Located in Moody, Texas, you can find Mother Neff State Park just over 15 miles from Interstate 35. To reach the park from the Interstate, take exit 315 to State Highway 107 West to Moody and then continue 6 miles west on FM 107, and then take State Highway 236 for 2 miles into the park.
Mother Neff State Park was the first official state park in Texas. It is named for Mrs. Isabella Eleanor (Mother) Neff, who donated six acres of land along the Leon River in 1916, which became the first park site. Her son was Texas Governor Pat M. Neff, who served as governor from 1921 to 1925. After the death of his mother in 1921, Governor Neff created the Mother Neff Memorial Park, which later became the nucleus of the Texas State Park System. The park, located west of Moody, now contains 259 acres in Coryell County. The additional land was deeded to the state in 1934 by private owners: Governor Neff deeded 250 acres and Mr. Frank Smith deeded 3 acres. The park was opened to the public in 1937.*
Though this park is not very large, it still has a lot to offer those who stay here. I feel that this park is especially family friendly because the grounds are relatively flat so it’s easy for even small children to get around safely. The camping area is quite pretty, but not so heavily wooded that you cannot see or hear your children if they choose to explore beyond the bounds of your campsite.
There is a small playground located at the end of the park road that looks out over a beautiful pasture. It is the perfect place for parents to unwind and chat on the wooden benches while little ones get their sillies out (after hours in the car, this was Jackson’s favorite part).
My very favorite thing about Mother Neff State Park though, was the Tonkawa Indian Cave.
The cave, which was once inhabited by a group of nomadic buffalo hunters, was such a fascinating place to explore. We hiked to it in the early morning… dew still on the ground. The cave was cool and quiet as we looked around, and it felt really special to be the only ones there in that moment. I tried to imagine how grateful the Indians must have been to have this shelter from the heat and rain.
Jackson found a nice spot on the cave floor and was completely content with just sitting there running his fingers through the sand.
It was so peaceful, we seriously could have stayed there for hours.
If you’ve been following along with our various state park visits then you know that many of the parks have structures that were built by the CCC in the 1930’s that are still standing today. Mother Neff State Park is no exception. (You can read more about the history of CCC projects HERE).
We spent so much time hiking and exploring the cave that I did not capture any shots of the CCC’s contributions here, but there is a lovely lodge and group picnic shelter built by the CCC in the park (with historical plaques explaining the construction details) that are worth seeing for sure.
Activity options at Mother Neff State Park include fishing, picnicking, hiking, and camping.
Currently, there is construction in the park as they are building a new headquarters and camping loop. At this time the mile long hiking trail around the prairie is closed, but all other trails and the playground remain open.
Day admission to the park is $2 for anyone 13 or older. Kids are 12 and under are FREE.
For more information on Mother Neff State Park visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/mother-neff
You can also make park reservations by calling (512) 389-8900.
8 parks down, 85 to go!
Disclosure: I covered all admission and travel expenses to visit this state park. This post is not sponsored in any way.
*Information sourced from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.