Camping in the Lone Star State

Oct 6, 2017 |

Camping in the Lone Star State

By Nathan Paul Swartz

Given the number of big rig RVs you see on I-10 (and RV dealerships along I-35) it’s hard to disagree that if there’s one thing the state does, it’s big. With some 1500 places to camp, from the lush to the limited access, you’ll no doubt find something that’s just right for you.

Don’t get stuck all hat and no cattle, we’ll bet the farm that if you start with our suggestions below you’ll be hanging your hat more and more often in Texas.

RV Camping in Texas State Parks

Hands down, the best option for finding a beautiful, affordable place to camp, that often includes a water and electric hookup in the Bible Belt’s Buckle, is the local state park system.

First off, if you plan to stay in Texas for any amount of time, it’s usually worth it to get the annual state park pass. For $80 a year, you save the $5-6 daily entrance fee. Particularly if you’re a family, or even a couple, it’s all the more valuable as the entrance fee is per person. Along with your free admission to the parks themselves, you’ll also get a few half off nights and 10% off the park store, not to mention that wholesome gooey feeling you get from supporting nature.

Where to start?

RV Camping in Texas’ National Parks

Big Bend National Park, that behemoth of a mountainous desertscape clinging to the Rio Grande and in full view of Mexico just to the south, is easily the most wild and free experience one will find in Texas.

That’s not to say it’s the only national park experience to be had this side of Oklahoma. Guadalupe Mountains, near the New Mexico border and within driving distance to Carlsbad Caverns, offers RV camping in the parking lot of the trailhead to the top of the mountains. Back on the Gulf side of the state, lovingly referred to by locals as the Third Coast, Padre Island National Seashore has glamorous beachfront RV spots and free beach camping alike.

Two additional national recreation areas, Amistad (on the way to West Texas by way of Del Rio) and Lake Meredith in the panhandle, offer the best of both worlds: fun in the water with the desert all around.

Free Camping Texas

Most of Texas was already owned by someone when it broke away from Mexico to become the 28th of these United States of America, thus the kind of national forest and BLM land you typically find out west tends to be lacking, if not downright impossible to find.

Most free camping you’ll find in the state comes via county and city parks, where you’ll pull up alongside a patch of grass with a clean view of kids tossing frisbees or dogs chasing after them. While this may not be ideal for some of the more hardcore serenity seekers out there, it certainly makes for some of the more interesting places to camp without a price tag.

Texas Most Popular RV Parks

Sometimes you just want to pull onto a nice set of pavers and plug the old rig in (you know, anytime from around April to September when you’re ever so glad you invested in getting the air conditioner fixed). As one of the premier RVing destinations in the world, Texas is no stranger to fancy RV resorts.

If you’ve only ever imagined Texas to be wide open deserts full of gunslingers and pickup trucks full of empty Shiners, you’ll no doubt be happier than a hog on a vegetarian’s farm with the actual diversity in camping and people alike, the state actually offers.