Bordered by Mexican states, a bunch of U.S. states, and the Gulf of Mexico, Texas is one massive state. Not surprisingly, it has tons of incredible protected areas, beautiful beaches, and state parks where you can sleep outside. When you think of Texas, camping isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Lone Star State has some amazing camping spots. The best camping places in Texas include everything from sprawling campgrounds to cozy cabins in state parks. What’s more, excellent places to camp can be found in every corner of Texas. Furthermore, these regions are home to unique features such as ancient caverns, wild and gushing rivers, and spring-fed swimming pools, amongst other things.
Do pitching tents, and hiking seem more like Colorado things? We don’t blame you; there are some amazing Camping Places in Colorado, but the Lone Star State isn’t far behind. There are so many amazing Places To Visit in Texas that boast immense natural beauty. For instance, there’s the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the World’s Biggest Deserts. Ironically, it has spots that make for the best Best US Winter Vacation spots. And if all that didn’t impress you already, Texas is home to multiple Top USA Tourist Attractions. These include the San Diego Zoo, one of the World’s Largest Zoos. Now, what was that about Texas being a boring camping destination? We thought so too! To that end, here are the 11 best camping places in Texas’ best state parks and other places.
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Lake Livingston State Park
Lake Livingston State Park is one of the best camping places in Texas. Located just an hour north of Houston, this park has an unending number of things to do here. Think mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, perch fishing, and more. What’s more, Lake Livingston is one of the largest lakes in the state, which means anglers had better pack their Best Reel Fishing Rods and Fishing Waders.
What makes Lake Livingston so unique is that you don’t have to rough it when you’re staying here. Choose from multiple fantastic camping facilities, especially the full hookup Piney Shores campsite. This one has 22 sites, all of which come with lake views and accommodate eight people each. What’s more, they all have 30/50-amp hookups, picnic tables, sewage and water hookups, lantern posts, and even fire rings with grills. Common amenities include restrooms with showers nearby, which is a blessing if you’re going to be hiking every day. There’s even a park store that sells fishing and camping supplies, drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. Similarly, there are other campsites such as Red Oak, Yaupon, Pin Oak, etc., with electricity and water hookups. With nightly rates between 20 and 30 USD, it certainly makes for a value-for-money campsite with all creature comforts.
Even in winters, when the temperature drops, Lake Livingston is very popular with campers. The best bit is that none of the facilities are shut during winter, whether it’s the campsite amenities or the trails. What fun is this best camping in Texas state parks!
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park, an hour outside Fort Worth, is one of the best camping grounds in Texas for history buffs and budding paleontologists. Why you ask? That’s because it’s the perfect example of how the world was 113 million years ago when dinosaurs walked the earth! Feel major Jurassic Park vibes as you walk in actual Acrocanthosaurus footprints on the Paluxy riverbed. However, one of the most fun things to do at this prehistoric destination is some on-brand and awesome primitive camping at campsites.
There are two primitive campsites, one walk-in and another hike-in one, and each with 7-8 campsites each able to accommodate up to 8 people. The walk-in campsite doesn’t have potable water, restrooms, or showers; so, you might need to invest in Camping Shower Tents and Camping Generators, especially portable ones. While the nearest potable water is a maximum of half a mile away, the sites do have lantern posts and fire rings. The hike-in campsites, which are accessible only across a river, have water at the trailhead but none at the campsite itself. Plus, there aren’t any showers either, and ground fires are prohibited here. Those travelers who truly want to go off-the-grid primitive camping will love this place.
Besides these primitive sites, there’s also a campground with electricity, which has 44 sites accommodating 8 people in each of them. Moreover, these sites have not only 30 amp hookups but also water, fire rings, and picnic tables. Additionally, there are two group sites accommodating 20 and 40 people each. Dinosaur Valley State Park is also open during winters, but keep in mind that you might have to hike on icy fjords!
Caddo Lake State Park
Caddo Lake State Park lies just about 10 miles from the Texas-Louisiana border, three hours east of Dallas. One of the best Texas parks for camping places, it’s an ethereal world here with bayous, tall cypress trees, and Caddo Lake, one of Texas’ only natural lakes. Water babies will have an excellent time paddling and cruising the lake, while anglers can fish away to glory. You don’t even need to worry about carrying cruising equipment, for the park rents Camping Kayaks and canoes. No matter what you do, you can’t stop marveling at the bald cypress trees swathed in Spanish moss.
What about spending the night here? You have a variety of sites to choose from, including full hookup campsites and campsites with electricity and water. What’s more, this park even has cabins, making it one of the best cabins in Texas for camping. The full hookup sites (18-25) at Woodpecker Hollow are RV-only and have a bevy of amenities, including sewer and water hookups, 50-amp electric hookups, fire rings, outdoor grills, picnic tables, and even restrooms. Furthermore, the campsites with electricity and water have all the amenities mentioned above. However, the Squirrel Haven and Armadillo Run electricity campsites allow only tents on pads, with sites 34 and 38 being wheelchair friendly. The water campsite of Mill Pond Camping area allows only tents on pads and small trailers and pop-ups, with sites 49 and 54 being wheelchair friendly.
Be warned that the waters are rife with alligators, so make sure you be careful, adhere to the park rules, and read all their alligator safety tips.
Mustang Island State Park
Perched on the Gulf of Mexico, Mustang Island State Park is an otherworldly coastal dreamland. Think vibrant and fascinating coastal florae, algae-covered tidal flats, and stunning, white-sand beaches. It lies right across from Corpus Christi Bay and the bluffs and is a haven for wildlife lovers. Spot a wide variety of native birds through your Compact Birdwatching Binoculars and spy endangered sea turtles during their April-July nesting season. But, that’s not all. There are miles of kayaking trails waiting to be explored as well as sandcastles to be built along the striking flat beaches. Plus, there’s a whole range of ranger programs on nature walks, beachcombing, stargazing, birding, and more.
One of the most exciting ways to camp here is the drive-up primitive campsites that allow you to surf and shack right on the beach! These first-come, first-served, undesignated sites are perfect for tent camping since campfires are allowed. Plus, there’s even a beach bathhouse and restrooms close by. However, since weather conditions decide the camping possibilities, do call the park before your visit. Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the best activities, and the place even loans two beach wheelchairs free of charge. The other set of 48 campsites lie about 0.2 mi from the water and have 50-amp and water hookups, outdoor grills, picnic tables, shaded shelter, and restrooms with showers. Since cooking in the grills is allowed, you might want to pack Portable Camping Grills. It’s no wonder that this is one of the best camping grounds in Texas state parks.
Winter camping is also possible at this Texas beach campground, especially for birding enthusiasts. The beach could be particularly rewarding for shorebirds, terns, and gulls.
Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park, which lies less than an hour north of San Antonio, is one of the best camping places in Texas. This stunning stretch of riverfront real estate is a haven for water bums and boasts a bevy of water-centric activities. Think paddleboarding, floating, swimming, tubing, and more! Moreover, there’s also birding, mountain biking, canoeing, and fishing, but the most popular activity here is geocaching. If you want to indulge in geocaching, then you’d better pack the Best Kayak Fishing GPS units.
Do you want to “glamp” rather than camp? You have the options of Cedar Sage and Turkey Sink campsites, each of which needs reservations. Moreover, they also feature a plethora of amenities, including restrooms with showers, fire rings with grills, 30/50-amp and water hookups, tent pads, and picnic tables. While the number of people at each site on both campgrounds is capped at 8, Cedar Sage has 37 sites, and Turkey Sink has 48. Do you feel like roughing it? Check out the 9 rustic walk-in campsites that sit on a river terrace above the Guadalupe River. Besides potable water and restrooms, these sites have fire rings with grills, picnic tables, and tent pads but no electricity.
With miles of river frontage, the Guadalupe River takes center stage here. However, there are a lot of other activities besides water-based obes. Hikers especially have 13 miles of biking and hiking trails at their fingertips, such as the River Overlook trail that leads to a scenic overlooking the river.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Located just 20 minutes outside El Paso is Franklin Mountains State Park. This park at Texas’ westernmost point is one of the best Texas parks for camping. In fact, it boasts more than 100 miles of trails for jogging, hiking, biking, and generally just exploring the region. But, that’s not all. This place is perfect for intrepid adventurers who’re craving more adrenaline-pumping pursuits too. For instance, McKelligon Canyon is very famous and popular for rock climbing.
With so much activity, you sure need an excellent place to refuel. Luckily, Franklin Mountains has both primitive and group campsites. RVers, the primitive drive-up campsite with 5 RV hookup sites is the one for you. Read up on the Best Accessories for RV Camping. These self-contained RV sites have no water or electricity, so you might want to pack Portable Camping Smokers, Camping Dutch Ovens, and such. On the other hand, the walk-in primitive campsites are a mix of tent and RV sites (C1-C5, 25-28, 31, 37, 41, 42, and 44). Please note that only high-clearance vehicles can get to campsites 1-5. Despite not having potable water, these sites have lantern posts, tent pads, outdoor grills, and picnic tables.
However, it’s the group camps that fit 16-30 people that get large groups excited, especially those that have family reunions out in the wild! These group sites have no water but do have fire rings with grills, shaded shelters, and picnic tables. Besides activities and camping, this park even has a convenience store, nature and birdwatching programs, and even sees people picnic at the lush water spots. Since winters here are usually mild and dry, the park is open throughout the year. What fun!
Colorado Bend State Park
Nature lovers of all kinds flock to Colorado Bend State Park, one of the best camping places in Texas. Lying two hours north of Austin, this state park crams the best of hill country within its confines. Think karst topography in the form of caves, craggy limestone cliffs, sinkholes, and spring-fed creeks. One of the most gorgeous places here is the 70-feet-high cascade called the Gorman Falls. Intrepid adventurers can also head to the overlook sitting at the peak of the Tie Slide trail for spectacular views above the Colorado River. But, that’s not all. The state park also offers numerous opportunities for paddling cave touring, biking, miles of hiking trails, including Spicewood Springs trail and many swimming holes.
It’s no surprise then that this park also offers some of the best camping in Texas state parks. Choose from 28 primitive walk-in and 15 drive-in sites, each of which allows 8 people per site. The walk-in sites have water, restrooms, lantern posts, fire rings, and picnic tables. On the other hand, the drive-in ones allow only self-contained RVs (no hookups or sewage). But, it does have water access, fire rings with grills, lantern posts, and picnic tables.
Besides these two, there are also hike-in backcountry sites for hikers who want to break in their brand-new Waterproof Hiking Shoes. These tent-only campsites lie close to the Windmill and River Trailheads and have no water, toilets, or sewage disposal systems. Plus, they don’t allow fires either, save using containerized Backpacking Stoves for cooking.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Two hours away from Austin sites lies the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The undisputed crown jewel of this gorgeous area is the almost 500-feet-tall pink granite monolith which is a huge draw for rock climbers and sees many expert-led excursions. Besides that, there are 11 miles of lush and scenic trails for hikers and climbers to traverse. Did you know that this state park is also a designated International Dark Sky Sanctuary? Yes! That means immensely gorgeous and world-class stargazing opportunities. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most popular camping grounds in Texas.
While talking about stars, you should thank your lucky stars for the profusion of campsites here. You have the options of 35 walk-in campsites with water and hike-in primitive campsites. Moreover, there’s also a group campsite large enough to accommodate as many as 50 people! The walk-in campsites offer tent-only sites and have a plethora of amenities. These include restrooms with showers, water, lantern posts, fire rings with outdoor grills, and picnic tables. The primitive campsites, on the other hand, don’t allow campground fires or hammocks. Moreover, it allows pets and has outdoor composting toilets but no water or trash pickup. Finally, the group camp, which doesn’t have water or sewage and prohibits fires, has a composting toilet.
Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore is not just one of the best camping places in Texas but offers a unique experience along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This protected area that separates the Laguna Madre from the Gulf is also the world’s longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island. So, you have miles and miles of tidal flats, dunes, prairies, and coastline to explore. Even history and animal lovers have things to interest here in the form of 16th-century Spanish shipwrecks and nesting grounds for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
Camping on the seashore sounds pretty amazing and dreamy, right? We completely agree! You have three sites to choose from, South Beach Primitive Camping, Bird Island Basin Campground, and Malaquite Campground. The tent-only, first-come, first-served Malaquite Campground has 48 semi-primitive designated sites, both on the beach and off it. There are no hookups, but there are picnic tables, cold-water showers, flush toilets, and shade structures for the Gulf side sites. Plus, there’s also potable water and a gray/black water dump station. The dry tent and RV camping-offering Bird Island Campground has only chemical toilets but no water, food, firewood, or any other amenity. Finally, the primitive campground has both tents and RV sites but has spotty cell reception and no amenities. This is perfect for campers who want to truly go off the grid.
The best bit is that these campgrounds are open throughout the year, even if amenities are spotty during winter. But, you’ll find very few people and lots of remote stretches of land to sprawl out and enjoy the water activities.
Big Bend National Park
Now, who doesn’t know Big Bend National Park? But, besides being one of the best Texas parks for camping, Big Bend has a lot of other claims to fame. Did you know that you can do all these things in one place – explore the Santa Elena Canyon and the ruins of Sam Nail Ranch, soak in Langford Hot Springs, and walk through the Chihuahuan Desert? Yes! That’s the magic of Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas on the Texas-Mexico border, far from any major Texan city on this list.
With three campgrounds, Cottonwood, Rio Grande Village, and Chisos Basin, we can see why people never want to leave. However, skip summers and come here during winters. During summers, the heat off of the scorching land is unbearable. The quiet oasis of a dry camping, 22-site campground that is Cottonwood is the least-known but beautiful. It has 21 individual sites and a group campsite with no generators or hookups. When it comes to amenities, there are year-round vault toilets, food storage lockers, and trash/recycling collections. As the name suggests, Rio Grande Campground sits near the Rio Grande. This is more modern, with grassy areas separating and paved roads connecting each campsite. Besides a camp store and dump stations, this place has grills, picnic tables, running water, and flush toilets.
Chisos Campground is perhaps the most popular, with both tent and RV camping available. However, RVs more than 24 feet and trailers more than 20 feet aren’t permitted, and reservations are required here. Not only does this place have potable water, but it also has a dump station, amphitheater, a camp store, food storage lockers, and trash collection, and that too, all of them around the year.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Not for nothing does Palo Duro have the best camping places in Texas; it’s one of Texas’ Best State Parks. A Texas panhandle road trip is incomplete with staying over at this stunning state park, which is famous as the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” In fact, it’s the USA’s second-largest canyon after the famous Grand Canyon. There’s so much to do in this place, and that too for all kinds of travelers. Enjoy a musical at the natural amphitheater or hike down to the base and tuck into a delicious lunch along the Red River. Snap pictures of the massive canyon walls, which Georgia O’Keeffe once said were filled with “dramatic light and color.” Apart from that, hiking, fishing, birding, and mountain biking are the most common activities here.
You have the choice of three kinds of campsites here, such as electric campsites (Hackberry, Sagebrush/Mesquite, Juniper), water campsites, hike-in primitive campsites, and two group camping ones. While Juniper is tent-only, the other electric ones can accommodate up to 60-feet-long RVs! Nevertheless, they all have restrooms with showers, paved sites, lantern sports, 30/50-amp and water hookups, tent pads, fire rings, and picnic tables. The water campsites are tent-only ones in the Fortress Cliff or Cactus areas and have restrooms, water, fire rings, and picnic tables. Finally, the primitive ones don’t have trash stations or potable water but do have restrooms.
Don’t let winter stop you from camping at Palo Duran! It’s the best way to get some respite from snow shoveling and get some much-required Vitamin D. Plus, you get to skip the summer heat and the crowds!