Good news, Texas, your backyard is getting a little bigger. Over the course of the next 12 to 15 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department plans to open 6 new state parks, including two state parks in the Houston area.
“There is a need to provide more recreational opportunities for the growing population of Texas — we really don’t have enough places for the people of Texas to enjoy the outdoors,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks.
“Until the recent passage of Proposition 5, we haven’t had the funds to develop some of the properties we have in our inventory. Now, given the stability of the sporting goods sales tax, it’s time to strategically plan how we’re going to provide that opportunity using these properties.”
Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area
Where: 45 miles northwest of San Antonio
Acquired back in 2011, the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area features over 3,700 acres of Hill Country terrain spanning scenic hills, canyons, and woodlands populated various native plants and wildife. Furthermore, the park gives visitors the opportunity to traverse miles of hiking and biking trails, visit cabins, backpacking sites, screened shelters, as well as their nature center and outdoor pavilion.
The state park is still in its design phase; officials plan to open the park in the next five years.
Chinati Mountains State Natural Area
Where: Near Big Bend Ranch State Park in the Chinati Mountains range
Located between remote higher-elevation grass-oak communities and Chihuahuan Desert lowlands near Big Bend, the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area in West Texas features 40,000 acres of diverse wildlife and habitats. Not unlike the experience of Big Bend, the area will make for prime stargazing, backpacking, hiking, and camping. Officials have yet to announce an official opening date.
Davis Hill State Natural Area
Where: 40 miles from Downtown, Houston
The closest of the parks to the area, the Davis Hill State Natural Area spans the Texas coastal plain down along the Trinity River. IT boats “one of the most diverse plant communities” in the Texas State Parks system. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is presently in the process of acquiring the land.
Devils River State Natural Area
Where: Near Del Rio
Located at the intersection of the Chihuahuan Desert, Edwards Plateau, and Tamaulipan shrublands, along the eponymous Devils River, the natural park of deep canyons populated with old-growth junipers, pecans, and oak trees. Of the local wildlife, songbirds, black bears, jackrabbits, and deer, among other species all take up their habitat here.
“The limestone cliffs and bluffs put on a daily show, gleaming with each sunrise and sunset,” says complex superintendent of Devils River State Natural Area, Asa Vermeulen. “I can’t help but stand in awe constantly.”
Construction of the park has already begun, with a slated opening date early this year.
Where: 75 miles west of Fort Worth
Strawn is a small Texas town located around 75 miles west of Fort Worth. Here, a rather large – vast crop of land measuring about 5,000 acres – will be converted into the first new North Texas state park in 25 years.
The park is slated open in the second half of 2023. Once open, visitors will be able to explore undulate hills, 1,400-foot-high peaks, as well as 16 – 18 miles of hiking, biking, and horse riding trails, four camp grounds – primitive and RV – and an equestrian center.
Powderhorn State Park
Where: Located northwest of Port O’Connor on Matagorda Bay
Located just two hours outside of Houston, Powderhorn State Park will comprise of over 2,500 acres of wetlands, prairies, and coastal woodlands northwest of Port O’Connor along the Texas coast. While no timeline is yet in place for the coming state park, Powderhorn will feature ample opportunit for fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking, and birding.
“This property holds immense conservation, recreation and ecological value due to the unspoiled coastal prairie and wetlands,” says Reagan Faught, regional director for Texas State Parks. “We are extremely honored to steward such a magnificent property and plan for its future development as a state park.”