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When you think of central Texas you usually picture flat land and deserts, but the area also boasts plenty of natural beauty, especially in Glen Rose. The small and charming town attracts nature enthusiasts to explore its babbling brooks, picturesque rivers, and beautiful prairies. The city is also known for its prehistoric history, and many of the parks will highlight its past by commemorating its scaly, former residents. Ready for an adventure you only experience in the Lone Star State? Here are the best ways to explore the great outdoors in Glen Rose.
Start with the most iconic location in Glen Rose at the Riverwalk at Paluxy River, where a paved pathway parallels the water. The river runs through Heritage Park and visitors are permitted to go for a swim and soak in the stunning scenery of towering trees along the riverbank. Fishing, canoeing and tubing are popular watersports on the river to battle the heat. If you prefer to stay on land, cycling is a great activity since you’ll enjoy watching the calming waters as you feel the wind in your hair. After a 30-minute walk along the Riverwalk, you’ll arrive at Big Rocks Park, a reservoir that lives up to its name. There, you’ll find clusters of giant rocks that make for great photo opportunities. If you’re bringing the little ones, there are smaller, shallow rocks that they can easily climb and join in on the fun. It’s common to find Texans having a picnic on the rocks, enjoying their midday meals while dipping their feet into the Paluxy River. Extend your stay by the river by opting to rent a cabin at Paluxy Riverbed Cabin, a rustic spot that’s perfect for the family where you can enjoy an outdoor hot tub and barbecue under the stars.
Another popular area is the Brazos River, where tubing is an absolute must. The tubes can be easily rented at various locations on the river along with kayaks and canoes. The area has its own campsite, Brazos River Adventurez, where up to 31 spots are available for camping under a picturesque pecan tree.
To get your adrenaline going, head over to Solovaca Ranch, a challenging terrain that’s ideal for mountain biking. You will tackle hills, bridges and jump over limestone rocks along the Paluxy River during the route. When entering the ranch, you’ll find livestock like goats welcoming you before you go on your ride. Or take it steady and play a game (or two) of golf at Squaw Valley Golf Club, where you’ll feel a sense of euphoria wash over you as you enjoy the breathtaking views of the river. The golf course has received four-star ratings from Golf Digest.
If you think meeting the goats is impressive, wait until you find out what’s in store for you at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. The center is considered one of the best places in the country to go on a safari and get a taste of Africa without shelling out big bucks on plane tickets. Once you arrive at the center, you’ll hop aboard an open-air safari truck and a guide will drive you through 1,700 acres of its land. Throughout the drive, you’ll encounter giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, cheetahs, rhinos and a selection of endangered species of Africa. The center operates as a conservation rather than a zoo and had previous success in reintroducing endangered species such as the scimitar-horned oryx. The conservation has overnight lodging for you to enjoy an authentic safari camp.
After your African safari, take your outdoor fun to the prehistoric age at Dinosaur Valley State Park, a short drive outside of Glen Rose. There, you will see fossilized footprints left behind by the behemoth animals along the riverbed of the Paluxy River. Always make sure the trail hours are open before you plan your trip— depending on the weather, the trails may be closed. During the open season, you can download the dinosaur tracking map on your smartphone that details all the known footprints and hot spots to find remains left behind by them. The park has 20 miles of trails, so you will get to immerse yourself in the incredible nature of a dense forest and river. If you would rather take your outdoor exploration up a notch, opt to go on a guided horse ride through the park via Eagle Eye Ranch Carriage Company, where a guide will take you to all the best scenic spots.
Experience another dinosaur adventure at Dinosaur World, a nature park filled with hundreds of life-sized replicas of the scaly creatures. It’s the perfect place to relish in your Jurassic Park fantasies. You can walk where Tyrannosaurus rex and stegosaurus roamed to get a glimpse of how large and intimidating they were. Your kids can play on the dinosaur-themed playground while you set up a picnic that’s permitted in the park. Dogs are welcomed here as well.
When organizing a trip to Glen Rose, plan your trip to coincide with one of the family-friendly events in the city. In the fall, the Bluegrass Jamboree Festival is a long-awaited celebration of music where dozens of talented musicians grace the stage at Oakdale Park. Or if you’re a die-hard sports enthusiast, you’ll want to register to tackle the terrain of Rough Creek Lodge during the Dallas Beast Spartan Race. In addition to the obstacle course, there will be zip lines, horseback riding, rock climbing and even tomahawk throwing. The event is so popular that participants hailing from Dallas, Austin and Houston come to put their strength to the test. While visiting the area, check out an outdoor concert series, “The Promise,” that tells the story of Jesus Christ through interpretive dance and music. It’s true when they say everything’s bigger in Texas. The amphitheater holds 3,200 spectators and the entire cast of actors is approximately 150 strong, not including the living animals that’ll make guest appearances on stage. The play is set in the evening, so you’ll catch the sky change to brilliant shades of pink and orange as the story unfolds.