Camping at Texas State Parks

Camping at Tyler State Park

Camping at Texas State Parks is a regular activity for us. Since purchasing our travel trailer in 2017, we’ve been to several parks, including repeat visits to some. There are nearly 90 state parks in Texas, so it’s safe to say we’ve barely made a dent.

Every park is unique to the region of Texas it’s located in. In East Texas you can expect pine trees and humidity. In Central Texas, hills along with plenty of lakes and rivers. North Texas is certainly more flat, but still plenty to explore.

State Park Camping

Of the many Texas State Parks, we’ve camped at 11 so far.

  • Inks Lake State Park
  • Pedernales Falls State Park
  • Guadalupe River State Park
  • Mother Neff State Park
  • Tyler State Park
  • Caddo Lake State Park
  • Lake Brownwood State Park
  • Lake Somerville State Park
  • Bastrop State Park
  • Buescher State Park
  • Purtis Creek State Park

State Park Day Trips

We’ve made it to a few parks where we spent a few hours hiking and swimming, but have not stayed overnight.

  • McKinney Falls State Park
  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
  • Blanco State Park

Best Texas State Parks for Camping

Of the parks we’ve been to, we’ve certainly found our favorites. Tyler State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, and Guadalupe River State Park are all well worth the repeat visits.

Tyler State Park

The small lake at Tyler State Park

Tyler State Park is located in northeast Texas in the Pineywoods. With tall trees and thick forests, this area is perfect to enjoy the great outdoors.

The park itself has a small lake for fishing, swimming, and boating. The many turtles that live on the lake are fun to watch and a beaver may even be spotted too! This lake is perfect for leisurely kayaking. While small, the water is calm and motorboats generally aren’t on the water because of the 5 mph speed limit on the lake. The lake’s small size makes it possible to explore every nook and cranny, which is exactly what we have done.

There are several miles of hiking trails to explore that wind through the woods of varying lengths. The tall pine trees providing plenty of shade and making a late morning or evening hike in the summer months tolerable.

Now, let’s talk about the campsites at Tyler State Park. There are several camping loops, many of which can accommodate RVs and trailers, though there are primitive tent sites as well. Our favorite camping loop is Cedar Point. We’ve found the campsites to provide quiet and privacy. As with any state park, some campsites are better than others. Our least favorite loop is the RV loop – Big Pine. It has very little privacy which is surprising considering how wooded most of the park is.

The city of Tyler is about a 20-minute drive from the state park and is known as the “Rose Capital of America.” While the city is seldom talked about, except perhaps by those that live in or around the area, it has a population of just over 100,000 and is well worth a visit. Breweries and BBQ make for a great afternoon out on the town!

Pedernales Falls State Park

Overlook at Pedernales Falls State Park

A tough park to get into due to the small size and its popularity, we’re always thrilled when we’re able to snag a campsite at Pedernales Falls State Park.

Pedernales Falls State Park is located in the Texas Hill Country. Though the park is only about 30 miles outside of Austin, you really feel away from it all. This state park has 82 campsites, many of which can accommodate RVs with electric and water hookups. For those looking to tent camp, Pedernales also has several primitive tent sites.

There are several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore, varying in length and skill. Views of Pedernales Falls, rock formations, creeks, and Hill Country reward those who venture down the winding, interconnecting paths. The Pedernales River is mostly calm with many areas perfect for swimming, tubing, or kayaking. It should be said that the area is prone to flooding when it rains. Heed this warning from Texas Parks & Wildlife:

The water in the river can rise from a placid stream to a raging torrent in a few minutes. If you are in the river area and notice the water rising or getting muddy, leave the river area immediately. Flash flooding is common in the Texas Hill Country. Please be alert to weather conditions.

Texas Parks & Wildlife

While at Pedernales Falls State Park, take a couple of hours out of the day and make the 20 minute drive into Johnson City. Johnson City borders Texas Wine Country. It’s filled with tasting rooms, breweries, fun shops, and art galleries.

Guadalupe River State Park

Enjoying the river at Guadalupe River State Park

Guadalupe River State Park is located in Spring Branch, Texas. It isn’t far from New Braunfels and is only about 45 minutes north of San Antonio and an hour and a half southwest of Austin. The park lies along a 4-mile stretch of the Guadalupe River. There are 85 campsites with electric and water hookups as well as 9 tent-only sites. Be sure to make your reservation well in advance because this park fills up throughout most of the year.

There is plenty to do no matter the season at this state park. The nearly 13 miles of hiking trails can fill up a morning or afternoon. Kayaking and canoeing are popular with a stretch of one of Texas’ paddling trails running through the park. On a hot day, jump (or wade) into the river. Fishing and mountain biking are also popular with state park visitors.

The river water is clean and it’s lined with bald cypress trees. In the late spring to early fall you’ll see plenty of park visitors floating in tubes and others exploring the river in their kayaks. We typically will paddle up the river away from the park’s beach access and find our own private spot to splash around.

For as long as we stay in Texas, we’ll continue venturing out to state parks. This post will be updated as we explore additional parks.

All photos in this post were taken by writingbylj and may not be used without permission.

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