Ten Texas Places to Get Away From it All
Remote places miles from nowhere offer stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, dark skies, and solitude. Here are ten relatively accessible and affordable getaways in Texas.
A state as big as Texas naturally has some undiscovered or hard to get to corners, places where those looking for a respite from cell phones and wi-fi can enjoy a little downtime.
Padre Island National Seashore
This undeveloped shoreline, one of the nation’s longest, stretches some 60 miles, with those beyond mile marker 5 accessible only by boat, shank’s mare, or four-wheel-drive. Adventurers who venture farther will see little more than an occasional hard-core fisherman, wind, waves, sea birds, and, if they’re lucky, a sea turtle. The entire beach is a primitive campground, offering sunsets over grass-covered dunes, star-studded skies, and, occasionally, bioluminescent waves.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The rugged slopes of this park, miles from even small towns, are actually an ancient fossil reef, home to thousands of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. Roads don’t go far here, which keeps down the crowds and noise. Eighty miles of trails include a steep one up Guadalupe Peak with an unsullied, 360-degree view.
Hill Country State Natural Area Wilderness Primitive Camp
The Wilderness Primitive Camp is some three miles from any trailhead in this undeveloped and remote park in the Hill Country. The route there covers rocky hills, grasslands, groves of oak and juniper, and swaths of sotol. Shaded picnic tables and fire rings are available at the campground, capacity 40, with a small, still pond nearby. First-come, first-served.
Big Bend National Park
One of the largest parks in the country at more than 800,000 acres, Big Bend is also one of the least visited. The remotest areas of the park include 118 miles of the Rio Grande River, accessible only via canoe, kayak, or raft, and around 40 backcountry campsites that require a high-clearance vehicle. Campers must stash everything in bear-proof boxes before kicking back under a blue-black dome filled with a million sparkling pinpoints from one jagged horizon to the other.
Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area
This 38-mile-long barrier island across the bay from the fishing village of Port O’Connor can be reached only by boat, but local fishing guides provide shuttle service for a fee. On the unpopulated island, trails lead to a circa-1852 lighthouse, on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. Miles of beach show barely a sign of human hands. Visitors must bring their own water, food, and other supplies, and arrange in advance for a return shuttle.
Lost Maples State Natural Area, Primitive Campgrounds G and H
At 2,200 feet of elevation and more than five miles from the park entrance, which is already in a sparsely populated area, these primitive backcountry sites guarantee peace and quiet. Crowds swarm the first part of East Trail along the Sabinal River to see the maples in fall, but few of them even know the West Trail exists. It traverses steep limestone canyons, plateaus, woods, and creeks, and hikers may spot fox, bobcat, or some of the park’s rare species of birds, such as the Green Kingfisher.
Devils River State Natural Area
South of Sonora and north of Del Rio is something of a blank spot on the Texas map, except for this park. It contains nearly 20,000 acres, but its crown jewel is a mile of shoreline on the Devils River, a pristine, mostly spring-fed channel. The river offers excellent fishing and wildlife watching, and there are ancient rock paintings in the park.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
This 120-mile-long, 800-foot-deep canyon drops dramatically out of the high plains. Developed parts of the park are relatively popular, but much is remote. Where the road ends at the equestrian camp, a trail goes five miles through tall grasses, juniper, and cottonwoods to the park border. The Givens, Spicer & Lowry trail to the loop in Little Fox Canyon twists and turns past colorful walls representing a geologic history spanning 250 million years.
Matagorda Bay Nature Park and Beach
Thanks to the intracoastal waterway, Matagorda Peninsula is actually an island. Only the first three of the 22 miles of beach are maintained, so few people venture farther. Maximum remoteness happens around mile ten or 12, as the island’s far end is accessible by boat from Sargent Beach. Four-wheel-drive required.
Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area
This vertical cavern reminded an early discoverer of the entrance to hell. Day tours offered at the visitor’s center in Rocksprings allow pondering the 150-foot deep collapsed cave from a viewing platform cantilevered over the opening. From May to September, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats depart the cave every evening, attracting dozens of onlookers. But few people visit during the day.