Best Texas State Parks for Camping: Ultimate Texas Camping Guide

Best Texas State Parks for Camping

Welcome to our guide to the Best Texas State Parks for Camping. Covid campers are everywhere as we all look for great vacation alternatives this year and beyond. Texas should be top of your list for tent camping and RV camping this year.

Camping in Texas is a great experience for anyone that loves nature and being outdoors. With so many parks to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones are the best. That’s why we have created this guide of our top 10 favorite state parks for camping in the state. These parks offer something different than what you might find at your local campground, and all of them are worth checking out!

The best TX state parks for camping can accommodate everyone traveling with tents or RVs, as well as those who are willing to hike in their own supplies.

Every State Park has its own unique set of experiences to enjoy. The Panhandle canyons are great place for hiking while the Gulf Coast offers surfers and kayakers waves they won’t find anywhere else. Several state parks in Texas can be reached from major cities such as San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin where travelers can escape out into the wilderness with ease.

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What is the number one rated State Park for camping in Texas?

1. Garner State Park – Best Texas State Park for Camping

Garner State Park is located in Concan, TX. It’s a great place to camp with your family, friends or significant other.

The park offers camping facilities, rustic cabins and screened shelters. Everything is clean, yet basic. A shelter is great if you want to escape the bugs at night time or just can’t face sleeping in a tent. You’ll have your own picnic table and some of the cabins have a fireplace. Just be aware that the cabins do not provide linen, blankets or towels. You’ll have to bring your own.

The park, probably the top state park in Texas, offers a variety of activities that are perfect for any type or group size. There’s fishing, swimming and tubing down the Frio River as well kayaking. The camp facilities offered are clean yet rustic amenities like showers with hot water! You’ll love every second of it here as you escape the hustle and bustle of city or town life.

The best time to visit Garner State Park is in the spring or fall. The summers can be hot and humid, but the winters are mild with a little snow on occasion!

The park is open year-round so you’ll never have to worry about being greeted with shut entrance gates.

However, the summer months are when you can experience the joy of the Summer Dance at the Concession Building. It all happens here and it’s hugely popular since it all kicked off in the 1940s. In this park you will find a host of popular activities for all the family.

Park Address: 234 RR 1050, Concan, TX 78838

2. Big Bend Ranch State Park

On any list of the best campgrounds in the state you will always find Big Bend State Park and Big Bend National Park which are adjoining one another. It is one of the largest state parks in Texas if not THE largest. It is located in the far West Texas area along the US/Mexico border. A true gem on the bend of the infamous Rio Grande. Hence the name, Big Bend.

This phenomenal corner of the world is designated international Dark Sky Park and so, offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in Texas.

Big Bend Ranch State Park TexasThe Rio Grande as it flows through Big Bend Ranch State Park Site

The park has a variety of campgrounds, some with water and electricity hookups for RVs or trailers as well! There are also tent-only campsites available offering scenic views from your site of everything from mountains to desert vegetation but just a stone’s throw from the cooling waters of the Rio Grande where you are welcome to take a dip.

The park also offers a variety or trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding to explore this diverse landscape! You can even take your dog along with you on many (but not all) hikes – just make sure they’re well-behaved as there are plenty of critters around to cause some chaos!

This Park is home to many species of animals, including Mexican Black bears, bobcats, badgers, mule deer and a host of reptiles and even a few mountain lions.

Park Address: River District (Barton Warnock Visitor Center),HC 70, P.O. Box 375Terlingua, TX 79852

3. Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park, an hour south of Houston is one you have to visit if nature and wildlife are your passion. It’s one of the best campgrounds sites near Houston so worth the trek out.

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life, The Nature Conservancy leads this TX State Park that includes it’s protected natural wetlands.

Brazos Woods is one of the most bio-diverse regions in Texas set amidst lush, old-growth forests and wetlands called the Columbia Bottomlands. Of the original 700,000 acres of Columbia Bottomlands forestation, now, it is at 25% of it’s original size. Such a shame but, something which The Nature Conservancy is safeguarding with all their abilities.

The Brazos River and its tributaries flow through Brazos Bend State Park site, providing a habitat for an incredible variety of wildlife. Brazos State Park is home to more than 300 species that can be seen! Some are even endangered or threatened like whooping cranes which have been hanging around in this area since 1802.

Among the many species of wildlife at Brazos Bend, the American alligator is perhaps the most exciting to see. It goes without saying (but let’s say it) that visitors need to keep their distance when viewing alligators. The State Park provides ample information about staying safe near these reptiles but talk with your Park Ranger prior about park safety when hiking and let them know where you’re going.

Park Address: 21901 FM 762, Needville, TX 77461

4. Copper Breaks State Park

In an area of Texas known for it’s spectacular sunrise and sunsets and red rock landscape, Copper Breaks State Park is a site you must see. Formerly an area inhabited by the indigenous Comanche and Kiowa tribes, Copper Breaks is now a haven for wildlife and a state park of epic beauty.

Just like Big Bend State Park, Copper Breaks is also a designated International Dark Sky Park, one of the few in Texas. Incredibly, there are monthly star parties from April through November, and other special events throughout the year to coincide with various astronomical events such as meteorite showers. Do check their calendar for the schedule, but at the time of writing, events are cancelled due to COVID-19.

The park offers various types of camping experiences in two areas, from drive-up sites with electrical hookups for your RV to standard campsites with water and then primitive, hike-in zones. In the primitive camping section be aware that there is no water nor can you have a ground fire. You can, however, use containerized stoves.

You can also visit the state park and trek with your horse and explore the 3.8 mile Copper Breaks Equestrian Trail. There are, in turn, designated equestrian camping areas which have water. Please observe the park rules when it comes to securing your horse with ‘string line’ and dispose of waste in an appropriate manner. Be aware that you need to provide proof of a negative Coggins test when checking in.

Copper Breaks State Park spans an area of 1,898.8 acres and contains two small lakes (stocked with trout each winter) and approximately 10 miles of trails for hiking and biking. One of the best park hikes is the Juniper Ridge Nature Trail. It’s pretty short, challenging, but your reward at the end is the stunning view of the signature red rock landscape.

The park has incredible views of four unusual hills in the distance to the east. They are called the Medicine Mounds and are of ceremonial and religious significance to the Comanches. Unfortunately, you cannot visit them as the are on private property.

The best time to visit Copper Breaks State Park if you want to star gaze is to visit in the periods between lunar cycles when the moon’s light won’t cause fluctuations in sky darkness.

In general, there is no bad time to visit Copper Breaks. It is equally one of the best Texas State Parks in Winter as in Summer. In winter temperatures drop as low as 24 degrees in January to an average of 97 degrees in July. Do be sure to reserve for both camping and day-visit as visitor capacity can be reached very often.

Park Address: 777 Park Road 62, Quanah, TX 79252-7679

5. Dinosaur Valley State Park

Located not far from Fort Worth, the appeal of this amazing US State Park is the abundance of dinosaur tracks that are found in the area. It is by far one of the best Texas State Parks for camping and should be added to everyone’s list of must-see destinations in Texas.

Entrance to Dinosaur Valley State ParkFamily Friendly State Park – Dinosaurs everywhere in this Park – Photo

Honestly, for adults and kids alike the thrill of seeing the imprints of these prehistoric creatures is enough to leave you in awe. What is now the Paluxy River was once a muddy area on the shores of the ocean where dinosaurs such as Sauroposeidon and Acrocanthosauras roamed.

At times during the year water levels in the river cover the imprints and the park is geared towards helping you see and follow in the dinosaur footprints. Always check in advance before traveling via their Facebook or Twitter accounts so you’re not left disappointed upon arrival.

In advance of your trip to the Park, visitors should install their interactive maps on your smartphone. It works in tandem with your phone’s google maps and will guide you to the areas of interest along the Paluxy River bed.

Around the park you will find replica dinosaurs from the Jurassic era and a guarantee that your kids will love them. Bring the camera for sure and get snap happy.

Other activities to do in the park include hiking, biking swimming and fishing in the river and horse riding. The park is really setup for horseback riding with a 100 acres of trails in the south primitive area.

Dinosaur footprints in Dinosaur Valley State ParkDinosaur footprints in Dinosaur Valley State Park – Photo

The park also run Ranger programs and a great chance for your kids to learn new skills in the organized workshops such as archery, fishing and more.

As the best time to visit Dinosaur State Park I would recommend visiting in Spring when it’s not too hot. The park is open year round so you can explore when it best suits your own itinerary.

The summer months are also good for camping and thankfully there is a lot of shade under all those trees but beware that you will need more water than usual due to the heat!

Fall can get quite cold so make sure your camp kit and clothing is appropriate for the changing temperature fluctuations.

Dinosaur State Park is geared towards families and, therefore, it is the best Texas State Park for families.

Park Address: 1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043

6. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Best known for the pink granite dome batholith that rises 425 feet above the surrounding land, Enchanted Rock state natural park is an extremely popular destination for hikers and rock climbers in the Texas Hill Country. It’s an area packed with lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife.

Legend and folklore surround the area, and one such legend among The Tonkawa Indians, is that they considered the dome to be haunted. The lore stems from the sounds of the creaking and groaning caused by natural heating and cooling of the rock, yet, interpreted back then as the spirits who inhabited the rock itself.

Enchanted Rock State Park Texas - climb the DomeThe Dome – Enchanted Rock State Natural area

The park offers campgrounds just like the other campsites mentioned in this article, some with basic shelters are perfect for hanging a hammock. There is no RV camping at Enchanted Rock.

This place has some of best hiking and biking trails in Texas! There are over 11 miles worth so you can hike all day if your heart desires. You can hike to the summit of the dome or complete the loop trail around the dome.

When visiting the park make sure you turn up on day 1 of your stay no later than 8 a.m. to get access and get a camping permit. Once capacity in the park is reach you will be turned away.

Make sure you pack lots of water for your time in the park as there is no water source while hiking and you’ll certainly need it on hot days.

As the dome is very exposed, there is no shade and therefore make sure you have applied your sunblock as it’s a long day out in the open air otherwise. In addition, do yourself a favor and use the restrooms at the base of the dome before you set off to explore. Again, there is no tree to duck behind should nature call and it is super busy on the hike.

Enchanted Rock is a perfect place to take the kids either on a day trip or camping. It’s not ideal to have kids of toddler age as you will invariably be carrying them on any hike, especially the summit hike of the Enchanted Rock Dome.

Park Address: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

7. Guadalupe River State Park

The primary reason for visitors to head to Guadalupe River State Park Guadalupe is to jump in the State Park Guadalupe River. With 4 miles of river running through the park site, it is a great place to spend the day.

Recently, a 5-mile paddling trail excursion was opened. You do need to contact the park in advance to see if the river flow is good enough to allow for this activity. You can read more about Guadalupe River State Park Paddling Trail here.

Here are some other popular activities for visitors to

  • Swimming at the swimming hole
  • Hiking & biking trails. It is also renowned for its fabulous scenery and hiking trails. In this case, the park has 13 miles of trails.
  • Fishing in one of two fishing ponds (catch and release only) or on a guided tour with an experienced guide. Guided tours are offered year-round, but you need to make reservations ahead as they fill up quickly during peak season from April through October when schools are out for summer vacation!
  • Canoeing
  • Tubing down the river
  • Honey Creek Tours – 2.5 hour hiking tour from 9 a.m. every Saturday

Camping in Guadalupe River State Park campgrounds is a great way to get back to nature and enjoy the outdoors. The campsites are spacious with 85 water and electric campsites and a few walk-in tent sites. You can rent your equipment and have it setup in advance by contacting Texas Park outfitters.

8. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway

Caprock Canyons represents an oasis of calm compared to some of the other State parks in TX. This park is situated right on the edge of the Caprock Escarpment, a formation of high sandstone cliffs which mark the boundary of high flat plains to the west and easterly rolling landscape from the base of the 305 meter cliffs.

It’s quite an amazing juxtaposition of lush vegetation and the eroded, scorched orange buttes and cliffs of the Caprock Canyons.

The high and lowlands have for a long time proven to be a perfect habitat for a diverse ecosystems. From bison and camels to the extinct mammoths it has a truly amazing wildlife. To this day it is home to bison, deer, coyotes and many other animals.

Caprock Canyons State Park is located an hour and half southeast of Amarillo. Its campsites offer tent and RV camping, along with back-country sites for overnight stays.

Activities in the area rock climbing, include fishing, boating and swimming at the impressive Lake Theo. You can also mountain bike, horseback ride (either rent a horse rentals or bring your own). More than 90 miles of trails zigzag through the park from highlands to lowlands with breathtaking views and vantage points throughout, in particular a panoramic view of the Texas Llano Estacado landscape.

The park also offers a variety of guided tours, including the popular geology tour. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages this area with an eye towards preserving its natural beauty for future generations while still providing opportunities that make it fun today!

If you’re visiting the area in September be sure to attend the Texas State Bison Herd Music Festival or BisonFest in Quitaque. All funds raised during the festival go towards maintaining the official bison herd of the state of Texas.

Park Address: 850 Caprock Canyon Rd., Quitaque, TX 79255

9. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Texas Panhandle and has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, it is the second largest canyon in the United States and lies in the heart of the Lone Star State.

The park offers visitors multiple campgrounds in a few forms from pitch a tent sites with water and electricity to equestrian sites and walk-in or backpack camping areas.

This is one of the Best places for Glamping in Texas and equally one of the better sites with cabins. That said, it is till a great place for tent camping.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park GlampingPalo Duro Canyon State Park Glamping – Photo

Each glamping site is fully furnished, has air conditioning and many modern conveniences such as coffee makers and microwaves. You can keep the kids distracted after dark with the board games you’ll find in your unit.

Glamping in Palo Duro Canyon Park looks great for those who don’t want to ‘rough it’ yet want to be out in the wilderness listening to critters at night from the comfort of your indoor bed. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Hiking and Biking and horseback riding through trails is highly recommended especially with such scenic views of canyon walls that are up to 800 feet tall!

The best time to explore Palo Duro is during the summer months. It can still rain so be sure to consult with the park and the park rangers in order to plan your stay properly. It can be hot and crowded but it’s worth it as you get to witness the Outdoor Musical.

Park Address: 11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

Other State Parks Worth a Mention Are:

Inks Lake State Park

Inks lake state park is a gem in the hill country region and home to to the beautiful waters of the Devil’s Waterhole. The park is about two hours northwest of Houston and one hour north of Austin.

The Park Address is: 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet, TX 78611

Caddo lake State Park Cypress Trees

Caddo Lake is renowned for its majestic cypress trees and located very much in East Texas near the state line with Louisiana.

Caddo Lake Park Address is: 245 Park Road 2, Karnack, TX 75661

Davis Mountains State Park, West Texas

You will find the Davis Mountains State Park one hundred miles north of Big Bend National Park high in the mountains of west Texas and offer an exceptional place for mountain biking and tent camping.

Colorado Bend State Park

Conclusion

In this ultimate guide we have listed ten of the best state parks for camping in Texas. Whether you’re seeking to go rock climbing and explore the mountains, mountain biking, camping at a campground site near Dallas or RV camping in the Lone Star State, there is a State natural area just for you! If you know of any other great spots that should be on this list please let us know.

We hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped you find the perfect site to go camping in Texas.

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