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Our Visit to Tyler State Park:

Tyler State Park Tour

For years folks have been telling us that Tyler State Park up in Northeast Texas (just outside of the City of Tyler, TX) is an absolute must visit Texas State Park. After our first visit here, we absolutely agree! Tyler State Park has a little bit of something for everyone: hiking, mountain biking, swimming, paddling, fishing, geocaching, dutch oven cooking, bird and wildlife watching or just plain relaxing... you can do it all at Tyler State Park. And bonus: this beautifully forested park with its own spring-fed lake is located just off of Interstate 20 halfway between Dallas, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana. It's a great place to spend a week, a weekend or even one night as you're passing through on a roadtrip.

View of Historic Tyler State Park Bathhouse from Across the Lake

View of Historic Tyler State Park Bathhouse from Across the Lake

Tyler State Park features 143 campsites. Some are tent only, some are RV only, and some loops are shared by tents and RVs. Pull-through and back-in sites are available. There are 2 dump stations within the park, and some sites offer full hook-ups. There are campsites within Tyler State Park that can accomodate any size rig.

This is a very popular state park, so reservations are definitely recommended and can be diffiult to get (especially on weekends and during prime camping times like any holidays, spring break or summer). If possible, you'll want to plan ahead for your visit to make sure that you can stay as long as you would like. Friday and Saturday night stays at Tyler State Park require a 2-night minimum commitment throughout the year. A 3-night minimum reservation is required for Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends.

Our Campsite at Tyler State Park

Our Campsite at Tyler State Park

We camped in the Big Pine Camping Area, which is an RV only loop. This section has sites that are big rig friendly. Our 35' motorhome and our Jeep fit into our pull-through campsite with plenty of room to spare. There are, however, some sites within this loop that are smaller, so don't assume that "RV Only" means that every campsite is large. If you have a larger rig, we definitely encourage you to arrive before the weekend crowds for the best selection of campsites.

We arrived at night, which we don't really like to do. We were able to get parked okay, but this park does contain hills and winding roads. It is heavily forested and there are large rocks near some of the campsites. We would definitely recommend arriving during daylight hours if at all possible to make parking a heck of a lot easier. It's also possible that the sites near yours may be on the smaller side, so it might be a little tough to pull in after dark. We ended up backing in to our pull-through site to avoid the nose of the truck in the site next to ours. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of. During the day, we could have seen that we had more room to make the turn in than we thought.

The View Across the Big Pine Camping Loop

The View Across the Big Pine Camping Loop

Our Campsite at Night

Our Campsite at Night

The campsites here are well spread out. Our campsite was on the inner loop, but it's a large loop so we felt like we had plenty of space. Some of the outer loop sites in Big Pine and some of the other camping areas offer more privacy. But our campsite worked out just fine for us. Even with neighbors on both sides and across the loop, we did not feel cramped at all. We would have had to yell if we wanted to get any of their attention.

We visited Tyler State Park during the first weekend in December, which was a great time to visit. The temperature was cool, but not cold and the fall foliage was on display. The park was beautiful and not terribly crowded. Keep in mind, that all Decembers are not created equal... we were told that the same weekend the previous year was down right frigid!

We had a great time hiking the trails at this park! There were quite a few options with a variety of levels of difficulty. All of the trails had great scenery and interesting points of interest along the way. As is the case with Texas State Parks in general, all of the hiking trails are dog-friendly and Star enjoyed the hikes as much as we did.

We didn't bring our kayaks along on this trip, but we definitely will next time. The lake here at Tyler State Park would be very easy and relaxing to explore via kayak, canoe, or other paddling equipment. It's a no-wake lake, so it was very calm during our stay, it's large enough for a nice paddle, and the sunsets/sunrises from the lake are really nice. If you have paddling equipment, you should absolutely bring it!

Y'all know we love to cook outside with cast iron, so the dutch oven demonstration was a huge bonus for us. If you have any interest in cast iron or dutch oven cooking, be sure to visit the park on the first Saturday of the month. The folks who participated shared a lot of helpful information and a lot of good food!

Thank you so much to everyone who recommended we visit Tyler State Park. We can't wait to visit again!

Old Mossy Steps at Tyler State Park

Old Mossy Steps at Tyler State Park

Hiking Old Park Road

Hiking Old Park Road

The History of Tyler State Park:

According to Tyler State Park's website, people are known to have lived in this area beginning as early as 10,000 BC. They came here for the area's natural resources, which included forests, and to hunt large mammals that existed here at the time. Approximately, 1,000 years ago the Caddo Indians began clearing the forest to farm the land. Farming continued here until the 1930s when land owners decided that the rolling hills, deep ravines and lack of access to transportation routes made farming this land more difficult than other areas. The area which would become Tyler State Park was purchased from 16 private land owners and the City of Tyler beginning in 1934. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) arrived to begin developing the park in 1935.

When the CCC arrived, they found that the generations of land clearing and farming had taken a big toll on the natural resources of the land. At that time, the natural forest was almost non-existent. The men of CCC company 2888 worked to rehabilitate the soil, repair and control erosion and built a nursery here on site to begin growing trees that were once native to the area. We've read that during their time here, the CCC workers carried in over 11,000 heavy stones which were placed around the lake they created by constructing an 850 foot earthen dam. The stones were placed in an effort to control erosion until the trees and other plant life could begin to grow in.

Cool Bench with a View

Cool Bench with a View

Fall Colors are Beautiful Here

Fall Colors are Beautiful Here

Wildfires were a big threat in this area while the CCC worked here. So to protect the work they were doing in the park, they built fire breaks all around the perimeter. Between 1935 and 1941, the Civilian Conservation Corps workers built the park roads, bridges, and culverts. They controlled erosion, rehabilitated the soil and planted thousands of trees. They created the Tyler State Park's centerpiece: Tyler State Park Lake, as well as picnic areas, small rock dams, ponds and a children's wading pool.

By the time construction of the park's buildings began, the National Park Service (which was responsible for the architecture of CCC projects) had begun moving away from the traditional stone designs that they had always used. Tyler State Park's buildings were designed in the "prairie" style inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. This makes Tyler State Park unique in Texas as it is one of only three CCC-constructed Texas State Parks that utilize this more modern design. (The other two parks are Bonham State Park and Daingerfield State Park.) Today, the parks Bathhouse, Combination Concession Building (and dance floor), and Boathouse are all still in use. They are all located near the center of the park on the lake.

When CCC Company 2888 completed their work here at Tyler State Park, they moved on to work at Possum Kingdom State Park beginning in May 1941. Their work at Possum Kingdom was short because of the US entry into World War II. In July 1942, CCC Company 2888 (the men who built Tyler State Park) became the last CCC Company in Texas to cease working on their park projects to enter military service.

Evening at the CCC-Built Park Store

Evening at the CCC-Built Park Store

Southside Day Use Area

Southside Day Use Area

In 1963, heavy rains caused the original CCC earthen dam to collapse. Similar to what happened at Bastrop State Park just a few short years ago, the collapse drained the park's lake. Texas Parks and Wildlife rebuilt the dam and took the opportunity to make updates to the park while they were there, adding new screened shelters, more campsites and picnic tables, the group camping area and the new park headquarters building. The work was completed in 1975.

Today, Tyler State Park is made up of over 985 acres covered in beautiful hardwood forests and centered around a lake perfect for fishing, swimming and paddling. There is something for everyone here at Tyler State Park.

One more piece of history from the area that you might find interesting... Tyler State Park is named for the City of Tyler, Texas which is very nearby. The City of Tyler was established in 1846 just a few months after Texas became a state within the USA. Tyler, Texas was named for John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States in recognition of his support for Texas joining the US.

Hike at Tyler State Park

Hike at Tyler State Park

Rent a Boat at Tyler State Park

Rent a Boat at Tyler State Park

Things to Do at Tyler State Park:

Hiking: Tyler State Park offers 13 miles of hiking trails. The park includes rolling hills and trails range from easy to challenging, but we didn't find anything as challenging as what we experienced at Garner State Park (no climbing over large rocks here at Tyler!). Several of the trailheads included signs with information about what to expect from those trails. The Lakeshore Trail wraps all the way around the lake with changing views all the way around. Trail maps are available at the park headquarters. The Blackjack, Lakeshore and Whispering Pines Trails are hiking only. No bicycles are allowed on these 3 trails.

Paddling: The spring-fed lake at the center of the park is a great place for paddling! Bring your own equipment or rent a canoe, kayak, pedal boat, rowboat, or stand-up paddleboard from the Boathouse (an original CCC structure). Boat rentals are available all year. The lake is fully contained within the park and is a no-wake lake, so the water is calm and easy to paddle. If you have your own equipment, you can put it in the water at the boatramp which is located between the playground and the Lakeview Camping Area.

Dutch Oven Cooking Demonstrations: If you visit Tyler State Park on the first weekend of the month, set aside some time on Saturday morning to head over to the Blackjack Group Camping Area for a dutch oven cooking demonstration. And this is no small demonstration! A local group of dutch oven and cast iron cooking enthusiasts camps here on the first weekend of each month. During their Saturday morning cooking demonstration you can watch them all cook, ask questions and learn more about the art of dutch oven cooking from a lot of different folks (including one of the park rangers). For a small donation, you can enjoy a great meal after the cooking is complete!

The Lake is Perfect for Paddling or Fishing

The Lake is Perfect for Paddling or Fishing

Tyler State Park has 2 Lighted Fishing Piers

Tyler State Park has 2 Lighted Fishing Piers

Biking: Mountain biking is allowed on the A Loop, B Loop, C Loop, D Loop, EZ Loop and Old Road Trail. Each of these loops offers unique topography and different levels of difficulty. Tyler State Park is a good park for folks who like to ride on hills and through the forest. Because this park is often so busy, the park requests that bicycles travel clockwise on the trails and hikers travel counterclockwise.

Fishing: There are 2 lighted fishing piers on the lake at Tyler State Park (one near the Southside Day Use Area over by the CCC Overlook and the other is near Brown's Point Picnic Area on the other side of the lake). There are also several areas around the lake where folks can bank fish. Or you can fish from a kayak out on the lake. If you don't have fishing gear or forget to bring it with you, Tyler State Park participates in the Tackle Loaner Program. No fishing license is required for bank fishing inside a Texas State Park or to fish from a boat in waters completely enclosed within a Texas State Park (like the lake here at Tyler State Park).

Geocaching: Tyler State Park is home to a couple of geocaches. If you would like to learn more about geocaching, take a look at our post "Discover Amazing Places By Geocaching".

Birding and Wildlife Viewing: We have heard that over 200 species of birds have been identified here at Tyler State Park! The park has a bird blind near the Blackjack Group Camping Area. Parking is available near the Blackjack restrooms or you can hike to that area from the Loop A or Loop B Trails. We have heard that this park is home to beavers, possums, armadillos and foxes. During our stay in early December, we saw birds, ducks, deer and a lot of raccoons! Make sure you don't leave your trash bags or food out at night. The raccoons will find it.

Ranger Programs: Always check the park's website or at the headquarters to find out about the Ranger Programs that will be going on during your visit. While we were there, programs included how to make a traditional campfire without using fire starters and about navigating by compass. (And let's not forget the dutch oven demonstration!) Other Ranger-led programs that we've heard of here at Tyler include guided walks on topics like photography, birding, dragonflies, and wildflowers. They also offer creative programs like "lost in the forest" and a "zombie apocalypse" hike.

Swimming: Let's not forget swimming! Tyler State Park Lake is a spring-fed lake with a dedicated swimming area for the warmer months. Parking is available nearby and restrooms are located at the CCC-built Bathhouse at the swimming area. Picnic tables are in the area and the playground is a short walk away on the other side of the Boathouse.

Inside the Park Store

Inside the Park Store

Tyler State Park Playground

Tyler State Park Playground

Other Amenities at Tyler State Park:

CCC Structures: When it came time for architects to design the park structures for Tyler State Park, the National Park Service was moving away from its traditional design. So the CCC-built structures here are designed in the "prairie" style inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Today you can still visit the original Bathhouse, Combination Concession Building and Boathouse. For more CCC history, check out the Whispering Pines Nature Trail near the park headquarters, the CCC Rock Dam which can be seen from the C Loop Trail, and the various stone work, bridges and culverts throughout the park.

Park Store: Located within the CCC-built Combination Concession Building, Tyler State Park's store sells everything from souvenirs to cast iron. If you forgot a few basic grocery items or need more sunblock, you can find it here. The patio behind the park store is the CCC dance floor. It is now home to picnic tables where you can relax and enjoy a view of the lake!

Amphitheater: The location, or at least starting point, for many of the Ranger-led programs at Tyler State Park, you'll find the amphitheater between the Lakeview Camping Area and the boat ramp. Bench seating is available.

Playground: The park's playground is in the Northside Day Use Area between the boat ramp and the Boathouse. It is shaded by the trees, includes picnic tables and has a soft, spongy ground cover.

Forest! Perhaps the best amenity at Tyler State Park is its forest! Thanks to the reforestation efforts launched by the Civilian Conservation Corps, today this park is heavily forested by a combination of pine trees, oaks and other hardwoods. Here you can witness the changing colors of fall or enjoy cool shade in the summer. The forest really makes Tyler State Park a year-round park!

Park Details:

Contact Tyler State Park:

Park Address: 789 Park Road 16, Tyler TX 75706

Park Phone: 903.597.5338

Reservations Phone: 512.389.8900

Reserve a Campsite at Tyler State Park Online

Visit Tyler State Park's Website

Connect with Tyler State Park on Facebook | Instagram

Total Tent/RV Sites: 38

Total RV Only Sites: 39

Total Tent Only Sites: 42

Sites that Accomodate up to 30 foot RV: 77

Sites that Accomodate up to 50 foot RV: 39

Total Screened Shelter Sites: 29

Total Cabin Sites: 6

Also Available: Group RV Camping Area, Group Picnic Pavilion and Group Dining Hall

Bathhouse Between Big Pine and Lakeview

Bathhouse Between Big Pine and Lakeview

Campsites are Close to Trails

Campsites are Close to Trails

Camping at Tyler State Park:

Cedar Point Camping Area

Section: Area 1

Campsite Numbers: 1-20

Total Campsites: 20

30/50 Amp Electricity

Water and Electric Hookups

Back-In and Pull-Thru Sites

RVs and Tents Allowed

Jack Pads are Required for RVs

Big Pine Camping Area

Section: Area 3

Campsite Numbers: 39-77

Total Campsites: 39

30/50 Amp Electricity

Full Hookups

Pull-Through Sites

RVs Only; No Tents Allowed

Dogwood Ridge Camping Area

Section: Area 5

Campsite Numbers: 108-116

Total Campsites: 9

Water Only

Tents and Car Camping Only; No RVs

Hickory Hollow Camping Area

Section: Area 7

Campsite Numbers: 131-141

Total Campsites: 11

Water Only

Tents and Car Camping Only; No RVs

Lakeview Camping Area

Section: Area 2

Campsite Numbers: 21-38

Total Campsites: 18

30/50 Amp Electricity

Full Hookups

Back-In and Pull-Thru Sites

RVs and Tents Allowed

Jack Pads are Required for RVs

Blackjack Group Camping Area

Section: Area 4

Campsite Numbers: 78-107

Total Campsites: 30

30/50 Amp Electricity

Water Hookups

Back-In Sites

RVs Only; No Tents Allowed

Red Oak Camping Area

Section: Area 6

Campsite Numbers: 117-130

Total Campsites: 14

Water Only

Tents and Car Camping Only; No RVs

Sumac Bend Camping Area

Section: Area 8

Campsite Numbers: 142-149

Total Campsites: 8

Water Only

Tents and Car Camping Only; No RVs

Tyler State Park has campsites to accomodate any size RV. Some of the sites are full-hookup, all of the RV sites are equipped with 30 and 50 amp electricity, some are pull-through, some are back-in and two areas (Big Pine Camping Area and Blackjack Group Camping) are set aside for RVs only. Tyler State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Texas, so a 2 night minimum stay is required to camp on Friday and Saturday year round. A 3 night minimum reservation is required for Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. All campsites have a picnic table and fire pit/grill. Most (if not all) also have a lantern hook. The sites in the Black Jack Group Camping Area each have a picnic table; the group sites share community fire pits. Comfort Stations with restrooms and showers are located in Cedar Point, between Lakeview and Big Pine, and between Red Oak and Hickory Hollow. Dump stations are located near the restrooms at Cedar Point and between Lakeview and Big Pine.

Dogwood Ridge Campsite

Dogwood Ridge Campsite

Tyler State Park Shelter

Tyler State Park Shelter

Group Camping at Tyler State Park:

The Blackjack Group Camping Area offers 30 RV sites around a circle. Parking is on pavement. A group pavilion and community smoker are availble for rent within the circle. This area has a restroom and is near the bird blind. Blackjack is also called camping area 4. See the camping section above for more information on the sites.

Screened Shelters at Tyler State Park:

Shortleaf Camping Area

Section: Area 9

Total Shelters: 29

Water and Electricity at Site

Park at the Shelter

Each shelter includes a picnic table, water, electricity and a fire pit/grill. As with all of the campsites, shelters at Tyler State Park require a 2 night minimum stay on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year. A 3 night reservation is required on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The shelter area has its own comfort station with restrooms and showers and an additional restroom building without showers.

Cabins at Tyler State Park:

Creekside Camping Area

Section: Area 10

Total Cabins: 6

Water and Electricy at Site

Park at the Cabin

Each cabin includes air conditioning and heating, lights, a microwave oven, refrigerator, table, chairs and one queen bed. There is additional room for a cot or small inflatable mattress, but you must bring that with you. You must also bring your linens and cookware. Each cabin also features an outdoor picnic table, lantern hook, fire pit and grill. One cabin is wheelchair accessible. The cabin loop has its own comfort station with restrooms and showers. No tents, RVs or pets are allowed at the cabin sites. And just like the campsites and shelters, a 2 night minimum stay is required for any Friday or Saturday night; a 3 night minimum stay applies to the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Visiting Tyler State Park For a Day:

Day Use Areas

Picnic areas are located on both sides of the lake. Day use areas also include lighted fishing piers, the playground and the boat ramp. Trailhead parking is also located near the Bath House and near the Blackjack Group Camping Area. Two group picnic pavilions, a group dining hall and a group picnic area are all available within the park.

Tyler State Park Information:

Year Opened: 1941

Discount Passes Accepted: Texas State Parks Pass

CCC Park? Yes! Visit the bathhouse, park store and boathouse.

Park Store? Souvenirs and a few camping supplies.

Lodging Options at Tyler State Park: Tent Camping, RV Camping, RV Group Camping, Shelters and Cabins

Tyler State Park Reviews: Campendium, RV Park Reviews, RV Parky, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Reviews

Amenities: CCC history, hiking, paddling, boating, swimming, bank fishing, geocaching, biking, wildlife viewing, nature trails, bird blind

Operated By: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Region: East Texas Pineywoods

Nearest Towns: Tyler TX (10 miles), Wood Springs TX (10 miles), Winona TX (10 miles), Lindale TX (11 miles), Mineola TX (25 miles), Kilgore TX (29 miles)

View Tyler State Park Map

Tyler State Park Trails Map

Weather at Tyler State Park

Tags: Texas State Parks, East Texas, CCC Parks

Where is Tyler State Park?

Where is Tyler State Park?

Approx. Distance to Tyler State Park:

Dallas: 100 miles

Waco: 145 miles

Fort Worth: 170 miles

Houston: 215 miles

Austin: 245 miles

San Antonio: 320 miles

Corpus Christi: 430 miles

Lubbock: 440 miles

Amarillo: 460 miles

El Paso: 730 miles

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Safe Travels and Happy Camping!

Disclaimer: These details are accurate to to the best of our knowledge. We try our best to provide accurate information, but we are human and sometimes details change. Please check with the park directly to confirm current information.