerne bean and Texas spring salamander. Facilities will include miles of hiking and biking trails, cabins, screened shelters, campsites, backpacking sites, and a nature center with an outdoor pavilion. Albert and Bessie Kronkosky willed the land to the state of Texas to protect it from development. TPWD accepted the donation of the ranch in March 2011. “This place was never ranched, so those impacts are not present,” James Rice, ABK superintendent, said in the commemorative issue. “That leaves us with a slice of the Texas Hill Country that is rare and rapidly disappearing, quite impressive to see and experience.”
- Powderhorn State Park comprises 2,253 acres northwest of Port O’Connor on Matagorda Bay. TPWD said there is no set timeline on when park planning will be completed or when the site will open to the public. The park consists of coastal woodlands, prairies and wetlands that are largely intact, since they have never been cleared or leveled for agricultural use. The site boasts three miles of frontage on Matagorda Bay and 2.5 miles of waterfront access to Powderhorn Lake. The park provides a habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl and is considered a critical rest area for migrating birds. Once the park is complete, it will provide an array of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping, fishing, hiking, birding and wildlife viewing. “This property holds immense conservation, recreation and ecological value due to the unspoiled coastal prairie and wetlands,” Reagan Faught, regional director for Texas State Parks, said in the commemorative issue. “We are extremely honored to steward such a magnificent property and plan for its future development as a state park.”
- The Chinati Mountains State Natural Area comprises 39,000 acres in the Chinati Mountains range. Abundant wildlife includes 40 mammal species, including 16 species of bats, mule deer, bobcats and mountain lions, plus unique creatures like the rare gray-checkered whiptail lizard. Development has not begun on the property; no specific opening date has been set.
- The Davis Hills State Natural Area comprises 1,700 acres of diverse wilderness about 45 minutes east of downtown Houston in Liberty Country. Acquired in 1983, the natural area stretches from the highest hill on the Texas coastal plain to a white-sand beach along the Trinity River. This park is currently inaccessible; TPWD is working on land acquisitions to allow access for visitors.
What do you think about the prospect of more Texas state parks? Let us know what you think in the comments.