Most people know that in the Lone Star State, aka Texas, summers can absolutely sizzle. Which is why, when you go to plan your next Texas vacation during those warmer months we have some advice: think water. Thanks to Uncle Sam, this southwestern state has some terrific places besides the beach to enjoy year-round, two of which are federally owned waters while the third is public land looked after by the Bureau of Land Management. We’re talking, of course, about the Amistad and Lake Meredith National Recreation Areas and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River of course. And you can bet that even if you have reservations about the incumbent party you’re going to thank federal dollars for these cool getaways that are sure to give you relief from the winter blues or summer heat exhaustion.
You don’t have to go quite south of the border to enjoy a chilled retreat (margaritas as desired) on the waters of Amistad Reservoir. Formed in 1969 by the creation of the Amistad Dam, this popular recreation area straddles a stretch of reservoir shared between the United States and Mexico. There are 67, 000 acres and plenty of watery inlets to explore just on the American side, whether your focus is boating, swimming, camping, scuba diving or spotting prehistoric rock paintings. And the fishing is pretty good, too.
While there’s beach in the southeast and reservoir in the southwest, the folks up Amarillo way aren’t excluded altogether. For the effort of less than an hour’s drive, you can leave Amarillo late morning and be to Lake Meredith National Recreation Area before lunch. This large lake sees a fair amount of summer traffic come to camp and enjoy a bit of boating, swimming and fishing. But on cooler days, it’s also possible to pursue a handful of land-based activities, from hiking and hunting to horseback riding and OHV use. Leave time also for a detour to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument nearby.
Last but not least, the Rio Grande is the state’s sole officially designated Wild & Scenic River and forms a long, meandering desert-framed stretch of border between the U.S. and Mexico. Spring sees the most visitors in these parts, but no matter when you make the trip you’ll want to plan to experience this wild river on a float trip, with plenty of riverbank stops for refreshing dips.
So don’t let the thought of penetrating sun put you off a Texas vacation. Instead, let it lead you someplace where water play is the focus. You’ll find that life in these parts is far more than just Gulf Coast beaches.