Are you ready for the great outdoors near and around Abilene and the Big Country? Well here are ten of my favorite places to go visit, hang out, or spend a weekend or a week at many of these great State Park locations. When I was a student at Abilene High School a group of Speech and Drama classmates loaded up for a day in the park.

I will NEVER forget the worst sunburn I have ever experienced in my life. It was because I was unprepared for this outing. I was used to parks like the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone no sunscreen was needed there. While Possum Kingdom was a ton of fun, I got hurt by Mr. Sun!

Nonetheless, we went to Possum Kingdom State Park only 115 miles from Abilene within 2.5 hours we were there and getting wet. That place is phenomenal, it is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It's perfect for boating, swimming, fishing, water sports, camping, hiking, bird watching and so much more.

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So, if you are ready for summer 2024 and ready to embrace the great outdoors and explore the natural beauty that Texas is? Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or just looking for a weekend getaway, these areas surrounding Abilene are packed with opportunities for outdoor fun. From tranquil lakes to rugged state parks, there's something for everyone.

My Outdoor Destination Suggestions:

  1. Abilene State Park Campground:  Located 16 miles southwest of Abilene in Tuscola, this state park features shady campsites along Elm Creek. Enjoy RV, tent, or screened camping, fishing, trail hiking, and swimming in their historic pool.
  2. San Angelo State Park:  Situated 18 miles west of San Angelo on OC Fisher Reservoir and the Concho River's banks, this park boasts over 50 miles of hiking trails. It offers fishing, rafting, camping, swimming, and even facilities for horses.
  3. Lake Brownwood State Park:  Just 15 miles north of Brownwood, this park surrounds the 7,300-acre Lake Brownwood. Activities include camping, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, paddle boating, swimming, bird-watching, volleyball, and softball.
  4. Lake Colorado City State Park:  Located 20 miles west of Colorado City, this park offers camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, kayaking, paddle boating, and canoeing. Note that lifepreservers are required for all water activities, as there are no lifeguards on duty.
  5. Possum Kingdom State Park: In Palo Pinto County, Possum Kingdom State Park is just two hours west of Fort Worth, this park spans over 20,000 acres. Possum Kingdom Lake is perfect for boating, swimming, fishing, and water sports. The park offers scenic trails, camping, RV sites, and cabins. Possum Kingdom can be a fun-filled family adventure or a peaceful natural retreat.
  6. Big Bend National Park:  In Far West Texas, this vast wilderness features stunning mountain and canyon views. Less than 100 miles from Alpine, Texas, it spans over 2,000 acres. Enjoy camping, kayaking, backpacking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, fishing, hiking, and swimming. Plan to spend some time here to fully explore its beauty.
  7. Guadalupe River State Park:  A short drive from San Antonio and Austin, this park offers nearly 2,000 acres of scenic beauty along the Guadalupe River. Activities include camping, swimming, fishing, rafting, tubing, canoeing, bird-watching, and hiking.
  8. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area:  Located between Llano and Fredericksburg, Texas, this park offers hiking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, picnicking, bird-watching, nature study, stargazing, and bike trails. Pets are only allowed in designated areas, and guided tours are available.
  9. Lost Maples State Natural Area:  Two hours northwest of San Antonio, this picturesque area offers camping, hiking, backpacking, photo trails, fishing, birding, wildlife watching, and stargazing. Be aware that there is no cell phone service in the area.
  10. Garner State Park:  Just west-northwest of San Antonio, this 1,700-acre park in the beautiful Hill Country offers rafting and paddleboarding on the Frio River, as well as hiking, swimming, camping, birding, picnicking, miniature golf, and biking. Events are held year-round.
    Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

My strongest words of advice are: "Be prepared, get sunscreen, pack supplies, stay hydrated, be safe, and most importantly have fun." No matter what type of outdoor adventure you're looking for, these areas around Abilene have something special to offer everyone. From the serene waters of Possum Kingdom to the rugged landscapes of Big Bend National Park, there are countless opportunities to create lasting memories.

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