Geology
Rocks and minerals can be found in your own backyard. Explore the world around you and learn about the history of the formation of the Earth by studying geology. We've gathered resources to make it fun and interesting.
Things to See & Do in Texas
Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, or El Rio Bravo del Norte, provides protection and maintenance of the pristine character of the Rio Grande from the Coahuila/Chihuahua, Mexico, state border upstream from Mariscal Canyon to the Terrell/Val Verde County line in Texas downstream. The Wild and Scenic River designation extends for 196 miles along the river’s course. Approximately 69 miles of The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River designation lies within Big Bend National Park, and an additional 118 miles borders the Park. The National Park Service manages both the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, and the Rio Grande along the park’s boundary for recreation and preservation.
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Contrasting spectacularly with its surroundings, Lake Meredith lies on the dry and windswept High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. The lake itself was created by Sanford Dam on the Canadian River; it now fills many breaks whose walls are crowned with white limestone caprock, scenic buttes, pinnacles, and red-brown, wind-eroded coves. Lake Meredith’s shores are dotted with mesquite, prickly pear, yucca, and grasses of arid plains. Up the sheltered creek beds stand cottonwoods, soapberry, and sandbar willows. The 50,000-acre national recreation area includes a 10,000-acre reservoir where visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities for a day or an entire vacation.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Rising from the desert, this mountain mass contains portions of the world's most extensive and significant Permian limestone fossil reef. Also featured are a tremendous earth fault, lofty peaks, unusual flora and fauna, and a colorful record of the past. Guadalupe Peak, highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet; El Capitan, a massive limestone formation; McKittrick Canyon, with its unique flora and fauna; and the "Bowl", located in a high country conifer forest, are significant park features. While scenic driving in the park is limited to one 4X4 road, there are over 80 miles of trails that offer a wide range of opportunities for exploring. Other available activities include: backpacking, camping and wildlife viewing. Visitors may also see ruins of a stage station, or visit the Frijole Ranch History Museum (open intermittently).
Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore, encompassing 130,454 acres, is the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as recreation.
Amistad National Recreation Area
Situated on the United States-Mexico Border, Amistad NRA is known primarily for excellent year round, water-based recreation including: boating, fishing, swimming, scuba diving and water-skiing. Amistad NRA also provides opportunities for picnicking, camping and hunting. The reservoir, at the confluence of the Rio Grande, Devils and Pecos rivers, was created by Amistad Dam in 1969. In addition to excellent recreation, this area is rich in archeology and rock art, and contains a wide variety of plant and animal life. Amistad NRA lies in southwest Texas, west of San Antonio between Del Rio and Langtry, downstream from Big Bend National Park.
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
For thousands of years, people came to the red bluffs above the Canadian River for flint, vital to their existence. Demand for the high quality, rainbow-hued flint is reflected in the distribution of Alibates Flint through the Great Plains and beyond. Today this area is protected by the National Park Service and is the only National Monument in Texas. The monument can only be viewed by ranger-led guided tours. The Monument is located 25 miles north of Amarillo and 7 miles south of Fritch.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is one of the largest and least visited of America’s national parks. Over 801,000 acres await your exploration and enjoyment. From an elevation of less than 2,000 feet along the Rio Grande to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend includes massive canyons, vast desert expanses, and the entire Chisos Mountain range. Here, you can explore one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States, and experience unmatched sights, sounds, and solitude. Big Bend National Park also marks the northernmost range of many plants and animals, such as the Mexican long-nosed bat. Ranges of typically eastern and typically western species of plants and animals come together or overlap here. Here many species are at the extreme limits of their ranges. Latin American species, many from the tropics, range this far north, while northern-nesting species often travel this far south in winter. Contrasting elevations create additional, varied micro-climates that further enhance the diversity of plant and animal life and the park’s wealth of natural boundaries.
Big Thicket National Preserve
The Preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 97,000 acres. Big Thicket was the first Preserve in the National Park System established October 11, 1974, and protects an area of rich biological diversity. A convergence of ecosystems occurred here during the last Ice Age. It brought together, in one geographical location, the eastern hardwood forests, the Gulf coastal plains, and the midwest prairies.
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