Crystal Canyon Natural Area, Arlington

Last year, our school district started 1/2 days on the last day of the 6 weeks, and we were more than happy to take advantage of a half day of school on a sunny, beautiful January day to visit Crystal Canyon Natural Area in Arlington!

Yes, there is a canyon in Arlington!  Set on 40 acres, the CCNA has a .8 mile soft surface trail for walking, hiking, appreciating nature and looking for treasure, both that from nature and a legendary one!

I hope I’ve intrigued you, and you’ll visit and find out for yourself why it’s called Crystal Canyon.  Check out my Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit.


1. Know Before You Go

Bring water.

As a Natural Area, there are no picnic tables or playgrounds.

The canyon makes itself obvious before you get to it.  Turning East on Brown Blvd. from Collins, the road goes D-O-W-N!  If like me, you are concentrating on the road, you’ll drive right past the entrance, so take it slow and keep an eye out!  The entrance is on the south (right) side of the road, if you are heading East (towards Hwy 360).  Welcome to the Canyon!


2.   Bridges 

Nice bridges make for easy crossing of the streams that dug out Crystal Canyon.


3.  The Trail

The .8 mile soft surface trail is friendly for most strollers, especially those with larger wheels.

While the canyon is said to have an elevation change of over 100′, the CCNC is in the bottom of the canyon, and offers mostly flat terrain.


4.  Dogs 

Leashed dogs are permitted on the trail.  Bring yours and then you won’t have a sad little boy when he realizes his best friend could have come with him.


5.  Formation of the Canyon

Just as the Grand Canyon was created by the mighty Colorado River cutting through the earth, Crystal Canyon was also created by water, but on a much smaller scale. One of the educational kiosk along the trails explains that Crystal Canyon has 3 small tributaries of the Trinity River, called seasonal streams, which water only flows in during the wet times of the year.


6.  Geology

On the pretense of picking up a carelessly discarded soda bottle from another visitor, I let my boys wander down to the stream bed to get a closer look at the rock layers of the CCNC.



7.  The Crystals

Selenite is a gypsum crystal for which the canyon gets its name.

This is where I confess to being a bad mother.  My seven-year-old was thrilled to search for crystals during our walk, and since I had already explained that we weren’t allowed to pick up or take any of the crystals from the CCNC, I was more than happy to let him believe the occasional sparkling bits of broken glass we spotted off the trail were in fact crystals!


8.  The Treasure

I found this story of treasure in, of all places, a ghost story.  In Mitchell Whittington’s book, Ghost of North Texas, he tells the story of a raid on Mexican wagons and gold seized and then buried, but never found! The author makes no claims that the story is true, however it was still fun to read to the kids of the treasure, and keep an open eye as we walked around!

Click HERE to read Whittington’s story of the legendary gold of Crystal Canyon.  Like all good ghost stories, his book is full of history on the areas he claims to be haunted, and a good read even if it’s not October!

Are you surprised to hear that there was once a fort in Arlington? The location seems to be on private property, although there are 2 historical markers in the vicinity.  While it appears nothing remains of the fort, the City of Irving has a 58 acre park named Bird’s Fort Trail Park, named for the trail from Fort Bird to Grape Vine Spring, which the President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston traveled to negotiate the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with 10 Native American nations.


9.  Seasons

We visited in January, when the leaves of many of the trees were missing.  The CCNC has a facebook page with some beautiful pictures taken this past fall, with the trees dressed up in their autumn finest!

Click HERE to visit the Crystal Canyon Natural Area’s facebook page.


Things to do in Arlington  

River Legacy Living Science Center is open 7 days a week, and has a terrific interpretive center with live animals.  Click HERE to read more about it.

River Legacy Park offers walking and mountain bike trails, a paddling trail along the Trinity River, playground with grills and much more!  Click HERE to read more!  The park offers many annual activities, including Tents & Tales campout, click HERE for more information.

Crystal Canyon Natural Area has a 1/2 mile trail which highlights the area’s geology, but there’s also a great tale of hidden treasure here.  To read more, click HERE.

Southwest Nature Preserve offers more a more strenuous 1 mile loop with steep terrain, plus 3 fishing ponds and picnic tables. Click HERE to read more.

Allen Saxe Park is a small neighborhood park with a fishing pond.  Click HERE to read more.   Marti Van Ravenswaay Park offers a big green space, basketball hoops and grills.  For more information, click HERE.

Red Kane Park has a fun playground, fishing pond, and walking trails.  Click HERE to read more.  Early each summer we love walking the trail in search of the peacocks that live in the area.  Click HERE to read more.

The YMCA Exercise trail is a 3/4 of a mile soft trail that is open to the public. Click HERE to read more.

Veterans Park Disc Golf Course is a good and busy course in Arlington, with wonderful terrain and elevation drops you wouldn’t expect to find on a N. Texas course. Click HERE to read more.

The Fish Creek Linear Trail is a 7 mile long hard-surface hike and bike trail that goes into Grand Prairie.  Click HERE to read more.

The Cody Rocamontes Skatepark is a FREE skatepark in North Arlington. Click HERE for more information.

The Arlington Animal Shelter offers tours, animal adoptions, classes and much more.  Click HERE for more information.

UTA Planetarium runs great shows on their domed screen, including Texas Sky, laser shows and our favorite, Spacepark 360.  For more information click HERE.

Round One Bowling and Arcade is the Parks Mall makes striking out fun!  Click HERE to read more.

Alley Cats Family Entertainment offers bowling, putt-putt, rock-climbing, laser tag, batting cages and lots of games.  Click HERE for more information.

Dyno-Rock is a great place for indoor rock climbing, and the helpful staff with assist getting you started!  Click HERE to read more.

The Elzie Odom Athletic Center also has a rock climbing wall, along with basketball court and more.  Click HERE for more.  The Hugh Smith Recreation Center has an indoor pool, which is open to the public on Friday nights. Click HERE to read more.

The Levitt Pavilion brings live music to Arlington, most of which is free, and is the centerpiece of annual events such as the Holiday Lights and 4th of July Parade and fireworks show!  Click HERE to read more.

Six Flags Over Texas will thrill and delight you with great amusement park rides!  Click HERE for more! Fright Fest at Six Flags will scare you with more than just their rides!  Click HERE for more information.  Six Flags Holiday in the Park runs from usually the second weekend in November through December.  Click HERE to read more.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is the place to stay cool during the summer!  Click HERE for more.

Howard Moore Play Pool is a splash pool for younger children.  For more information, click HERE.

Alan Bolden Pool is big hit each summer with high dive boards!  Click HERE to read more.

The Village Creek Paddling Trail and Lake Arlington Paddling Trail are great places to kayak or canoe, and Village Creek can be challenging when water is released from the pumping station.  Click HERE to read more.

The Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park are always winners when it comes to something fun to do in Arlington!  Click HERE for Mommy Tips when visiting.

Creative Hands is a fun place to take the kids to pick out ceramic or plaster pieces to paint, with many nice items for keepsakes.  Click HERE for more information.

Christmas Lights of Interlochen is an Arlington Tradition at Christmas, with police directing traffic in this very popular neighborhood filled with twinkling lights!  Click HERE for more.

Texas Christkindl Market is another holiday favorite in Arlington.  Click HERE to read more.

Campo Verde and the Kulesz Light Display are another Christmas tradition in Arlington!  Click HERE to read more.

Adventure to Santa is a fun Santa experience at the Parks Mall.  Click HERE to read more.

The YMCA’s Central Branch rings in the New Year’s with an annual Polar Plunge!  Click HERE for more information.


Crystal Canyon Natural Area

1000 Brown Blvd. Arlington

Click HERE to visit the Crystal Canyon Natural Area’s webpage. 


Keep Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun! 




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