How to Save $460 Visiting State Parks in Texas

We take our dog hiking and we visit a lot of state parks. In fact, we’ve hiked at all the state parks in Hill Country, as well as a few others outside of San Antonio. Most Texas State Parks cost money. If you visit them as frequently as we do, you might spend $100’s before you know it. Today I crunched some numbers and realized we will save up to $460 on our adventures at state parks in Texas because of one simple investment.

How Much Does it Cost to Enter a State Park?

Here in Texas it can cost anywhere from $0 – $8 (for one person) to enter a state park. The average cost of a state park visit in Texas is $5. A few state parks in Hill Country are free to visit. These are Old Tunnel, Longhorn Cavern, and LBJ State Park and Ranch. However, each of those parks have activities which will cost you.

A trail map of Pedernales falls with the Texas State Parks Pass
The Texas State Parks Pass and Texas State Park Trail Map

How Much is a Texas State Parks Pass?

Using a Texas State Parks Pass is the best way to save some money at state parks. The pass costs $70, and it’s good for a full year. If you visit state parks in Texas more than seven times a year (with another person), the pass is worth the $70 price tag. Furthermore, there is a ton of fun stuff to do at Texas State Parks.

  • hiking
  • biking
  • fishing
  • paddling
  • camping
  • bouldering
  • stargazing
  • wildlife watching
  • swimming
  • geocaching

The activities you can do at state parks depend on the natural features located within. For example, you probably won’t be able to fish, swim, or paddle if there isn’t a river or lake. However, many parks are situated along a river, or near a lake. Verify the things you can do at state parks before your visit.

Hiking in Texas and Saving Money

If you visit a lot of state parks like we do, you could end up over-spending if you do not make use of the Texas State Parks Pass. I did the math and here is a breakdown of what you can expect to spend over the course of one year:

State Park Visits

12 (once per month)

26 (bi-weekly)

53 (once per week)

Yearly Cost




As you can see, visiting state parks can cost you hundreds. We typically try to visit a state park in Texas every week. Now, we may miss a week here or there, but we stand to save close to $460 by using the Texas State Parks Pass. I took the yearly cost of $530, and subtracted the $70 cost of the state parks pass. Your situation will undoubtedly be different, but the pass is worth the cost in many situations.

What a Texas State Parks Pass Can and Cannot Do

If you love being outdoors as much as we do, the Texas State Parks Pass is a no-brainer. It will get you into any state park, even when they are full, if you made a reservation beforehand. The popular state parks are always closing their gates midday because of max capacity. So many people do not have a pass, nor do they make a reservation before driving all the way to the park. This is a mistake!

The Texas State Parks Pass will get your entire vehicle into the park of your choice. We have been able to get into any park regardless of weekends and holidays by simply making a reservation. It couldn’t be more simple. We haven’t tried camping at any state parks yet, but the pass will give you a 50% discount on the second consecutive night. The pass will also get you 10% off merchandise and other purchases in most parks.

The pass does have its limitations, but they are few. Although park entry is free, camping is not free. The pass simply gets you a discount on the second night. This is extremely useful if you camp more than one night, or camp with a large family. The pass will not get you free guided tours at parks such as Longhorn Cavern where they charge for tours. You will only receive a 10% discount.

This Pass Saves More Than Money

It really doesn’t matter what you do at Texas State Parks. The pass is a must-have if you visit parks in Texas multiple times throughout the year. You can make a reservation online, which saves you time and the risk of being refused entry.

If you only visit a few parks a year, it’s probably not worth your money. However, if that were the case you probably wouldn’t be reading about this. Get yourself a Texas State Parks Pass, people. I knew we needed the pass when we were about to visit three different parks in the same day. It’s probably the best purchase we made all year.

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