Our massive, gorgeous state contains a diversity of ecosystems – from deserts and piney forests, to rivers and mountains. Just thinking about how much great camping exists in Texas gets me in the mood to create a new “To-Bring” list and start sweeping out the tent!
No matter which outdoor activity calls you, our state and national parks have it. You may need to drive 10 hours to get to the four best places to camp in Texas, but hey, think of the beauty (and all those great small town Texas BBQ shacks) you’ll see along the way.
1) Big Bend National Park – This national park is the pride and jewel of Texas. With the mighty Rio Grande River bordering our great state, it also plays an integral part in what makes Big Bend so stunning. The river carves out the limestone that forms the Santa Elena Canyon, and a myriad of animals call this rugged landscape home, including black bears, mountain lions, deer, coyotes, bobcats, turtles and birds.
A day hike to a hot spring pool finds you soaking in mineral infused water on the banks of the Rio Grande and while you’re enjoying your spa desert style, you’re literally staring at Mexico. Located in Far West Texas, the night skies are stunning , the hikes throughout the Chisos Mountains rival any hiking in Colorado, and the spans of desert give way to emptying your mind entirely. This is where you go camping to really get away from it all.
2) Guadalupe River State Park – Another of our favorite Texas Hill Country camping spots, this one is located right on the Guadalupe River. Campsites aren’t “on” the river, but a short hike from it.
Swathed with grass and BBQ pits, the river front is a great place to post up for the day with family, and enjoy a BBQ while the kids play in the river. Hike down about half a mile and you’ll find yourself surrounded by majestic cypress trees on the river bank, sprung from the pages of fairy tales. Walk into the center of the river and sit among the rapids (but please use proper flotation and/or safety devices).
With the trees, the fresh water and the clean Texas air, you feel as though you’re in the heart of what makes the Hill Country so unique and beautiful. If horse riding is your thing too, they also have trails throughout the park, specific to you riders!
3) Padre Island National Seashore – Off the coast of South Texas lies a pristine and protected area of coastline scattered with seashells, the sorts you normally find only in tourist shops. 70 miles long, it includes dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats crawling with life!
If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle. The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, and nests on the island from April through mid-July.
Nothing compares to camping on the beach and waking up to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re looking to truly empty your mind, head south and begin to unwind.
4) Enchanted Rock State Park – A granite jewel in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, folklore says that the Apache and Comanche tribes believe the rock encapsulated magical and spiritual powers, hence the name, Enchanted Rock.
Whether you enjoy primitive camping (hiking in with all your gear, including water) or a campsite with running water, camping here is great because of the easy access to a variety of day hikes. My favorite hiking around the Enchanted Rock grounds aren’t on the rock itself but at the opposite end of the park. Smaller rock formations sit like stunning sculptures among a landscape of blooming cacti and old oak trees, and it’s easier for the kids to run around and explore the little crevices rather than atop the giant rock.
And for rock climbers, this is one of Texas’ best! Pack your gear and get ready for a bit of magic.
Keep in mind that not all of these camp grounds allow for RV and camper parking. And for the wildest experience, look to get off the beaten path, away from the reserved camping sites to see the best views and capture a glimpse of wildlife. Mountain lion sightings in Big Bend, anyone?
Check out more Texas Treasures in The Light Lab!