Celebrate Halloween This Year at a Texas State Park

AUSTIN, October 14, 2014 – If you’re looking for a safer and healthier alternative to neighborhood trick-or-treating and other typical Halloween activities, grab the kids and head outdoors to any of more than a dozen Texas State Parks offering variety of special “spooky” holiday events this October.

Here is a sampling of some of the Halloween events scheduled this month in Texas State Parks. Regular park entry fees will be charged, but children 12 and younger get in free.

For the eighth year in a row, Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco will present the Spooky Science Fest from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18. Compete in a costume contest and enjoy hayrides, archery, tracking, fishing, live animals, wild edibles, crafts, an obstacle course and more. The cost is $5 per person. Information: (956) 565-3919.

That same evening, Lake Colorado City State Park will host “All Around the Campfire – Spooky Stories.” Bring some hotdogs and s’mores to roast at the campfire while hearing some scary (but appropriate for children) stories. It’s $4 for adults, but kids 12 and younger are free. Information: (325) 728-3931.

If pumpkins play a major role in your Halloween, head for McKinney Falls State Park in Austin for a Pumpkin Painting Party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19. Participants can bring their own pumpkin to paint with nature-themed decorations. A ranger will talk about the history of Halloween, the history of the pumpkin and the pumpkin’s many prehistoric, historic and present uses. Roasted campfire pumpkin seeds and marshmallows will be available. All materials and instruction will be provided, but participants must bring their own pumpkins. Information: (512) 415-8793.

Youngsters in east Texas can engage in high-tech trick-or-treating from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Martin Creek Lake State Park in Rusk County by hunting for special Halloween-themed geocaches. Coordinates will be provided on day of event. Prizes will be awarded for different categories. Wear a costume for the costume contest. Bring your GPS or some GPS units will be available to use during the event. Stay afterwards for hotdogs and mingle with fellow geocachers. Information: (903) 836-4336.

On that same Saturday out in far west Texas, the Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park in El Paso will be hosting a “Tram-or-Treat Halloween Festival” from noon to 4 p.m. Visit spooky exhibits like Creepy Crawlers and Creatures of the Night and enjoy a pumpkin carving contest and more. Information: (915) 562-9899.

In north Texas on Oct. 25, Lake Tawakoni State Park in Wills Point promises an evening of creepy fun from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at “Boo in the Park.” Trick-or-treaters can visit decorated campsites along the camping loops, which will be closed to traffic from 5-6 p.m., to fill their bags with Halloween goodies. Park visitors also can participate in pumpkin carving and night hikes. Information: (903) 560-7123.

Houston area families looking for a different way to enjoy the ghoul and goblin season should visit Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Oct. 25, for a safe “Natural Halloween.” Take a guided night hike through the woods along the edge of several ponds or walk the "spooky trail," see the skins and skulls table, play games with the kids or try and catch a glimpse of a bat. Festivities start at 4 p.m. with games and activities for the younger ones. When the sun goes down, nighttime activities will run from 7-9 p.m. Information: (281) 456-2800, ext. 221.

On Halloween night, Oct. 31, Cleburne State Park will host its first “Trick-or-Treat in the Park” event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Trick-or-treaters can visit decorated campsites in the Shady Springs, Key Hole and North Creek campgrounds to snag some Halloween goodies. Campers who make a two-night reservation will receive one free night of camping if they decorate their campsite and pass out Halloween candy to the little spooks. The best-decorated campsites will be eligible for a prize. Advance reservations for this special event at Shady Spring, Key Hole or North Creek campgrounds must be made by calling the park at (817) 645-4215.

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