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Few People Know There’s A Beautiful State Park Hiding On The Edge Of Texas Hill Country

Texas has many beautiful state parks from colossal mountains and thick forests to deep valleys.

The only problem is that the best ones tend to get pretty busy.

That’s why I have a secret to share with you!!

The state park we’re revealing today is one of the best in the whole of Texas but it’s also one of the least visited.

In fact, only around 5,000 people visit this beautiful state park each year!

It’s a real hidden gem that never gets crowded, feels like a natural paradise and has tons of fun activities to keep you occupied.

You’ll wish you’d known about it before.

Devils River State Natural Area

Devils River State Natural Area is a beautiful place in Texas that few people know about.

It’s located in the southwestern part of Texas, not too far from the border with Mexico. 

It’s situated in a remote, rugged area that’s part of Val Verde County. 

The closest major city is Del Rio, which is about 60 miles (or roughly an hour and 45 minutes drive) to the southwest. 

Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

The Devils River is known for having some of the clearest waters in the whole of Texas.

This is because it’s fed by natural springs that filter the water, making it super clean. 

It’s so clear that sometimes you can see all the way to the bottom, even in deeper parts!

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

The entire park, which covers 37,000 acres, feels like a big playground for anyone who loves the outdoors. 

It’s breathtaking and truly is one of Texas’s most scenic places!

As well as the crystal-clear river, you’ll also find deep canyons and rugged cliffs all around. It feels like you’re deep in the wilderness.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Due to its remote location, this place never feels crowded so it feels like a more authentic experience with nature.

In fact, you can hike for hours and not even see a single person!

Whether you’re into hiking, kayaking, fishing or just enjoying the great outdoors, there’s something here for you. 

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

The hiking trails allow you to explore the rugged landscapes of the area which are full of hills and valleys. 

They offer some amazing views that look like postcards!

Kayaking on the Devils River itself is also a big deal here. 

Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

The river flows through untouched nature and paddling down it feels like you’re on an adventure through a hidden paradise. 

The water is so clear that you might even see fish swimming below your kayak!

Or if you’d prefer, you could just swim directly in the river itself. Only attempt this if you’re a decent swimmer though as the rapids can be strong.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Fishing is another popular activity as the river is home to different kinds of fish and catching them is a fun challenge.

What makes Devils River State Natural Area really stand out is its commitment to preserving the natural environment. 

It’s a place where you can see the stars at night without any light pollution, listen to the silence of nature and disconnect from the busy world.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Devils River State Natural Area also provides a home for some rare and endangered species. 

This includes plants that can’t be found anywhere else in the world and animals like the Mexican free-tailed bat.

Also look out for skunks, snakes, foxes, porcupines and armadillos. 

Apparently even bobcats, mountain lions and black bears can be spotted occasionally.

Things To Do

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Devils River State Natural Area is an outdoor paradise where you can do tons of cool activities. 

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning a trip:

Dolan Falls

Daniel Rodriguez / Flickr

Dolan Falls is one of the most scenic spots in the park.

This hidden gem is where the clear, cool waters of the Devils River drop over a limestone ledge, creating a picturesque scene. 

The falls are about 15 feet high and spread out wide which makes it a peaceful place to listen to the water and enjoy nature. 

Clinton & Charles Robertson / Flickr

Getting to Dolan Falls involves a bit of a hike but the path leads through stunning scenery that makes the journey worth it. 

Interestingly, Dolan Falls is actually the highest volume waterfall in Texas!

Kayaking and Canoeing

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

As I mentioned, the Devils River is particularly famous for its clear, beautiful water. 

Therefore, kayaking or canoeing down this river is a must-do activity. 

And as you’ll usually have the river to yourself, it’s a very special adventure!

The river flows through some natural, rugged landscapes and the journey can be peaceful and thrilling at the same time.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

It offers a mix of calm waters and challenging rapids so it’s perfect for an adventure. 

You need to bring your own kayak/canoe or you can rent one from a local outfitter near the park. You cannot rent them inside the park itself though.

Make sure to plan your trip because the river can have fast sections and you’ll need to be a decent swimmer. 


Patrick Lewis / Flickr

The river has clear waters which are perfect for fishing as it’s easy to see the fish. 

You can catch bass, catfish, carp, gar and other types of fish here. 

The park encourages “catch and release” fishing which means you need to let the fish go after catching them. 

You still get the fun of reeling it in but then you gently let it go back home.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

This helps keep the fish population healthy and means that future generations will be able to enjoy fishing too.

You’ll need a Texas fishing license if you’re 17 or older. You can buy a license online or at some local stores.

For fishing, you do need to follow the park’s regulations which you can read here.


Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

There are several hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape. 

Trails vary in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk or a challenging hike.

The Newton Loop is an easy but scenic trail that’s just 0.12 miles long. You’ll see lots of wildlife and nature along the way.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Another great trail is the Finegan Springs Trail which is a mile long and takes you along the river. It includes some water crossings and ends at the Finegan Springs.

There’s also a 12-Mile Loop trail if you’re up for a challenge!

Remember to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water, especially in the summer when it’s really hot. 

Also, stay on the marked trails to protect the environment and yourself.


Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

The park is far from cities and their lights which makes it a fantastic place for stargazing.

This place is actually rated as one of the darkest skies available on Earth! 

On a clear night, you can see thousands of stars, planets and even the Milky Way.

In fact, it’s actually one of the best places in Texas to see the Milky Way.

Bring along a blanket and a telescope if you have one. 

Summer nights are best for stargazing because the sky is often clearer.


Patrick Lewis / Flickr

There are campsites where you can set up a tent and stay overnight. 

The sites are primitive, which means they don’t have water, electricity or restrooms. This offers a more rugged camping experience.

They have both drive-up and hike-in options.

You can also rent rooms in the barracks on-site instead.

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

You do need to reserve a campsite in advance, especially during busy seasons like spring and fall. 

Make sure to bring all the camping gear you need including water, food and a first-aid kit.

At the time of writing, the campsites cost $10 per night. Check the current information here.

Planning a trip to Devils River State Natural Area is exciting. There’s so much to do, from paddling down the river to sleeping under the stars.

Know Before You Go

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Planning a trip to Devils River State Natural Area in Texas? 

Here are some key things you should know to make your adventure smooth and enjoyable:

Getting There

Devils River State Natural Area is a bit off the beaten path which makes it a peaceful escape from the city. 

mlhradio / Flickr

It’s located in Southwest Texas, far from big cities. 

The closest town is Del Rio which is about an hour and 45 minutes drive away. 

Because it’s remote, make sure your car has a full tank of gas whenever possible and you might want to download or print out maps since cell service can be spotty.

Here’s the exact address: 21715 Dolan Crk Rd, Del Rio, TX 78840, United States


Once you arrive, you’ll find parking areas near the entrance and close to the main activities and camping spots. 

Parking is included with your entrance fee so you don’t have to worry about paying extra for your car.

There is a one mile hike from the parking lot to the river. Luckily, it isn’t too strenuous.


Patrick Lewis / Flickr

To enter Devils River State Natural Area, there’s an entrance fee. 

Adults (age 13 and older) need to pay $5 each while kids 12 and under get in for free. 

Prices can change so it’s a good idea to check the official Texas Parks and Wildlife website for the most current information. 

If you plan to camp, rent kayaks or need a fishing license (for those 17 and older), those will cost extra.

At the time of writing, the campsites cost $10 per night. Check the current information here.

Please note that only credit cards are accepted at the park. Cash and checks aren’t accepted.

Opening Times

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

The park is open from 8am till 5pm from Friday to Monday. It’s closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so plan your trip accordingly.

If you’re camping, you’ll have access to your campsite even after the park closes to day visitors. 

It’s always a good idea to look at the park’s website for the most up-to-date information or call ahead to confirm the hours before you visit.


For camping, I’d recommend making a reservation ahead of time. 

Although this park doesn’t get many visitors, due to its remote location, it’s worth ensuring you have a spot before arriving.

You can reserve a campsite online through the Texas Parks and Wildlife website or by calling them. 

For day visits, it’s still a good idea to reserve your spot ahead of time, especially as this park is quite remote.

You don’t want to waste your time driving there just to be turned away.

You can easily reserve your passes online or by calling the customer service line.

Facilities and Services

Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr

Since the park is in a remote location, facilities are basic. 

You’ll find restrooms and picnic areas but don’t expect restaurants or shops. 

Bring all the food, water and supplies you’ll need. 

For camping, some sites are primitive with no water or electricity so prepare to be self-sufficient. 

If you’re renting equipment like kayaks, you’ll find a few local outfitters in the area but they’re not directly in the park.


Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Over the years, the Devils River has had several names. It used to be known as the ‘San Pedro River’.

The name ‘Devils River’ might sound spooky but it’s more about the river’s untamed nature and less about any scary stories.

Additionally, the area around Devils River has a rich and interesting history including Native American tribes, Spanish explorers and pioneers. 

There are even ancient rock art sites nearby that are thousands of years old!

Pictographs featuring red panthers have been found within the area and archaeologists have dated them back to 3,000 BC.

The park itself was established in 1988. Before that, it formed part of a private ranch.

How To Enjoy Your Visit Safely

Patrick Lewis / Flickr

Stay Hydrated: The Texas heat can be intense, especially in the summer. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Wear Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats and long-sleeve shirts will help protect you from the sun.

Be Prepared: If you’re hiking or exploring, bring a map, compass or GPS device. Remember, cell service may not be reliable.

Respect Wildlife: Enjoy watching wildlife from a distance and don’t feed the animals.

Leave No Trace: Keep this beautiful area clean by taking all your trash away with you and staying on the designated trails.

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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