Texas Times: Celebrating Texas' Great Outdoors

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn Jul. 18, 2011, 9:22am

This June, Americans across the country celebrate "Great Outdoors Month," and as Texans, we are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of outdoor destinations, from crystal clear rivers and beaches to canyons and caverns, often only a short road-trip away.

Though the thought of a Texas landscape will undoubtedly recall an image of a fiery summer sunset and stubborn cacti, national parks, preserves, recreation areas, and beaches in Texas boast diverse landscapes suited to many recreational activities. Texans can hike the meandering trails at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, go horseback riding at Big Bend National Park, or watch as sea turtle hatchlings are released into the ocean at the Padre Island National Seashore.

Everything is bigger and better in Texas, so it comes as no surprise that the Padre Island National Seashore claims the largest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. These nationally recognized areas in Texas provide convenient vacation spots and cater to families with programs for children.

Texas' national parks reinforce the significance and importance of our state's role, historically and militarily. These history lessons come to life inplaces like the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, and Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. In addition, the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso commemorates the settlement of a century-long boundary dispute with Mexico.

And there's no shortage of big sky and adventurous terrain for family camping trips at one of the many sites preserved for this time-honored American tradition. Preserves, parks and recreation areas across the state welcome campers, and riverside sites offer a respite from the summer heat.

Filled with variety, Texas parks and sites appeal to historians, scientists, adventurers and vacationers alike. From the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site to the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, history aficionados can travel back in time at various historic sites across the state. For wildlife enthusiasts, our preserves are home to a number of unique species, such as the Guadalupe bass in the Honey Creek State Natural Area or the Mexican free-tailed bat found in the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve.

Whether you're searching for educational activities for your children or a place just to relax, Texas is truly a one-stop destination for just about any type of summer vacation your family can enjoy.

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