Our visit to Stephen F. Austin State Park was on one of the first really pleasant (and mild!) winter days we’ve had so far this year. The sun was out and the temperature was a perfect 65 degrees making our day of exploring the park absolutely delightful.
Stephen F. Austin State Park is located about 50 miles West of Houston in San Felipe, Texas. It is a perfect park for day trips because the drive there on I-10 from Houston is an easy one. The park features over 470 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and swamp. The bottomland forest has moist soil that gives life to an array of plant and animal species quite different from the drier upland found nearby.*
The park boasts over 5 miles of trails open to hiking and biking (Some trails may be closed to biking following heavy rain events. Be sure to call the park office to check trail conditions prior to your visit if you plan on biking.) and also offers a great opportunity for bank fishing in the Brazos River. There is no swimming at this park because the river conditions would pose a danger to swimmers. I did not get any photos of the river on this visit unfortunately, because there was a large rainstorm several days before our trip and the trails down to the river were completely soaked and very muddy.
Stephen F. Austin State Park holds special events throughout the year for school groups (The park has an amazing group lodge area, complete with mess hall. You can see part of it in the background of the photo below.) and offers an annual summer camp for kids ages 8 – 11. You can contact the park office (Phone: (979) 885-3613) for more information on the camp schedule and registration.
I personally feel that this state park makes a great day trip since it is so close to the city, but if you’re looking to make a weekend of it, they have awesome screened shelter sites you can reserve ($25 nightly, seen below) which offer running water and electricity and have a picnic table inside the shelter. These sites are my favorite way to camp at a state park because you can bring a tent if you’d like, but in warmer weather we usually just bring our bedding items and place them on the floor inside the shelter and sleep in there.
Other highlights for visitors to Stephen F. Austin State Park include a private golf course right next door (call (979)885-2811 for more information) and the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site just down the road.
In 1823, Stephen F. Austin established San Felipe de Austin as the capital for his colonization efforts. From 1824 to 1836, this was social, economic, and political center of the Anglo colonies in Texas. Citizens burned the town in 1836 during the “Runaway Scrape” retreat from the Mexican Gen. Santa Anna’s army. Today, visitors can learn these and other fascinating tales from Texas’ colonial era.**
The grounds of the historical site are open daily and the visitor center is open Tuesday – Saturday 9am to 5pm and admission is free. Though the site is fairly impressive as it stands now, plans for a larger museum at this site are in the works.
Jackson and especially enjoyed walking around the replica of Stephen F. Austin’s cabin. Some of the bricks used in the construction of the replica were actually taken from the original cabin, which was constructed in 1828.
If you make a visit to Stephen F. Austin State Park, it is certainly worth the trip around the corner to see the San Felipe de Austin Historic Site. It’s a fabulous dose of Texas history that should not missed.
Day Admission to Stephen F. Austin State Park is $4 for anyone 13 or older. Kids 12 and under are FREE!
For more information on the park or to plan your trip visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/stephen-f-austin
You can also make park reservations by calling (512) 389-8900.
For more information on San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site visit: www.visitsanfelipedeaustin.com
2 parks down, 91 to go!
Disclosure: I covered all admission and travel expenses to visit this state park. This post is not sponsored in any way.
*Information courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
**Information courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.
***This post is part of an ongoing series where I hope to visit all 93 Texas State Parks in 2014. I would LOVE for you to follow along as we embark on this incredible (and perhaps crazy!) Life List goal of mine. You can follow our adventures as they happen in real time by following me on Instagram and with the #llftravels hashtag.***
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