It’s been a season of cozy blankets, sweet treats, and presents galore, but if you’re like us, you’re probably ready for a change of pace. December in Texas is the absolute perfect time to get out of the house and head to a state or national park and hike off those complex carbohydrates. Hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, birding - whatever you’re into, these five beautiful parks located in various cities across the state have just what you need to shake off the craziness of the holidays.

NORTH TEXAS- Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon

Falling second only to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon State Park houses the nation’s second largest canyon, perfect for those looking for a steep adventure. It’s not surprising that a Texas state park offers a “bring our own horse” option, so that guests can explore the canyon on horseback, a popular way to explore the depths of the park. Offering several Ranger Programs, even the most inexperienced explorer can feel prepared to take on the nature attraction.

SOUTH TEXAS- Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Everyone knows about the beautiful blue jays of Texas, but if you haven’t heard of a green jay, you need to grab some binoculars and head to South Texas to see these bright fliers, along with many other birds that the refuge is famous for. Mexican wildlife thrives plentifully among the park, which offers multiple trails and even alligator watching, if you’re feeling brave.

EAST TEXAS- Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack

An east Texas treasure, Caddo Lake State Park offers the perfect blend of nature + development. Fishing, hiking, camping, and paddling are among a few of the activities waiting for the next adventurous crew to explore. The park reopens December 26th after campsite renovations and road improvements, so pack your bags and prepare to burn off some holiday calories by kayaking in the lake trails, totaling over 50 miles long. Want to extend your holiday visiting with family? The state park has facilities perfect for family reunions and large groups.

WEST TEXAS- Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Salt Flat

Texas is often associated with large, flat plains, but not in Salt Flat, Texas. The Guadalupe Mountains National Park hosts a rugged mountain range with various ecosystems, from desert to woodlands, crawling with 60 species of mammals, 289 species of birds, and 55 species of reptiles. The park is popular for its backpacking and being home to marine-life fossils and plant-life structures, which are millions of years old. The mountains also bring their ancestors, the Mescalero Apaches, back annually for ceremonial events.

CENTRAL TEXAS- Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool

In Vanderpool, Texas, the hoards of brightly colored big tooth maples speak for themselves. These beautiful grounds offer primitive camping to water and electricity, but are perfect for a day-trip with the family. No worries if you can’t head to Lost Maples State Natural Area this season - the leaves are breathtaking year round.