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Park Ratings Guide

In an effort to assist you in trip planning, we rate our featured parks on the basis of certain criteria. The Wild Texas park ratings are meant only as a general guide, and are not intended to discourage visitation of any Texas parks. In our view, every Texas city, state, and national park and historic site is worth a visit on its own merits.

Ratings System Explained

Campsites/Overnight Facilities

Virtually all of the parks featured on Wild Texas offer tent and RV campsites, and many also offer other overnight facilities, such as screened shelters, rental cabins, and group lodges. We include information on all available facilities in our description of each park.

Possible Ratings:

0: Overnight camping is not permitted. No overnight facilities are available.

 * A single type of overnight lodging is available. Example: parks where only tent camping is permitted.

 *  * Two or more types of overnight facilities are available. Example: parks where tent and RV camping are permitted.

 *  *  * Three or more types of overnight facilities are available. Generally, these parks offer a fairly large number of sites. Example: parks where tent and RV campsites and rental cabins are available.

 *  *  *  * Four or more types of overnight facilities are available. These generally are the most developed parks with hundreds of sites. Example: parks where tent and RV campsites, rental cabins, screened shelters, and group lodges are available.

Leashed Pets Permitted?

Since the rules regarding pets vary from park to park, responsible pet owners should be aware of the rules prior to visiting. We have made a reasonable effort to ensure the parks we list as "pet-friendly" do indeed allow pets (if leashed); however, park rules do occasionally change leaving the responsibility squarely on your shoulders. In general, all parks managed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department have the following rules pertaining to pets. Be aware that pets are often not permitted inside rental cabins or screened shelters, or in swimming and beach areas.

Possible Ratings:

NO: Pets are not permitted in the park.

UNK: The park's rules regarding pets are unknown.

YES: Properly leashed pets are permitted in the park.

Picnic Areas/Playgrounds

Families comprise a large portion of park visitors, and two of the key ingredients for a successful family outing are -- a place to eat and a place to let the children play. Most Texas parks offer facilities to meet these needs.

Possible Ratings:

0: No picnic tables or playgrounds are available.

 * The park has a several or more picnic tables, and no playground.

 *  * The park has several or more picnic tables, and a playground.

 *  *  * The park has numerous picnic tables, and no playground.

 *  *  *  * The park has numerous picnic tables, and one or more playgrounds.

Solitude

This is potentially the most subjective of our ratings, although the primary s we base it on are the park's size and average year-round level of visitation. Even the busiest parks can provide solitude if you arrive when they open (8:00 AM for Texas State Parks) and schedule your visit for a weekday or the off-season.

Possible Ratings:

 * Minimal opportunities for solitude exist due to extremely high visitation year-round. This rating is reserved for the most popular parks in the state.

 *  * Moderate visitation year-round and/or a fairly small park area, resulting in limited opportunities for solitude.

 *  *  * Good opportunities for solitude due to lower levels of year-round visitation and/or a larger park area.

 *  *  *  * High potential for solitude due to very low levels of visitation and/or a very large park area.

Trail System

Hikers, walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers, equestrians, and runners all benefit from the presence of established, well-maintained trail systems. Our ratings are based on the total mileage of a each park's trail system.

Possible Ratings:

0: No established trails available. Many of these parks do have paths, sidewalks, or parking lots suitable for walking and bicycling.

 * 5 miles or less. These parks generally often offer several short, non-strenuous nature or birding trails ideal for children and seniors.

 *  * 6 to 10 miles. These parks generally offer one or more designated hiking, mountain biking, and/or equestrian trails, as well as a much shorter nature or birding trail.

 *  *  * 11 to 15 miles. These parks generally offer several designated hiking, mountain biking, and/or equestrian trails, as well as on or more short nature or birding trails.

 *  *  *  * 16 miles or more. These parks generally offer numerous trails of varying lengths and difficulties, as well as trails designated specifically for backpackers, hikers, mountain bikers, and/or equestrians.

Water Recreation

During the unrelenting heat and humidity of Texas summers, parks with easy access to water recreation are especially desirable. Some of the popular water recreation activities are swimming, tubing, rafting, and boating.

Possible Ratings:

0: No water recreation available. While these parks may have water in the form of ponds, streams, rivers, etc., they do not permit access for recreational use other than fishing.

 * Limited water recreation available. These parks tend to offer an in-ground swimming pool or one small, designated swimming area in a natural water source, such as a river. In several cases, water access is granted only to boaters.

 *  * Several types of non-motorized water recreation available. These parks usually offer opportunities for swimming, tubing, canoeing, and/or other water sports in a natural water source. Due to the size and nature of the water sources, these parks do not allow power boats or jet skis.

 *  *  * Several types of water recreation available, including motorized watercraft. These parks generally offer opportunities for swimming, tubing, canoeing, waterskiing, and sailing; power boats and jet skis are generally permitted.

 *  *  *  * These parks provide the gamut of water recreation activities, including swimming, sailing, waterskiing, boating, windsurfing, and SCUBA diving.

Wildlife

Some Texas parks are home to more diverse and abundant wildlife than others. Based on our visits to each of the parks featured on Wild Texas, we have developed a general sense of their wildlife viewing potential.

Possible Ratings:

 * Wildlife viewing opportunities are rare. These parks have relatively few species of wildlife and/or species that are extremely difficult to observe.

 *  * Wildlife viewing opportunities are available, but limited. Generally, large mammals or reptiles are not observed at these parks, while several or more bird species may be sighted.

 *  *  * Good wildlife viewing opportunities are available. Generally, these parks offer the chance to view several or more species of wildlife during most visits to the park, including mammals and/or reptile species as well as birds.

 *  *  *  * These parks are especially noted for their abundant and diverse wildlife. Viewing opportunities are extremely likely during every visit to the park.


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