If you’re looking for a place in Texas to enjoy some beautiful nature, head to Tyler State Park! This popular state park has a lot to offer locals and tourists alike. It is located just north of Tyler, about 97 miles from Dallas. Though about an hour and a half away, Tyler State Park is easily accessible from Dallas, making it a great nature break from the city.
The park is about thirty minutes north of central Tyler. After having visited twice, I’ve decided that it is worth the drive from Tyler. And it’s also worth making a weekend out of from Dallas, if you’re exploring the Tyler area, too!
Centered around its lake, Tyler State Park is perfect for fishing, swimming, and watersports. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Tyler State Park in this blog post!
About Tyler State Park
Tyler State Park is situated just north of Tyler in Smith County and is a whopping 985.5 acres. It dates back to 1939 when the area first opened as a state park. It is one of the best spots in the area for camping and enjoying a weekend in blissful nature. With 100-foot tall pines and a 64-acre spring-fed lake, nature lovers will love Tyler State Park!
The forest is beautiful, with the tall pines towering over you. As you go hiking or mountain biking, you might feel (as I did) that the trees in this forest are really dense and feel so alive. I’m a sucker for some gorgeous nature, and you’ll definitely find it here.
This state park is very family-friendly. Bring your family and/or friends and have a cookout, swim in the lake, go hiking, or go boating!
In peak season (March-Thanksgiving with an emphasis on summertime), and especially on weekends, you’ll find the park can get somewhat crowded, but that is to be expected. (I try to avoid crowds as much as possible. If you want to do the same, try visiting in the early morning!)
Tyler State Park Admission Information
Tyler State Park is a very affordable park to visit. Admission to Tyler State Park is $6 for adults (ages 12+) and free for children under 12.
The main entrance to Tyler State Park is off the state park highway (Google maps location here). This is where you’ll find the entrance station where you can get park information and pay your entry fee.
It’s worth noting that when we last visited, you had to buy your tickets online here ahead of time. (We simply bought them using our phones while in line to enter the park.)
You can also make reservations by phone at (512) 389-8900, though I wouldn’t recommend it. That’s the number for the whole Texas State Park system, so reserving online is much faster and more convenient!
You get a map when you go in, showing you where you can hike, mountain bike, drive, etc. The main driving road makes a giant loop, with different points of interest branching off.
Things to Do in Tyler State Park
There are loads of things to do in Tyler State Park, mainly focusing around Tyler State Park Lake, but also taking in other parts of Texas nature.
Here are some of the best things to do at Tyler State Park.
Hiking the Pineywoods
There are over 13 miles of nature trails through the Pineywoods, perfect for explorers young and old! One of the best is the Whispering Pines Nature Trail. Ideal for families, this is ¾ of a mile long and is rated easy to moderate. The Civilian Conservation Corps made this trail over 70 years ago.
Fishing on Tyler State Park Lake
Tyler State Park is a popular place for anglers. Whether you prefer fishing onshore or on a boat, there are plenty of options here!
If you want to take a boat out, there is a boat ramp available to use. Don’t have your own? No problem- you can also rent a boat!
If you prefer fishing from dry land, Tyler State Park has three fishing piers. Expect to find catfish, crappie, perch, and bass in the lake.
And if you are a newbie to fishing, you can rent fishing equipment, such as rods, tackle boxes, and reels from Tyler State Park.
As well as hiking trails, there are mountain biking opportunities in Tyler State Park! As long as you have a suitable bike, you can explore these easily on two wheels.
Tyler State Park is a popular Texan destination for people who like to Geocache! There are lots of caches all over the park. If you have never geocached before, visit geocaching.com, which will explain how to do it – it’s basically a big virtual treasure hunt that will help you see some beautiful places.
The beautiful lake is a great place to swim. Be sure to take safety precautions: stick to the designated safe swimming areas, don’t swim alone, and make sure that everybody swimming has experience in the water. If you have any worries about swimming, ask the friendly staff!
Concerned about alligators? Well, there are no known sightings of alligators in Tyler State Park. However, you can get up-to-date safety information about the safety of swimming in Tyler State Park from park staff.
Lots of plants and animals call Tyler State Park home. If you are interested in birdwatching, there are over 200 species of birds in the park. Look out for the brown-headed nuthatch and the pine warbler, which you can see any time of year. The park has bird blinds for any avid birdwatchers out there!
Other animals that you might see include coyotes, skunks, white-tailed deer, armadillos, opossum, foxes, raccoons, and squirrels.
There are lots of watersports and water activities you can do on the lake at Tyler State Park. The lake offers canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, and pedal boats that you can rent out. If you’re bringing your own boat, it’s important to note that boats cannot exceed 5mph on the lake. That means no tubing, jet skiing, etc.
There are plenty of picnic tables throughout Tyler State Park. Bring a picnic to enjoy underneath the shade of the towering pine trees!
Another major thing to do in Tyler State Park is to immerse yourself fully in nature by going camping! In fact, if you’re visiting Tyler State Park, it’s fun to make a full weekend of it and camp overnight! Get your permit and bring your tent/RV/gear and you’re all set!
There are various camping spots, cabins, and screened shelters that you can rent around the park, which I’ll go through in just a bit.
General camping information
First, let’s cover general camping information at Tyler State Park. All campsite fees (which you’ll see below) are in addition to the daily entrance fee, and all rates are for up to 8 people.
Also, make your reservation ahead of time! The campgrounds here are quite popular, so it’s best to book online here to secure your spot (busy season is from March until Thanksgiving).
Be careful of raccoons when camping, as they frequently visit campsites and try to salvage food. Ensure that you lock up any food you are storing and immediately throw away trash into designated trash areas.
Full hookup campsites
Lakeview has full hookup campsites. They cost $30 per night and have a two-night minimum on weekends (three-night minimum on Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends). These campsites have water, sewer, and electric hookups, a fire pit, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. This campground is suitable for tents and RVs, but RV campers must use jack pads.
Big Pine has very similar facilities to Lakeview, with water, sewer, and electric hookups, picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms, and showers. However, no tents are allowed at Big Pine. It costs $26 per night to stay here, and they have a two-night minimum stay on Friday and Saturday and a three-night minimum on Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends.
The Cedar Point Camping Area has electric hookups that are suitable for RVs (who must use jack pads) and tents. The Cedar Point Camping Area also has restrooms and showers and a two-night minimum stay on the weekend with a three-night minimum on holiday weekends. It costs $22 per night to stay here.
Dogwood Ridge, Hickory Hollow, Sumac Bend, and Red Oak camping areas have no electric hookups and are suitable for tents only. They have facilities like water, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers, and have a two-night minimum stay on weekends and a three-night minimum on holiday weekends. These campsites cost $18 per night.
As mentioned earlier, tents are also welcome at Lakeview and at Cedar Point Camping Area.
In addition to camping facilities, there are also cabins and screened shelters available at the park.
The cabins cost $55 for two people ($4 extra for every extra person over two, maximum four people). These cabins are perfect for people who want to experience the great outdoors but don’t want to camp.
The cabin only has a sleeping area with a queen bed and space for an extra blow-up mattress. They do not have their own kitchen or bathroom facilities, but there are communal restrooms and showers to use. There is also a heater in the cabins for cooler nights! Like camping, there is a two-night minimum stay here on the weekend and a three-night minimum stay on Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends.
Screened Shelters cost $30 per night and are basic shelters with lights and electricity but no furniture. They can sleep up to 8 people. The site also has picnic tables, water, a lantern post, a fire ring and grill, and showers and restrooms. Like other accommodation at the park, there is a two-night minimum stay on weekends and a three-night minimum stay on major holidays.
Tyler State Park Amenities
There are restrooms and showers available at Tyler State Park, but no dining facilities, so make sure you pack all of your food and take it with you!
As far as amenities go, you’ll find park headquarters/ranger station, a park store, playground, boat/watercraft rental area, fishing equiptment rental area, group day-use facilities, and dumpsters/dump station.
As previously mentioned, there is a boat ramp, fishing pier (including a lighted fishing pier!), and picnic areas.
The park is very drivable with designated parking areas.
Things to do near Tyler State Park
If you’re not familiar with the Tyler area, there are so many fun things to do in this part of East Texas! Here are some highlights in the area.
Tyler is famous for being the Rose Capital of America. It’s a fun-filled city with everything from museums for kids, the Texas State Railroad, and even ziplines! There are also seasonal highlights that Tyler is known for: the Rose Festival in October and the Azalea Trails in March.
Check out this post on 30 unforgettable things to do in Tyler!
First Mondays in Canton
If you like unique finds and hunting for deals, First Monday Trade Days Flea Market in Canton is the place for you! The catch is that it only happens once a month, on the Thursday through Sunday prior to the first Monday of the month.
Go Antiquing in Gladewater
If First Monday Trade Days doesn’t land on the time you plan to visit Tyler State Park or if you prefer antiques, Gladewater is for you. Gladewater is a 30-minute drive from Tyler State Park, and it is famous for its many antique shops.
Visit the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens
Athens is home to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, which is an enterprise aiming to educate people about native Texas fish. If you want to learn a little more about nature and marine life in the area, this is the place to go!
Visit Kilgore’s East Texas Oil Museum
Kilgore boasts the popular East Texas Oil Museum, which discusses how oil was found in the area, and how it became such an important industry in Texan culture. It’s a fun, interactive museum with something to interest everybody! The East Texas Oil Museum costs $10 for adults, $7 for kids 3-12, and is free for ages 2 and under.
See Big Cats at the Tiger Creek Animal Rescue
This animal sanctuary has around 35 rescued tigers, lions, leopards, and more!
At the time of writing, Tiger Creek Animal Rescue costs $20 for adults, $16 for ages 4-12, and is free for children under 4.
Check here to make sure they are open before visiting.
Whether you want somewhere to spend a weekend camping and submerging yourself in nature, or just want to spend half a day fishing, swimming, or paddleboarding, Tyler State Park is a wonderful place to visit.
When you’re planning your next Texan vacation, consider adding the charming city of Tyler, and with it, Tyler State Park!
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments! And if you’ve been to Tyler State Park and have recommendations or information to share, please comment below!
And if you’re heading to Tyler, check out these 30 fun things to do in the area!