"The stars at night, are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas '' - and the the popular American song right. Texas is a state blessed with a huge amount and diversity of outdoors areas and the best way to enjoy the outdoors and the stars is by visiting and at a Texas State Park. The 95 Texas State parks cover every region in Texas from El Paso to Texarkana and Amarillo to South Padre Island and everywhere in between. Which means that there is probably a Texas State Park within an hour of where you live - use this Texas State Parks Map to quickly find a park near you. To lean more about the park read Texas Outside's State Park Reviews and Ratings. Check out Texas Outside's Favorite Texas State Parks.
This means is that anyone looking to reconnect with the wild can do it in Texas, whether that's in the desert around Big Bend, the east Texas piney woods, at one many lakes, in the Franklin Mountains, at the beach, or close to a major city to explore. Bedding down and experiencing life under the stars is something everyone should try at least once, and done properly, it will become a treasured memory or even a regular past-time.
And speaking of the stars (not the Hollywood type!), Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has partnered with the McDonald Observatory, the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), and local astronomy groups to promote stargazing in Texas State Parks. Several State Parks have Stargazing Events for you to learn about and enjoy a sky full of beautiful stars.
Best Texas State Parks With Dark Skys
|State Park||Bortle Class||Comments|
|Big Bend National Park||
|Home to some of the darkest skies in the US|
|Climb the rock and stay for one of the Rock's star parties|
|One of the first certified IDA Dark Sky Parks|
|South Llano River||
|Float the river then enjoy the stars - a IDA Dark Sky Park|
|Big Bend Ranch||
|Some of the darkest skies in the US|
|A IDA Dark Sky Sanctuary but camping requires lots of planning|
Bortle Class is a nine level scale to measure the quality of dark skies - class one is the darkest and nine is the most light polluted
Many campers will enjoy the freedom and minimalist feel of little more than a tent. Of course, for many others a little more comfort is enjoyed – and that’s fine too, the important thing is to get out! Enjoying the camping and star gazing experience is about personal preference. For those looking for more comfort, an RV or travel trailer, or staying in a cozy cabin at one of the State Parks might be the ideal option. If you don't own an RV or travel trailer you should consider renting one for a weekend - be aware, it may become addictive. Many will give you the option of experiencing the great outdoors, and by exploring different mattress reviews you can ensure that your sleeping arrangements provide the maximum possible comfort – while still feeling the wildness of the place.
What you consider wilderness might differ from the next person. Big Thicket offers unique forested areas, but what about the literal open sky? For true isolation, USA Today notes that the Chihuahuan desert around Big Bend offers absolute arid temperatures and a real taste of desert wilderness and some of the best dark skies in Texas. Conversely, the Rio Grande Valley has arid areas but also nature and wildlife to add to that, with fishing possible in many of its areas. The Texas Hill Country can give you a taste of the in between plus lots of rivers and lakes to enjoy.
You can enhance your camping and sleeping under the stars experience further by getting in touch with old school Texan roots. Hunting, fishing, kayaking and tubing are all honored past-times that have a distinct connection with nature. Several of the state’s lakes including Sam Rayburn and Tawakoni offer a great opportunity to get involved while also having the wild feel to them where you can camp out, or use your mobile home, to enjoy the great outdoors.
Texas is also a good place in which to experience spirituality. Even for those without religion, the liberating feel of the great outdoors pairs really well with a spiritual side. Enchanted Rock, near Fredericksburg, has a long history with Native Americans, and has even been blamed for one woman’s bad fortune. Whether or not you believe the legends surrounding the area, it presents an excellent opportunity for any outdoors-person to get back in touch with their spiritual side and enjoy their time in the wild.
Texas is as much about shining urban centers and oil drilling as it is with stargazing and the great outdoors. The sheer size of the state plays host to a wide range of wonderful places to experience. Doing it under the stars is perhaps the best way about it.