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Splash Into Summer - Top 10 Swimming Holes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent this bulletin on May 12, 2011 01:45 PM

State Park Getaways Summer 2011

Swimming Across Texas? 

Make a splash!When it’s too hot to waltz across Texas, Texans know what to do: try swimming. Our state is awash with great places to swim. How many can you dip your toe into this summer? To get you started, ten great places to swim are listed in this story from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Then dive into this inclusive list of park freshwater, saltwater, or swimming pool choices and also check out swimming in parks nearest you. Tip: River and lake water levels may vary during drought months, so call ahead to your park destination to confirm swimming availability.
Image provided courtesy of Maricela Ligas-Valdez through TPWD's Photostream on Flickr.

What Swimming Hole was Voted Best on Facebook? 

Balmorhea video“Balmorhea SP rocks! Spring fed coldness and all those kids LOVE it there!!” The park's pool (see a virtual pool tour), a spring-fed reliably cool oasis won the most votes of Texas Parks and Wildlife Facebook friends who were asked to vote for the best swimming hole in Texas. You’re invited to “like” Texas Parks and Wildlife on Facebook so you can join the conversations.

Camping to Glamping – Book Ahead for Fall and Summer

Cabin and ShelterDecisions, decisions. On the dirt or in a yurt? Under the stars or under a ceiling fan? No matter what overnight amenities you prefer, you’ll find a destination among Texas state parks. Check out this handy online listing to sort through your outdoor and indoor options. TIPS: Parks can get busy, so remember reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. For more options, plan a trip during the week when parks are quieter. Make reservations online, by email, fax, or phone.

You also have about a zillion choices of recreational activities and natural wonders to enjoy. Here are 20 types of activities you could enjoy on your next trip to a Texas state park.

Flock with Your Friends to Estero 

Estero Llano Grande State Park videoLooking for somewhere new and interesting to have your next meeting, retreat, training or family get-together? Camp Thicket, at Estero Llano Grande State Park nestled within one of the oldest remnants of mature Tamaulipan Thorn Forest left in the Rio Grande Valley, now offers meeting rooms and two types of overnight group facilities. With Camp Thicket’s South Complex group bunkhouse and North Complex cabins, the park can accommodate about 200 people combined with overnight, dining and kitchen facilities. Prepare your meals onsite, use outdoor barbeque pits, or have your event catered. Park staff also recently converted a building in the park’s Lakeview area into group meeting space which can seat up to 50. Find more detail in this press release.

See a video about the park, one of Texas’ premier birding destinations and the Weslaco Wing of the World Birding Center. Park naturalists are available to provide special programs for your group upon request. For more information, contact Estero Llano Grande State Park at (956) 565-3919 or visit our Web site.

Fire and Ice Summery Tips 

Campfires videoA campfire is often the focus of a campsite, but it’s warm heart has a dark side especially in a countryside at risk for wildfire. Learn how and when a campfire should be built. At the same time, you’ll be wanting ice-cold food and beverages in the coming summer months. Keep the chill in your cooler with these cool 10 quick tips.  

Featured Park - Abilene State Park 

Abilene State Park videoCentered around the swimming pool and pavilion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the cooling shade of hardwood forests, families often gather at Abilene State Park for a getaway weekend. There are plenty of reasons why! Check out biking, fishing, nature trails and many other popular activities. This park also has yurts, enhanced shelters with amenities.

Wanted: Park Volunteers 

Volunteer PatchHelp us keep out the welcome mats at our 90+ state parks, as we encourage families to appreciate all that the natural world has to offer. Whether your interest is volunteering for a one-day event, a few hours a month or settling in as a park host, we have a need for brawn, brains, and just regular nice folks who want to share their enjoyment of the great outdoors. Read more about the diverse volunteer possibilities. Check the volunteer calendar for some upcoming opportunities.

Heavy lifting isn’t for everyone, but here’s an inspiring tale about a group of retirees who are building trails one week a year and also building a legacy for future generations.

Special Volunteer Request from Fairfield Lake State Park:
Volunteers assist the Park Staff with visitor services, fee collection, and perform light maintenance while enjoying a beautiful lake and park. In return for 25-30 hours of volunteer service, a campsite with water and electrical hook-up is provided at no charge along with the chance to meet all kinds of interesting people. For more information or an application contact Ben Herman, Assistant Manager at the Park Headquarters at (903) 389-4514.

Pick Up Your Free Wildlife Trail Maps

Great Texas Coastal Birding TrailFind your way to over 950 of the best wildlife viewing sites in Texas -- for free! To help celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Great Texas Wildlife Trails Program and the completion of the Far West Texas Wildlife Trail map, the ninth and final map in the statewide series, pick up your free maps at any state park or TxDOT travel information center you visit while supplies last. Find the one for your region, or collect all nine as you travel across Texas.

Stay Safely Afloat All Summer

Texas Game Wardens videoCheck out this video of water wardens (aka Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens) at work for examples of the good, the bad and the dangerous behaviors they’ll be looking for this summer.

You can brush up on state boating laws before you launch your boat or personal watercraft and remember the life jackets (PFDs) Your friends and family will thank you.

New online reservations spotlight 
Make your State Park campsite reservation online, now with no extra fee 

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