State parks are the top tourist destination in Texas, welcoming more than 10 million visitors every year. With natural backdrops ranging from desert canyons to sandy beaches, high plains to Hill Country lakes, and marshy wetlands to pine forests, the Texas park system also offers a variety of outdoor experiences. This home movie compilation captures Texans spending time in state and national parks between 1950 to 1984. Highlighted recreational activities include more common pursuits such as camping, hiking, and fishing, as well as more adventurous exploits like abseiling.
The dearth of home movie footage documenting people of color visiting Texas parks betrays an ugly truth: like other Southern states under Jim Crow, Texas barred Black people from its state parks until the 1960s. Contrary to the false promise of "separate but equal," the state also did not create segregated park facilities for Black visitors. Home movies made in succeeding years help fill the representation gap, but questions about who parks are for remain.