Midland and Odessa lie just 20 miles apart in the wind-spanked plains of west Texas' cattle country. While the topography around the cities can look pretty much the same, you'll find two state parks within an hour's drive with dramatically different scenery. The two parks each offer a range of activities where you can get your heart pumping on dry land or in the water.
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Lake Colorado City State Park lies an hour's drive northeast of Midland along Interstate 20. Tucked in mesquite-dotted flatlands, you'll find a place to cool off in the park's lake, which offers areas for swimming, water skiing and riding personal watercraft. Set off on the park's 5-mile shoreline trail, picnic on the beach or put a hook in the water at the park's fishing barge, piers or extensive shoreline fishing area. Stretch your adventure into a weekend with a stay at a cabin or one of more than 100 campsites where you'll find hookups ranging from water only to pull-through sites with water and electric.
A 30-minute drive southwest of Odessa brings you to the sparkling white sand dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park. Ride your horse in an 800-acre equestrian area dotted with mesquite trees sprinkled over a sand substrate. Surf down sand dunes on discs or toboggans you can rent at park headquarters, or watch desert wildlife come to drink at the park's watering stations. Camp overnight in one of 26 sites with water and electricity.