The Best Hidden Places in Texas for Road-Trippin'

Categories: Nature, Travel

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Searchin' for Topaz in Mason County
Mason County is the only place in Texas that you can hunt for natural topaz. Topaz is the state gem of Texas, and is usually found within streambeds and ravines, but still only in Mason County. There are a number of ranches in the area that will set you up with everything you need to go topaz hunting, unless they're closed for deer season, and since there's no commercial mining in the area, the entire experience is really unique.

Distance from Houston: 4 hours 26 minutes

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Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Hiking to Gorman Falls
Gorman Falls is a secluded little waterfall that's located right in the heart of Colorado Bend State Park in the hill country. Colorado Bend State Park is a gorgeous area without the hike up to the falls, but if you happen to head out there, this is a hike you should definitely take. It'll be about 1.5 miles up some pretty sticky terrain, but finding the oasis in the middle of Texas is well worth it.

Distance from Houston: 4 hours 19 minutes

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Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Chilling Out at Enchanted Rock
If you've never seen the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, it's time you remedied that. Enchanted Rock is an enormous pink granite pluton dome that rises naturally out of the earth, and as a landmark, it is impressive all on its own. But when you factor in the legend of Enchanted Rock -- the folklore of the Tonkawa, Comanche and Apache tribes all describe the area as mystical and magical -- it truly takes you to another place and time.

Creaking and "groaning" can be heard from the rock at night, and while scientists attribute this noise to the cooling of the rock after it's been heated by the sun during the day, the Native tribes attributed it to ghost fires. They also believed that the rock made them invisible when Anglo settlers started to come to the area, and a number of legends surround the rock to this day.

Distance from Houston: 3 hours 59 minutes

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Photo courtesy of Sanaturalareas.org

Kayaking on Medina River
While the area surrounding Medina River is quite popular for water fanatics, the river has managed to skirt a lot of the rowdier toobers, and has found its niche with the more sedate -- and nature-loving -- kayakers instead. The Medina is a pristine, greenery-covered waterway, free of overly tenuous whitewater rapids or the like. It's basically made for relaxation, and kayaking it is the perfect way to experience that.

Birds chip, fish jump and frogs croak, and you'll be able to hear all of it without having to hear "Spring Break, YEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" over and over, quite unlike what you'll find on some of the more hard-partyin' rivers in the area.

Distance from Houston: 2 hours 57 minutes

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8 comments
Julieta Bosque
Julieta Bosque

Gah, I didn't know about the dinosaur park! My daughter is going to FLIP! Thanks!!

RebeccaS
RebeccaS

I say make a long weekend of visiting west Texas -- take in the Marfa lights, visit Alpine, the McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis and don't forget to go swimming at Balmorhea State Park. Take the long way home and stop off in the not so hidden Fredricksburg and also visit Luckenbach, TX. I did this trip with a friend several years ago and while it was a lot of driving, we had a blast. 

Brian Daly
Brian Daly

I'm surprised that the Frio River didn't make the list but John Wayne's head in Lubbock did.

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