Texas Road Trips: Where to Winter in the Lone Star State
February 10, 20223 min read
Traditionally, the winters here in Texas are pretty mild. We may get the occasional flurry of inclement weather between November and February, but winter storms are so rare that we refer to them by year and often attribute them to legend. You can still hear people talking about the Great Ice Storm of 1940, the Blizzard of 1979, or Snowpocalypse 2021.
No, the summers in Texas may be hellacious, but the winters tend to be less dramatic than those of our northern neighbors—calm, cool, and dry. Great road trip weather, although you’ll probably want to keep the top up and put the heater on low.
But where to go? As we’ve mentioned before, there’s no such thing as a quintessential Texas road trip. The state is so large and so spread out that hitting all the high points in one trip would be less of a driving vacation and more of an expedition. So your best bet is to pick a single destination and simply enjoy the journey.
Here are some great places in Texas that are definitely worth the trip in winter.
Big Bend National Park
The winter is the perfect time to visit this national park, which has often been referred to as “Texas’ Gift to the Nation.” Located roughly 5 hours south of El Paso and 6 hours west of San Antonio, Big Bend is an isolated stretch of 800,000 acres located smack dab in the deserts, mountains, and canyons of West Texas. Wintertime is especially mild here, making it a perfect getaway to camp, fish, or hike the numerous trails.
One of biggest draws of Big Bend—the thing that keeps folks coming back year after year—is the coal-black, star-filled Texas sky that you can only see when you get away from the city. Another is the 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which winds through several ranches and viewpoints before terminating at the trailhead of Santa Elena Canyon. If you only have one day to spend in Big Bed, you should definitely explore this route and spend some time hiking along the river and canyon floor.
Just one quick caveat: Big Bend’s attractions are scenic but isolated, so make sure you have a spare tire and a jack, as well as a full take of gas before you set out.
Just north of San Antonio and west of Austin lies the German-settled town of Fredericksburg. This city, named for Prince Frederick of Prussia, is home to a wide assortment of restaurants, breweries, and wineries. (Yes, Texas wine has been a thing since Spanish missionaries in El Paso started producing it in the 1650s.)
One of the most popular attractions in the area is Enchanted Rock, a pink granite mountain located in the Llano Uplift. Visitors to Enchanted Rock can hike its nature trails, explore its caves, or scale it to the top and enjoy a breathtaking view. Reservations aren’t required but are highly recommended as the park will close once it reaches capacity.
But if you want to experience the winter magic of Fredericksburg, you’ll definitely want to check out the Weihnachtspyramide, or Christmas Pyramid. Illuminated every year from November to January, this 26-foot carousel-like structure spins in the middle of town each holiday season, telling the story of Christmas in a way that celebrates Fredericksburg’s lasting German heritage.
Known primarily as a beach city (and the subject of several country-western songs), Galveston draws a healthy crowd in the winter as well with its annual Dickens on the Strand festival. Every December, actors take to the street in traditional Victorian garb for this holiday tradition featuring parades, carolers, quartets, wandering vendors, and non-stop entertainment on four stages. This festival, which has been a local tradition for 48 years, is the perfect complement to Galveston’s Victorian architecture and the perfect way to celebrate the holidays.
Even Though Its Winter, You Still Need a Cooler
No matter the season, Bison’s got you covered with the ice chest or cooler you need. Whether you’re planning on roughing it in Big Bend, taking in the wintertime sights of Fredericksburg, or celebrating Ye Olde Holiday Season in Galveston, our durable Gen2sand convenient SoftPakswill see you through your next winter road trip (and many more to come).