Texas has a vast and beautiful natural environment. As a result of the early Hollywood cowboy movies some people got the impression that Texas was dominated by desert. This is not the case as less than 10% of the land can be classified as desert. The state does possess a wide variety on many different landscapes and ecosystems. The land has been folded and faulted over the years by plate tectonics and then 1000s of years of natural erosion and weathering has broken it down into the land that is found today.
This has produced a wide range of flora and fauna and there are some species that are unique to the region. The authorities have recognized the beauty of these natural areas and has attempted to preserve the area by creating a number of parks that as well as giving man more access to these areas, it also enables them to protect the environment.
There are actually over a hundred state and National parks in Texas and they vary hugely in terms of size and content. The largest Big Bend National Park was established in 1944 and now covers an area of 3,242 square kilometres. It is located in the West of the state, and 118 miles of the Rio Grande flowing within the Park borders Mexico. Its ranges from massive mountain ranges and lush river valleys, to the barren landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert. The area is home to 1200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. The park is a hiker’s paradise with over 200 miles of trails available for trips ranging from day tours to week long adventures. However, with the mountain lions and black bears living in the wild, precautions are needed for those people wishing to visit this wilderness.
Another mountainous park within the state is the Guadalupe National Park. The major point of interest of visiting this park is the impressive geological structure that has been formed and also the fantastic views that are available. The Guadalupe mountain range is one of the world’s best examples of a previous coral reef being uplifted from the Ocean bed to from mountain peaks. As well as fossilized reefs there are the remnants of hardwood forests that are tucked into the canyons. The 8.4-mile hike gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the views from the state’s highest point, but naturally it requires a high level of fitness.
The Padre Island National Seashore Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore some of Texas’s untouched shoreline. The area covers a 70-mile-long spit that includes beaches, sand dunes and intertidal flats. The region is teeming with wildlife but its most famous resident is the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle which is the most endangered turtle in the world. It is only one of the two locations where the turtle lays its eggs, and many conservation projects to save the species have occurred in this area.
Some parks in the state protect certain historical urban areas and one such park is the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. The park covers the 404-mile colonial road that stretches from El Paso to Santa Fe. The museums, buildings and churches along the route reflect the three centuries of history that has taken place within the region. It also reflects the different cultures that combine to create Texas’s identity.
There are many more national parks on offer and they all give visitors the opportunity to view the many different pictures of the state.