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Los Maples State Park fall foliage, photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022

Where to Find Beautiful Fall Colors in Texas

20 local spots and day trip destinations offer the best fall foliage in and near Dallas-Fort Worth

One of the things we look forward to most this time of year is the beautiful fall colors in Texas. Sure, autumn also brings pumpkin-spiced everything, fall festivals, Thanksgiving gatherings and other seasonal activities, but the explosion of vibrant oranges, reds and yellows is quintessentially fall. Plus, these colors make for some fantastic backgrounds for adorable posts of your kids on Instagram.

So, where can you see some of the best fall foliage in Texas? Read on for our favorite places to take it in, including spots in Dallas-Fort Worth and some state parks that are a little farther away, as well as the best trees for fall color in Texas, and when to expect the leaves to change color.

What are the best trees for fall colors in Texas?
There are plenty of deciduous trees in Texas that showcase dazzling foliage in the fall. Blackgum, elm, ash, maple, sweetgum, oak and American Smoketree are among the best trees for fall colors in Texas.

When is the best time to see fall foliage in Texas?
Due to a summer without significant rain and a warmer-than-usual autumn this year, we could see a lack of vibrant fall colors on the trees, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. “Many trees put on fewer, smaller leaves this spring or started to change color or prematurely drop their leaves in the summer,” said Karl Flocke, Texas A&M Forest Service Woodland Ecologist in a press release. “All of this will most likely lead to fall colors that are less impressive than in years past.”

That being said, the best time to see the fall colors in Texas at their peak will be mid to late November, according to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, which charts the foliage across the U.S.

8 Places to See the Best Fall Colors in Dallas-Fort Worth

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Where: 8525 Garland Road, Dallas
Entrance fee: $20; $26 seniors; $12 children ages 2–12; additional $3 for Children’s Adventure Garden
Hours: 9am–5pm daily
The details: There are, of course, numerous flora to discover here, but the best spot for fall colors in Dallas is the Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Hill. Here there are more than 80 varieties of Japanese maples planted along the stream, making for a dazzling display come fall. Other spots within the arboretum to check out for fall foliage are A Woman’s Garden and Crape Myrtle Allee garden.
Contact: 214/515-6615

Dallas Arboretum - Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Hill Credit: Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum

Prairie Creek Park

Where: 2400 West Prairie Creek Drive, Richardson
Entrance fee: Free
Hours: 5am–10:30pm daily
The details: This 37-acre park has plenty of picnicking areas where you can enjoy a meal al fresco with your kids while taking in the beautiful fall colors. Make sure to stop by the Prairie Creek Park Bridge at the southern end of the park or the small waterfalls at the northern end of the park for some great pics.
Contact: 972/744-4300

Spring Creek Nature Area

Where: 2505 North Plano Road, Richardson
Entrance fee: Free
Hours: 5am–10:30pm daily
The details: This 100-acre hardwood forest will surround you in color. Plus, with the paved trail surface, it’s accessible for wheelchairs and great for strollers.
Contact: 972/744-4300

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Where: 6701 West Parker Road, Plano
Entrance fee: Free
Hours: Thursday-Tuesday, 5am-11pm; Wednesday, 2-11pm
The details: This 200-acre nature preserve features vast areas of natural beauty for hiking, walking and biking. Plus, the paved paths make it a stroller- and wheelchair-friendly option. Don’t miss the Observation Tower, which gives you unobstructed views of the preserve’s three ecoregions and the beautiful fall colors of Texas.
Contact: 972/941-7250

Cedar Ridge Preserve

Where: 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas
Entrance fee: $3 suggested donation
Hours: 6:30am–dusk Tuesday–Sunday
The details: This preserve features 600 acres of native trees, grasses and wildflowers—along with 9 miles of trails for hiking. The short Little Bluestem trail is wheelchair accessible, while the half-mile Possumhaw trail has a guide explaining the various flora you see, including cedar and oak trees.
Contact: 972/709-7784

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Where: 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth
Entrance fee: $12; $10 seniors; $6 children ages 6–15; free for children ages 5 and under
Hours: 8am–6pm daily
The details: Check out the Four Seasons Garden, which has chrysanthemums and maples that burst into color in the fall. Stop by the Fort Worth Japanese Garden to see the glorious Japanese maples. And spend some time in the Grove, a moderately wooded area that features large oak trees.
Contact: 817/463-4160

Johnny Broyles Nature Trail

Where: Little Elm Park, 701 W. Eldorado Parkway, Little Elm
Entrance fee: Free during the fall (there is a $10 parking fee on weekends during the summer months)
Hours: Dawn to dusk daily
The details: Located at the north end of Little Elm Park, this trail has a 10-foot-wide accessible concrete path that clocks in at just under a mile. When you’re done taking in the fall foliage, let your kids play on the park’s playground. It’s a win-win!
Contact: 972/731-3296

White Rock Lake Park

Where: 8300 Garland Road, Dallas
Entrance fee: Free
Hours: 6am–11pm daily
The details: Spanning 1,015 acres with more than 9 miles of trails, White Rock Lake is touted as “the jewel in the crown of the Dallas park system.” With the park’s dozens of varieties of trees, you’ll see gorgeous fall colors as you walk, bike or picnic in the park.
Contact: 214/670-1923

10 Day and Overnight Trips to See Fall Colors in Texas

October and November are among the busiest times for state parks, which often reach capacity. To guarantee entry, reserve your park passes and campsites in advance online. You may want to consider finding an Airbnb or other vacation rental nearby if you’re planning a road trip to visit one of these locations to see the gorgeous fall colors.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Where: Glen Rose, Texas
Distance from DFW: 1-1.5 hours southwest of DFW
Entrance fee: $7; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–5pm daily
The details: If you have younger kids who love dinosaurs and you want to take in the fall foliage in Texas, Dinosaur Valley State Park should be at the top of your must-see list. It’s an easy day trip, and your little dino-lover will get a kick out of seeing the giant dinosaur replicas and exploring the four areas where you can see tracks made by sauropods and theropods. (The fifth site is currently closed because it’s unstable.) You’ll get to enjoy the fall colors of green ash, American and cedar elms, sycamore and oak trees without too many complaints of boredom. You can also bring your horses and ride the trails, or book a guided tour with Eagle Eye Ranch Carriage Company.
Contact: 254/897-4588

Dinosaur Valley State Park fall foliage, photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022
Dinosaur Valley State Park, photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022

Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway

Where: Mineral Wells, Texas
Distance from DFW: 1-1.5 hours west of DFW
Entrance fee: $7; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 6am–10pm daily
The details: Located in the heart of cattle country, this state park offers history, scenery and plenty of outdoor activities to keep the kids active for the day. Plus, it’s another location close to DFW, so it’s a great option for a fall day trip. You can bike, hike, swim, fish, boat and rock climb here. If you’re looking for an easy hike to see foliage, try the Cross Timbers Black Trail. It’s the longest trail here, clocking in at 2.3 miles, but you can go as far as your little ones will let you. Plus, you’ll see some old buildings from Fort Wolters. Or tackle the Red Waterfront Trail. It’s a moderate hike, but it has the Four Cedar Elms and the Penitentiary Hollow Overlook, which has a great view of Lake Mineral Wells.
Contact: 940/328-1171

Tyler State Park

Where: Tyler, Texas
Distance from DFW: 2 hours east of DFW
Entrance fee: $6; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: Daily, headquarters open 8:30am-4:30pm but has extended hours seasonally. There are no gates, so if you come when the headquarters are closed, use the self-pay box. Park closes at 10pm.
The details: Tyler State Park is popular with families and for good reason. You can hike, swim, boat, fish, camp, mountain bike and bird watch. For an easy hike for families, check out the Blackjack Nature Trail, which is flat and crosses the grassy savannah. Or take on the 2.1-mile Lakeshore Trail, which goes around the lake and offers scenic views of historic buildings that blend into the landscape.
Tyler State Park also has a few planned fall hikes, if you want to join a group outing. On November 12, you can join the Lakeshore Nature Hike for a 2.1-mile walk around the lake through the tall pine and bottomland hardwood forest. And on November 25, see the colors of the Post Oak Savannah on an easy 0.3-mile trail.
Contact: 903/597-5338

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Where: Pittsburg, Texas
Distance from DFW: 2-3 hours east of DFW
Entrance fee: $4; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 6am–10pm daily
The details: Two ecoregions—the Piney Woods and Blackland Prairie—meet here, creating an area known as the Post Oak Savannah. You’ll see varieties of oak, hickory and maple for some spectacular call color. Even if you have no plans to fish here, head out to the pier for some unobstructed views of the lake and surrounding fall foliage. For a little history, stroll the grounds of Fort Sherman Cemetery, the only remnant of Fort Sherman. With five trails (four of which are easy), you can’t go wrong choosing one to immerse yourself in fall colors. Though, the Lakeview Loop is closest to the pier and cemetery.
Contact: 903/572-5531

Daingerfield State Park

Where: Daingerfield, Texas
Distance from DFW: 2.5-3 hours northeast of DFW
Entrance fee: $4; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 6am–10pm daily
The details: As the trees prepare for winter, sweetgum, oaks, maples and sassafras are a beautiful contrast to the evergreen pines. In fact, you may find yourself engulfed in showers of red, orange and yellow leaves while hiking in the woods—all thanks to the young men of Civilian Con­ser­va­tion Corps, who planted these trees in the 1930s. The 2.4-mile Rustling Leaves Trail is a relaxing hike that takes you through the “Cathedral of Trees” around Lake Daingerfield. Meanwhile the 1.2-mile Mountain View Trail is a challenging hike with steep portions, but the payoff of the views at the high point make it worth it (if your kids can handle a challenging hike).
Contact: 903/645-2921

McKinney Falls State Park

Where: Austin, Texas
Distance from DFW: 3 hours south of DFW
Entrance fee: $6; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–10pm daily
The details: Named after Thomas McKinney, who owned and lived on the land in the mid to late 1800s, you can hike, fish, swim and camp in this state park, along with seeing the ruins of  McKinney’s homestead. There are a few easy trails here, including the Picnic Trail, a half-mile hike that’s super family-friendly. Once you’re done picnicking, take a stroll over to the Lower Falls and see the water of Onion Creek flow over limestone ledges into the pool below. While you’re here, be sure to visit “Old Baldy,” one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land in Texas. (It’s estimated to be more than 500 years old.) Old Baldy is located on the Rick Shelter Trail, an easy hike clocking in at just over half a mile.
Contact: 512/243-1643

Caddo Lake State Park

Where: Karnack, Texas
Distance from DFW: 3-3.5 hours east of DFW
Entrance fee: $4; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–4:45pm daily
The details: Located on a swampy offshoot of Caddo Lake, the bayou’s signature bald cypress trees turn fiery orange in the fall. You’ll have the best views of the cypress trees draped in Spanish moss from the Saw Mill Pond fishing pier. You might also see some wildlife, and you can go fishing, so bring your gear. The Caddo Forest Trail is a short but moderate hike, but you can take a break about halfway through at the Civilian Conservation Corps Pavilion, which was built in 1930. Bonus: About a quarter of a mile of the Caddo Forest Trail is ADA accessible.
Contact: 903/679-3351

Pedernales Falls State Park

Where: Johnson City, Texas
Distance from DFW: 3.5-4 hours southwest of DFW
Entrance fee: $6; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–10pm daily. If you’re camping and planning to arrive after the gates close, contact the park before 5pm to get the gate code.
The details: With the right amount of rain, Pedernales Falls becomes an autumnal paradise for hikers and kayakers alike. With miles of trails (all open to hiking and biking, unless otherwise noted), you’ll find a route that’s perfect for your family. The half-mile Twin Falls Nature Trail is easy for kids and leads to a tree-shaded natural spring, while the Pedernales Falls trail system offers vistas of the park’s namesake feature and the surrounding fall foliage. This state park also allows horseback riding on some trails, but you’ll have to bring your own. Note: Pedernales Falls State Park will be closed from 10pm on Sunday, November 13 to 8am on Friday, November 18. Only permitted hunters will be allowed in the park during this time.
Contact: 830/868-7304

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Where: Vanderpool, Texas
Distance from DFW: 5.5 hours southwest of DFW
Entrance fee: $6; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–4:30pm daily; trails may close due to poor conditions or weather
The details: As the name of the park suggests, maples are the star of the fall foliage show here. In fact, the park protects a large, isolated stand of uncommon Uvalde bigtooth maples. The Natural Area offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails, including a loop that takes you along the top of a 2,200-foot cliff. But with little kids, it may be best to stick to the Maple Trail, an easy 0.4-mile route that showcases the bigtooth maples. For an easy trail that’s a little longer, the 1-mile East-West Trail offers even more views of the fall colors along the Sabinal River. Check the foliage report before making your plans, as it can help you get a better idea of when to visit.
Contact: 830/966-3413

Garner State Park fall foliage, photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022
Garner State Park, photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022

Garner State Park

Where: Concan, Texas
Distance from DFW: 5-6 hours southwest of DFW
Entrance fee: $8; free for children ages 12 and under
Hours: 8am–10pm daily
The details: The spectacular fall views make this one of the most popular parks to visit this time of year—and the easy access to the Frio River and miles of hiking trails keeps families having fun the whole time they’re here. There are 16 miles of trails here, some leading to spectacular bird’s-eye views of the gorgeous fall colors, and a few of them are easy trails if you’re hiking with young kids.
Blinn River Trail is a half-mile stroll along the Frio River, but it closes frequently due to erosion (so check with park staff before you hike). Old Entrance Road, which clocks in at just under a mile, is a paved road open to bikers and hikers, and it leads to an overlook with a fantastic view of the Frio Canyon. If you have older kids (or your younger ones are up for a challenge), consider Old Baldy Trail, a half-mile steep and rocky trail that pays off with amazing views for miles around.
Don’t forget to bring your bathing suits if the weather is nice. On Saturdays, from mid-August through November, you can rent 1- and 2-person kayaks, paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards, and 10-by-6-foot floats for your family.
Contact: 830/232-6132

RELATED: Fall Activities for Kids in Dallas-Fort Worth

Top photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2022