A 100th birthday is a big deal—especially when every Texan can join the party. So to celebrate its 2023 centennial, Texas Parks & Wildlife is hosting a photo contest almost all year long. And some of the best images may be waiting for us near the end of the year right here in North Texas, when Palo Pinto Mountains State Park opens 80 miles west of Fort Worth.
The photo contest kicked off in January with the first of four quarterly themes, “New Year, New Adventure.” A panel of TP&W judges will select quarterly winners, with the final entries needing to be posted or tagged on social media by November 27. Each winning snapper will each get a Texas State Parks Pass valued at $70 and a $100 H-E-B gift card donated by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation.
In December, voting will begin for the grand prize winner, who’ll get a Texas State Parks Pass, a $500 H-E-B gift card, and a “VIP-curated experience” at a Texas State Park.
All photos must be taken at a Texas State Park or natural area. For details about how to enter the contest, go here.
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park is first new state park in North Texas in 25 years
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park is located on nearly 5,000 acres of scenic, undeveloped land with the 90-acre Tucker Lake (above) as its centerpiece. It fronts 4.7 miles on Palo Pinto Creek in North Texas’ Cross Timbers ecoregion. And unlike most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, its horizon line features jagged upcroppings, with several 1,400-foot peaks to frame up in your camera or smartphone.
But don’t head there yet. While it’s under construction, the park is closed to the public. You’ll have to wait until it opens near the end of the year to catch those photogenic vistas.
Hiking, camping, fishing, and more in a ‘hill country of the north’
The new Palo Pinto Mountains State Park will offer some of the best hiking trails in North Texas in what TP&W calls “a hill country of the north.”
Plans include an extensive network of multi-use trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, with trails leading to “remote areas of the park with expansive vistas.”
If you prefer lakes to trails, Tucker Lake will offer chances to boat, swim, and bird-watch. (But no motors on boats, please—TP&W isn’t allowing those, to keep the park chill and serene.)
Campsites for RVs and tents
Campsites at the park will include RV sites along with “walk-in tent sites and primitive camping areas.” Picnic areas and playgrounds will also be provided
Best of all may be the stargazing at night, since the nearest city lights are pretty far from the park.
Getting to this “hill country of the north” will be very accessible for North Texans. All you’ll have to do is take a straight shot west on Interstate 20 from DFW.
Texas Parks & Wildlife is accepting donations now to help bring Palo Pinto Mountains State Park to life. To make a gift, you can go here.
More renderings of the park
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