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A unique blend of country and cosmopolitan, to really experience everything Texas has to offer you need to grab a tent and head to the wilderness. The best way to experience the Lone Star State’s abundance of stunning landscapes, spend your days indulging in outdoor adventures like swimming, hiking, and kayaking before snuggling up to a warm campfire and gazing at the starry sky. Boasting a variety of picturesque geographical regions, from a sandy stretch of beach to popular state parks, here are the best places to go camping in Texas.
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Located in West Texas, Big Bend National Park offers expansive views of mountains, canyons, and ancient limestone. One of the largest national parks in the United States, there are plenty of things to do. The best roadside and primitive camping in Texas, there are three campgrounds and numerous backcountry spots to set up camp if you prefer to be nestled in a more secluded area. With over 800,000 acres of beautiful views, visitors will find a range of outdoor activities to indulge in, from kayaking the Rio Grand to backpacking and mountain biking to fishing, and nature watching. Home to over 4,000 species of animals, wildlife viewing is also a popular pastime.
A beautiful 1,938-acre park and home to the four-mile stretch of the Guadalupe River, the Guadalupe River State Park is the perfect area to set up camp. Pitch your tent at one of the campsites near the water, or scope out a secluded spot for ultimate tranquility. A popular destination for fall foliage in Texas, visitors will find three campsites available that offer the perfect gathering spot for friends and family. Just a short drive from San Antonio and Austin, parkgoers are spoiled for choice in the beautiful scenery. On the river, you can swim, fish, tube, and canoe, while 13 miles of hiking and biking trails are ideal for those who prefer to explore on land.
Located just outside of Llano in central Texas, Enchanted Rock State Natural area is most famously known for its enormous piece of pink granite rock, one of the largest natural rock formations in the United States. Walk-in campsites with tent pads are available in addition to primitive hike-in campsites, where ample amount of shade and amazing Hill Country views offer a fantastic place for a picnic and respite after a day of adventure. Spend your nights stargazing after a memorable day in the outdoors, as popular activities include rock climbing and hiking through the 11 miles of hiking trails.
Famous for its incredible wildlife and stargazing opportunities, Caprock Canyons State Park is home to the Official Bison Herd of the State of Texas. It’s here that over 10,000 acres are reserved for these beautiful creatures, but the diverse wildlife is only one feature this park is known for. Featuring a rugged beauty, an astounding 90 miles of trails are on offer, perfect for campers who like to explore nature on foot. While marveling at the bison and hiking the trails might fill up your itinerary, visitors can also ride horses and go mountain biking. There are even eight equestrian campsites available with corrals.
Offering a wide array of outdoor recreation, Garner State Park boasts 1,774 acres of beautiful Hill Country. The Frio River winds through the park and its 11 miles of trails offer scenic vistas for adventurous travelers. Campers can choose from tent camping, screened-in shelters and on-site cabins peppered throughout the park. Perfect for a relaxing weekend adventure, it’s a top thing to do in the Texas Hill Country, where you can spend your day tubing, kayaking, and hiking. On hot summer days, swimming and tubing in the Frio River are an excellent way to cool off, while the park’s concession building hosts 1940s-style jukebox dances.
One of the biggest outdoor attractions in Texas, Colorado Bend State Park is the perfect combination of scenic vistas and outdoor activities. Located just a short drive from Austin, it is also a go-to destination for Texas campers, where group primitive campsites, backpack camping sites, and drive-up sites are available. The highlight of the park is Gorman Falls, a 65-foot cascading waterfall that cascades into a lush fern-coated grotto. Visitors will also find plenty of scenic swimming holes to cool off on hot summer days, in addition to a variety of opportunities to go fishing, paddling, caving, and birding.
Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro Canyon State Park is an excellent location for outdoor enthusiasts. The second-largest canyon in the United States, its array of multi-colored terra cotta that illuminate the sunken valleys is a sight to behold. There are plenty of spots for tent camping, RV camping, and equestrian campsites, while cabins are available to rent on the canyon rim and canyon floor. Campers can hike, bike, or horseback through this spectacular canyon along its 30 miles of trails. Serving as an inspiration to the famous American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, it’s safe to say the park’s spectacular views are majestic, to say the least.
A unique experience along the Gulf Coast, camping overnight on the Padre Island National Seashore is the perfect escape for beach lovers. Experience both sea, sand, and wildlife viewing here, as the 70 miles of coastline, dunes, and prairies separate the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre. The longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world according to the U.S. National Park Service, a camping trip here offers days filled with the salty breeze running through your hair and serene sounds of the waves, a combination that is sure to have your worries melt away. Five year-round campgrounds are available for public use, where you’ll find remote stretches of seashore and plenty of water-based activities.
Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, Inks Lake State Park boasts a variety of rocky landscapes and outdoor adventures. Featuring a scenic topography with sparkling blue waters and colorful rock outcrops, campers can explore the nine miles of picturesque hiking trails. Take a dip in the refreshing Devil’s Waterhole and nestle in at one of the 22 cabins or campsites by the water. Just an hour northwest of Austin, the park is the perfect weekend getaway in the summer where you can swim, boat, water ski, and scuba dive. Due to its constant lake level, the park is accessible all year round.
A postcard-perfect area in the fall with its vibrant array of colors, Lost Maples State Natural Area is also a great place to go camping. Located just two hours northwest of San Antonio, nature enthusiasts can soak in views of abundant wildlife and steep canyon walls that highlight the scenic Sabinal River. Hiking, swimming, and fishing in Sabinal are popular outdoor activities, while those interested in catching the fall foliage will need to plan their trip around mid-October to mid-November. Over 30 campsites are available with water and electricity, and if you prefer more seclusion, you can backpack to the six primitive campsites.
Part of the Piney Woods region of Southeast Texas, Big Thicket National Preserve is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. Nicknamed by man as “America’s Ark,” a trip here can be spent canoeing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding, while primitive campsites are spread across the sprawling 112,500 acres of land. Big Thicket was the first such preserve in the United States and is where to go to find a diverse group of plants and animals, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. Perfect for an overnight adventure, you can pitch a tent and wake up to this incredibly diverse stretch of land.
A pure Texan experience, camping in the historic Davis Mountains State Park means you can bring your horse along to camp. Located in West Texas, the horseback riding trails here are 5,700 feet in elevation. Various primitive and developed campsites are available, where you can get stunning views of the mountains in addition to a lodge and on-site motel. Spend your day hiking, bird-watching, or mountain biking, and when the sun goes down, there are various stargazing tours that are popular. For a unique experience, go birdwatching at the “best little bird blind in Texas” where you’ll find an enclosed viewing area and feeding station.
Caddo Lake State Park is one of the best places to go camping in East Texas, located about 10 miles from Lousiana’s border. You’ll have easy access to the bayous of the picturesque Caddo Lake from the campsites here, with paddling, fishing, and marveling at the natural lake from a boat all popular activities for outdoor lovers. In addition to being a top fishing destination in Texas, this park has a collection of campsites, ranging from water only to full hookup sites, as well as two to six-person historic cabins.
Head to the westernmost point of Texas and camp at Franklin Mountains State Park. It’s an oasis for outdoor lovers with over 100 miles of trails that are ideal for biking and hiking, while McKelligon Canyon is a hotspot for rock climbers who want to tackle the rugged desert terrain. Refuel with a scenic picnic overlooking the desert landscape, then spend a night under the stars at the park’s various camping options. In addition to campsites in the Tom Mays Unit, the park features tent sites and RV sites.
It’s easy to make family memories at the tranquil Lake Livingston State Park, which is located just an hour north of Houston. You can fish in one of the largest lakes in the state, soak up the scenic nature views on the quiet trails, or enjoy a camping adventure under the trees. This park in the southern portion of the Piney Woods region has excellent camping facilities, from full hookup campsites with lake views, picnic tables, and nearby restaurants to sites with electricity and running water. There’s even a park store with souvenirs, snacks, drinks, and camping and fishing supplies.
Balmorhea State Park is nestled in West Texas near Davis Mountain State Park. It’s a popular place to camp in Texas due to its 1.3-acre spring-fed swimming pool, offering the perfect place to cool off from the Texas heat. Dive into the crystal-clear waters at the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool or relax under the trees, while the park also has picnic ties, an outdoor sports area, and a playground for kids. While you can reserve a room at the San Solomon Springs Courts, a motel-style retro lodge, the park also features a collection of campsites with electricity and restrooms nearby.
Mustang Island State Park is a beautiful getaway for nature lovers in Texas, perched along the Gulf of Mexico. This coastal gem is beloved for its five miles of beautiful coastline and fascinating flora, where you might even spot endangered sea turtles (during nesting season, which runs from April to July). Swim and surf at the beach, build a sandcastle, kayak the waterways, or spot local birdlife on scenic walking paths. After your water-based adventures, set up at one of the campsites with water and electricity or choose from the primitive sites set up near the ocean.
Tyler State Park is located in East Texas, a favorite with camping fans with its 64-acre spring-fed lake, 100-foot-tall trees, and historic structures. You can spend time by the lake, go fishing, enjoy a picnic, or bring your binoculars and enjoy birdwatching. You can also explore the 13 miles of scenic hiking trails, including the Whispering Pines Nature Trail that was laid out 70 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Stay overnight in the park at one of the campsites, which range from water only to full hookups with picnic tables, fire ring with grills, and lantern posts. There’s also screened shelters and cabins available.
Step back in time at Dinosaur Valley State Park, a fun camping destination in Texas for history buffs and camping lovers. Get a glimpse of how the world looked 113 million years ago when these giant creatures roamed the land as you walk in actual dinosaur footprints in the limestone bed of the Paluxy River. You can also join a horseback riding adventure before you settle in for a night of camping. The park features hike-in primitive campsites and those with electricity. It’s best to visit here in summer when the water is low so you can explore the dinosaur trackway.
A popular spot for campings who want to add a fishing excursion to their trip, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park is set in northeast Texas. You’ll find massive trees, tall grasses, and a diverse mix of plants and animals, but it’s the fishing that lures in campers from around the state. Fish in the lake from shore, pier, or boat, or reel in largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie in the stocked Trout Pond or Brim Pond. You can also enjoy a leisurely paddle or boat ride on the 9,000-acre lake or follow 3.3 miles of wooded trails. Campsites here have water and electricity, while primitive campsites and cabins are other alternatives.