Open roads, sunshine, state parks and natural attractions comprise a winning formula that makes Texas one of the best states in the country to take a road trip.
According to a new WalletHub study, Texas is the 5th best state in which to take a road trip, largely because of the plethora of state and national parks.
In conjunction with natural attractions, Texas is also relatively inexpensive for travel.
“Aside from having cheap gas, Texas also has low toll fees,” said Wallethub Analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Accommodation costs are part of the reason why Texas is an affordable road trip destination, as well. Both in terms of hotel rooms and camping, the state has some of the lowest prices.”
In Texas, national parks make up .73% of the state’s size, putting it 21st on the list in that category. But an abundant supply of state parks gives Texans a variety of options.
State parks are a key component to the state’s economy, welcoming more than eight million visitors a year through its gates, said Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPDW) State Parks Marketing & Brand Manager Thomas Wilhelm.
“Texas’ diversity is what makes it such a hub for tourism,” said Wilhelm. “Besides geography, the cultures of the different regions make visiting the state a unique experience as well. No part of the state is the same.”
But the state can improve in its transportation infrastructure to ensure the safety of those traveling to parks.
Gonzalez said 63% of Texas’ major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and interstate congestion has increased by 24% in seven years.
“Other than that, Texas has a high number of traffic-related fatalities and car thefts, a large share of uninsured drivers (more than 14%) and high larceny and violent crime rates,” she said.
Fuel costs across the state are budget friendly for those willing to take the country roads. Nationally, gas prices rose 67 cents between January and May. But in Texas, gas prices have stayed relatively stagnant, much lower than the national average.
Texas also has a plethora of small destination towns along the journey.
Wilhelm said these small towns add character to the state as families traveling to the various parks can witness historic sites along the way.
As of January 2019, TPWD began implementing a new system to streamline the process for entering state parks.
“We now offer the ability to book a day pass in advance, which has been a tremendous help for our parks that fill up quickly, especially in the summer,” Wilhelm said. “People are learning and we’re seeing a quick adaptation for those popular spots like Enchanted Rock.”
And with the number of state park attendees anticipated to rise, TPWD’s new system is a method to continue the tourism boom.
“Take advantage of the state’s affordability and diversity in activity options,” Gonzalez said. “The state has zoos, botanical gardens, amusement and theme parks, as well as plenty of nightlife. Its shoreline mileage and a large number of accommodation and food services establishments also add to Texas’ attractiveness as a road trip destination.”