Within the city limits of Lubbock, the 248-acre Mackenzie Park, located east of I-27 at 4th Street (tel. 806/775-2687), is the largest recreation area, with two golf courses -- one traditional and one Frisbee -- walking, jogging, and equestrian trails, and Prairie Dog Town, one of the few active colonies in the urban United States.
Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway (tel. 806/455-1492; www.tpwd.state.tx.us) is a 2 1/2-hour drive from Lubbock, located to the northeast near Quitaque off Tex. 86. Like Palo Duro Canyon to the northwest, this 15,313-acre park offers a startling contrast to the plains in its jagged formations of red rocks and diverse vegetation. An abandoned railroad line was converted into a 65-mile trail system that travels along a canyon floor, through a one-time railroad tunnel, and up a steep incline onto the mesa of the High Plains. Hikers, bikers, and horses are permitted on the trail. Several other hiking opportunities exist in the park as well. Primitive backcountry campsites are available for $8 nightly as well as tent sites for $12 and sites with partial RV hookups for $15 to $20. Additionally, boaters and fishers can take advantage of Lake Theo, located on the south side of the park. The park charges a $3 day-use fee per person (free for kids 12 and under).
Boating -- Two boat ramps access the spring-fed Buffalo Springs Lake, Tex. 835, 5 miles east of Loop 289 (tel. 806/747-3353; www.buffalospringslake.net). Gate fees are $5 adults, $3 children 10 and under, $1 seniors, and $5 per watercraft and $10 per ATV. Canoe and paddle-boat rentals are available. Boating is also allowed at Lake Alan Henry (tel. 806/775-2673; www.lakealanhenry.org), 65 miles southeast of Lubbock via U.S. 84 and FM 2458, a rugged-looking reservoir surrounded by a wildlife habitat area with several miles of hiking trails. Day-use fees are $6 to $8 and boating fees are $5 to $8.
Golf -- Lubbock has several public 18-hole golf courses, including Elm Grove Golf Course, 3202 Milwaukee Ave. (tel. 806/799-7801), with greens fees of $25 to $30 with a cart or $10 to $20 on foot; Shadow Hills Golf Course, 6002 3rd St. (tel. 806/793-9700), with greens fees of $27 to $34 with a cart and $12 to $21 without; Rawls Golf Course, 4th Street and Texas Tech Parkway on the campus of Texas Tech (tel. 806/742-4635), with greens fees of $42 to $62 with cart; and Meadowbrook Golf Course, 601 Municipal Dr. in Mackenzie Park (tel. 806/765-6679), with two 18-hole courses and greens fees of $17 to $29 with cart or $13 to $20 without. Nearby, the Mackenzie Park Disk Golf Course is free, although you'll need your own Frisbee. It is a 21-hole course that includes a 470-yard shot over the Brazos River from a cliff.
Hiking -- Four miles of nature trails snake around Lubbock Lake Landmark, as well as the 65-mile trail way at Caprock Canyons State Park. Several miles of walking and jogging trails, many of which are horse-friendly, are within the city limits at Mackenzie Park, 4th Street and I-27 (tel. 806/775-2687).
Mountain Biking -- There are a few trails at Buffalo Springs Lake, Tex. 835, 5 miles east of Loop 289, but Lubbock's hard-core mountain bikers head north to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Caprock Canyons State Park.
Swimming -- Lubbock is home to four municipal pools, all outdoor and open from late May to early August: Clapp Municipal Swimming Pool, 4500 Ave. U; Mae Simmons Community Center, 2004 Oak St.; Maxey Park, 4007 30th St.; and Rogers Park, 3200 Bates St. In season, each is open from 1 to 6pm daily with an admission fee of $2 adults, $1.50 children 17 and under. For further information, call tel. 806/775-2687. Buffalo Springs Lake boasts two beaches that are open to swimmers year-round. Aside from the admission fee ($5 adults, $3 children 11 and under, $1 seniors), there is no additional fee to swim. A year-round indoor pool is located at the YWCA, 3101 35th St. (tel. 806/792-2723). Swimming costs $6 for adults, $3.50 for kids.