What to do in Lake Rita Blanca State Park

Lake Rita Blanca State Park is the northernmost state park in Texas. It is located in Hartley County, on the south side of Dalhart, and consists of approximately 1668.4 acres, with Lake Rita Blanca itself covering 150 acres. The park was acquired in 1990 through a 101-year lease with Dallam and Hartley counties for the purpose of managing bi-county property as a state park for educational and scientific study, for use and enjoyment of the general public, and for demonstration of good resource management. It was opened to the public in 1994 and became a state park in 1995.

Rita Blanca means "Little White River" and comes from the Spanish Sheepherders that inhabited the area in the mid 1800s. The name was later adopted by the XIT Ranch and called the Rita Blanca Division.

In the 1880s, the XIT Ranch was the largest range in the world under fence, and it all laid in the Texas Panhandle. Its three million acres sprawled from the old Yellow House Headquarters, near what is now Lubbock, northward to the Oklahoma Panhandle, in an irregular strip that was roughly about 30 miles wide.

Lake Rita Blanca State Park is located in the High Plains region of the Texas Panhandle. The vegetation is a native, short-grass, prairie plant community. This plant community, blue grama-buffalo grass series, is representative of much of the High Plains region and provides a unique opportunity for education with the local schools and the general public. Although Lake Rita Blanca no longer has a fishing recreation opportunity, it is the second-most important wintering area in the Texas Panhandle for migratory waterfowl in the central flyway. Each year, thousands of ducks and geese come to Lake Rita Blanca to winter. It is estimated that the number of geese alone generally ranges between 40,000 and 100,000. A large number of neotropical, migratory birds also frequent the park each spring and summer. In addition, there is a wide variety of wildlife, including scaled quail; bald eagles; mule deer; and swift, gray, and red foxes that make their home in the park.

Recreational opportunities offered by the Lake Rita Blanca State Park includes hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, nature walks and educational classes.

Lake Rita Blanca State Park is the northernmost state park in Texas. The park is located just south of the City of Dalhart off of US Highway 385/87 and FM 281.

Sitting an elevation of 3985 feet, the climatic date is fairly representative of the Northern High Plains section of Texas and adjoining sections of New Mexico and Oklahoma. The average annual temperature is 55.3 degrees. With monthly averages of 33.6 degrees for January and 77.6 degrees for July. Average annual rainfall is 17 - 18 inches, with an average snowfall of 15 inches annually. In winter the area is subjected to sharp drops in temperature. Cold spells rarely last more than 48 hours. Nights are usually clear and cold with freezes almost every night, and most days are sunny and mild. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

c/o Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Route 2 Box 285
Canyon, TX 79015

Phone: 806/488-2227

  • Lake Rita Blanca State Park Travel Q&A