Desert Evening at Big Bend, by Louis Vest
© Louis Vest (LandScope Texas Banner)

Recreation and Exploration

Everyone should have the opportunity to climb a tree, catch a fish, or roast marshmallows over a campfire. Direct experience with nature is vital to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and leads to a healthy understanding of our place in the world. Yet, as the population becomes more urbanized and once-vast expanses of open space continue to be fragmented and developed, more of us are missing out on these experiences.

State parks and wildlife management areas offer a remarkable variety of opportunities to experience the outdoors. From the desert mountain sky islands of Big Bend Ranch State Park to the cypress swamps of Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department maintains and provides outdoor experiences ranging from peaceful to exhilarating, and from suburban oases to backcountry wilderness. In all, TPWD manages 1.4 million acres for recreation and conservation.

Thousands of years ago, native hunters and gatherers settled in Texas to take advantage of its abundant fish and game. Today, people still flock to Texas to enjoy the rich traditions of hunting and fishing in the state’s bountiful forests, prairies and waters. That amounts to 1.1 million hunters and 2.5 million anglers who put their money behind their passion, spending an estimated $5.5 billion and purchasing more than 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses each year—more than in any other state. 

Hunters and fishermen have always been at the forefront of the conservation movement, providing the impetus for sustainable use of natural resources and the concept of wildlife preserves and parks. Tens of millions of dollars of the $5.5 billion spent finds its way back into conservation through acquisitions, research, habitat restoration, conservation law enforcement and site operations. 

Featured Recreation and Exploration Opportunities

  • Texas State Parks

    Texas Parks and Wildlife currently operates 95 state parks and natural areas, 49 wildlife management areas and eight fish hatcheries, comprising 1.4 million acres that are managed in the public trust for recreation and conservation.

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