What is it that makes camping special to you? Maybe it’s because the majority of us spend our lives sleeping in cozy beds surrounded by four solid walls that sleeping outside on the ground feeds our inner animal and satisfies our need to be connected to nature.
Camping with other families is a great way to share in the planning, gear and even cooking. It's also a great way for parents to be able to relax when the kids are engaged with each other. But even if you can't find another family to camp with, we hope you will explore the natural wonders of Texas, gaze up at the stars and cook a meal over an open flame.
There are many resources to help you and your family or even a larger group get out to camp. The National Parks Foundation wants to give ever family who has a 4th grader a National Parks Pass, Texas Parks and Wildlife always allows children 12 and under in for free, and bigger groups can get a Youth Annual Pass.
Check out this list of camping destinations that we believe embody the Texas outdoors and make your way to one near you!
● McKinney Falls State Park- Located only several miles south of downtown Austin, this park is a great example of how Austin combines beautiful nature in close proximity to the city. When you go out there, you won’t even feel like you’re in a metro area. http://www.naturerocksaustin.org/greenspace/mckinney-falls-state-park
● Pace Bend Park- This park is one of the most family friendly camping locations out there. With campsites located on the edge of Lake Travis, taking advantage of water fun is a must! http://www.naturerocksaustin.org/greenspace/pace-bend-park
● Big Bend Ranch State Park- Big Bend Ranch State Park offers outdoor recreation for the truly adventurous. This remote park features rugged mountains, steep canyons, amazing views, unparalleled night skies, and solitude in a high desert setting. The park stretches along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border. http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch
● Caprock Canyon State Park- This park consists of over 15,000 acres of land and lays in a beautiful area of the state where you will be surrounded by walls of red rock. http://www.naturerockscaprock.org/greenspace/caprock-canyon-state-park
● Buffalo Springs Lake- Come to Buffalo Springs Lake and enjoy “stars at night” in our campgrounds, “nature under your feet” walking trails, “water spray” as you glide on skis, and “child-like excitement” when you land that big fish! Come see our “Oasis in the Wild West” and experience lake life… and oh yeah, your kids will enjoy it too! http://www.naturerockscaprock.org/greenspace/buffalo-springs-lake
● Sabine National Forest- This is as far east as it gets in Texas. The lush green scenery prominent in this forest is a drastic change from much of the rest of Texas. Outdoor recreation opportunities in the Sabine National Forest include fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
● Martin Creek Lake State Park- Great fishing is found here year-round and the lake also provides a great opportunity for swimming in refreshing natural waters. http://www.naturerockspineywoods.org/greenspace/martin-creek-lake-state-park
Rio Grande Valley:
● Padre Island National Seashore- Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world. The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and a haven for 380 bird species. Camping is open year round and is first come first served. http://www.naturerocksrgv.org/greenspace/padre-island-national-seashore-0
● Mustang Island State Park- Mustang Island State Park boasts five miles of beach in the beautiful Coastal Bend Region of Texas. Come out and go fishing off the Fish Pass Jetties, picnic at one of our shade shelters, paddle in Corpus Christi Bay, surf the waves of the Gulf of Mexico or just lie on the beach and enjoy the Texas sunshine. http://www.naturerockscoastalbend.org/greenspace/mustang-island-state-park
Lake Mineral Wells State Park- This is a popular park for outdoor enthusiasts because of the variety of activities available. Rock climbing is one of the more adventurous of these possibilities, or you could also take it slow and fish on the lake. http://www.naturerocksnorthtexas.org/greenspace/lake-mineral-wells-trailway
If you would like to find ways to engage other families to form a Family Nature Club to share the responsibilities of camping, have a look at our blog on starting a club. http://texaschildreninnature.org/blog-notes/family-nature-clubs