Lake Mineral Wells, built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corp, is a Texas Outside favorite because of the variety of things that it offers to the campers. It has very spacious and pretty sites set among the mesquite trees and the staff works very hard to keep the park clean, in good repair, and to provide the visitor with a good experience. The Lake Mineral Wells State Park is centered around a 646-acre lake (no speed limit but no personal water craft or skiing) and there are a few sites that are right on the water (#60 and #64 are the best).
Kids (and us kids at heart) will love this park - it has fun bike trails through the woods and in and around the campsites; cliffs, rocks, crevices, and boulders that are excellent for climbing and scrambling around; and the park offers a number of kid services (visit their website for a calendar of events). The kids will enjoy swimming or fishing in the lake for bass, crappie, and catfish. A small concession in a cool building build by the Civilian Conservation Corp rents canoes, paddleboats, and small trolling engines. Lake Mineral Wells offers other programs including: Kid's Wilderness Survival, Guided Trail Walks, Wildflower Walks and other nature programs - check their website for schedules. This is one park that really goes out of their way to please the entire family.
Horse enthusiasts will find some nice sites and excellent trails (Cross Timers Back Country Trail) for conditioning or for green horses or riders.
Check out Lone Star Amphitheater, which is a neat amphitheater that offers a venue for a variety of natural and cultural interpretive programs, which includes Cowboy History through Music and Poetry, Astronomy programs, Storytelling, Ranger Talks and other programs.
There are 77 campsites with water and electricity (13 are premium sites) in 4 different camping areas. One of the areas with 20 sites with water and a horse tether is for equestrian camping only. You can hike 2.5 miles to a primitive camping area with 20 sites or stay in one of the 15-screened shelters (#3 and #10 have great views of the lake). A small concession offers some microwave food, limited groceries and ice, and canoes, paddle boats, and trolling engines for rent. The sandy beach is excellent for sunbathing or swimming. The concession area also has a 2-lane boat ramp and a nice lighted fishing pier - there are 4 more piers around the lake. The fishing for catfish, crappie, perch, and black bass is fair.
There is a group dinning area with a kitchen for day use.
Start the day by trying the Cross Timber Back Country Trail with your bike, horse, or just walk it - Texas Outside gave it 2.5 stars because it is relatively boring except for the last loop which is prettier and offers more variety. A better but shorter hike/bike trail runs along the lake by the campgrounds.
After lunch head over (hike, bike, or drive) to Penitentiary Hollow and climb the cliffs and boulders - plan on spending a minimum of a couple hours here hiking, climbing, and watching the climbers and rapplers. If you're lucky, some of the professionals will let you climb or rappel. The entire family should enjoy Penitentiary Hollow.
Hike the Lake Front Trail if you have time.
On the way back to the campsite, stop at the nice sandy beach, catch some rays, and cool off in the lake.
Take in the show at the amphitheater in the evening.
If you are a golfer, Holiday Hills Country Club is 2 miles from the park - we haven't played it but it doesn't look that exciting from the road. One of Texas Outside Favorites is The Cliffs Resort (link to TO Review) that is only 30 miles away and well worth the trip for some very scenic and challenging 18 holes of golf.
Possum Kingdom Lake, which is also about 30 miles west, is a beautiful lake for skiing/boarding or anchoring in Hells Gate cove. At the Cliffs Resort Marina (940 779-4530) you can rent a deck boat or pontoon boat to explore Possum Kingdom Lake.
Mineral Wells became nationally famous in the late 19th century with the discovery of the medicinal qualities in the local water. It was thought that the water could cure mental illness and a long list of other ailments. Visit: the Famous Mineral Water Company which is the only company still selling the historic healing waters); the VF Outlet Mall; or Clark Gardens.
Mineral Wells has a couple ok restaurants (Pulida's Mexican restaurant has good Chili Colorado). Stop by and view the Baker Hotel that closed years ago and was notorious in its heyday in the early 20th century. It was home to the Judy Garland suite and her estate is still paying taxes on the suite.
Visit the National Guard Training facility and see where WWII and Vietnam soldiers trained. If you see a very nice private jet taking off or landing in Mineral Wells, it is most likely Alice Walton of Wal Mart going to her nearby ranch.
You can rent canoes at Canoe the Brazos.
If you're not camping and want to visit the park you can stay at the Mineral Wells Ramada or Best Western.
Weatherford is only 16 miles away and has a few antique shops and other tourist activities like Chandor Gardens.
Texas Outside uses a tough rating scale and it’s difficult for a campground to get a “10”. Each park is rated on: