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Getaways - Nighttime is the Right Time
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent this bulletin on July 13, 2011 09:28 AM

State Parks Getaways Vacation 2011


Moon setThe stars at night are big and bright, and summer is a great time to see them. Set out to see the Perseids meteor shower coming mid-August. Or plan a getaway around that ole Texas moon, beautiful at any phase but especially so when hanging full and low on the horizon. (Check your favorite astronomy Web site for dates.) The further you get from city lights and traffic, the more you’ll see skyward. State parks are a great, safe place to stargaze. One ideal destination for darker skies is west Texas with its bonuses of lower humidity and higher elevation. Davis Mountains State Park is known for its dark skies as described in this "Passport to Texas" radio program.

Use this state parks by region map to help choose a destination. Stars are for kids too, so take the opportunity to learn a little astronomy with them. If you want some company, check out Stargazing in the Events Calendar.

The State of Bats

Bat cavesQ. What’s the state’s official flying mammal?
A. Mexican free-tailed bats were designated the official state flying mammal in 1995! In spring and summer they create the world's largest congregations of mammals.

Bats love Texas, and Texans and tourists love them. The dusk time emergence of millions of bats from a cave or abandoned tunnel is a wondrous sight. Many state park bat sites are open for evening viewing with interpretive programs. Watch a video that describes five bat locations across Texas: Stuart Bat Cave at Kickapoo Cavern State Park, Devil’s Sink Hole State Natural Area, Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve, Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, and the Congress Avenue Bridge. Caprock Canyons State Park also has bat viewing opportunities. Always call ahead to your park destination for specific bat viewing times, tour availability and reservations. Then pile into the family Bat Mobile and head on out for a … bat-venture.  

Night Walks: Did You Hear THAT?

Screech owl“Wow, what was that sound?” The summer nighttime can be the right time for an enlightening hike with an interpreter through a state park or wildlife management area. For guided night hikes, owl prowls and more, check the Birds, Bats and More and Hikes and Walks sections of the Events Calendar. Coming right up July 15, Bastrop and Bentsen Rio Grande Valley, and July 16 McKinney Falls and Purtis Creek state parks have night hikes scheduled.

Fall planning alert: Can’t resist mentioning the full moon, hoodoo (weird rocks) hikes through Big Bend Ranch State Park. These spring and fall guided hikes are available on the Saturdays before a full moon.

Call each park before you make your plans; hikes depend on weather and staff availability.

Down Deep in the Heart of Texas

Longhorn Cavern videoCaves are cool morning, noon and night! Longhorn Cavern for instance, registers a refreshing 68 degrees all year. Kickapoo Cavern State Park displays 4 million years of nature’s underground geologic handiwork. Colorado Bend State Park offers crawling cave tours. Caves are accessible by guided tour only, so before you go, check with park staff about interpretive cave hikes, mobility and equipment requirements, and reservations.

Time to Plan for Fall

Cabin at Garner State Park“I feel a touch of fall in the air,” some hopeful early morning risers will say in a couple of months. Now is an excellent time to plan for that moment.

Your favorite cabin may still be available this summer, but this is a great time to book a cooler weather visit, perhaps to a park you’ve never visited before. Explore your options with complete information on park destinations, facilities and activities.

Where you go will be influenced by what you want to do. Here are 25 things to do in and around state parks from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

Whether you visit for a day or a week, a Texas State Parks Pass offers entrance fee savings and discounts for those with a hankering to spend more time in the natural environment.

There’s no time like the present to make reservations, encourages State Parks’ Bryan Frazier, in this "Passport To Texas" radio story

Fishing Weighs in as a Facebook Favorite

Sunset fishingWhen Texas Parks and Wildlife Facebook friends were asked to vote for their favorite water activity, fishing came out on top – beating tubing, kayaking/canoeing and 31 other activities. With over 70 opportunities, everyone can enjoy this great American pastime ---especially in the cooler morning and late afternoon hours. Be sure to “like” Texas Parks and Wildlife on Facebook to join the conversation.

Featured Park: Copper Breaks

Copper Breaks State Park videoThe darker nighttime skies of North Texas make it easier to see a sky full of stars. Copper Breaks State Park, near the Panhandle, makes a great destination for stargazing. Upcoming Starwalks are slated for July 30, August 27, September 24 and October 22. Other activities include camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, wildlife viewing, backpacking, kite flying, summer educational/interpretive programs, horseback riding (horse rental not available), astronomy, and natural and historical exhibits. A portion of the official State Longhorn herd lives in the park. Call the park to confirm dates and availability for park events.


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