Travel & Outdoors

No. 15 Ice Cream Hill

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

“Maybe you want something a little less steep.” The ranger spoke in a neutral tone, but her words sounded like a challenge. As I contemplated the more than forty miles of multiple-use trails that crisscross the limestone-pocked Hill Country SNA, I was not about to admit defeat—at least not…

No. 14 Texas Water Safari

Sep 22, 2014 By Matt Bondurant

The names on our boat say “Lester”and “Danny,” but that isn’t us. We don’t bother to correct all the people who call out in our direction as we wait in the middle of a crowd of canoes and kayaks at the Aquarena Center, in San Marcos. We’re at the…

No. 13 Little Lake Creek Wilderness

Sep 22, 2014 By Rick Bass

Here is absolutely nobody in the parking lot, nobody on the trail, despite it being a magnificent spring day: blue sky, mild morning sun, and dogwood blossoms floating ethereal beneath the big pines. I’m with my best friend from high school, Kirby—a Houston suburbanite—and his youngest son, Cade, age…

No. 12 Neches River

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

When your guide is a Vietnam veteran who lets it slip that the wooded waterways of East Texas remind him of the missions he led as an elite Army Pathfinder in Southeast Asia, it pays to be ready for anything. If one such waterway is the Neches River, whose…

No. 11 Goat Island

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

Canoeing across Caddo Lake, my seven-year-old daughter, Ursula, and I were struck by its eerie beauty. Spanish moss hung from the limbs of centuries-old bald cypress like a shroud. We’d spent the night in one of the air-conditioned log cabins at Caddo Lake State Park, even roasting marshmallows before…

No. 10 Lake Crockett

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

As I trekked along the shady portions of Trail 3, a 6.5-mile route in the Caddo National Grasslands WMA, trying my best to avoid poison ivy, it occurred to me that you don’t necessarily have to head west to find the Texas frontier. The rolling hills and broadleaf forest…

No. 8 Sand Dunes

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

The dunes were aglow in the afternoon sunlight, as though the sand itself were luminescent. A batch of kids charged uphill dragging plastic snow disks behind them, excited for another chance to swoop down the slopes. A roadrunner sat atop a pickup truck, surveying the scene. The 3,840-acre Monahans…

No. 9 Palo Duro

Sep 22, 2014 By S. C. Gwynne

It’s one of those lovely West Texas spring days, when the rain has washed the air clean and the desert is in bloom. My wife and I are hiking along the floor of Palo Duro Canyon amid chinaberry and sotol and juniper, following a small, clear stream with the…

No. 5 River Road

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

The aoudad ewe poked her head above the thorny mesquite and waving ocotillo, watching as I plodded up toward the ruins of Mariscal Mine. Then the shaggy-bearded goat, a sandy-brown species native to the mountains of North Africa, ducked out of sight. I felt the impulse to double-check where…

No. 7 McKittrick Ridge

Sep 22, 2014 By Dan Oko

It took an arid two-hour drive from the Guadalupe Mountains National Park headquarters, but as we finally pulled into Dog Canyon one April morning, its exquisitely alien splendor left us speechless: the whispering pines, the quartz-specked rocks in a dry creek bed, the broad-tailed hummingbirds, the fields of bear…

No. 6 Pinto Canyon

Sep 22, 2014 By Kate Murphy

Texas may have wild, wide-open spaces, but that doesn’t mean the public has access to them. Ninety-two percent of the state’s land is, in fact, privately owned, which means that some of our most scenic spots are hidden from view. This can present a challenge to the explorer—unless you…

No. 4 Boquillas Canyon

Sep 22, 2014 By Texas Monthly and Dan Oko

I scratched off the consummate trip on every outdoors-loving Texan’s bucket list—a catered float down Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande—a few years ago, so this spring I returned to Big Bend National Park to tackle the longest and deepest of its canyons, Boquillas. The eighteen-mile chasm…

No. 3 Maravillas Canyon

Sep 22, 2014 By Texas Monthly and Dan Oko

If you’re a solitude seeker, then the Black Gap WMA is paradise: it has no potable water, no bathrooms, no cell reception, and no other services. Located just east of Big Bend National Park, this sprawling 103,000-acre preserve, which includes a federally protected stretch of the Rio…

No. 2 Caroline Spring

Sep 22, 2014 By Texas Monthly and Dan Oko

A bearded man was busy trapping small birds in a cage. They were brown-headed cowbirds, brood parasites that leave their chicks to be raised in others’ nests. The man was Corbin Neill, the manager of Independence Creek Preserve, a 20,000-acre area about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso…

No. 1 Dolan Falls

Sep 22, 2014 By Texas Monthly and Dan Oko

The Devils River has a reputation as the loneliest, prettiest, most dangerous, and best damn fishingest waterway in all of Texas. I’ll leave it to others to debate these superlatives, but here’s what I do know: coming upon this Caribbean-blue stream amid a rocky landscape that has barely changed…

Life at Sea

May 28, 2014 By Sonia Smith

Merchant Mariner John Dunaway shepherds the world's goods across the high seas, chronicling his journeys on Instagram. His stunning images are oceans apart from the average user's. Here are some of his favorites.

Trip Guide: Bastrop

May 21, 2014 By Jordan Breal

Its unofficial slogan, “East of Weird,” may be a cheeky nod to its location thirty miles east of Austin, but Bastrop, has plenty of its own character and characters.