AUSTIN (KXAN) — From mountains and canyons to forests and swamps, the vast scale of Texas provides so many natural wonders.
Across the Lone Star State, there are 87 state parks, natural areas and historic sites currently operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The first parks were opened to the public in the 1930s and the newest, Old Tunnel State Park, opened in 2012. TPWD also has plans to develop five sites into future state parks.
Fairfield Lake State Park, meanwhile, permanently closed at the end of February.
TPWD splits the state into seven ‘natural regions,’ each of which is home to several state parks. The Prairies & Lakes region is home to 22 parks, more than any other region. The South Texas Plains region is home to the fewest, with seven parks.
Across the system, state parks welcomed more than nine million visitors in Fiscal Year 2022. The Prairies & Lakes region recorded the most visitors, with more than 3.1 million across its 22 parks.
The Hill Country region welcomed more than 2.3 million visitors across 16 parks, while the Pineywoods and Panhandle Plains regions each saw more than one million visitors.
State parks in the Big Bend Country region saw the fewest number of visitors, with around 464,000. Those numbers do not include visitors to Big Bend National Park, which alone saw more than half a million visitors in 2021, a record high for the park.
But which individual state park gets the fewest visitors? Explore for yourself using our interactive table below, or keep scrolling to see our top 10 countdown.
Top 10 least-visited Texas state parks
Note: The TPWD-operated Wyler Aerial Tramway is not included in the list below because it’s been closed since April 2020 due to safety concerns. TPWD says it is working with local partners to determine the future of the tramway.
10. Estero Llano Grande State Park
TPWD says nature’s orchestra is “always in full swing” at Estero Llano Grande State Park. The instruments? Birds singing, insects buzzing, frogs peeping, water trickling and leaves rustling. The park welcomed 27,007 visitors in FY 2022.
9. Lake Colorado City State Park
Lake Colorado City State Park offers “wide open spaces.” TPWD says the water draws humans and wildlife alike for respite from the dry West Texas climate. The park welcomed 21,414 visitors in FY 2022.
8. Mission Tejas State Park
At Mission Tejas State Park, TPWD says you can “enjoy the peace of the Pineywoods and glimpses of the past.” The park sits at the north end of the Davy Crockett National Forest. The park welcomed 18,586 visitors in FY 2022.
7. Fort Boggy State Park
“A tranquil patchwork of woods, fields and water.” That’s how TPWD describes Fort Boggy State Park, with its trails, primitive campsites and cabins and a lake. The park welcomed 17,693 visitors in FY 2022.
6. Big Bend Ranch State Park
TPWD calls Big Bend Ranch State Park “the other side of nowhere.” The remote park boasts “rugged mountains, steep canyons, amazing views, unparalleled night skies and solitude in a high desert setting.” The park welcomed 16,909 visitors in FY 2022.
5. Resaca de la Palma State Park
Referred to as a “Rio Grande treasure,” Resaca de la Palma State Park is a “semi-tropical paradise,” TPWD says, offering a peaceful refuge for people and wildlife. The park welcomed 11,206 visitors in FY 2022.
4. Kickapoo Cavern State Park
Kickapoo Cavern State Park is a “lightly-developed park” with caves, birds, bats and trails. TPWD says to bring a sense of wonder and a spirit of adventure. The park welcomed 8,434 visitors in FY 2022.
3. Fort Leaton State Historic Site
The Fort Leaton State Historic Site is the site of a former pioneer trading post near the U.S.-Mexico border. The site welcomed 5,527 visitors in FY 2022.
2. Devils River State Natural Area
TPWD says Devils River State Natural Area boasts “one of the most pristine rivers in Texas” and features spring-fed water tumbling pasts rugged ridges, scenic canyons and brushy banks. “It’s not easy to get here, but it’s worth the effort.” The park welcomed 5,017 visitors in FY 2022.
1. Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area
Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area is home one of the largest colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats in the state. About 3 million bats emerge from the sinkhole in search of food on warm nights. Access to the site is only by guided tour. The park welcomed 700 visitors in FY 2022.
We also looked at the most-visited state parks across Texas. Click here to see our top 10 countdown.