What are the best camping spots in Texas? This year has been difficult, but hopefully the end is in sight. We went camping many times, practiced social distance and just enjoyed being alone and in nature. We love to camp. Whether it is with our Travel Trailers, RVs, in our tents, or even in a tepee, we love being outside in nature, hiking, and exploring. We have basically camped from North Carolina to California and from Texas up to the Canadian border in the US. One state that offers many different options for camping is Texas. As the second largest and second-most-populous state in the country, Texas is practically its own different country. Even in places throughout the world people whether they know it or not, seem to associate certain elements of Americana that are distinctly Texan. From a historical standpoint, Texas is an interesting one with its personal history being very intertwined with the history and ethos of the 19th century United States. France, Spain, and Mexico have all claimed Texas as part of their territory at some point before even becoming its own republic in 1836. Nine years later, it agreed to be annexed by the United States becoming the 28th state in the union.
If you’re traveling from out of the country, it might be a little hard to fathom just how big the state is. The largest ranch in the state is bigger than the entire size of Rhode Island so going from place to place is a matter of hours and maybe even sometimes days depending on how you’re traveling. Despite its massive size, Texas is incredibly diverse both in its people and in its environment. The wide-open landscapes of the state are what has made it stand out especially to those who spend time outdoors hiking, hunting, or camping. The rugged terrain and independent spirit of the state make it one of the best places in the country to camp so if you want to spend time with mother nature in the lone star state, check out some of these best camping spots in Texas.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is one of the most picturesque places in all of Texas. The park is absolutely massive and offers four different distinct campground areas in the park itself, one of which is reserved for people with RVs so if you’re camping with an RV, then check out Big Bend National Park for your next camping spot.
The park is located along the iconic Rio Grande River which is a natural barrier and border between Texas and Mexico and if you can reserve a spot early, there are over 100 camping spots located by the river so you can wake up to it every morning and listen to the sounds of flowing water every night. Once you’re set-up, there are plenty of cool things to do here like horseback riding or hiking and despite the park’s massive 800,000-acre size, you’ll never be too far from a camp store or shower facilities as they are located near almost all designated campgrounds.
Hike, backpack, fish, and enjoy the wide-open skies and massive gaping canyons at Big Bend National Park.
Padre Island National Seashore
On the southern end of Texas, right outside of Corpus Christi, and located right on the shores of a private island is the gorgeous campground of Padre Island National Seashore. The park here is literally quite unlike many others in Texas and if you were looking for evidence of the natural diversity of the state, then Padre Island National Seashore offers just that. The undeveloped island landscape of sand and sun has 130,000 acres of campground space straddling the Gulf of Mexico.
Padre Island National Seashore offers two major campground spots almost off of which sits directly on the beachy shores and 48 of the camping spots offer more “luxurious” amenities like flushing toilets and shower facilities while many other camp spots are more primitive.
The people camping here are beach-going types and a lot of the activities here revolving around spending time in the water doing things like windsurfing, bodyboarding, fishing. If you’re going to head to Padre Island National Seashore make sure to pack everything you need because there are few facilities on the island offering amenities.
Oxford Ranch Campground
Located just a little south of the little town of Llano, Texas, the Oxford Ranch Campground is a privately run campground that offers a perfect spot for getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. The property has plenty of room for campers but visitors should know that the place is on the primitive side of camping so don’t expect running water or showers available.
Oxford Ranch Campground does offer some basic things for your stay like a picnic table and fire pit and guests can buy firewood from the property owners if they need it. For the most part, the campground offers campers the chance to stay where they like so if you don’t want or need a picnic table and firepit, you’re welcome to hitch your tent pretty much wherever you see fit on the property. Make sure to come visit in the early springtime when the area is covered in blooming bluebonnets.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas and the campsites here are some of the best offering amazing sights of the canyon. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is also an interesting place where human inhabitants have lived around 15,000 years ago and along with that, there are several elements of archaeological discovery dating back to the Triassic period.
There are six designated campsites in the park with a few of which offering amenities like electricity and shower access. For campers with an RV, there are options as well as long as your vehicle is under 60 feet. If you’re looking for more primitive options while you camp, you can pitch your tent right by the canyon and wake up in the mornings to the marvelous sights that even Georgia O’Keeffe called “a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color”. If you need some last-minute supplies the town of Amarillo is only 30-minutes away.
Colorado Bend State Park
With several camping spots available, Colorado Bend State Park is considered one of the best places in Texas for camping. The state park is one that has a massive amount of biodiversity and caters a lot to people looking to hike and trek through the trails. There are several trails throughout the park that vary in difficulty but the big draw to the park is Gorman Falls waterfall. Hike through the forest and cool off in the cascading water.
When it comes to finding a spot to pitch your tent, there are plenty of spots to choose from. There are 15 drive-in locations as well as 28 walk-in locations all of which are equipped with potable water and bathrooms (but no showers). The trails are well marked and frequently trafficked so make Colorado Bend State Park your next hiking destination.
Caddo Lake State Park
Located in eastern Texas in the piney woods region, Caddo Lake State Park borders Louisiana and takes a page out of the bayou parks of its neighboring state. The park was originally a large inhabited area for several centuries as there was plenty of wood that could be gathered here and evidence suggests that people lived here since at least 10,000 B.C. The Spanish further explored the area in the 1600s and settled what was then Spanish Texas and bordering French Louisiana. The interesting thing about Cado itself is that while the area was marshland for a long time, Cado lake was only formed in the early 19th century. In an event called the New Madrid Earthquake in 1812, geologists believe the lake was formed by seismic shifts.
Today Caddo Lake State Park is a great place for camping that has several bayou spots as well as a variety of wetland and RV exclusive options. All of the campground options here offer great access to the lake and bayou and as a result canoeing and kayaking are popular activities with the park even offering rental options. The camp also offers campers showers and flushing toilets as well as screen shelters to spend the night. If you don’t opt for a screen shelter, be aware that the conditions here are wet and swampy so bugs are abundant.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Well, it’s not quite Jurassic Park but it is a little close. Dinosaur Valley State Park is a large park located in Glen Rose, Texas and while not as big as other state parks, it does have an interesting history and is also a designated National Natural Landmark. Limestone formations and sandstone from the cretaceous period (which is over 110 million years ago) form much of the geological formations of the park. The park was once private property but was sold to the state in the 1970s making it public land. Of course, what makes Dinosaur Valley State Park an interesting place is that many dinosaur bones have been discovered here and fossilized footprints still sit on the bottom of the Paluxy River bed which flows through the park.
The campground is one of the more unique ones in Texas because of its interesting geology and campers here can also enjoy campsites that have electricity access as well as fire pits. Horseback riding and hiking are popular activities here with a variety of trails and places to explore.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area just a twenty-mile drive north of the town of Fredericksburg. While relatively small in comparison to other places on the list, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is an interesting spot to camp because of, you guess, it’s enchanted rock. Every campground here puts visitors in proximity to the mysterious monolith known as the “enchanted rock”. The rock is a giant 425-foot tall boulder that looks like it shouldn’t even be there but somehow is.
There are about 35 designated camping areas around the boulder as well as water, restroom, and shower facility access. The area is popular with people going on day hikes with plenty of trails and paths around the area as well as some pretty stunning views of the sunset.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Just east of the city of El Paso, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the entire country. Not only is the park stunningly beautiful and large but it has significant historic value as well. The mountain ranges here, specifically Guadalupe Peak belonging to the highest point in Texas and the nearby and monolithic El Capitan, was used by settlers and stagecoach drivers moving west with stations still being visible today. The area was first found by Europeans in the 1600s with Spanish explorers trekking through the area and even introducing horses to the land which were then utilized by local Apache tribes.
When it comes to camping in the area, try and secure a spot in the fall when the leaves are the most vibrant colors. Campsites are all on a first come first serve basis but there are potable water and restrooms available for campers. Explore over 80 miles of trails winding through canyons and valleys and marvel at the epic behemoth that is El Capitan.
Our Final Word
From drastic mountains to desert landscapes and protected wetland, there is a large and diverse natural landscape in Texas. Camping amongst the trees, and gaze up at the stars at night, and truly feel like you’re getting back to mother nature. Texas is big with tons of things to see and places to explore so pack your bags and head out there. What are some of your favorite Texan camp spots?
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