14 Best state parks in Texas for camping you must visit!
Are you ready for a tent camping trip to Texas? If so, you’re in luck!
With its lush nature, picturesque landscapes, and diverse wildlife, there are plenty of state parks like Monahans Sandhills State Park (West Texas), Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Bend Ranch State Park (Central Texas), and International Dark Sky Park, in the Lone Star state to explore.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities, nature trails, hiking trails, biking trails, or a quiet spot to relax and recharge, there’s a park for everyone in the Lone Star state. We designed this guide to help answer some of your top questions about the best parks in Texas to do camping.
Overview of the best Texas state parks for camping
Texas is home to a variety of state parks for camping, from the sandy beaches of South Padre Island to the rugged mountains of Palo Duro Canyon.
This guide will take you through the top state parks in Texas to provide you with the ultimate camping experience, from the beaches of Mustang Island State Park to the lush forests of Garner State Park. There are activities for all interests and ages, so let’s get started!
Dinosaur Valley State Park: relax and explore
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a National Natural Landmark in Glen Rose, Texas, with its creek-fed Paluxy River running through it. Campers can choose from RV sites and primitive campsites to set up camp, and the park offers plenty of daytime activities and stargazing at night.
Whether you love a stroll through the park’s hike-and-bike trails or prefer seeking adventure by kayaking or fishing in the river, there is something for everyone in Dinosaur Valley State Park.
Prehistoric dinosaur tracks and footprints can be found along the river bed, making it a great place to explore for kids and adults alike.
Colorado Bend State Park: home to the rivers, hills, and wildlife
Colorado Bend State Park is a must-see for camping enthusiasts due to its 60 miles of trails, seven rivers, hills, and wildlife. Colorado Bend State Park offers primitive campsites and established campsites with opportunities for both tent camping and RV camping, so there is something for everyone.
If you’re looking for some activities during your stay, don’t forget to check out these:
- Hiking on one of the numerous trails
- Mountain biking
- Swimming in Spicewood Springs
Inks Lake State Park: a beachy place to explore nature
Inks Lake State Park is a really beautiful beachy place to explore nature and camp! When you visit Inks Lake State Park, you will find yourself surrounded by lush green forests and the iconic crystal-clear waters of Lake Buchanan.
This is the perfect spot for those who love to explore nature and spend time outdoors. Whether you are up for some heavy-duty camping or just looking to relax by the lake, Inks Lake State Park offers something for everyone.
- Kayaking, tubing, and fishing on the lake
- Swimming in Devil’s Waterhole
- Hiking various trails (with great lake views!)
- Rental cabins available
- Stargazing from dark sky viewing areas
Best times to visit:
It’s best to visit Inks Lake State Park from March through October when temperatures are warmer. However, even during peak season, it never feels too crowded.
When to avoid crowds:
To avoid larger crowds at Inks Lake, we suggest visiting during late summer to early fall (August to November). The weather is still hot but getting cooler, leading to fewer patrons camping at the park.
Big Bend National Park: take a trip back in time
Big Bend National Park is one of the most underrated Texas parks for camping! Take a trip back in time and explore 1,248 square miles of Chihuahuan desert landscape and rugged mountains.
Enjoy magnificent views, colorful sunsets, and ancient rock art. Plus, it’s the only Texas park with an International Dark Sky rating.
You’ll find plenty to do in this national park, like:
- Hiking: you can choose from trails of all difficulty levels—from easy to strenuous. Plus, there are lots of backcountry options, too.
- Camping: go ahead and pitch your tent or park your RV at one of the three designated campgrounds in the park.
- Wildlife Watching: keep an eye out for river otters, coyotes, foxes, roadrunners, and more!
- Rafting/Kayaking: explore the Rio Grande River on your own or with a guided tour!
For those looking for a truly unforgettable camping experience in Texas state parks, look no further than Big Bend National Park!
Lake Livingston State Park: the ideal family getaway
Are you looking for a family-friendly camping experience? Look no further than Lake Livingston State Park.
Located in Livingston, TX, this 25-acre state park offers a wide range of activities that are sure to please the entire family. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, this park has something for everyone!
At this park, visitors can take advantage of the following activities:
- Fishing: The lake is stocked with plenty of fish and there are several fishing piers and boat ramps to choose from.
- Boating: Get out on the lake in your canoe or kayak!
- Swimming: There’s nothing like taking a dip into the cool waters of Lake Livingston.
- Hiking: There are lots of trails to explore here, from easy loops to more challenging climbs.
- Natural Areas: Check out the scenic areas along the lake shore or take a nature walk along one of the many scenic trails.
In addition to all these activities, there is also an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities in Lake Livingston State Park. Whether you’re looking for birds or deer, there’s plenty to see here! Plus, there’s year-round camping so you can visit anytime you want!
Davis Mountains State Park – the best for hiking
If you love hiking, Davis Mountains State Park, West Texas, is the place to go.
The park features fantastic trails that meander through lush evergreen forests and rolling hills, leading you to grasslands with epic views. It’s particularly beautiful after a light rain; the air is fresh and so are the colors that pop up around the park.
Apart from hiking, you can also go rock climbing, birdwatching, biking, and horseback riding if you’d like to explore further. The park also has plenty of wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, and javelina.
The best times to visit
The best times to visit Davis Mountains State Park are in spring or autumn when the temperatures are pleasant for outdoor activities. If you want to avoid the crowds come during mid-week and be sure to book a campsite in advance as they can get full very quickly during peak seasons.
Guadalupe River State Park – a paradise for nature lovers
Guadalupe River State Park is an outdoor paradise and the best Texas state park for camping.
It offers over 80 sites with rustic cabins, screened shelters, tent pads, and primitive camping areas. The main attraction is the Guadalupe River, where you can go tubing or fishing, or take a stroll on one of the many nature trails.
An adventure lover’s paradise
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Look no further than Guadalupe River State Park!
Here there are over 10 miles of hiking trails you can explore, or bike the paved road that winds through the park—a great way to experience the lush Hill Country landscape.
If that’s not enough for you, take a wild horseback ride on one of their many bridle trails!
Best time to visit
If you plan on visiting Guadalupe River State Park during peak season (January–March), we highly recommend making your reservations in advance as they can fill up quickly.
To avoid bigger crowds and make your stay more enjoyable, plan a trip in October–November when temperatures are still mild and teeming with beautiful autumn colors.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock State Natural Park is a popular destination for hikers and rock climbers in the Texas Hill Country. It is best known for the pink granite dome batholith that towers 425 feet above the surrounding landscape.
It is a region brimming with lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. The granite would moan and groan as it shrank in the cool night air as cooled from Texas’s extremely hot summer temperatures as the sunset.
During a sunset hike, if you are fortunate, you can still observe this occurrence. There are 11 miles of trails in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area; the most popular hike is the Summit Trail, which leads directly to the top of the rock.
The “trail” (there are few ways to mark a path on bare rock) can be slick at times, but the view of the Hill Country from the summit is worth the nearly vertical ascent.
Garner State Park – a Mecca for outdoor activities
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Garner State Park must make it on your list of great places to visit. This Texas state park is a mecca for outdoor activities, like swimming, canoeing, and kayaking on the Frio River.
Garner State Park is especially alive during the summer months. As temperatures reach three digits, visitors can cool off in the clear spring-fed waters of Frio River and find respite in the shady oaks
Trails to explore
With over 15 miles of trails winding through juniper woods, you can explore one of the most beautiful parts of Texas. You’ll come across waterfalls, lookouts, and panoramic views. The trails are perfect to get away from it all or simply prepare yourself for a day hike or bike ride with friends
At Garner State Park there’s no shortage of activities that you can enjoy. From swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Frio River to renting canoes for a peaceful float down its shallow waters, there’s something for everyone at this state park.
Want to relax? Spend a day fishing or bird watching! For more daring adventurers there’s rock climbing available at nearby Lost Maples State Park!
Pedernales Falls State Park – great for mountain biking
Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City is a great spot for adventure seekers and mountain bikers. It offers a wide range of activities, from camping to swimming, fishing, and mountain biking, with over 30 miles of trails winding through canyons and ravines.
If you’re new to mountain biking, the park has plenty of trails suitable for beginners and intermediate riders, and bike rentals at reasonable prices. It also offers guided hikes and biking tours year-round to make sure your experience is top-notch.
Caddo Lake State Park
Are you a fan of fishing and kayaking? Then, you will love Caddo Lake State Park! This park offers people the opportunity to catch some of the East Texas region’s biggest fish species. Plus, its charming cypress vistas and Spanish moss give it an almost surreal look.
Caddo Lake Park offers a wide range of activities and facilities to make your trip memorable, including:
- Spacious RV campsites with full hookups
- Tent sites surrounded by mature trees
- On-site boat rentals that are perfect for exploring Caddo Lake
- Well-marked hiking and biking trails
- An educational center providing on-site programming for all ages
The best time to visit for nature lovers is in late March or early April, as the lake is full of migrating birds at that time. For families looking for a quiet weekend, summertime may be better as the lake will be less crowded.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Palo Duro Canyon also referred to as Grand Canyon, is a must-see destination for every camper! Located between Amarillo and Lubbock, this 120 miles (193-km) long park offers spectacular views, challenging hikes, and unique opportunities.
Whether you want to explore the interesting history of the area, hike, and camp in the incredible nature in one of the best state parks for camping, or just relax near your RV, you’ll find something to do at Palo Duro Canyon.
- Explore the trails that lead you to spectacular overlooks of the canyon or have fun in the Juniper Trail Bike Park;
- Horse riding: Ride and camp on horseback along 70 miles (113 km) of trails;
- Discover fascinating archeological sites.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park depends on what you’re looking for. The cooler seasons from fall to early spring are generally better for exploring and hiking, while summer is great for camping with the family.
When to avoid the crowds:
Weekdays during any season give you a chance to explore without dealing with crowds — just be prepared with enough food and supplies as services might be limited!
Caprock Canyons State Park
Are you looking for an adventure that is perfect for your camping needs? Look no further than Caprock Canyons State Park! Here, you will find a sprawling landscape filled with canyons, gorges, and hills that provide some of the most breathtaking views in Texas.
This park is a great option for those seeking outdoor activities like fishing, mountain biking, and hiking. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy in Caprock Canyons State Park:
- Hiking: With over 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty, it’s a great place to explore on foot. Take the time to savor the scenery and look out for wildlife like longhorn sheep and other animals.
- Fishing: There are two ponds located throughout the park so you can get your hook into some bass or catfish.
- Mountain biking: With two trails specifically made for bikers—Shinnery Ridge and Upper Canyon Trail—it’s a great way to experience nature while getting your heart pumping!
- Horse riding: There are plenty of trails here just right for horseback riding so make sure to bring your steed with you!
- Rock climbing: Experienced climbers will love this challenging sport in the rugged terrain of Caprock Canyons. Test your skills against the rocks!
Valley Spring Creek State Park
Last but not least is Valley Spring Creek State Park. It’s one of the best Texas state parks for camping and it’s situated in the Hill Country near Mason.
It’s an ideal spot for families looking to camp and enjoys nature as it offers a large number of activities, such as fishing, swimming, wilderness camping, and even a boat ramp.
If you’re looking for some outdoor activities, then this state park is your spot. Here are some highlights:
- Hiking: The Park has more than 11 miles of trails that wind through the park and take you around the lake.
- Fishing: The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, perch, and sunfish — an angler’s delight!
- Boating: For those who want to explore a little more of the lake, there’s a boat ramp available.
- Picnicking: There are plenty of picnic sites in the park that feature tables and grills — perfect for lunch after a long hike!
The best time to visit this state park would be during spring and fall when temperatures are milder and there are fewer crowds.
Texas State Parks are a great place to visit for family, friends, or alone. With stunning natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, and activities, they offer something for everyone. Take the time to explore and create unforgettable memories.
What is the best month to go camping in Texas?
There is never an off-season for camping in Texas. However, it is essential to conduct research before traveling, especially in the winter. Prepare for camping in Texas, stay safe, and take advantage of everything this great state has to offer throughout the year.
What is the most beautiful state park in Texas?
Big Bend Ranch State Park is #1. Big Bend Ranch State Park, located in West Texas on the U.S.-Mexico border, is the largest state park in Texas. The park encompasses over 300,000 acres of high-desert terrain, which offers limitless opportunities for exploration.
Can you camp anywhere in Texas state parks?
Nearly all Texas Parks offer camping and lodging facilities. Make reservations for campsites and facilities online or by phone.
Which state has the best state parks for camping?
Each state in the United States offers a distinct camping experience, but these five stand out: Texas, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, and New York.
You can also read: What are the best campgrounds in Richmond, VA?