The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is celebrating 100 Years of Texas State Parks this year. The parks provide recreational opportunities for generations of Texans and promote habitat and wildlife preservation.
Texas state parks were established in 1923 when Governor Pat Neff persuaded the legislature to create the State Parks Board. He later regarded this as his most important achievement as governor.
The Centennial Celebration officially kicks off statewide January 1 with First Day Hikes. The state’s 89 parks are offering special events, including ranger-guided walks and hikes. TPWD encourages visitors to share their first-time park experiences on their social media pages.
Regional state parks offering first day hikes, bikes, runs, and even boat trips include Cooper Lake State Park (both South Sulphur Creek and Doctors Creek Units), Lake Tawakoni State Park, Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, Eisenhower State Park, Cedar Hill State Park, Tyler State Park, Caddo Lake State Park, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, Martin Creek Lake State Park, Atlanta State Park, Bonham State Park, Daingerfield State Park, and Purtis Creek State Park.
The TPWD Public Broadcasting (PBS) series features centennial programming throughout the 2023 series, and up-to-date information is available on the new Texas State Parks 100 Years website and Texas State Parks app.
The Centennial is also commemorated with The Art of Texas Parks exhibit at several museums across the state, starting in January at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. The exhibit is a visual arts survey and features 34 parks by some of Texas’ best contemporary artists. Art and parks fans can also see the works in a new book by the same title written by Andrew Sansom and Linda J. Reaves.
One highlight of the year is the soft opening of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, the first state park to open in North Texas in more than 20 years. The project is supported by donations from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and H-E-B, which pledged $1 million in 2022 and offers a range of park and environment-friendly outreach events in 2023.
The 5,000 acre park lies 75 miles west of Fort Worth and features rolling hills with 1,400-foot peaks, a 90-acre lake, two creeks, and a variety of native trees. Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding,. Fundraising for the new park is ongoing. Information is available at www.tpwf.org.
For information about the centennial celebration visit the new website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/100years.