Texas is always bragging about its size, and we get it — everything’s bigger there. We’re very impressed! (And we promise not to mention Alaska.) But this focus on being big kind of overlooks the many other assets of the state. Top among them for campers, Texas is geographically diverse, with natural treasures ranging from prairies to pine forests to beaches. Its climate is amenable to four-season camping. And Texas has a great balance of wide-open spaces and big cities. This means that campers can choose to get far, far away from it all or stick a little closer to civilization.
Further, Texas does an admirable job of managing all that big, large, enormously huge — not to mention scenic — land and ensuring public access for recreation. The state has two national parks (plus another dozen NPS properties), 88 state parks and four national forests, all ready and waiting for you to enjoy camping and outdoor adventures. Add to that all the vast swaths of private land also available for camping, and we have to admit … size matters. Brag away, Texas!
About Camping in Texas
The Texas Hill Country, the Gulf Coast, Pineywoods and plains — one thing Texas isn’t short of is beautiful camping spots. Whether you’re searching for rugged hiking trails, picnic tables with a view that will make your date swoon, or primitive campsites that will help you feel one with nature, Texas has it all.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about camping in Texas is that you can find a camping spot to fit any and every type of camping preference. RV camping with full hookups, tent camping and glamping in Texas are all popular ways to explore and enjoy the Lone Star State. Each encompasses a whole range of styles with varying amenities. Invest plenty of time in planning your camping trip to find the ideal campsite for you.
Tent Camping in Texas
Tent camping in Texas is a more traditional camping experience and is perfect for those who want to rough it under the stars. Tent camping sites can be found near national and state parks, national forests, and on private lands. Advantages of tent camping include being more affordable than RV camping and letting you get closer to nature. Car camping is perfect for those who want the convenience of being able to drive to their campsite without having to hike long distances.
Tent camping in Texas ranges from family resorts packed with on-site activities and amenities to more rustic options with little more than a tent pad, drinking water and restroom. Look for campsites with shade or scenic views. Browse tent campsites in Texas carefully to ensure you get the style of camping you prefer.
RVing in Texas
RVing in Texas is perfect for those who want the amenities of home while enjoying the great outdoors. Many RV parks throughout Texas offer full-hookup campsites for water and electricity, with showers, laundry facilities and more. The advantage of RV camping in Texas is that you can bring all the comforts of home with you, such as a fully stocked kitchen and a place to watch television or use the internet. Some other amenities that might be available include swimming pools, live entertainment and bike rentals.
Many RV resorts in Texas are conveniently close to state or national parks, golf courses, vineyards and equestrian ranches. Others have desirable activities on-site, such as hiking, biking or horseback trails, lakes with boat rentals, zip-line courses and sports facilities.
Glamping in Texas
Glamping in Texas is a luxury camping experience perfect for those who want to camp in comfort and style. While places to go glamping in Texas are fewer and farther between than RV and tent campgrounds, potential glampers will find plenty of options with enough advanced planning.
Dedicated glamping resorts emphasize the “glam” part, offering fully furnished, stylish accommodations in tented cabins, safari-style tents, tipis or yurts. Some high-end features to look for with glamping in Texas include hammocks, hot tubs, gourmet meals and spa treatments. Some resorts are off-the-grid, and some are for adults only — these are important things to know before booking!
Less glamorous but still more comfortable than tent camping in Texas are cabins, bunkhouses and similar lodgings available at larger developed campgrounds. Most come with real beds and bedding, and some have electrical outlets, heating and a/c, private bathrooms and kitchen facilities. These types of lodgings are limited in number and popular, so book as early as possible.
What to Pack for Camping in Texas
Your packing list will look different depending on whether you’re tent camping, RVing or glamping in Texas, as well as your own personal camping style.
No matter what style of camping in Texas you’re planning, here are some key items to put at the top of your list:
Sun protection: Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and light, breathable clothing are essential. Bring all these things even if the forecast is for cooler weather, as the sun in Texas is always a potential hazard.
Insect repellent: Mosquitos are a scourge all over Texas, so bring insect-repellent spray and perhaps some citronella items for your campsite.
Water bottles: Most campsites and parks have a plentiful drinking water supply, but you must bring suitable containers for carrying lots of water with you at all times. Don’t underestimate the risk of dehydration whenever you’re outdoors in Texas, especially if you’ll be venturing off the beaten path.
First-aid kit: This is always essential for tent camping, RVing or glamping in Texas. Bring a mini first-aid kit for your day pack as well.
Binoculars for wildlife spotting and a camera for capturing all the gorgeous scenery.
Tent campers, of course, need to bring all the typical camping gear, including a tent, climate-appropriate sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camp stove and backpack. Backpackers will prefer a minimalist approach but must allow for carrying plenty of drinking water.
If you’re car camping, RVing or glamping, some additional items worth bringing camping in Texas include camp chairs, a hammock, a shade canopy and recreational equipment. Adjust your list according to the amenities at your particular campsite.
Food and Drinks
RVing and glamping can give you the option to bring larger supplies of food and drinks, including ingredients for more elaborate meals than you could cook on a camp stove. Having a refrigerator changes your shopping list considerably.
Some glamping places provide meals, and larger campgrounds might have a cafe or restaurant on site, so plan your meals accordingly. Tent campers need to be aware of fire safety rules in Texas along with your campground’s regulations. Bring an appropriate camp stove and fuel.
Amazing Places for Camping in Texas
Outside the cities, almost all of Texas offers great places for camping. The most popular are around state and national parks.
National Parks in Texas
Big Bend National Park in West Texas is a treasure trove for nature lovers. The park borders Mexico and is home to more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56 types of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. People go for hiking, photography, excellent programs led by the rangers, and the opportunity to see the starry desert sky.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the tallest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, as well as the state’s three next highest peaks. The park also has more than 80 miles of hiking trails and horseback riding amid a unique landscape of canyons, deserts and dunes.
Other national park properties in Texas that draw campers include Big Thicket National Preserve in the southeast and the Panhandle region’s Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.
Texas State Parks
Inks Lake State Park: Don’t let occasional alligator sightings put you off visiting this beautiful lake just northwest of Austin. Inks Lake State Park is perfect for family-friendly activities such as swimming, fishing, and hiking.
Dinosaur Valley State Park: Get your Jurassic on! This state park is home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. You will find two types of tracks: large elephant-like tracks, believed to have been made by Sauroposeidon proteles, and theropod tracks, believed to have been made by Acrocanthosaurus.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park: The Palo Duro Canyon is a wonder of the natural world, containing some incredible geology. The ancient canyon system has an average width ranging from 6 miles at its widest point throughout northern Texas to 20 miles wide in some areas. Palo Duro Canyon is known as “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” while the Lighthouse Rock is Palo Duro Canyon State Park’s most famous rock formation.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area: This natural area is home to a massive pink granite rock mountain known to geologists as a monadnock. The rock is popular with climbers.
Big Spring State Park: Big Spring opened in 1936 and originally featured a natural spring, but that has now been replaced by an artificial one. (It’s still delightful, though!) The three-mile drive around Scenic Mountain is popular with visitors.
Lake Whitney State Park: If you’re in the mood for prairie life, Lake Whitney State Park is the place for you. The grasslands and woodlands are home to various wildlife, including foxes, squirrels, and coyotes.
Caprock Canyons State Park: This state park is the third-largest in Texas and features badlands with mesquite, cacti, and junipers. The park is also famous for its plains bison.
Davis Mountains State Park: This park is a haven for wildlife ranging from Woodhouse’s scrub-jays, white-winged doves and curve-billed thrashers to cougars and American black bears.
Things to Do While Camping in Texas
The diverse landscapes of Texas make for incredibly varied hiking terrain. Options range from short desert loops with wide-open views for miles to high-elevation mountain hikes. Hikers must always consider the weather forecast, with heat very often a factor. Consult park rangers and pick up paper maps whenever possible, as cell phone service isn’t always reliable away from urban areas.
Boating, Fishing and Swimming
Texas boasts a huge variety of waterways, many of which are ideal for swimming, fishing or boating. Creeks, springs, rivers, lakes and the Gulf of Mexico beckon campers to cool off and enjoy some time on the water. Around 70 state parks in Texas allow fishing without a license, and some offer tackle loaners and learn-to-fish programs. Canoe, kayak and paddleboat rentals are often available at popular recreation sites.
Be aware of alligator habitats in some regions of Texas, and always consult a ranger or campground host about safe swimming holes.
Photography enthusiasts have plenty of scenic places to choose from for camping in Texas. Spring is especially photogenic as it’s wildflower season. If night sky photography is of interest, pick one of the state’s numerous Dark Sky Parks.
Texas is also excellent for wildlife photography. The state has a remarkable variety of birdlife and iconic creatures like the Texas longhorn, armadillo and Mexican free-tailed bats famous for flocking in the thousands at twilight.
Horseback riding is closely associated with Texas culture and is a really fun activity to pursue while camping. Equestrians may ride their own horses on all gravel roads and certain trails at Big Bend National Park and along select trails at numerous state parks. Copper Breaks, Lake Arrowhead and Palo Duro Canyon state parks are among those that welcome horseback riders. Also, look into guest ranches and dude ranches offering equestrian experiences across Texas.
When is the best time to go camping in Texas?
Depending on the region and season, the weather in Texas can range from searing summer days to snowfall and temperatures below freezing. Generally, the best time to go camping in Texas is spring or fall. The weather is not too hot or too cold, and the insect population is at a minimum.
Ready for Camping in Texas?
Getting ready to go camping in Texas does take some research as there are so many different regions, landscapes and climates to consider. You also need to look into all the possible outdoor activities there are to enjoy. This is true whether you want to go tent camping, glamping or RVing in Texas. It’s a big task, but we know you can handle it!
Your Campsite One-Stop Shop
Once you’ve decided when and where you want to go camping in Texas, BookOutdoors is your one-stop shop for finding and booking your campsite. We’ve got hundreds of RV parks, tent sites, glamping and cabins to choose from, and with weather protection included on every eligible booking, you don’t have to worry about rain ruining your trip.