Take one summer break, a dash of ATPE’s travel discounts, one or two Texas state parks, and you’ve got one great vacation in the making!
As an ATPE member, you have direct access to exclusive member discount programs. Often, members can more than recoup their dues by using our services and discounts. Why not plan a road trip? With your ATPE discounts, you’ll find traveling even easier. Take advantage of your auto rental discounts. If you take your own car, don’t forget that members get a first-year discount on AAA roadside assistance. Figuring out where you’ll stay is effortless with ATPE’s lodging discounts. And now, ATPE members have even more deals, discounts, and brands to choose from with the new BenefitHub. This new marketplace has a category dedicated solely to travel.
New some destination ideas? Check out these five lesser known Texas state parks
Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool
Its beauty is in its name: maple trees. While Lost Maples State Natural Area hits its stunning peak in autumn with its fall foliage, the park is worth a visit year-round. From the scenic Sabinal River to acres of wildflowers and steep canyon walls, Lost Maples offers hikes, fishing, bird-watching, camping, and stargazing galore. The park protects a unique species of Uvalde bigtooth maples, and its more than 10 miles of trails gives you plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself in the branches. And don’t miss the trail loop that takes you along a 2,200-foot cliff!
Goose Island State Park, Rockport
First on the must-do list for Goose Island State Park is paying your respects to the Big Tree, a centuries-old oak tree standing at 44 feet with a 35-foot circumference. While much of the park and the town of Rockport were damaged by Hurricane Harvey, the resilient Big Tree only lost a few limbs. Certain areas of the park remain closed, but visitors can still enjoy attractions such as a .66-mile hike through prime bird country—more than 300 species of birds have been spotted at the park—and a stroll down to where St. Charles and Aransas Bays meet to enjoy the Gulf breeze. And fishing, camping, geocaching, and boating are all on the (picnic) table.
Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, El Paso
The fragile, sacred nature of these rock hills and their natural rock basins (or huecos, hence the name) have seen visitors for thousands of years. The ancient imagery, known as pictographs and petroglyphs, left by the first trekkers connects today’s visitors to at least three cultures spanning more than 1,500 years. Due to the fragile state of the park’s attractions, only 70 people can enter the self-guided area at a time. Guided tours are available, though, and highly recommended. Like many Texas parks, Hueco Tanks is a great location for birdwatching, but unlike many of the other parks, this one provides top-notch rock-climbing opportunities.
Copper Breaks State Park, Quanah
One of the more remote state parks, Copper Breaks’s seclusion makes is all the more tranquil and breathtaking. Named for the gray-green streaks of copper painted among the canyons and arroyos, Copper Breaks boasts a 13-acre pond; a lake; gullies, mesas, and juniper break; and a wide assortment of Texas wildlife—all woven into one landscape. Plus, the park’s 10 miles of trails are perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Additionally, Copper Breaks holds the International Dark Sky Park designation and hosts stargazing programs throughout the year. Need another reason to go? The park is a mere few hours from three other state parks (Caprock Canyons, Palo Duro Canyon, and Lake Arrowhead).
Daingerfield State Park, Daingerfield
Who says trees in Texas don’t change color during the fall? Daingerfield State Park would like a word. Described as a “cathedral of trees,” this park’s congregation of pines, oaks, dogwoods, and maples thrive around the 80-acre Little Pine Lake. Visitors can stroll the 2.4-mile Rustling Leaves Trail, aptly named and which loops around the lake, or kick it up a notch by ambling up the 1.2-mile Mount View Trail, which leads to the highest point in the park. Camping, renting one of the historic cabins, swimming, fishing, and boating rentals are all available. Daingerfield is a can’t-miss attraction of Texas’s Pineywoods.
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