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Best National Areas Near DFW

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park lies on the border between Texas and Mexico, encompassing half of the Rio Grand River. (credit: Thinkstock.com)

National parks, our country's great nature treasures, may seem spread out and out of reach, but there are a few priceless pieces of U.S. turf located in Texas and neighboring states that are owed a visit. Many of these areas are famous for their scenery, and others for their eye-catching flora and fauna. All are perfect for painting unforgettable pictures and memorable moments.


Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
(432) 477-2251
www.nps.gov/bibeBig Bend National Park, renowned for its mesmerizing views at day and night, easily makes this best of list. It has an endless supply of activities including horseback riding, rafting, scenic drives, ranger-led tours, kayaking and other assorted guided tour options, in addition to breathtaking landscapes. Big Bend National Park is a must for nature lovers and those who appreciate the outdoors and a perfect far West Texas escape from cities, traffic and crowds.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
400 Pine Canyon Drive
Salt Flat, TX 79847
(915) 828-3251
www.nps.gov/gumoNestled in the peaks of the Guadalupe Mountains in west Texas lies Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Scattered historical and outdoor treasures include Frijole Ranch, McKittrick Canyon, Dog Canyon, Williams Ranch and the infamous Salt Basin Dunes. Near the Butterfield Overland Trail, this park has a variety of views that inspire all that make the journey to take them in. Guadalupe Mountains National Park even has special programming and an artist-in-residence program for those who wish to apply the area's beauty to a canvas, poem or musical piece.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Rio Hondo, TX 78583
www.stateparks.com/laguna_atascosa_national_wildlife_refuge_in_texas.htmlLocated in the lower Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, this 45,187-acre protected wilderness is a utopia for the area's resident birds, and one of the few areas where one can witness the desert, subtropical and coastal habitats at once, combining a variety of wildlife and plant life rarely seen coexisting outside of this region. Dotted with trails and even an alligator pond, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful option for biking, hiking and bird watching too.

Related: Explore The Best Campgrounds In America's National Parks

Big Thicket Preserve
6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625
(409) 951-6700
www.nps.gov/bithThis green wonderland is worth preserving. Big Thicket Preserve is an ideal location for camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking and breathing clean, fresh air. On both the list of International Biosphere Preserves and Globally Important Bird Areas, East Texas' Big Thicket Preserve is one of the greenest places in the state, within its boundaries containing at least 10 distinct ecosystems. Instead of mountains, it is the region's immense collection of wildlife that draws visitors and leaves them in awe.
Hot Springs National Park
101 Reserve St.
Hot Springs, AR 71901
(501) 620-6715
www.nps.gov/hospJust a few hours northeast of the DFW metroplex is Hot Springs National Park, in conjunction with the historic town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. With its colorful foliage and amazing natural views, this park has another unique feature, hot thermal waters known for their curative qualities dating as far back as when the area was first populated. Its legacy continued and thrived through new colonization and into today's most recognized natural bathing spots. Here one can explore the Fordyce Bathhouse and Historic Bath Row, and even take a thermal bath oneself!

Related: Under The Radar National Parks

Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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