If you’re looking for a great place to cool down this summer, plan a road trip to Lake Mineral Wells State Park! Located less than an hour west of Fort Worth and just over three hours from Austin, this state park makes for a relatively easy trip with everything you need for an amazing summer getaway!
WHERE TO STAY: Book a campsite or rent a screened shelter in the park! There are multiple camping loops - Cross Timbers and Post Oak are water only, Live Oak and Plateau are water and electric. Try sites 46 or 65. Make sure you keep all trash and food put away at night because there is a VERY robust raccoon population!
Reserve online: https://texasstateparks.reserveamerica.com/
Check in anytime after 2PM and set up camp. Use the afternoon to explore the campground and maybe do a little fishing (the park participates in the Loaner Tackle program, which offers free fishing gear for rent). Drive up to the Penitentiary Hollow Overlook to catch the sunset or check and see if the park is offering an evening program. They usually have a good variety on the weekends, including cowboy poetry, stargazing, and more!
Wakey wakey! In the morning, cook up some breakfast (and coffee!) at the campsite, then head into the town of Minerals Wells by late morning. A must-do in Mineral Wells is a stop at the Famous Mineral Water Company!
The town of Mineral Wells gets its name from the water. Back in the late 1800s, people found that the water helped with a variety of ailments. The water is rich in natural minerals, including lithium (which is used to treat mood disorders like depression even in modern times!). People came from far and wide to drink the water and soak in baths to reap the health benefits! After more than 100 years, you can still enjoy the benefits of the water of Mineral Wells.
At the Famous Mineral Water Company, you can do a taste testing of the various waters. They have water coolers set up with all the different varieties for you to sample from. My favorite is 4, which is the ‘strongest’, having the highest mineral concentrations. Taste them all and find your own personal favorite! For you sparkling water lovers out there, you’ll love the Crazy Fizz, too! Once you find the one you like, stock up in the store! You can also enjoy a variety of mineral water based beverages at their bar area. If you plan ahead, you can even make an appointment to soak in a bath at the Crazy Bath House!
Once you’re happy and hydrated, before heading back to the park, make a short drive past the historic Baker Hotel to see the progress of the major renovation project that it is undergoing. When it’s completed, it’s going to be an amazing spot! Bask in its beauty, even while it is unfinished.
Back in the park, beat the afternoon heat by taking a dip in the designated swimming area. This is one of the nicest swimming areas that I’ve seen in a park! It’s got a really great beach, but be forewarned - there is no shade so be sure to bring an umbrella, shade shelter, canopy, anything to keep the sun off you! The Park Store is conveniently located just across the parking lot. There, you can rent canoes, paddle boards, kayaks, and more! I went paddle boarding for the first time here! It’s a great place to give it a try!
On your last day in the park, start off with a hike through Penitentiary Hollow. This is one of the few places for natural rock climbing in North Texas! You can access this area of the park either by hiking or driving. To drive, park at the Penitentiary Hollow parking area on the west end of the park. Walk down the trail and take the short (but rugged) stairs down. To hike, drive to the trailhead and take the Red Waterfront trail. It is 0.8 miles and is rated as moderate. Plan for 1.6 miles round trip.
Even if you’re not a rock climber, this is an awesome area to explore! There is a fee to rock climb, but just walking around and playing on the big rocks was great. The kids had a blast climbing up and around the boulders and through the small crevices. Okay, okay - the adults had a blast, too.
Your campsite check-out time is 12PM, which leaves some time to catch lunch (or breakfast!) at Jimmy’s in town. It can get pretty busy, so be prepared to possibly have a little bit of a wait.
As usual, be sure to visit the park’s website before your visit to get the most up-to-date information! Enjoy this fabulous summer spot for sun, swimming, and exploring! This park should be a go-to for anyone in the DFW area!
This article was written by WanderWheels trusted travel guide Nina Cardenas. You can find more helpful adventure tips and tricks on Nina’s Instagram (@ramblinroundtexas)