Mountains, deserts, hills, lakes, rivers, beaches, vast high plains, and bustling cities comprise the landscape of the nation's second largest state. In Central Texas, Austin sits within a 250-mile radius of the several major rivers, the Texas Gulf Coast, the Mexican border and the cities of Dallas, Houston (the fourth largest city in the USA), and San Antonio. During the summer, many graduate student enjoy inner-tubing down the Guadalupe River, swimming in Lake Travis, or camping at one of many state parks. One of Texas' most stunning sights is Big Bend National Park in West Texas where 8,000-ft. mountains rise dramatically from the floor of the Chihuahua Desert. UT Austin's McDonald Observatory, with one of the world's largest telescopes, perches on a mountain top in the Davis Mountain range.

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