I like to take a drive in the fall to see the fall foliage. November, leaves changing colors, and long drives in the country just seem to go together. If there’s one time of the year that I am most likely to drag out the tent and sleeping bags to go camping, it is this very time of the year. The nights are cool, the days, at least this year, are sunny and pleasant. This is a good time to be outdoors.
Thing is, I live in North Texas, and North Texas is not the best place for fall foliage. Fall foliage viewing around here is basically a micro experience. You drive until you find an area that presents a montage of understory colors and adjacent trees displaying their own rich colors. When you find this, you are there. Take the picture.
I thought I would put together my list of great places to see fall foliage starting from the Dallas Fort Worth area. Not an exhaustive nor authoritative list by any means, but just recommendations based on my own experiences.
Palo Pinto County, Farm Road 4, Highway 16, and Mineral Well State Park. This is a short drive from the Metroplex. The Palo Pinto Mountains are stunning to see, for us flat-landers anyway. There’s plenty of mature forest available for potential fall foliage photo ops. Mineral Well State Park is great for camping and hiking and relaxing. Possum Kingdom State Park is also near by. For an entirely different perspective you can canoe down the Brazos River.
Tyler Texas and Tyler State Park are not that far from Dallas and Fort Worth. A plus for travel convenience. Tyler is a great East Texas town with plenty to see and do. Plenty of tree-lined streets plus the Tyler Rose Garden is nice most times of the year. Work Gladewater into your return trip if you want to do some antiquing.
Arkansas Scenic Highway 7 starting at Arkadelphia or Hot Springs. Scenic 7 meanders through the Ouachita Mountains then the River Valley Region and onto the soaring Ozarks. Hot Springs is quite a destination itself. DeGray Lake Resort State Park is another great option for a comfortable stopping off point during your drive. Heading further north, the view gets better. beyond Russelleville the mountains and the views get big. There are several stand out primitive camp grounds in the are of Pelsor Arkansas, Haw Creek Falls Campground, and the Richland Creek Campgrounds and Wilderness Area. Consider this if you like primitive camping and challenging hikes. A link for general information and locations at Arkansas.com
Petit Jean State Park is Arkansas’s first state park, featuring stunning views, enchanting woodlands laced with streams and wildflowers, and a spectacular waterfall—Cedar Falls. The Park has several fine trails, but the Ceder Falls Trail in particular is great for foliage viewing. A moderately tough trail leading into a picturesque valley graced by the Cedar Falls. From personal experience I can say that this is a great fall hike. There are hundreds of campsites, and Mather Lodge for those seeking more comfortable accommodations.
Magazine Mountain State Park is an outstanding state park on the highest peak in Arkansas. Limited camping and R.V. spaces. Book well in advance. Can get very cold in November and with very little warning. Outstanding views. Bears and large cats also live on the mountain.
I will update this article with pictures if I have time. Constructive comments encouraged. Where did you see great fall foliage in or near Texas?
Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
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