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5 Fantastic Fall Destinations Right Here in the Lone Star State

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If you are an avid outdoor adventurist, whether backpacking, camping, hiking or just star gazing, the fall season is your Texas-sized cup of tea. Texas offers the soul more than just prairies and deserts, for its open landscapes are like windows that present the beauty of fall for all to discover and behold.

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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Photo: Facebook/Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Did you know Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the United States? And it’s right here in our beautiful state of Texas in the panhandle near the city of Amarillo. If you want to rough it a little, Palo Duro is perfect for camping, hiking, and horseback riding. For a relaxing weekend, there are a few cabins to rent in the canyon, perfect for just chilling and stargazing.

2. Lost Maples State Park

5 Fantastic Fall Destinations Right Here in the Lone Star State

Photo: Flickr/AdamBaker

It won’t be long before the leaves begin their remarkable transformation from greens to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. Lost Maples State Park in the Texas Hill Country is a beautiful two-hour drive northwest of San Antonio. With abundant wildlife, steep canyon walls, and the scenic Sabinal River, Lost Maples State Park offers plenty for the whole family; hiking, photography, fishing, or hunting for geocaches and maybe even a Pokémon or two.

3. Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site

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Photo: Flickr/TomBennett

Hueco Tanks is highly regarded as one of the best areas in the world for bouldering (rock climbing that is low enough to attempt without ropes for protection). The park is rich in history with many of the rocks containing petroglyphs that tell stories of the early hunter-gathers and the wild plants they used for food and medicine. In February, an outdoor bouldering competition named Hueco Rock Rodeo welcomes climbers from Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The Texas Historical Commission has threatened to close the site to climbing due to rock formation damage, and issues with littering and trash clean-up. Climbers argue that these concerns are exaggerated. A dying destination? Possibly.

4. Franklin Mountains

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Photo: Flickr/JaimeLoya

If mountain trail racing is your pleasure, Franklin Mountains, a small range that extends from El Paso into New Mexico, is now home to Trail Racing Over Texas. This mountain range has a peak elevation of 7,192 feet with hiking trails, RV sites, and primitive camping. The rugged desert terrain is perfect for mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. Franklin Mountain State Park leads hikes, bike rides, and arts in the park activities for clubs, scout groups, school groups, or any group of eight or more.

5. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

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Photo: Facebook/EnchantedRockStateNaturalArea

Enchanted Rock State Park features an enormous pink granite dome that attracts thousands of hikers a year to trek 1,800 feet to the summit. Located 17 miles north of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, this batholith offers amazing scenery, rock formations, star gazing, and magical legends. Folklore of local Tonkawa, Apache, and Comanche tribes ascribes magical and spiritual powers to the rock (hence the name Enchanted Rock) and as a holy portal to other worlds. Legend says that anyone spending the night on the rock becomes invisible.

Just beyond the summit, thrill seekers can enjoy a cave on the backside of the dome. If rock climbing is what you’re looking to do, plenty of crags throughout the park feature some of the best rock climbing Texas has to offer.

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Photo: Flickr/LaraEakins

While the Lone Star State may not be as well known for fall foliage as New England, there are ample places to view the colorful magnificence via a number of scenic drives. We are all ready for fall color ‘peak week’…but when is it? It is hard, or impossible, to predict exactly but generally from late September through late November.

Now that we are all ready for fall color peak week–when is it? It is hard, or impossible, to predict exactly but generally from late September through late November.

From the Gulf Coast water with fun beaches to the gorgeous Hill Country with rolling hills to the East Texas swamps and Piney Woods to the flat, desolate West Texas miles—driving across Texas in the fall will make you think you have driven through four different states.