State Park Perspectives

Since I have been back in Texas this past year, I have been trying to visit some of the state parks.  I even bought my first annual Texas State Park pass to stimulate my exploratory self while keeping the frugal side of me from tabulating day use fees.

While living in Georgia the past eight years, I became addicted to the GA State Parks, seeking solace along the soft pine needle beds of the hiking trails.  Wandering through the tall piney national forests, stopping to saturate all five senses with the sounds and smells of the streams like a balm or a mood altering drug.  It became my favorite pastime during my eight years I lived there, and was the catalyst that helped me realize my desire to sell my “sticks and bricks” home and begin the transition to the fulltiming RV lifestyle.  I became passionate about nature like never before, preferring to be outdoors at every opportunity.   So I have been in search of the same inner sanctum in reasonable proximity to my family’s home in Texas, where I am based for now.

However, my impression so far is that parks in Texas are much more geared toward the “sportsman” than the “outdoorsman.”   There are very few parks that are not near a water source, and the first descriptive paragraph in the State Park brochure typically talks about what kind of fish are stocked in the lake, and what limits are placed on the catch.  The Texas State Parks website has videos of most parks, and all of them feature some toothy-grinned teenager having landed his first big mouth bass.   Hiking trails are a means to an end…that end being the best fishing hole.

The upside of the fisherman’s ratings is “no wake lakes,” which typically means good options for kayaking.   But boat ramps, fishing piers, bait shops, and marinas definitely dominate the park theme rather than the hiking and biking and nature trails I came to love in the mountains of north Georgia.

Meridian Court House

One of the parks on my radar was Meridian State Park, a couple of hours south of the Dallas area.  The scenery changes pretty dramatically as you leave the prairie flat-lands and strip malls of the Dallas area and approach the cedar breaks and white rock cliffs of the Balcones Escarpment that lies along the northern edge of the Texas Hill Country.

I was particularly interested because Meridian is one of the CCC parks, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.   Characteristic stone structures, big archways, wide pavilions typically feature construction from local resources of limestone and cedar.

These CCC parks were typically built by WWII veterans, but this one was built instead by veterans of WWI.   Segregation was still very prominent in 1935, as African American members shown on the back row of photos were used as support teams, but prohibited from participating in any of the camp programs.

Prior to being an RV owner, this would have been “my kinda park.”  Lots of wooded, primitive campsites with level tent spaces, with upgrades to quaint screened shelters available right on the water’s edge.  Much of the shore surrounding the 72 acre no-wake lake is perfect for pitching a tent as well as launching a kayak.   Near perfect park for the tent camper.

But now that I am an RV’er, my perspective for “the perfect campground” has changed, moving the quaint little Meridian State Park into the now “undesirable” category due to only eight sites available to accommodate RVs of 20 feet or more.  In spite of the vast wooded beauty of the 500+ acre park, these eight sites are all crowded together along a road the length of half a city block.   I wouldn’t rule it out for a future tenting destination, but definitely not what I would consider “RV Friendly.”

I am still focused on the same priorities of privacy, level spaces, and beautiful views.  More eager than ever to seek out the stealth solitude blending with nature.  But that is not as easy with my 24 foot home on wheels…Sorta like the life of a chameleon versus a snapping turtle.  😉

8 thoughts on “State Park Perspectives

    • Sounds good, Lynne! It is my mission, and I choose to accept it! Maybe on my way to eastbound to the Asheville rally in May.

  1. The only Texas state park I’ve been to (so far – there’s still a lot of Texas I want to explore) is Palo Duro Canyon. Have you been there? I loved it – quiet sites, fun hikes, and long horns. I’m not sure if they have a length limit – Sadie is small (13′) – but it’s worth checking out.

    • Hi, Deonne, no I have not been there yet. I didn’t even realize it was the second largest until I read your blog. I will put it on the list, for sure! Thanks for the reminder. (I will take your advice and study the trail map. 😉

  2. We stayed at a Canyon Lake campground when my son was working in San Antonio… not exactly a hikers wilderness experience. But the campsites were spacious and had shade, and there were lots of deer including some nice big bucks. We ended up having to leave the park to get a good hike or bike ride… in the surrounding subdivisions.
    Let’s face it, you need to move a little further west :((. The waiting game sucks.
    Box Canyon Mark

  3. I have to admit, we haven’t stayed in many TX State Parks yet – even though state parks in general are our absolute favorite in many states.

    However, one we have stayed in multiple times and love is McKinnely State Park in Austin. It’s close to one of the coolest urban areas in the country, but yet very outdoorsy. The campground is very RV friendly while yet having some sites with very good solitude amongst the trees (unfortunately, no water views – but in the spring the wildflowers can be amazing) and space between them. There’s a nice 2-3 mi hiking trail, rock climbing/boldering and swimming.

    • Thanks, Cherie for the comment! Good news, I finally got into Pecan Grove for the month of April! YEAH! I am so excited! But I can’t get in until Monday the 1st, so I have been trying to get into McKinney Falls for the preceding weekend, but it is sold out (Easter!) I am going to keep checking the TPWD site in hopes there is a cancellation. I am glad to hear you say it is a nice place, as I have never been before.

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