The Texas Highways guide to

Camping in Texas

An illustration of a tent underneath the stars and moon

The landscapes of Texas are remarkably diverse. From the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast to the piney woods of East Texas and the desert Mountains out west, the Lone Star State harbors a range of distinctive topographies and climates. You don’t have to go very far to feel like you’ve arrived in a whole new place. For many, camping is the ideal way to experience Texas’ great outdoors. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, camping can provide a rare change of scenery while also allowing safe distance from others.

There are a plethora of places in Texas for pitching a tent, retreating to a cabin, or parking your RV to revel in the fresh air of the outdoors. But if you’ve never been camping—or it’s been a long while—the prospect of a night under the stars might be a bit intimidating. Here we’ve prepared a guide to camping in Texas, both to help the newbies get started and inspire the experienced. We’ve compiled a database of campsites, along with activities and tips to make sure you are prepared to make the most of Texas’ abundance of camping opportunities.

We look forward to hearing your tales from the trail.

Where to Camp

Texas is home to a variety of types of campgrounds, public and private. This directory lists only facilities administered by federal, state, and local government authorities in Texas.

Commercial campground information is available from the Texas Association of Campground Owners, 910 S Crowley Road, Suite 9-504, Crowley. 877-518-1989, texascampgrounds.com

The information in the map and database below are based on the Texas Public Campgrounds guide published by the Texas Department of Transportation. This guide, among other travel literature, is available at Travel Information Centers across Texas.

Browse all public campgrounds in our guide:

Loading ...

A indicates the campground has a dump station.

An illustration of a route sign, map and binoculars

From the Texas Highways archive

Texas Park Officials Say Preparation and Flexibility are Key to a Safe Camping Trip During the Pandemic

Texas Park Officials Say Preparation and Flexibility are Key to a Safe Camping Trip During the Pandemic

Looking to escape your home? Book campsites in advance and bring your own sanitation supplies to make the most of an outdoors getaway.

Paddle Your Way to Beauty, Isolation, and Adventure on a Canoe Camping Trip

Paddle Your Way to Beauty, Isolation, and Adventure on a Canoe Camping Trip

Earlier this summer, I strapped my aluminum canoe to the top of a friend’s truck and headed west to the Devils River. My ...

Backpacking 101: Pack Light and Hit the Trail for an Escape to the Far Reaches of Texas

Backpacking 101: Pack Light and Hit the Trail for an Escape to the Far Reaches of Texas

If the recent pandemic has you hankering to get into the backcountry, and you're looking for an outdoor experience beyond car ...

11 Texas RV Parks and Campsites to Plug in and Unplug

11 Texas RV Parks and Campsites to Plug in and Unplug

In 2014, my wife and I sold our house and spent two years on the road, living in our Airstream trailer with a pair of hound dogs, five

Port Aransas Beach Camping Gets Exclusive During the Offseason

Port Aransas Beach Camping Gets Exclusive During the Offseason

After months of quarantining, my wife and I finally bought an RV. We knew exactly where we wanted to take our 19-foot Class C ...

12 Glamping Retreats to Make Camping a Little Less Rustic

12 Glamping Retreats to Make Camping a Little Less Rustic

As we continue to adjust to the "new normal," people are seeking safe ways to enjoy local travel with their families or small ...

From the Texas Highways archive

Texas Park Officials Say Preparation and Flexibility are Key to a Safe Camping Trip During the Pandemic

Texas Park Officials Say Preparation and Flexibility are Key to a Safe Camping Trip During the Pandemic

Looking to escape your home? Book campsites in advance and bring your own sanitation supplies to make the most of an outdoors getaway.

Paddle Your Way to Beauty, Isolation, and Adventure on a Canoe Camping Trip

Paddle Your Way to Beauty, Isolation, and Adventure on a Canoe Camping Trip

Earlier this summer, I strapped my aluminum canoe to the top of a friend’s truck and headed west to the Devils River. My ...

Backpacking 101: Pack Light and Hit the Trail for an Escape to the Far Reaches of Texas

Backpacking 101: Pack Light and Hit the Trail for an Escape to the Far Reaches of Texas

If the recent pandemic has you hankering to get into the backcountry, and you're looking for an outdoor experience beyond car ...

11 Texas RV Parks and Campsites to Plug in and Unplug

11 Texas RV Parks and Campsites to Plug in and Unplug

In 2014, my wife and I sold our house and spent two years on the road, living in our Airstream trailer with a pair of hound dogs, five

Port Aransas Beach Camping Gets Exclusive During the Offseason

Port Aransas Beach Camping Gets Exclusive During the Offseason

After months of quarantining, my wife and I finally bought an RV. We knew exactly where we wanted to take our 19-foot Class C ...

12 Glamping Retreats to Make Camping a Little Less Rustic

12 Glamping Retreats to Make Camping a Little Less Rustic

As we continue to adjust to the "new normal," people are seeking safe ways to enjoy local travel with their families or small ...

How to Prepare

A great camping trip starts with the right preparation. Make sure to consider things like how long you will be camping, what the weather will be like, and how much you can carry when planning what to take with you. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has prepared these tips for camping safety, etiquette and preparation. More information can be found on the Texas State Park camping and lodging page.

Safety

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and make sure your trip is safe.

  • Keep watch on children! You are responsible for the safety of your children. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing.
  • Be aware of the natural surroundings. There may be plants with thorns or stickers.
  • You are a visitor in wildlife’s home. Keep a safe distance from wild animals. Although they may look cute, they are wild and can carry diseases.
  • Never feed the wildlife! Feeding wildlife can encourage bad behavior by animals and is against park regulations.
  • Be careful with fire. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure your campfire is out when you break camp.
  • Axes, knives and saws are useful tools, but be sure you know how to properly use them.

Etiquette

Courteous behavior makes camping more fun for everyone.

  • Think about your fellow campers. Keep noise levels down, especially at night.
  • Leave the area clean. Pick up your trash and make sure to check the area for items you may have forgotten.
  • Keep food out of the reach of animals. Put food items away after use. Raccoons and other animals will take advantage of your carelessness.
  • Dispose of wastewater properly. Dumping gray water can pollute waterways and attract unwanted pests.
  • Camp in designated campsites. Use a tent pad if provided and keep vehicles on the pavement.
  • Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.

The Seven C’s of Camping

  • Care – Show care at the campground by being considerate of others.
  • Caution – Use caution in the use of camping equipment both on the road and at the campsite. Handle fire and flammable fuels so as not to endanger others or ourselves. Improve our camping skills at all times, knowing the right way is the safest way.
  • Courtesy – Practice politeness because it enhances the camping experience. Be respectful of the privacy of others, control children and leash dogs.
  • Cleanliness – Be clean in your camping habits and teach your children the importance of cleanliness. Pick up litter, no matter who left it, and be proud of the campsites you leave behind.
  • Cooperation – Observe the letter and spirit of camping regulations and rules established to protect the enjoyment of the outdoors. Work cooperatively with others to make the camping experience better for everyone.
  • Conservation – Protect the environment in which you enjoy camping and help those whose job it is to guard and wisely manage the country’s natural resources. Endeavor to leave a better outdoors for those who follow you.
  • Common Sense – Apply common sense to every situation, knowing that reason, understanding and humor make camping better for everyone.

In addition to maintaining the more than 630,000 acres of parkland in Texas, Texas State Parks publishes an official guide and state park app to make the most of your camping, hiking or exploring journey.

Who to go camping with

Take the Family Camping for a Fun Way to Make Lasting Memories

Take the Family Camping for a Fun Way to Make Lasting Memories

Maybe your children can tell stories of playing cards in a soggy tent as raindrops popped against the nylon walls. Or maybe you remember being young yourself, roasting marshmallows and nestling into a cozy sleeping bag to watch the Milky Way wheel overhead. As anybody who’s gone on a family camping trip will attest, such experiences produce rich memories. And if you don’t have any yet, there’s no reason to miss out.

Find Lovely Silence, along with Inward Focus and Empowerment, on a Solo Camping Trip

Find Lovely Silence, along with Inward Focus and Empowerment, on a Solo Camping Trip

I grew up camping with my family. We spent long weekends at Texas state parks, where we’d pitch our giant blue canvas tent, belly flop into the nearest lake, and chase fireflies when the sun went down. As a college student, I camped with friends; when I married, my husband and I began backpacking. Until recently, though, I always slept within hollering distance of someone I knew, in case a bear invaded camp or a storm flattened my tent. Then, as part of what I called my “Year of Adventure” a few years ago, I decided to try solo camping.

Camping with your Canine? 14 Tips to Ensure a Safe and Fun Adventure with Fido

Camping with your Canine? 14 Tips to Ensure a Safe and Fun Adventure with Fido

Camping is made better with friends, including our four-legged ones. I spent many months camping and hiking with my good boy Max while researching a guide book, Best Hikes with Dogs: Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast. Max, a 70-pound mutt, developed a fascination with armadillos, so I could always count on him to alert me to the presence of the nifty little critters. Without him, I never would have noticed them.

An illustration of a camp chair, hiking pack and sun hat

From the Texas Highways archive

Field Guide to Camping Dangers

Field Guide to Camping Dangers

One of the things that keeps potential campers in the great indoors is all the unknowns…out there. From unforgiving weather to creepy- crawlies to vines with a vengeance, danger can seem to lurk around every tree trunk in Texas. And while nature is naturally unavoidable, being armed with knowledge—and a first-aid kit—will alleviate some fears. Kimberly Sorensen, a Houston-based outdoor education specialist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, shares her knowledge of some common dangers in state parks.

The Beginner’s Guide to Camping in Texas

The Beginner’s Guide to Camping in Texas

I’d never understood the allure of camping. Perhaps it’s because my family was never very interested in spending time in the wilderness. We traveled quite a bit, but our destinations were always big cities with the inescapable smell of car exhaust and neon signs lighting up the night sky. In the outdoors, there were bugs, critters, and uncontrollable temperatures—and why would we voluntarily sleep on the ground when my parents worked very hard to put a roof over our heads? Whether due to nature or nurture, I knocked at the door of my 30s with no basic outdoor survival skills or knowledge.

This Wilderness Survival Course Teaches Beginners How to Navigate an Outdoor Emergency

This Wilderness Survival Course Teaches Beginners How to Navigate an Outdoor Emergency

Earth Native founder Dave Scott grew up tagging along with his father and uncle on volunteer search-and-rescue missions in Colorado. After six years in the military, he began studying wilderness survival techniques. In 2011, he launched Earth Native, one of a handful of schools in Texas that meld advanced outdoor skills like backcountry navigation, shelter building, and plant medicine with nature appreciation. Scott says he’s noticed an uptick in people’s interest in these types of skills because of survival-oriented reality TV shows. But the majority of his students tend to be less extreme. They mostly want to get into backpacking or spend more time outside with their kids.

Shop Local With These Texas Outdoor Gear Shops

Shop Local With These Texas Outdoor Gear Shops

If you want the best gear—whether it's clothing, tents or something else—you don't have to go to a large chain store to get what you need. Across the state, local outdoor shops provide incredible selection, with many having big-time brands such as Patagonia and North Face. So whether you are preparing for your first excursion in the woods or your 100th, here are some places to stock up before you head out on your adventure.

A Guide to Handling Illness & Injury In The Wilderness

A Guide to Handling Illness & Injury In The Wilderness

Many of us love to get outdoors to escape the confines of our homes and traffic of the city. But with such freedom also comes distance from our medicine cabinets and convenient medical care. Routine maladies such as fevers, cuts, and sprains can be a lot more uncomfortable and distressing when you’re out in the woods without typical medical resources. To help you prepare for an outdoor adventure, we spoke with camping experts about the best items to pack and how to effectively prevent and respond to illness or injury.

Camping in Texas Means Being Ready for All Kinds of Weather

Camping in Texas Means Being Ready for All Kinds of Weather

We humans love to talk endlessly about the weather, and when it comes to icebreakers, it doesn’t matter whether you’re facing heat,

Things to Do

Sleeping outdoors is only half the fun of camping. Fishing, hiking, birding, stargazing, or cooking a meal outside all add to the adventure.

From the Texas Highways archive

Dutch-Oven Recipes

Dutch-Oven Recipes

The dutch oven is a great way to cook recipes at a campsite, whether on coals from a fire or charcoal. In the March 2015 edition of Texas Highways, photojournalist Julia Robinson covers chuck-wagon history, along with modern-day cook-offs and races across the state. Try the following recipes for a little home cookin’ on the range.

9 Divine Hill Country Hikes

9 Divine Hill Country Hikes

In the Texas Hill Country, the flat Gulf Coastal plains to the east and the Texas brush country to the south collide with the Balcones Escarpment—a conspicuous topographic demarcation that nearly bisects the state from Del Rio northwest past Waco. West of the escarpment, which roughly parallels Interstate 35 in Central Texas, a land of contrasts presents itself as soaring limestone bluffs, rugged hills, and steep canyons.

Explore the Lone Star Hiking Trail in East Texas

Explore the Lone Star Hiking Trail in East Texas

The sun crested over the tops of the tall pines, taking the chill out of the winter air as my partner and I set out from our campsite at Double Lake Recreation Area in East Texas’ Sam Houston National Forest. Our goal was to explore an 8-mile segment of the Lone Star Hiking Trail. The needles of loblolly and shortleaf pine trees crunched softly beneath our feet, and we listened to woodpeckers tapping in the canopy above as we looped through the forest on a part of the trail known as the Magnolia section. Encountering some of the namesake magnolias, we stopped to marvel at the towering, untamed trees—so unlike their manicured city cousins that it took me a moment to recognize them.

It’s Hard to Be Stressed-Out in a Hammock

It’s Hard to Be Stressed-Out in a Hammock

The sky’s a bruised black and a north wind scatters leaves as I step inside the Kammok Gear Shop at the corner of E. 7th Street and Navasota in Austin. I’m a devoted hammock-camper, and I’m here to accessorize for the elements. Glancing around the shop is like doing a face-plant in a rainbow: Hammocks of several sizes hang vertically against the wall in neon streams of electric orange, turquoise, gold, and purple. Against the back wall, I spot just what I need: a Koala underquilt to sling below my hammock and a Firebelly trail quilt to keep me toasty on top.

Take 3 History-Packed Hikes in the Davis Mountains

Take 3 History-Packed Hikes in the Davis Mountains

The Davis Mountains have long attracted people seeking respite from the surrounding deserts of West Texas. Delivered as magma from volcanic activity some 35 million years ago, the mountains harbor patches of “sky island” known for relatively moist forested hillsides, cooler temperatures, and spartan beauty. To explore the Davis range’s cultural past and natural marvels, head to the highest town in Texas—Fort Davis, at 5,050 feet—and hit the trail. Or better yet, hit three trails.

A New Hiking Guidebook Scours Texas for the State’s Best Hikes

A New Hiking Guidebook Scours Texas for the State’s Best Hikes

You’d be hard-pressed to find a photographer who’s covered more ground in Texas than Laurence Parent, a leading landscape photographer and longtime contributor to Texas Highways. Parent recently published an update of his guidebook Hiking Texas, A Guide to the State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures, 3rd Edition. He says the new edition, which builds on versions published in 1992 and 2009, introduces color photography, improved maps, and new hikes. “The biggest reason for the update was to shift from half-tone black and white photos to four-color printed on coated paper,” says Parent, who recently moved to Prescott, Arizona, while maintaining a business office in Wimberley. “It really improves the appearance of the book and gives readers a better feel for what the hikes look like.”

The Best Way to Cook Your Gulf Coast Catch

The Best Way to Cook Your Gulf Coast Catch

Growing up in a South Texas household of outdoor enthusiasts made fishing along the Gulf Coast a routine family affair. We spent our springs hooking red drum in the bays and our summers pulling king mackerel, amberjack, pompano, and red snapper from offshore waters. At 14, I hooked my only sailfish, a leviathan that leapt out of the water, flashed its sail-like dorsal fin, then defiantly spit out the hook before it disappeared into the deep blue.

Brighten Up Your Camping Trip After Dark with Stargazing

Brighten Up Your Camping Trip After Dark with Stargazing

Camping brings to mind full days of activities like hiking, climbing, and swimming. But one of the best parts of a camping trip actually happens when the sun sets for the day—stargazing. From any reasonably dark campsite in Texas, you can see prominent constellations, planets, and the moon. Some parks across the state have achieved designation as “dark-sky parks” because of their efforts to control light pollution, while some host star parties to introduce visitors to the night sky.

An illustration of a guitar, fishing rod and hiking boots

The October 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine reading "Adventureland"


Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price

True Texas in Your Inbox

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.

The October 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine reading "Adventureland"


Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price

True Texas in Your Inbox

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.

The October 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine reading "Adventureland"


Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price

True Texas in Your Inbox

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.