Texas is a land of wonderment, filled with places and things far beyond the stereotypical and the over-hyped. Everyone has heard of the Alamo, the Cadillac Ranch, and the previously somewhat secret Hamilton’s Pool made famous by a National Geographic photo. But Texas is so big that even if you’ve lived here your whole life, you may not see all the wonders the state has to offer. Here are a few places you may never have heard of or visited. Add these 10 undiscovered Texas places to your Texas bucket list. You won’t regret it.
Caddo Lake sits on the Texas-Louisiana border. Texas’s only natural lake, Caddo Lake is home to the world’s largest Bald Cypress forest. The lake is named after the Caddoans, Native Americans who once inhabited the region, and is now a protected wetland. Boat tours of the lake are available, and there are campsites nearby in Caddo Lake State Park.
If you think Texas is completely flat, you’re…almost right. In west Texas however, lies the Guadalupe Mountains, a Permian Era fossil reef. This area that is now largely sandy desert full of scrub brush and cacti was actually once underwater. Visit Guadalupe Mountain State Park for camping, hiking and to learn about the geological history of Texas, as well as the anthropological history of the region, where Mescalero Apaches once dwelled.
It may not have a creative name, but it certainly has an appropriate one. “Big Tree” at Goose Island State Park in Aransas Pass is the largest live oak in North America.
Located in the Davis Mountains in west Texas is the McDonald Observatory. The Observatory is property of the University of Texas and is home to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which is one of the largest telescopes in the world. The Observatory offers tours, as well as night viewings and “star parties” to educate Texans on all things astronomical.
You don’t have to go all the way out to Arches National Park in Utah to see some pretty cool balanced rocks. You’ll see Texas’s Balanced Rock when hiking the 2.2-mile Grapevine Hills Trail in Big Bend National Park.
Just outside of Fort Worth, in Glen Rose, Texas, you will find a towering T-Rex frozen in a perpetual predatory sneer. No need to run though, Mr. T-Rex is made of fiberglass. In fact, he’s the famous display from the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. He moved to Texas in 1970 to be amongst his people, so to speak. Dinosaur Valley State Park is a hotbed of paleontological discovery, where you can simply pick up fossils off the ground, and view massive dinosaur footprints embedded in the Paluxy riverbed. Glen Rose is a great place to camp, hike and learn more about Texas’s pre-history.
It’s not widely known that Texas contains the largest body of ancient rock art in North America, but in Seminole Canyon State Park pictographs, petroglyphs and painted pebbles are in abundance. The general public can tour these sites through companies like The Rock Art Foundation
Texas is not simply a land of tumbleweeds and desert clay, the mighty Colorado River runs through the Lone Star State, and in Colorado Bend State Park the topography of the land has a allowed for a beautiful lush waterfall. Gorman Falls are just one attraction of Colorado Bend though, there is also hiking, camping and fishing (though as of this writing the boat ramps are closed due to low water levels).
If you’re not really into the overcrowded scene at the Guadalupe and Comal rivers in the Texas Hill Country, try the Medina River in Bandera. The Medina is a great river to kayak, swim and tube away from the crowds.
The last wild herd of American bison are still roaming the plains of Texas. They can be found in Caprock Canyon State Park near the Texas panhandle.