If you look forward to fall each year, then you know it doesn’t get much better than witnessing the changing of the season’s most magnificently colored leaves. Deep red, bright yellow, burnt orange — you can find all these colors and more at a number of the Lone Star State’s state parks.
On the next crisp autumn day, pack up the car, grab some coffee to-go and head to one of these fall paradises. We’re warning you now, though — you might feel like you’ve just stumbled into a storybook.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
The Lost Maples State Natural Area (Vanderpool, TX) is always top-of-the-list for catching Texas’ best fall scenery. Located in the Texas Hill Country, the land is especially rich in Uvalde bigtooth maples, a native tree famous for bright red and yellow leaves come autumn.
The park stretches almost 3,000 acres and includes limestone bluffs, grasslands and woodlands, with over 10 miles of trails to explore. The majority of the maples cluster around the park’s East Trail, and the turning of the leaves commences around late October or early November. Check the park’s fall foliage reports before planning your trip.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located on the far western side of the state is Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Salt Flat, TX), which is also known for putting on an impressive fall show. The landscape here is geographically diverse — you’ll find pockets of the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and the Chihuahuan Desert all in one park, plus the four highest peaks in the state.
Guadalupe Mountains is home to its own population Uvalde bigtooth maples, plus numerous types of oak and ash as well as some desert sumac shrubs. The last may only grow to a modest 15 feet, but they display bright red and orange colors as the seasons change. McKittrick Canyon Trail is best for spotting fall colors, and the prime season typically begins in mid-October and continues to mid-November. See the park’s fall foliage reports to learn more.
Caddo Lake State Park
If you’d rather stick to the eastern side of the state, make sure to head to Caddo Lake State Park (Karnack, TX). There, you’ll be treated to a unique foliage experience. This park consists of a maze of bayous and wetlands, with centuries-old bald cypress trees draped overhead. These trees change from a vibrant green to a russet-red in the fall, treating boaters to a delightfully swampy fall experience.
If you’re looking for more traditional autumn sights, colorful hardwood trees line the area’s hiking trails. You’ll encounter the best colors from late October through November.
Tyler State Park
Tyler State Park (Tyler, TX), which centers around a 64-acre spring-fed lake, also boasts bright foliage come late fall. Thanks to the diversity of trees found at the park — including maples, dogwoods, oaks and sweetgums — you’ll see a wide array of red, orange and yellow hues.
The Lakeshore Trail, an easy two-mile trek along the water, is typically your best bet for taking in the fall colors. The CCC Overlook is accessible from the Lakeshore Trail and is another popular spot for observing the park’s autumn landscape. You can canoe or kayak on the lake if you want an even more immersive fall experience. The season’s best comes late to this park, so plan to stop by around the end of November or early December.