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Tyler State Park Guide — Hiking, Wildlife, and More 

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Tyler State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking to explore the natural beauty of Texas. It features a 64-acre lake, the Pineywoods forest, and several structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The park attracts over 200,000 visitors annually for camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating activities.

How To Get to Tyler State Park

Where Is Tyler State Park?

Tyler State Park, in Tyler, Texas, is around a 2-hour drive from Dallas and an hour and a half from Shreveport, Louisiana. This park is home to a beautiful, spring-fed lake, 100-foot-tall trees, and historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park covers an area of 985 acres of land.

Tyler State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

The state park is open throughout the year, but some facilities, like the park store and boat rentals, are only available seasonally. The headquarters is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s best to call ahead to confirm that everything you want to experience is available during your visit.

Nearest Airports to Tyler State Park

There are 3 major airports for visitors flying to this Texas park. Each of these is around 100 miles from the park.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

The park is approximately 120 miles, or 2 hours away by car, from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which provides numerous nonstop flights to cities worldwide, including Cleveland (CLE), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), and San Francisco (SFO).

More than 2 dozen airlines operate at this airport, including Air France, American, British Airways, Delta, and United. You can rent a car from one of the several rental car kiosks at the airport to complete the final leg of your journey to the park.

Dallas Love Field Airport

Tyler State Park is 105 miles (a little under 2 hours) from Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL). Although this airport offers fewer flights than DFW, it may still suit your travel needs. Alaska, Delta, and Southwest are among the airlines providing services at DAL. Upon arrival, you can rent a car and head to the park easily.

Shreveport Regional Airport

Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV) is in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is the closest airport to the park (about 90 miles, or 1 hour and 20 minutes). This airport provides nonstop flights to 9 destinations, including Atlanta (ATL), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles, and Denver. Several airlines service this airport, including Allegiant, American, Delta, and United. Once you reach the airport, you can rent a car and start your journey toward the park, which is an hour and a half away.

Driving to Tyler State Park

Driving to Tyler State Park
Image Credit: Lexi Zotomayor via Unsplash

To get to Tyler State Park, if you are coming from Dallas, take Interstate 20 East to exit 562 and then go north for 2 miles on FM 14 until you reach the park.

If you drive from Shreveport, Louisiana, take Interstate 20 West to exit 562 and then go north for 2 miles on FM 14 until you arrive at the park. Visitors from Tyler should take FM 14 north for 7 miles from Loop 323. The driving directions are simple and easy to follow.

Taking the Bus to Tyler State Park

An affordable way to travel to the park is by taking a bus. Greyhound serves Tyler and arrives at a station a few minutes’ drive from the park. You can easily arrange a ride-share or taxi from this bus station to the park.

Getting Around Tyler State Park

The best way to explore this state park is to mix driving and walking. You can find several parking areas throughout the park where you can leave your car and set out to explore on foot.

Hot Tip:

The park provides a printable map that can help you plan your adventures.

What To See and Do in Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park has many opportunities for outdoor adventure and nature appreciation. From hiking to bird-watching and fishing to ranger-led programs, there’s something to appeal to every visitor.

Bird-Watching

Bird-watching is a popular activity in Tyler State Park, where more than 200 species of birds have been documented. Some of the most commonly observed birds in the park include brown-headed nuthatches, pine warblers, turkey vultures, hawks, and robins. The park conducts numerous birding events yearly, such as guided hikes and educational programs.

This park is an excellent location to spot hawks during the peak migration season in late September. Remember to bring your binoculars and camera to capture the best views of the birds in the park.

Fishing

The lake at the park offers an opportunity for anglers to catch fish. You can fish from a boat or one of the 3 fishing piers, and if you forget your gear, you can participate in the loaner program. The most commonly caught fish are perch, bass, catfish, and crappie. Another thing to note about fishing here is that you don’t need a fishing license to fish from the shore, making it even more accessible for fishing enthusiasts.

Hiking

Tyler State Park Texas Lake Shore Trail
Tyler State Park Texas Lake Shore Trail. Image Credit: Google Maps

Tyler State Park has more than 13 miles of hiking trails that cater to all levels of hikers. These trails vary in length and difficulty and offer stunning views of the various forests within the park, the grassy savannah, the wildlife, and the structures constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The most popular trails include the Blackjack Nature Trail, Lakeshore Trail, and Whispering Pine Trail.

Hot Tip:

The park provides a printable and interactive map to help you plan your excursions.

Ranger Programs

The park offers many programs throughout the year. Some popular programs include guided night hikes, bird-watching events, wildlife walks, survival skill events, and plant workshops. Junior Ranger programs are also regularly available for the park’s youngest visitors.

Wildlife Watching

Tyler State Park is an excellent wildlife-watching destination for spotting diverse animals. The most common animals found here are white-tailed deer, squirrels, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and opossums. You may also come across skunks, armadillos, snakes, toads, lizards, frogs, and salamanders during your visit.

The park’s hiking trails, including the Whispering Pine Trail, the Blackjack Nature Trail, and the Lakeshore Trail, provide some of the best opportunities to observe these animals in their natural habitat.

Best Times To Visit Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park is open all year round and offers thrilling experiences each month. However, certain times are more suitable than others for visiting, particularly if you are interested in participating in a specific event or activity.

Best Time To Visit Tyler State Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can make or break a trip, so it’s wise to research typical weather trends. The best time of year to visit for ideal weather is September. The temperatures range from the low 60s to the upper 80s, perfect for outdoor adventures. This is one of the driest months of the year, with an average of 5 days of rain.

Best Time To Visit Tyler State Park To Avoid the Crowds

For visitors seeking a less crowded park experience, the best time to visit is in November. Visitation is at its lowest during this time of year, so a November visit will allow you to explore the park at your own pace and not worry about long lines, traffic, and crowds. 

Best Time To Visit Tyler State Park for Camping

RV on lake at Tyler State Park
Image Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Tyler State Park is a fantastic destination for camping enthusiasts. October is an ideal time of the year to visit and enjoy this activity. During this month, temperatures range from the low 50s to the upper 70s, with only a 5-day chance of rain. These weather conditions are perfect for spending time around a campfire and sleeping under the stars.

Cheapest Time To Visit Tyler State Park

Planning a budget-friendly vacation may sound difficult, but it can be done with some research and effort. The cheapest time to visit Tyler State Park is early September. This is when flights and accommodations are at their lowest prices, which can save you hundreds of dollars on your trip.

Annual Events in Tyler State Park

This state park regularly hosts a range of exciting events throughout the year. These events include nature and wildlife walks, bird-watching programs, and workshops to learn survival skills. Additionally, some annual events are eagerly awaited and enjoyed by all.

First Day Hike

Every year, the park organizes a First Day Hike event that both locals and visitors eagerly anticipate. It’s a fantastic way to begin the new year on the right foot. Participants can choose between 2 hikes: a birding hike or a hike through the forest. The event showcases the park’s beautiful flora, fauna, and breathtaking landscapes, allowing visitors to experience its natural beauty.

Walk Off the Bird Walk

Tyler State Park has been hosting an annual Walk Off the Bird event for almost 20 years. This event takes place on the day after Thanksgiving. This hike offers a wonderful opportunity for park visitors to explore and enjoy the beautiful birds of the East Texas Pineywoods while also walking off the Thanksgiving feast.

Where To Stay in Tyler State Park

Determining where to stay during a vacation is a top priority. Luckily, plenty of lodging is available in and around this state park.

Inside the Park

There are 3 types of lodging available at Tyler State Park: tent camping, screened shelters, and rustic cabins.

Cabins

Tyler State Park Texas full cabin edited
Full handicapped cabin at Tyler State Park. The original image was altered to remove a timestamp. Image Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Tyler State Park offers 6 cabins for rent that can accommodate up to 4 guests each. Each cabin has a bed that can sleep 2 people and additional space for inflatable mattresses or cots. The cabins also feature kitchen appliances, fire rings, a table and chairs, and heating and air conditioning. Restrooms with showers are nearby for your convenience.

You must reserve the cabins for at least 2 nights and 3 nights for Memorial and Labor Day weekends. These cabins are perfect for those who want to experience nature with a roof over their heads.

Campsites

The park boasts numerous campsites, each in a different area. These areas include Cedar Point, Big Pine, Lakeview, Dogwood Ridge, Hickory Hollow, and Sumac Bend. All campsites have water or water hookups, and most provide electric connections. Additionally, picnic tables, fire rings with grills, and restrooms with showers are nearby.

Screened Shelters

Screened Shelters Tyler State Park
Image Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

The park provides 29 screened shelters that offer a perfect blend of cabin stay and camping. These shelters are entirely screened, equipped with water and electricity, and feature fire rings, grills, picnic tables, and restrooms with showers nearby. You must book these shelters for a minimum of 2 nights on Friday and Saturday and for a minimum of 3 nights on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.

Towns Near Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park is surrounded by various small cities and towns within a short drive of the park.

Lindale, Texas

Lindale is 13 miles from the park, about a 20-minute drive. It is an ideal town to use as a home base if you wish to stay outside of the park’s boundaries. Lindale is famous for its beautiful rose fields and its country lifestyle. The town has various types of accommodations to choose from, such as local inns, budget-friendly motels, and well-known hotels.

Many local restaurants serve seafood and home-cooked favorites. Visitors can also enjoy shopping in the unique boutique stores. Lindale is the town for country music fans, with live music venues all around. History buffs can visit the Old Mill Pond Museum and Parrott Park to learn about early American life from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

Tyler, Texas

Tyler State Park is in the town of Tyler. There are abundant lodging choices, such as luxury hotels, local bed and breakfasts, RV parks, and family-run inns. Food enthusiasts are in for a treat, as this town has countless restaurants serving a plethora of cuisine, from pizza to burgers, sushi to tacos, and everything in between.

Hot Tip:

Tyler is known as the Rose Capital of America, so many visitors enjoy the sights at the botanical gardens and parks. But there are also many other things to do here, like touring the train depot, museums, and science center.

Where To Eat in Tyler State Park

There are no dining places available within the park, but you can find plenty in the surrounding cities. You can order your food to go and enjoy it in the park or take a break and enjoy your meal at a nearby restaurant.

Posado’s Cafe

Posado’s Cafe is a top-rated restaurant a 10-minute drive from the park. The restaurant specializes in Tex-Mex, featuring a menu of nachos, salads, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, and flautas. You can also quench your thirst with house-made margaritas, Mexican Coke, or Jarritos.

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue is 11 miles away from the park in Tyler and is considered one of the most popular restaurants in the city. This family-owned business specializes in pit-smoked barbecued meats, home-cooked sides, a fine selection of craft beers, and over 100 American whiskeys, ryes, and bourbons.

Tyler State Park Facts

Tyler State Park
Bryan Dickerson via Unsplash

1. Built by the CCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed numerous roads and buildings within this park. They also built dams, planted trees, and created various facilities such as group picnic areas, dance pavilions, bathhouses, and boathouses. Interestingly, many of the original buildings made by the CCC are still in use today.

2. Original People of the Park

Studies indicate that the first inhabitants of this area were small, nomadic groups of Paleo-Indians who traveled through the region, hunting large animals. Later, the Caddo people established themselves in the area. They introduced agriculture here, cleared forests to grow crops, hunted local game, and produced unique ceramic pieces.

3. Mature Forests

Surrounding the lake in the park is a pine-hardwood forest consisting mostly of 75-to-100-year-old trees. The predominant species of pine found here is the shortleaf pine, but there are also several other types of trees, such as oaks, eastern red cedar, sassafras, slippery elm, and pecan trees.

Final Thoughts

Tyler State Park offers various activities catering to many different interests. You can hike, watch wildlife, camp, or simply admire the park’s natural beauty and splendor. With so many things to see and do, it’s not surprising that the park attracts over 200,000 visitors every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Tyler State Park?

The admission fee for Tyler State Park is $6 per adult and free for children under 12.

How much time should I spend at Tyler State Park?

We recommend that you spend a full day exploring Tyler State Park. For an immersive visit, you can stay overnight in one of the cabins or campsites.

What are some attractions near Tyler State Park?

There are numerous popular attractions near Tyler State Park, such as the Texas State Railroad and the Discovery Science Center.

What is the busy season at Tyler State Park?

The park’s peak busy season is from March until Thanksgiving.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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