Rusk/Palestine State Park

May 29 through June 3, 2004

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See more pictures taken in and around the Rusk and Palestine State Parks including the railroad pictures here!

Rusk/Palestine State Park is split into two pieces. One piece is by Rusk and has the main campground. The other piece is by Palestine.  This unusual configuration is due to the Texas State Railroad State Park linking the two park ends together. Note that we were here over Memorial Day Weekend.

While I like this park, I don't know that I would have visited here this soon (in our quest to visit all State Parks before we retire) if this park didn't include the Texas State Railroad State Park. There really isn't that much around here. In addition to the railroad, there is the Jim Hogg Historic Site, Mission Tejas State Park, and Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site.

Around days that the railroad runs, the park is full. It was full Saturday when we got here. It pretty much cleared out by Monday afternoon. Tuesday it was nice and quiet. Then Wednesday afternoon, the full hookup area of the park filled back up. The other campsite area had a couple of campers but nothing like Memorial Day Weekend. The train runs on Thursdays. Because the train is mostly an attraction for children, when the park is full, it is full with families. Most of the kids seemed to be preteen or younger. We did see a couple of well behaved teenagers.

The park folks are nice. The park is in relatively good repair. I enjoyed riding my bike all over the place. The guests here have been all very well behaved. Other parks we have been in around holidays didn't have as well behaved guests. People were respectful about being quiet between 8:00 in the evening and about 7:00 in the morning. This could be a result of all the young families. It could also be a result of the people in this part of Texas. Most likely, it is a combination of the two.

Do note that the water in Rusk tastes pretty bad. While this is not unusual for this part of Texas, you should consider bringing your own water with you. We purchase drinking/cooking water from HEB or WalMart in the San Antonio area for 58¢ per gallon. In the summer, we plan on two gallons per day for drinking and cooking. This works for two adults and two dogs. This trip was nine days. We brought 16 bottles - we will just barely make it.

Rusk is in the Piney Woods region of Texas. Palestine is in the Prairies and Lakes region of Texas. Together, both towns straddle the boundary between two regions.   The Texas State Parks web site has information and a map of the park.

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

The park headquarters is on the left. The pavilion below is by the lake and has a really cool fireplace in it. The pavilion has a spot to rent the canoes and paddle boats.

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Both the Rusk and Palestine ends of the park had ponds. The Rusk pond is really lake sized. The park rents canoes and paddle boats for $6.50 an hour. Kids were fishing off the dock. They were catching small crappie (I guess). Regardless of the fish's size, the boys were still pretty excited.

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Our campsite - left. Below are flowers from Sweat Gum trees. These trees are plentiful in this area. I expect they need acidic soil. Driving up here we saw lots of them along the roadside.

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//

A storm blew through Tuesday night. We got 80 mile per hour winds and large golf ball sized hail. Fortunately for us, the trees did a very good job of shielding the wind. However, the trees did drop branches, pine needles, and pine cones. The trailer next to us narrowly escaped a large branch breaking through the roof.

As I write these words Wednesday night, another storm is blowing through. It isn't as severe as the one Tuesday.

As I write these words Thursday, I must say, I'm glad the tree below didn't hit any trailers or hurt any people. We were speculating that the tree was taken down by a lightning strike and not the wind. The picture spans about 180 degrees. Click on it to see a larger version.

I'm wondering if Spring or early Summer is not the best time to visit this park. I couldn't say if this weather is normal or not. We basically had severe thunderstorm watches every evening we stayed in this park.

Click on image for a larger view - VERY VERY BIG

As I said before, Rusk/Palestine State Park has two ends - The Rusk end where we camped and the Palestine end. There are campsites at the Palestine end that look pretty nice. They don't have electricity or sewer. You can't make reservations. Linda and I liked the look of the campground. When we visited on Wednesday morning, there were no campers in the park.

One other odd thing - there are no maps of the Palestine end.

A typical Palestine campsite is shown on the right.

Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//
Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//
The bridge to the left connects the Palestine campground to one of the day-use areas adjacent to the Palestine Depot (part of the Texas State Railroad State Park).
After it rained Tuesday night, the lilies must have been real busy because by Wednesday at lunch, there were flowers in both the Rusk and the Palestine side park ponds.
Click on image for larger format picture.  Rusk/Palestine State Park//
Copyright © 2004 Larry Pearson - All Rights Reserved.