The charm of the Lone Star State comes from the fact that its a special blend of country and cosmopolitan. You can get a pretty good picture of Texas from the top of Reunion Tower in Dallas. But most Texans know that to really take in the Great State in all of its rugged glory, all you need to do is grab a tent and head into the wilderness. Here are the 10 Best Places to Camp in Texas:
Ray Roberts Lake State Park is situated on a 3,000-acre reservoir just north of the hustle and bustle of Dallas. Campers here are encouraged to hike miles of trails, and primitive camping is available for the practiced adventurer. The highlight of the park, though, is the clean beach and easy lake access. Ray Roberts Lake is so big it can often feel like a seaside bay. Folks out here boat, ski, swim and fish away the stress of the city in style. The park is also home to multiple marathons throughout the year.
Campers of Northeast Texas know that it doesn’t get much more patriotic than spotting the majestic eagles during winter trips to Lake Bob Sandlin State Park. For the camper that is also an avid fisherman, Lake Bob Sandlin is a great spot for largemouth bass, spotted bass and bluegills.
Tucked away in the Texas Hill Country is Inks Lake State Park. Hill Country topography mixes with the pristine water of Inks Lake to create a perfect camping experience. On land, campers can backpack, geocache, and bird-watch. And on water, campers can boat, ski, fish, and even dive from the cliffs at the popular Devil’s Waterhole section of the lake.
The Texas Panhandle is home to Palo Duro Canyon, “The Grand Canyon of Texas”. Campers here can hike, bike, or horseback through the canyon and view the multicolored rocks, caves and hoodoos (rock towers). Palo Duro is also home to the Texas Outdoor Musical, which runs June through mid-August.
Campers flock to Palo Duro’s neighbor, Caprock Canyons State Park for both its awesome hiking and its magnificent wildlife–namely, the Official Bison Herd of the State of Texas. Over 10,000 acres are reserved for these bison that descended from a herd started by Charles Goodnight in 1878. The park is also known for its steep cliffs and drop-offs, which offer experienced hikers and mountain bikers a challenging adventure.
Out in West Texas, Davis Mountains State Park offers a definitively Texan experience. Here, campers are encouraged to bring their horses to camp. Horseback riding trails in the park rise up to 5,700 feet. Don’t fret if you happen to leave your trusted steed at home. Davis Mountains State Park also offers hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and stargazing tours.
SEE ALSO: 15 Best Places for Stargazing in the US
Camping along the Gulf Coast on the Padre Island National Seashore is a completely unique experience. The sand and the sea provide ample opportunity for the beach-loving camper. Here, campers can watch newborn sea turtles take to the ocean for the first time, sea kayak below a pod of pelicans, and fish for their dinner.
Located an hour-and-half down to the west of Austin, Colorado Bend State Park is a go-to destination for adventurous Texas campers. The popular highlight of the park is Gorman Falls, a 65-foot waterfall that runs year-round in the park. But stick around a little longer and you’ll find several miles of swimming holes, hardcore mountain biking, and wild cave tours that include rappelling.
Variety is key at Big Thicket National Preserve in Southeast Texas, where the journey is just as important as the destination. Very few roads lead into the park. Visitors at Big Thicket are encouraged to canoe, hike, bike or horseback into the primitive campsites spread throughout the 112,500 acres of land and water that cover seven counties inside the park.
Over in Far West Texas, running the span of 114 miles down the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park offers the best roadside and primitive camping in Texas. Experienced backpackers can take to the highest points, at nearly 8,000 feet, for a totally isolated adventure. Big Bend is home to 4,000 species of animals and insects, as well as fossilized dinosaur bones. Campers can also kayak the Rio Grande along St Elena and Mariscal Canyons for some of the most beautiful views in all of Texas.
Friendly Tip: Always research the parks you plan on visiting for information on the best time to visit and the best materials to pack for your next adventure.