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For the history buff, staying in a historic lodge or cabin offers a bucket list experience. You can get outdoors and enjoy the varied climate across the state and enjoy a bit of history in one of the lodges or cabins. These are my recommendations for the best Texas State Park lodges and cabins across the state. You can learn a lot about the history of Texas State Parks in the book, Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
History of State Park Lodges and Cabins
During the Great Depression, hard times befell many Americans. When the new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, took office, he offered a solution to put young men of all races to work.
The New Deal work programs helped develop outdoor recreation sites across the U.S. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) organized young men from 18 to 25 into companies and dispatched them across the U.S. to live and work in remote areas.
The men of the CCC first cleared the land of underbrush, or in some cases replanted areas over-cut by lumber operations. Then the CCC dealt with water issues, often making dams. To develop a park, the CCC cut trails and constructed roads. Then, construction began. Many times the Texas State Parks mimicked the rustic style of the National Park Service (NPS).
Using local materials, like timber and stone, each was worked by hand. In some parks, like Bastrop and Palo Duro, wood shops constructed furniture for the interiors.
The Best Texas State Park Lodges and Cabins
Find the best Texas State Park lodges and cabins across the state from the East Texas Piney Woods to the rugged mountains in West Texas.
Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park
During 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps companies 879 and 1856 constructed a lodge with Southwestern design elements. Find a white-washed abode building with courtyards and a fountain.
Inside the lodge, the hand-hewn beams adorn the ceilings and many rooms feature fireplaces. The Indian Lodge offers 39 rooms in total, including the original 16 rooms of the CCC structure.
It’s a full-service hotel with an on-site restaurant. The Black Bear Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Wednesday through Sunday.
The rooms offer renovated interiors, complete with all the standard features. Outside, find a seasonal pool along with hiking in the Davis Mountains State Park.
Indian Lodge, located at 16453 Park Road 3 in Fort Davis, is open year-round. Doubles start from $150 a night.
Cabins in Palo Duro State Park
At 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep, Palo Duro Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of Texas. With its red and orange striations weaving through the rock, it’s the second-largest canyon in the U.S.
A total of seven CCC companies developed Palo Duro State Park, including the cabins. Find four cabins in the Cow Camp Loop at the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon (starting at $60 a night). And up above, three rim-side cabins hang from the canyon edge (from $110 a night). Additionally, find new canvas glamping tents in the park.
If you prefer to stay near the park, be sure to check out nearby Doves Rest Cabins, located a couple of miles outside the actual park.
Palo Duro State Park is at 11450 State Highway Rd. 5 in Canyon. Open daily, adult admission (12+) is $8. Advance reservation is required for park entry.
Cabins in Bastrop State Park
Starting in 1933, Bastrop welcomed two CCC companies, 1805 and 1811. Each cleared the underbrush, and then reseeded areas over-cut by lumber operations in the area.
The CCC built according to the design principles of the National Park Service’s parkitecture. Using local materials, the CCC buildings blend into the surroundings. Today, Bastrop State Park offers great hiking and outdoor getaway opportunities.
Secluded in a corner of the park, the original park cabins appear to grow out of the ground with a rough-quarried stone. Cabins offer accommodations for two people to six people (starting at $110 a night).
The centerpiece of Bastrop State Park is the Refectory. Centrally located, the CCC finished the building using local walnut, oak, and pine.
The CCC even built furniture for this building along with other parks like Indian Lodge out in West Texas. The refectory earned the park a designation as a National Historic Landmark for the enduring CCC craftsmanship.
Located at 100 Park Road 1A, in Bastrop. Open daily and adult admission (12+) is $5. Book your cabin online before your departure.
Cabins in Garner State Park
On the western edge of the Texas Hill Country, Garner State Park is the most popular state park in Texas. Dedicated in 1941, it’s named after Jack Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the Vice-President of the United States from 1933-1941.
Vice President Garner pushed the New Deal through Congress. A result of that Texas got a large share of the CCC companies to develop its state parks program, then in its infancy.
CCC company 879 built the concession building at Garner State Park, with its outdoor dancing area. During this time, they constructed 14 cabins. The cabins, some even offering fireplaces, are the most desirable camping spot in the park (starting at $130 a night for four).
Located at 234 RR 1050 in Concan. Adult admission (12+) is $8. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Advanced booking required for cabins.
Caddo Lake State Park
On the eastern edge of Texas, explore bayous bound by cypress trees dripping in Spanish moss. Caddo Lake State Park features more than 50 miles of paddling trails for your canoe or kayak.
The CCC companies 889 and 857 arrived in 1933 to develop the area. Using the NPS’s rustic designs, the cabins offer the timeless appeal of rough-hewn logs and stone.
You can find cabins at Caddo Lake State Park for two to six people with cooking and bathrooms (starting at $75). More rustic cabins, without bathrooms, start at $40 per night. Advance booking is required for cabins.
Located at 245 Park Road 2 in Karnack, Caddo Lake State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $4.
Preserving Texas History
Not only did the CCC build many of the notable state parks in Texas, but it also helped to preserve history. Before Texas became a state, Spain and France placed its flags on the land. Although these don't have cabins for rent, you should add these parks to your road trip to check out that Texas history. Get all the background from Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas, one of the best histories of Texas.
Goliad State Park
During its tenure in Goliad State Park, the CCC Company 3822 reconstructed the Mission Espirit Santo. Using information from archeological digs along with historical documents, the crew used similar materials as the original mission.
Established in 1722, the mission moved into the present location in 1749. It began the first large cattle operation in Texas. The mission closed in 1830. Over the next 100 years, it fell into disrepair.
Tour the Mission church and learn about the El Camino Real, a Spanish road that ran from the Texas border with Mexico to Louisiana. Visit the nearby El Camino Real de los Tejas Visitor Center to learn about the National Historic Trail.
Located at 108 Park Road 6 in Goliad, Texas, the Goliad State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $4.
Mission Tejas State Park
Stop by Mission Tejas State Park to visit another reconstructed mission along the El Camino Real. Before the San Antonio Missions were constructed in the 1720s, the Spanish established a mission in East Texas.
In 1690, the Spanish erected at the mission with the help of the Caddo people. Though a smallpox epidemic led to the burning of the mission soon after.
The CCC Company 888 reconstructed the log-style mission to commemorate the Spanish settlement in East Texas. Constructed of local pine and stone, You can tour the site, with the reconstructed mission made of local pine and stone, to get a feel for the building originally on the location.
Located at 194343 State Highway 21 in Grapeland, Texas, Mission Tejas State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $4.
Recreation in Texas State Parks
The CCC also developed recreational sites in Texas, designed purely for providing a fun experience for visitors.
Longhorn Cavern State Park
One great example of a state park created for its recreational value is Longhorn Cavern State Park in the Texas Hill Country. Located in Burnet County, Longhorn Cavern State Park features 650 acres above ground and a cavern below.
As a National Natural Landmark, CCC Company 854 cleared debris from the cavern, including bat guano. Additionally, it built the original administration building using local limestone.
Located at 6211 Park Road 4S. in Burnett, the park is open daily and park entry is free. However, you must purchase tickets in advance to enter the cavern on a guided tour. Tickets are $18 per person for the 1.1-mile roundtrip walk. Please note that groups are limited during COVID, so please book in advance. For the more adventurous, a 2- to 3-hour Wild Cave Tour is offered most Saturdays. This is a smaller group, with more rigorous physical requirements and costs $65 per person.
There is no better way to get outdoors and enjoy the varied climate across Texas—blended with the state's colorful history—than booking one of the best Texas State Park lodges and cabins. Be sure to check out Wander for more to do during your visit to Texas.