There are so many incredible things to see and do in Texas, and many of those are within Texas State Parks! There are over 90 Texas State Park locations. Many of those locations charge a day use fee, which is a per person fee (as opposed to per vehicle). As reasonable as those fees are, for the experience, it can add up very quickly if you like to visit multiple locations, or you have a large family (or both for us!).
Early on in our travels, we found a great way to get to inexpensively experience as many Texas State Parks as we could fit in our schedule… with the purchase of a Texas State Parks Pass (TSPP)! This annual pass costs $70, and you receive a plastic card that gets you and your passengers (or 5 other people if traveling by foot, bike, or boat) into all Texas State Parks for free, for a full year! Each card has a unique bar code that is linked to your drivers license information; because the cards are not embedded with photos, you do have to show your driver’s license when you use the pass to gain entry to the parks, but we have not found this to be a problem at all.
The over 90 Texas State Parks are scattered throughout the state, and offer a variety of experiences. Early on, we did not know about the Texas State Parks website, complete with map. Because of that, we did not realize that the USS Texas is a Texas State Park; we pulled up to the admissions booth expecting to pay for our tribe, and were tickled when the attendant asked if we had a TSPP, and then let us in for free! Needless to say our TSPP pays for itself several times over each year!
So, here are the details, and a few tips on making the most of your Texas State Parks Pass:
Your TSPP has some other benefits beyond free entrance fees. like 10% off of gift shop purchases and park equipment rentals. Exclusions can apply, so be sure to check at each park.
Your TSPP comes loaded with 4 1/2 price camping nights!!! There are a few blackout dates depending on the park, but your (family’s 1st) TSPP gives you 4 nights of half price camping – these apply for a consecutive, second night stay at a same campground (first night regular price, second night is half price).
The TSPP is good for the main purchaser, but a family can purchase a second pass, for another individual at the same address, for just $25. The reduced price second pass offers the same admission fees and discounts, except for the half-price camping.
Cardholder must be present for free admission, so if you are planning on purchasing one TSPP, be sure to put it in the name of the adult/parent that is most likely to use it without the other. For us, that meant that we put it in Dana’s name since she (me) would be more likely to take the kids to a state park for a day than Vaughn would be.
The TSPP is good for one full calendar year from the month purchased, and through the end of the expiration month. So, whether you purchase your pass on June 3rd, or June 30th, it is good through the end of June of the next year. Therefor, if you purchase your pass at the beginning of the month, you will basically get 13 months of free admissions.
The map of all Texas State Parks is super handy for finding places that you can use your pass at. Texas State Parks also have their own free Jr. Ranger program.
There is so much to love about Texas, and their Texas State Parks Pass program makes finding out all about it affordable for families!