Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Fall Foliage in Texas
- Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Hill Country
- Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country
- Daingerfield State Park, East Texas
- Tyler State Park, East of Dallas
- Lake Bob Sandlin State Park in East Texas
- Huntsville State Park, north of Houston
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas
- Big Bend National Park in West Texas
- Texas Foliage Peak Dates for 2021
- Texas State Fair
- Friday Night Lights
Now’s the time to plan a getaway to see the natural beauty of fall in Texas. For leaf peeping the best place for fall color is found at the state and national parks around Texas. Also find lots of other fun fall things in Texas, like a pumpkin patch, or visit an arboretum for fanciful gourd houses. A tailgating party for the big game is a must for others. For would-be ghost hunters, maybe a stay in a haunted hotel is an ideal way to enjoy fall. Here are the best ways to celebrate the fall in Texas.
Fall Foliage in Texas
As a Texas native, I yearn for fall color, especially after the first cold front that makes it feel like fall. Though Texas fall is different, we just don’t grow the same trees, like the Quaking Aspen and the Sugar Maples, that make leaf peepers swoon. The fall color season is shortened and later, usually peaking in mid-November. It is affected by the summer weather and if it was dry and exceptionally hot, the trees might drop their leaves without a final blaze of color. Thanks to a wetter and cooler summer, 2021 is on track to be one of the best in years. Here’s where to go for a dose of fall color in Texas.
Top State Parks for Fall Color in Texas
For the best places to see fall color in Texas, head to a state park for a camping trip or daytime hike. Several are known for their autumn show. The top areas are the Texas Hill Country and east of Dallas in North Texas.
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Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Hill Country
This is the TOP destination for fall foliage in Texas. Lost Maples State Natural Area opened to the public in 1979. Located on the pristine waters of the Sabinal River, it’s a smaller state park with just over 2,100 acres. Find limestone outcroppings over the Sabinal River that reflect the trees. The Uvalde bigtooth maple trees pop with the best colors, though sycamores, bald cypress and several varieties of oak add to the show.
Find 10 miles of hiking. I recommend the Maple Trail, a .8-mile roundtrip hike. It’s great for kids but not strollers since it’s rocky and has a few stairs. The developed campground features 28 campsites with electricity and water and some primitive sites. The campground has showers and flushing toilets, though no cabins.
Lost Maples State Natural Area is 86 miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas, or 5 miles north of Vanderpool, at 37221 F.M. 187. Adult admission is $6 (12+) and kids 12 and under are free.
TravelingMom Tip: Check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Fall Foliage Report here.
Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country
Next to the pristine Frio River, Garner State Park is a long time favorite for Texas leaf peepers. It’s actually the most popular state park in Texas and you’ll find lots to do. It also is top park for Texas fall foliage, like the bald cypress trees.
Dedicated in 1941, Garner State Park was named after Jack Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the Vice-President of the United States from 1933-1941. Much of the park was developed in the Great Depression as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project.
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It features 1,774 acres to explore and 2.9 miles of the Frio River. The activities include miniature golf, hiking up Old Baldy or floating along the Frio River in a paddleboat or kayak (available for rent at the park from spring to fall). Find a playground, a concession building with a grill and a sundry store.
Garner State Park offers over 340 developed campsites (mix of full service, electricity and water or water only), 37 screened shelters and 17 historic stone cabins to reserve for the night.
Garner State Park is about 100 miles west of San Antonio. It is located at 234 RR 1050, Concan, Texas. Admission is $8 for adults and kids 12 and under get in free.
TravelingMom Tip: Make plans early, like hotel reservations, for Texas Hill Country since it doesn’t offer as many options as urban areas. If camping, reservations are a must for the state parks. If the Texas state parks are full, independent RV campgrounds are usually in the area.
Daingerfield State Park, East Texas
For north Texas autumn color, head to Daingerfield State Park and find oaks and dogwoods reflecting in the 80-acre lake. This park offers hiking, paddling and is a historic CCC park.
Find two hiking trails. The 2.4-mile Rustling Leaves Trail around the lake is level. The Mountain View trail is a 1.2-mile trail and heads to the high point of the park. Daingerfield State Park rents paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. Remember fishing doesn’t require a license in state parks and most loan out gear, perfect for families who want to give fishing a try.
The campground features eight water-only sites along with 16 full hook-up sites. Rent a CCC cabin for four, six or fifteen guests.
Daingerfield State Park is about 130 miles east of Dallas. It is located at 455 Park Road 17, in Daingerfield, Texas. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult admission is $4 (12+) and kids 12 and under get in free.
Tyler State Park, East of Dallas
At the intersection of two different ecosystems, get a large selection of trees for pops of autumn color in Tyler State Park, like the piney woods. Also enjoy water activities on its 64-acre lake, like kayaking.
As a park developed by the CCC in the Great Depression, 600 acres of native forest was planted after it was logged and cleared for farming. A mature forest flourishes with evergreen shortleaf and loblolly pines along with southern red oak, post oak, sweetgum, and eastern red cedar among others.
Find 13 miles of trails in the park. The Whispering Pine Nature Trail is a .75-mile round trip trail built by the CCC. It features a sandy beach and swimming platform along with a fishing pier, good for kids.
Tyler State Park features over 100 campsites along with 29 screen shelters with restrooms with showers. Also find a CCC-built bathhouse near the swimming area.
Tyler State Park is about 100 miles east of Dallas. It is located 789 Park Road 16, Tyler. Adult admission is $6 (12+) and kids 12 and under get in free.
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park in East Texas
Another option east of Dallas, it offers a 640-acre lake along with land activities. Find oaks and hickory that change color for fall.
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park features over 3 miles of hiking, mountain biking along with a campground. It features 75 camp sites, 12 screen shelters and eight primitive cabins with a bathhouse with showers in the area.
Lake Bob Sandlin State Park is about 120 miles east of Dallas. It is located at 341 State Park Rd 2117 in Pittsburg. Adult admission is $4 (12+) and kids 12 and under get in free.
Huntsville State Park, north of Houston
With 2,000 acres of forest, explore along its 27 miles of hiking trails to see red oaks, sweetgums and a few red maples. Along with hiking, visitors can rent a canoe, kayak or paddle boat for Lake Raven.
Huntsville State Park trails are wide and well maintained. Most trails are bike-friendly as well. Find challenging trails, like the 8.5-mile round trip Triple C Trail. Or stroll the Loblolly Trail, easy enough for a toddler at .2-miles.
Find 160 campsites, 28 screened shelters and two primitive cabins in the park. The CCC built a lodge along the lake’s edge along with the boat house.
Located about 65 miles north of Houston. It is located at 565 Park Road 40W, Huntsville. Adult admission (12+) is $7 with kids 12 and under enter for free.
TravelingMom Tip: Arrive at state parks early, especially on weekends in October and November. Cars will start lining up before the park opens for peak fall color weekends. Once the parking spots are filled, the park closes to day-use visitors until parking opens up.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas
As the the high point of Texas, Texans climb 8,751 feet to gaze east over the state. In the fall, the trees are the show, like maples and the Texas Madrones.
Guadalupe Peak offers a developed trail for high pointers to reach the summit in addition to over 80 miles of trails. Some are accessible and over half open to horseback riding.
Find two campgrounds in the park. The Pine Springs Campground is near the Visitor Center with 33 sites and a restroom with flush toilets though no showers. The Dog Canyon Campground is on the north side of the park with 13 campsites with a restroom with flush toilets and sinks though no showers.
Located at 400 Pine Canyon, Salt Flat, just south of the New Mexico border and 110 miles east of El Paso. Open 24-hours a day and 365 days year. The Big Springs Visitor Center is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 a person for 16+ for a seven-day pass.
TravelingMom Tip: Head north into New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park for more family fun.
Big Bend National Park in West Texas
With rugged western scenery this park conjures up images of cowboys on horseback, riding on ridges. In a land where roadrunners outnumber the residents, Big Bend offers ample room for roaming and some fall color with Texas persimmon, several varieties of oak and ash.
It’s part of the Chihuahuan desert, one of the four deserts in the U.S. The Chisos Mountains is the only mountain range located entirely within a national park.
Find several visitor centers along with full-service campgrounds and lodging. Big Bend is best explored during the school year due to high temperatures during the summer.
Located at the bend in West Texas at the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Texas Highway 118 and FM 170 enter Big Bend National Park. Seven-day pass is $30 per vehicle.
TravelingMom Tip: Big Bend is remote. Buy gas when you see gas. Pack all necessary supplies for your trip and advance reservations are a must for lodging and camping.
Texas Foliage Peak Dates for 2021
It is always a bit of guess work, through the Texas Fall Color Season starts in late October in the northern part of the state and moves like a wave south across Texas. November is the top month for fall color in Texas. The season is done and the leaves have dropped by late November.
TravelingMom Tip: Pack snacks or a picnic for your road trip, the scenic drives are quaint though lack big city dining options. Load up on supplies before you leave. When exploring the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is your best option for groceries and dining out. In West Texas, Fort Stockton along Interstate 10 is the last real grocery store you will find along with fast food restaurants.
Haunted Texas—Hotels, Tours, Houses and More
All the spirits seems to linger on the mist of an October evening. Texas offers kid-friendly haunted houses, scream your head off and chased by a chainsaw houses and REAL haunted places. So spice up your fall season with a haunted stay.
Home of the Alamo, this is a top destination for weekend ghost hunting. Take a ghost tour and I recommend the Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour for a historical tour. The top haunted site is The Alamo Plaza, where the bloody Battle of the Alamo happened in 1832 during the Texas Revolution. Numerous people claim to see spirits lingering under the street lights around the Alamo Plaza and the hotels surrounding the plaza.
The Menger Hotel gives its ghosts the best rooms. It is rumored that former President Teddy Roosevelt still sidles up to the Menger Bar after the earthly guests have called it a night. I recommend popping into into the bar’s side door for a drink, or at least walking through the lobby and to take in the ghostly hotel.
In 1900 a hurricane hit in the middle of the night without warning and devastated the city. Unfortunately many lives were lost and some are said to still visit their favorite haunts.
Hotel Galvez and Spa opened in 1911 as a grand Victorian hotel. A bride is rumored to still look for her groom lost at sea. For those not staying the night, I recommend the Sunday brunch to enjoy the splendor of the hotel.
Located at 2021 Galveston Seawall in Galveston.
Lone Star State Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes
Pack up your little pumpkin and snap a perfect fall pic. Find smaller pumpkin patches across the metro areas in Texas. For all day fall fun with pumpkins, corn mazes and outdoor games, head out of town to a farm. Most open the first weekend of October and run into November.
Sweet Eats Fruit Farm
For all day of fall fun, head to the farm for a pick-your-own pumpkin, 3.5-acre corn maze, petting zoo, hay rides and more. Sweet Eats is one of my favorites with fruit picking (spring and summer only) and events all year.
Located at 14400 E. State Highway 29 in Georgetown. Admission based on age.
Texas Pumpkin Fest
This pumpkin patch benefits an animal shelter. Find pumpkins, outdoor games, a bouncy house along with special demonstrations, like magic shows.
Located at 10930 W. Crystall Falls Parkway. Admission based on age..
Dallas/Fort Worth Area
Hall’s Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze
Find pumpkins, gourds and a corn maze along with hay rides and farm animals.
Located at 3420 Hall Johnson Rd. in Grapevine, Texas. Admission based on age.
Autumn in the Arboretum
The pumpkin houses in the Dallas Arboretum are legendary and made with 90,000 pumpkins each year. This is the best place for a multi-generational fall outing. Arrive early for parking and advance reservations are required.
Located at 8525 Garland Rd. in Dallas. Admission based on age.
Dew Berry Farm
Visit its Fall Fest all season with a barnyard, birdhouse village you can walk through, jumping pillows, giant slide and more. Oh and there are pumpkins and a haunted house in “mild” and “spicy” (after dark). I grew up in the area and all my friends recommend this patch hands down.
Located at FM 362 at Morrison Road in Brookshire. Admission based on age.
Old Time Christmas Tree Farm
Hold on to you PSL, the Old Time Christmas Tree Farm does a fall fest too. Get piles of pumpkins, hay rides, outdoor activities and farm animals. As a bonus, walk over and gaze at its perfect Christmas trees.
Located at 7632 Spring Cypress Road in Spring. Admission based on age.
San Antonio Area
Graff 7A Ranch
With a different design every year, the maze is a favorite. Find pumpkins, a giant slide and farm animals too.
Located at 911 US Highway 90E in Hondo. Admission based on age.
Sweet Berry Farm
Find pumpkins and gourds, pick-your-own zinnias, hayrides, pony rides and more. Another family favorite for pick-your-own from spring until fall. It’s a favorite for school groups as well during the week.
Located at 1801 FM 1980 in Marble Falls. Admission based on age.
Texas State Fair
Big Tex reigns over this Texas institution that started in 1886. He’s a 55-foot Texan dressed in boots and jeans who welcomes visitors to the Texas State Fair.
Held at the historic Fair Park in Dallas, you’ll find a massive midway with games and rides. Enjoy live music, a rodeo, an auto show and more. Find a fried festival food and loads of BBQ along with displays from local kids.
Located at 3921 MLK Blvd. in Dallas. Open daily with various hours. Admission based on age.
Friday Night Lights
Football is big in Texas. From small town rivals all over the state to the massive stadiums at the major universities, games start in early September and run until the holiday season. High school games can attract big crowds though they’re easy to attend at the last minute to support your team.
For big rival games between schools like the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, tickets might be hard to source at the last minute. But you can always head to the parking lot for a game-long tailgate party and find some game goers with large screen TVs and full-size grills.
Fall Weather in Texas
September Average: Highs in the Upper 80s to lows in the Upper 60s
October Average: Highs in the Upper 70s to lows in the Upper 50s
November Average: Highs in the mid 60s to lows in the Upper 40s
Will it Still be Hot?
This depends on your definition of hot. Texans say it’s hot at 100 degrees. Though October is one of the best months in Texas. You’ll get highs near 80s and lows in the lower 60s with upper 50s in the Hill Country. Pack a light sweater or long-sleeve shirt for the evening. It’s one of the drier months as well.