A scenic view of the Garner State Park, one of the two best state parks near San Antonio.

Two state parks near San Antonio, the Garner State Park and the Kickapoo Cavern State Park have ranked 7th and 12th respectively in a list of the best state parks in the US according to a recent survey.

The HomeToGo survey has mapped the Top US State Parks keeping in mind recreational opportunities far exciting than a simple picnic by the lake or a hike up a local mountain. With 21 parks from 16 states, the survey takes into account the park’s size, annual visitors, the biodiversity it hosts as well as the nearby accommodations and their prices to make a list that tourists can turn to for picking an adventurous and rejuvenating state park trip.

The two state parks near San Antonio make for two very different experiences in the outdoors. While one offers an array of water-related activities, the other is all about exploring the depths of the natural world.

Things to do at the Garner State Park, near San Antonio

A mere hour and a half journey by road from San Antonio will take you to the Garner State Park that hosts 2.9 miles of the Frio River flowing through its 1,774 acres of land. Naturally, the river makes this state park a popular destination for fun activities to be enjoyed near water bodies.

1. Swimming and paddling on the Frio

There’s a lot of fun to be had on the Frio at this state park.

Dive into the cool waters of the Frio or ride in a paddle boat on the river or go fishing or simply float on the waters with the kids in tow at this amazing spot in nature. Visitors can rent paddles, canoes, kayaks and inner tubes and also have access to the lockers in park’s boathouse to stash valuables away.

2. Hiking, biking and camping at this state park near San Antonio

This state park offers excellent cabins for an enjoyable stay too.

Garner State Park also offers excellent campsites, cabins and screened shelters to enjoy a proper camping experience and opportunities to study about the wildlife and green cover in the park. The park is home to some amazing creatures including the white-tailed deer, black rock and fox squirrels and bird species like Rio Grande turkeys, mourning doves, black and turkey vultures and eastern bluebirds.

There are 16 miles of trekking trails which tourists can explore on foot or on their rented bikes to take in the breathtaking beauty of the park and spot this wildlife residing there.

And as you camp here, don’t forget to rent some barbeque pits, heaters and fans to get the full feel of the summer.

3. Summer Dance

The summer dance is the highlight of this state park near San Antonio.

This is one of the highlights of this state park which attracts hundreds of tourists every year. It dates back to the 1940s and hosted at the park’s concession building, it involves gathering around on a summer evening for a jukebox dance.

To know more about the activities that Garner State Park offers, click here

Things to do at the Kickapoo Cavern State Park, near San Antonio

Of these two state parks Kickapoo Cavern is some three hours away from San Antonio, and is a quiet and remote space abundant in wildlife, ideal for those looking for a beautiful outdoor spot to relax and rejuvenate on a weekend getaway.

1. Enjoy three different natural zones at this state park near San Antonio

Kickapoo Cavern is home to three different natural habitats.

Yes, one of the most exciting things about this state park is that it is a space where three natural zones intersect to create a synchronized patchwork of plant and animal life.

On the one hand, there are live oaks of the Edwards Plateau, on the other, cacti of the Chi­hua­huan Desert, and additionally, the thorny shrubs of the South Texas – each of these habitats provides shelter to diverse wild creatures.

There are nearly 240 migrant and resident birds here along with animals like white-tailed deer, ringtails, gray foxes and rock squirrels.

Kickapoo Cavern is also home to vulnerable species like the Papershell pinyons, that thrived in cooler and wetter climates and the golden-cheeked warbler or black-capped vireo that live in the oaks and junipers.

2. Explore the Kickapoo Cavern

The caverns at this state park are one of the highlights of this destination.

The park derives its name from these caverns which have been created through the course of 4 million years. Along with that, there are as many as 20 caves to explore in this state park including a bat cave where the mammals build nests and raise their young. Small consolation for those who want to visit a ‘Bat Cave.’

3. Hikes, birdwatching and camps at the state park

An elf owl spotted at Kickapoo Cavern.

The park also offers guided tours of the nature trails along with activities like mountain biking and bird watching. There are five campsites with full fledged facilities and few others with some limited amenities where you can enjoy a proper feel of nesting in the wild.

To know more about the activities that Kickapoo Cavern State Park offers, click here

So this summer, when you are planning your family holiday or vacation, consider paying a visit to these two state parks near San Antonio and enjoy paddling on the Frio, meander through three different kinds of habitats, spot a variety of beautiful birds and walk into the dark and mysterious caves in these state parks.

All images courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife

Looking to enjoy nature closer to San Antonio? Check out the best hiking trails near San Antonio

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