Photo Credit: mackjackmcconaughey

Moderate year-round temperatures make Texas an ideal destination for outdoor travel even in the winter months. There are even 600 miles of balmy beach along the Gulf of Mexico featuring public areas for boating, swimming and sunbathing alongside wildlife preserves for superb bird-watching. You can even go four-wheeling on the hard packed sands of Padre Island National Seashore.

The rugged inland regions of Texas can be explored in surprisingly beautiful national parks like Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend. Hiking is a very popular activity here, as are fishing and biking. Being Texas, it’s never hard to find a dude ranch where you can experience the life of a real cowboy. This state is also a premier destination for golfing, with more than 900 courses available.

The quintessential Texan experience is to spend some time on a working dude ranch. There are more than 100 working cattle ranches in the state, mainly in West Texas and around San Antonio. Many run tourist programs that let folks get out on the trail with real cowboys, and most are pretty posh resorts with all the trimmings. Check out the Silver Spur Guest Ranch or the Flying L Guest Ranch to get an idea of the adventures possible.

The weather in Texas makes for excellent golfing conditions all year round. With some 900 courses to choose from, often located near the major cities, duffers can get their swings in while visiting most parts of the state. Companies like Southern Breeze Golf Tours can arrange all the logistics for a solid golf holiday.

The hiking in Texas is also very good thanks to the 90 state parks that include some real treasures like Big Bend National Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Comfortable day hikes are the norm, but you can also take off on a longer trek deep into the rugged canyons and even forested areas like Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Outfitters such as Lone Star Trekking specialize in guiding hikers to the sweet spots, while avoiding the native dangers like snakes.

Texas is one of America’s premier areas for bird-watching, with some 625 species known to live in the state. The Gulf coast is particularly rich in birds, with several excellent wildlife preserves along the sea like Rockport. The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center is the best source for information, while Bird Treks is the leading guide company in the state.

Travelers often forget that Texas has 600 miles of sub-topical coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. There are beautiful beaches all along the shore, especially in the protected areas like Padre Island National Seashore. The boating in the Gulf is incredible, with plenty of charter companies in Galveston like Texas Sailing and South Coast Sailing Adventures providing everything from sailing lessons to leisure cruises out to sea.

The fishing in Texas is also superb, whether off the Gulf of Mexico or on one of the many lakes and rivers around the state. Deep sea fishing is particularly popular around Galveston, with many outfitters like Cowboy Charters and Texas Saltwater Adventures offering a range of fishing excursions. You can also let a company like Solomon Outfitters take you fly fishing on the Guadalupe or one of the state’s many lakes.

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