Texas: Exploring the Lone Star State

Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ranked second to Alaska as the largest American state, Texas shares its borders with Mexico from where imposing mountains, deep canyons, dense forest areas, low-lying plains, rolling hills, and beautiful beaches can be seen, making the "Lone Star State" yet another excellent spot where RV-aided exploration and discovery can conveniently begin.

The Seven Regions of Texas

The "Lone Star State" is roughly divided into seven distinct regions, each one carrying features that should be highly interesting to most RVers. These include the Panhandle Plains Region, the Big Bend Region, the Hill Country Region, the Prairies and Lakes Region, the Piney Woods Region, the South Texas Plains Region, and the Gulf Coast Region.

The Panhandle Plains Region

Bordered on its northern edge by Oklahoma and on the south by San Angelo, the Panhandle Plains Region of Texas is enormously vast, to say the least. Composed mainly of open-air areas variously occupied by fertile farmlands, natural canyons, and scenic lakes, the region is a natural magnet for RVers who simply love the outdoors.

Numerous distinct cities adorn this region but for the most part, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, San Angelo, and Abilene are the ones that RV-boarded travelers should take note of. These regional cities are relatively large and host several RV parks, with many of them having access to the more popular regional attractions. For example, Amarillo has about three RV parks under its fold, and one of them, Amarillo Ranch RV Park, is within walking distance of two popular tourist destinations that the whole family can enjoy. Specifically, two amusement parks namely Firewater Water Park and Wonderlandpark, can both be easily reached via Amarillo Ranch RV Park on foot. The latter, operating since 1951, features exciting rides, fun-filled arcade games, and various food booths. The former, meanwhile, is a water park of relatively newer vintage having started operations in mid-2000. It features numerous and thrilling water rides, including a wave pool that measures 11,000 square-foot long.

Outdoor lovers need not feel out of place when settling in the RV at Amarillo Ranch RV Park. This is because the campground also happens to be in great proximity to Palo Duro Canyon, considered by many as Texas' version of the world-famous Grand Canyon. There are many nature trails in this particular area, suitable for both hikers and mountain bikers. Camping is likewise possible here, since the canyon is housed under the Palo Duro Canyon State Park where several RV sites have been set up.

The Big Bend Region

The region, lying on the western corner of Texas, is populated, not by humans, but by valleys, mountains and desert lands that stretch for seemingly endless miles. This should augur well for most RV-boarded visitors since the regional terrain opens up opportunities for outdoor recreation, particularly with the presence of four imposing peaks, including Davis, Chisos, Delaware Sierra Vieja, and Dierra Diablo Mountains.

Adding more diversity is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which houses the highest mountain in Texas, the Guadalupe Peak. Here, beyond the barren desert exterior, RVers can get to discover a hidden forest area rich with diverse species of trees like maples, madrones, ponderosas, and aspens.

Hiking is, by far, the most common activity within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park with the trails covering an area as long as 80 miles. Along the way, one can engage in wildlife observation since the area plays host to many elks and deer. Alternatively, one can opt to bring in the RV and get to park it at nearby Pine Springs Campground from where more regional explorations can be undertaken, including a view of the Pinery Stage ruins.

The Hill Country Region

Rolling hills are quite obviously the dominant feature of this region set in the central area of Texas. Settled between these verdant hills are several rumbling rivers and lonely lakes where RVers can either dive into or let the line catch a fish or two.

One very important city lies within the Hill Country Region boasting of several tourist wonders that RV-boarded travelers will find to be truly worth exploring. The city is Austin, the official state capital and host of many historic Texas landmarks, including the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum, the University of Texas, and the State Capitol building with its domed roof that is completely made of granite.

For outdoor recreation, Austin offers Zilker Park with its unique swimming pool whose waters emanate from Barton Springs and its resident botanical garden filled with trees, shrubs, and exotic flowers. There is also the Emma Long Metropolitan Park where RVers can either take on the challenge posed by the resident biking paths or enjoy the waters of nearby Lake Austin where swimmers and anglers are welcome.

Zilker Park, along with the other above-named Austin attractions, can all be accessed via one RV park, Austin Lone Star RV Resort, a campground that operates all year through. RVers thus should not have too much problems when seeking out the said regional attractions at any given time.

The Prairies and Lakes Region

Surprisingly, the prairies of this region is not its most prominent feature anymore as these have been replaced by several state parks, numerous museums, and public recreational areas. The lakes, though, are still there, offering visiting RVers lots of water-based activities that are worth engaging in.

While Dallas, San Antonio, and even Forth Worth are the more prominent cities here and definitely worth seeing aboard an RV, a third city should prove to be more suitable for exploration. The city is none other than Waco which rose to national prominence in 1993 courtesy of David Koresh and his Branch Davidian cult. RVers, however, need not worry about religious fanaticism in the city and just enjoy its many lakes, the reason for the area being named the Prairies and Lakes Region.

The regional lakes are generally navigable and offer various water-based recreational activities like fishing and boating. The more prominent of these are Lake Brazos and Stillhouse Hollow Lake, both of which feature picnic areas and camping sites. RV-boarded travelers, however, can opt to visit and explore Lake Waco, the biggest Texas lake set entirely inside one city, which can be easily accessed via Quail Crossing RV Park.

The Piney Woods Region

So named because of the many pine trees that practically cover the entire region, the Piney Woods district is further highlighted by four national wilderness areas apart from five other public forests, all of them engulfed in rows of pine trees that stretch for at least a thousand acres. For many RV-boarded tourists, these are the ideal places to experience pure outdoor fun.

With the region being largely forested, there is unquestionably a wealth of outdoor opportunities here that RV riders can earnestly explore. Among these is the Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze City. An area covering about 97,000 acres, the Big Thicket is considered a vast biological wonderland with its diverse residents of wildflowers and wildlife, including 85 different trees, 60 shrubs, 20 orchids, over 1,000 flowering plants, 186 diverse birds, and 50 different reptiles.

Needless to say, countless outdoor activities can be enjoyed at the Big Thicket, with some of them best undertaken during specific periods. RVers who prefer hiking, though, should get to appreciate the area better since the sport is available all year through. Fishing and boating, meanwhile, is best from April up to October, with hunting following suit from October up to the middle of January.

Getting to see the Big Thicket National Preserve ought to be generally easy since access points are provided by five different regional cities, namely, Saratoga, Silsbee, Kountze, Kirbyville, and Jasper. The latter, however, should be most suitable for many RVers since it hosts one RV park, Double Heart Ranch and RV Park, which, aside from Big Thicket, also boasts of being near several other regional attractions like the Angelina National Forest, Lake Sam Rayburn, Sandy Creek, and Boykin Springs.

The South Texas Plains Region

Flat terrains cover a significantly large portion of this region, but what will most likely draw RVers to its fold are its many public parks led by the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Situated near Mission City, the 600-acre wide park plays host to the world-renowned Rio Grande River Valley where opportunities for nature study and bird-watching abound. There are also newly-designed nature trails found in these parts, the conquest of which should set the stage for picnicking activities which also happen to be quite popular here. The river, meanwhile, offers various water sports but for anglers, fresh and saltwater fishing are definitely the only acceptable activities.

Additionally, the state park has several camping sites in its midst although these are rather primitive. An excellent alternative is to head off to Mission Bell RV Resort nestled just minutes away from the Rio Grande Valley State Park. Two other attractions found near the RV campground include the World Birding Center Headquarters and the Outdoor Butterfly Park, wildlife sanctuaries situated a mere ten minutes away.

The Gulf Coast Region

The gulf coast being referred to here is none other than the famed Gulf of Mexico, an area where countless water-based undertakings literally await visiting RVers. Its coastline, as viewed from the southern end of Texas, stretches for over 624 miles, affording beach lovers an extended but relaxing stroll. The waters, meanwhile, are pleasantly warm and absolutely perfect for swimming, sailing, surfing, even fishing.

Yet, there is more to the region than just the famous gulf. Numerous wildlife refuges are abundant here as well, providing RVers the privilege of watching endangered species like the whooping crane swiftly move in for a kill or catch groups of hummingbirds gently flying by for their annual migration. Two bird sanctuaries namely the Los Ebanos Nature Preserve and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, offer just that and RV-boarded tourists will definitely have a breath-taking time watching these fine-feathered skywalkers moving about nonchalantly.

Houston, the biggest of all Texas cities, is found here and is most definitely another great regional attraction. Its range of features, from amusement parks to the NASA Space Center, is simply too hard to pass up on as they provide excellent alternatives to the usual attractions that RVers often encounter in other places.

For RV-boarded travelers interested in visiting Houston, finding an RV park is not really hard as the city has at least five campgrounds nestled in its midst. One such RV park, Lake View RV Resort, is quite close to the metropolitan district of Houston where access to shopping centers and restaurants is absolutely convenient. Additionally, the campground is also near several popular city attractions like the NASA Space Center, the Children's Museum, the Minute Maid Park, and the Texas Medical Center, among others.

A Look into Texas Cities

For a relatively huge state, majority of the cities found in Texas are surprisingly well-known which only shows the immense resources that this particular American state possesses. Magnanimously, the "Lone Star State" has generously shared these resources among its many cities, and RV-boarded travelers will find that apart from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, a few other Texas cities are just as fabulous as the more prominent ones.


A city nestled in the extreme southern part of Texas, Brownsville was established in 1846 with Fort Brown as its central feature being the chief guardian of the city because beyond its shores, the Republic of Mexico beckons. The latter may present itself as a gorgeous place filled with many exotic wonders, but Brownsville is just as gorgeous with its semi-tropical setting highlighted by charming palm trees, lovely bougainvilleas, and refreshing breezes, providing the perfect backdrop for engaging in such outdoor activities as fishing, swimming, surfing, sunbathing, or simply beach watching. Of particular interest here for many RV-boarded travelers is Boca Chica Beach, a seven-mile stretch of pristine sand from where the US-Mexico border can be clearly seen.

Bird watching is another popular outdoor activity in Brownsville with over 500 different bird species known to either reside or drop by its many bird sanctuaries and wilderness areas. During the winter, RVers will be awed by the number of Northern species flying by the area for their scheduled migration. Meanwhile, for a more extensive view of wild animals, RVers can try visiting Gladys Porter Zoo where over 1,500 wildlife are housed under one roof. The zoo, found in central Brownsville, is considered as the top tourist attraction of the city.

An RV-boarded trip to Brownsville will not be complete without shopping around for a suitable RV park. This should not pose any major problem to a visiting RVer since there are actually two RV campgrounds to choose from and both of them just happen to be situated near the more prominent city attractions. Both Paul's RV Park and Breeze Lake Campground are near Gladys Porter Zoo, Mexico City, and several golf courses. The latter, however, should ideally be the more preferred campground since it offers quick access to several other Brownsville attractions like the Sabal Palm Grove, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge and Laguna Atascosa, the Citrus Orchards, and the Brownsville Medical Center aside from being a good campground to seek shelter in even during winter.

Corpus Christi

Discovered in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda on the feast day of an important Roman Catholic event, Corpus Christi started out as a semi-tropical beach area found on the southern tip of the Texas Coast. The city that consequently evolved from the area eventually took on the name Corpus Christi, literally translated as the "Body of Christ".

These days, Corpus Christi is among the prime tourist destinations in Texas with the famous Corpus Christi Beach enticing all ocean lovers from all across the globe. Yet, its waters are not the only attraction of the beach because nearby, RV-boarded tourists will find the docking area of the historic American warship USS Lexington.

State parks, museums, amusement centers, wildlife refuges, and historic landmarks are all accounted for at Corpus Christi. However, being a coastal city, the beaches still present themselves as the ultimate destination for Corpus Christi-bound RVers.

An RV park set near the beaches of Corpus Christi is hardly a problem since there are many of them. One particular campground, though, should be most ideal for many RVers for its proximity to a prominent city bay. Laguna Shore Village RV Park is nestled near Laguna Madre, a popular Corpus Christi bay where several outdoor interests can be pursued. Its sparkling waters is teeming with various fishes, speckled trouts and redfish being the more common, setting the stage for excellent fishing ventures.

Apart from anglers, sailors sailboarders, and windsurfers are the other more popular personages that one can see in Laguna Madre. Additionally, another well-known fishing area, North Padre Island, can be reached within ten minutes for RVers coming from Laguna Shores Village RV Park.

Big Bend National Park

This Texas state park is quite large, covering all of 801,163 acres and composed of several attractions of varied types, making it a highly-suitable area for RV exploration. One end is occupied by the Rio Grande where rugged canyons and heavily-forested plains naturally bring out the hiking and mountain climbing spirit from among RV-boarded travelers. Another end is engulfed in pure arid lands, highlighted by the Chihuahuan Desert, where sand dunes and wildlife like skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and gray foxes offer exciting but guarded observation.

The nature trails found at Big Bend National Park are particularly challenging since they cover over 200 miles, with the terrains ranging from easy short walks to long and exhausting paths. RVers who find pleasure in walking will definitely appreciate these trails although the paved roads of about a hundred miles and the 170-mile long dirt roads can be just as exciting.

For RVers planning on staying long here, primitive campsites are available although the RV can be settled in at one of several trailer parks of the National Park Service Campgrounds found at the nearby Chisos Mountains Basin. Alternatively, about 58 motel-like rooms can be availed of here for a more suitable overnight stay.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Situated in Arlington City, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is affiliated with the Six Flags water park complex whose branches have quickly sprung up in several American states, providing people with thrilling rides, exciting shows, fun-filled events, and great opportunities for family bonding. Another Six Flags theme park is found in San Antonio, referred to naturally as Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

As with its affiliates, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is essentially a theme park engulfed in over a million water gallons randomly dispersed in hundreds of different rides. Some of the more popular ones are Blue Raider which involves a trip down a dark and flooded tunnel with unexpected turns and twists scattered in various spots, and the Surf Lagoon, a simple leisure drive along the waters of the resident park river as it travels around the complex.

For the children, Hooks Lagoon should prove to be highly interesting. A typical treehouse standing five-stories tall, it features a kiddie slide and 150 other water-based attractions designed to keep little children preoccupied for extended periods.

RV-boarded families looking for fun and clean entertainment will definitely find Six Flags Hurricane Harbor most satisfactory. Taking care of the RV can easily be left to Treetops RV Village, conveniently located near the famed water park and several other Texas attractions like Six Flags Over Texas, Ameriquest Field, and the River Legacy Science Center.

A Visit to the "Lone Star State"

Being fairly large, Texas experiences varied weather conditions depending on the region. Generally, though, summer is usually hot and dry while winter is pleasantly mild to fairly cool.

Western Texas is considered the driest place in the "Lone Star State" as rains hardly fall in these parts, resulting in very high humidity levels. Its opposite end, Eastern Texas, likewise experiences hot and dry weather with summer temperatures often reaching a high 100 degrees. This can lead to dangerously high humidity levels and RV-boarded travelers need to take precautions when traveling to Eastern Texas during this time, particularly between the months of July and August. Winter travel to these parts, meanwhile, is rather pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 32 degrees.

The southern coast of Texas, being near the waters, is a good place to see during summer. However, for a really excellent Texas visit, RV-boarded travelers should come in during spring and autumn. The climate is typically mild during these periods and a great time to explore the top tourist destinations in Texas, particularly Houston and Austin.

Mitchell Resort and RV Park

In little-known Perrin town lies this RV park that boasts of 150 RV sites sitting upon 175 acres of grassy land. On this lot, Mitchell Resort and RV Park holds many year-long activities that should entice RVers to visit them at any given time. Among these activities, highly anticipated is the Mardi Gras Parade held on Bourbon Street with an accompanying shrimp festival. The event, held every March, is similar to many Mardi Gras celebrations held elsewhere in the US but given a slight twist.

Meanwhile, during spring, the Cloud Buster Kite Fest is likewise an eagerly-awaited event as kite lovers get to display their artistry. However, what has to be the biggest event in the campground is the Bluegrass Festival held at least three times each year coinciding with the changing of the seasons.

Apart from campground events, other attractions here include the resident lakes and the lovely golf courses. The lakes are good grounds for engaging in seasonal fishing while the golf courses feature a nine-hole three-par setting. Additionally, a convenience store is set nearby for any kind of camping needs while a nearby laundry area and a resident dump station should take care of dirty linens and RV waste materials respectively.

Circle T RV Park

Mission-based Circle T RV Park is unique in that it has two sister parks that by themselves offer good camping features. Still, Circle T itself is not actually wanting in attractions and RV-boarded travelers checking in at this RV campground will easily find its amenities typically sufficient but nevertheless modern.

Accessibility-wise, Circle T is quite easy to find since its host city, Mission, can be reached from practically all points of Texas, including nearby Mexico and Canada. The city, a typical small-town area, has a natural charm that is truly irresistible but at the same time able to provide most modern accommodations.

When it comes to nearby attractions, the campground has lots of them, with two major cities reachable within an hour or so. In about ten minutes, an RV rider can get to explore Reynosa whose marketplace is literally crawling with bargain items, including silver jewelries, top-of-the-line clothing, and genuine Mexican artifacts.

Meanwhile, driving for about an hour, RVers should expect to get to South Padre Island, a beachfront city where various water-based activities abound. An alternative, though, is to visit the Port Isabel lighthouse with its tower offering a majestic view of the island and nearby Laguna Madre.

After a hectic two-city tour, one can conveniently return to Circle T and enjoy a refreshing dip in its resident pool with its invigorating heated waters. For even more relaxation, the resident spa is waiting nearby. Indeed, Circle T is a unique RV park that should make Texas exploration truly unforgettable.
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