Family-Friendly Camping Destinations in South Texas Plains

Family Camping South Texas Plains

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Texas is a diverse state with various natural regions, including the South Texas Plains. This region offers unique attractions and ecosystems for families to explore through camping. From hike-in primitive sites to full RV hookups, there are campsite options for every type of traveler, including those with horses. Some popular activities in this region include climbing the tallest peak in Texas, swimming in the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, and stargazing at International Dark Sky Parks. It is important to book campsites ahead of time, especially during peak seasons.

Key Takeaways

  • South Texas Plains offers diverse camping options for families, from primitive sites to RV hookups.
  • Popular activities in the region include climbing, swimming, and stargazing.
  • Booking campsites ahead of time is crucial during peak seasons.

Palo Duro Canyon: Exploring the Rugged Landscape

Palo Duro Canyon, located in the Texas Panhandle, is a breathtaking natural wonder that offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor exploration. As the second-largest canyon in the country, it boasts a rugged and diverse landscape that is sure to captivate nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

For those who love hiking, Palo Duro Canyon provides a true haven. With an extensive network of trails spanning over 30 miles, visitors can immerse themselves in the stunning beauty of this majestic canyon. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, there are hiking trails to suit every skill level and interest.

One of the unique features that make Palo Duro Canyon truly special is the presence of remarkable geological formations known as hoodoos. These awe-inspiring rock formations, characterized by large rocks balanced on thin rock spires, punctuate the canyon landscape and offer a glimpse into the forces of nature at work.

For those seeking a more luxurious camping experience, Palo Duro Canyon also offers glamping sites that combine the comforts of modern amenities with the tranquility of the great outdoors. Imagine spending your nights under the starlit sky in a cozy and well-appointed glamping tent, complete with air conditioning, microwaves, and covered porches. These glamping sites provide the perfect blend of comfort and immersion in nature.

Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast, a nature lover, or a traveler seeking a unique and memorable experience, Palo Duro Canyon is a must-visit destination in the South Texas Plains. Its rugged beauty, diverse trails, and captivating hoodoos promise to create lasting memories for adventurers of all ages.

Next, let’s explore another remarkable camping destination in the South Texas Plains: Balmorhea State Park, where crystal-clear waters beckon swimmers and nature enthusiasts.

Balmorhea State Park: Swimming in Crystal-Clear Waters

spring-fed swimming pool in Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park, located in the heart of the South Texas Plains, is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. This high desert oasis is home to a magnificent spring-fed swimming pool that attracts visitors from all over the country.

The star attraction of Balmorhea State Park is its crystal-clear spring-fed swimming pool. Spanning an impressive 1.3 acres, the pool offers a serene and pristine environment for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The water in the pool is constantly replenished by the San Solomon Springs, ensuring a refreshing and invigorating experience for visitors.

One of the unique features of the pool is its constant water temperature, ranging from 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. This makes it a perfect destination for a swim, no matter the season. Whether you want to cool off on a hot summer day or enjoy a leisurely swim in the winter, Balmorhea State Park has you covered.

For those seeking a camping adventure, Balmorhea State Park offers 33 campsites equipped with water and electric hookups. These campsites provide a comfortable and convenient base for your outdoor exploration. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds chirping and being just a stone’s throw away from the crystal-clear waters of the swimming pool.

At Balmorhea State Park, visitors can also enjoy additional outdoor activities such as picnicking, bird watching, and hiking. The park boasts scenic trails that wind through the rugged desert landscape, showcasing the region’s natural beauty.

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing swim, a relaxing camping experience, or an adventure in the desert wilderness, Balmorhea State Park has it all.

Features of Balmorhea State Park Activities
Crystal-clear spring-fed swimming pool Swimming
33 campsites with water and electric hookups Camping
Scenic hiking trails Hiking
Picnic areas Picnicking
Bird watching opportunities Bird watching

Plan your next adventure to Balmorhea State Park and immerse yourself in the beauty of the spring-fed swimming pool, the rugged desert landscape, and the tranquility of the South Texas Plains.

Padre Island National Seashore: Beach Camping and Sea Turtle Hatchlings

Padre Island National Seashore, located on a narrow barrier island along the South Texas Plains, offers families an incredible beach camping experience. With 66 miles of pristine coastline, visitors can wake up to the soothing sounds of waves crashing ashore and enjoy uninterrupted views of the Gulf of Mexico.

A highlight of a visit to Padre Island National Seashore is the opportunity to drive on the beach. However, it’s important to note that a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is required to navigate the sandy terrain. This unique experience allows families to explore the coastline, find their perfect spot for camping, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

In addition to beach camping, visitors can also immerse themselves in the conservation efforts of the seashore. Padre Island National Seashore is known for its sea turtle hatchling releases, which take place between mid-June and August. During this time, visitors can witness these tiny hatchlings make their way to the sea, starting their journey as they embark on a new chapter of life.

Padre Island National Seashore offers a truly unique and memorable camping experience that combines the beauty of the beach with the wonder of nature. Whether you’re setting up camp, exploring the coastline, or participating in sea turtle hatchling releases, this national seashore is a must-visit destination for beach-loving families.

Lost Maples State Natural Area: Fall Foliage and Scenic Hiking

Fall foliage at Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the South Texas Plains. This picturesque destination offers a breathtaking display of fall foliage, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and photography enthusiasts alike. The star attraction of Lost Maples State Natural Area is its vibrant stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples, which turn into a stunning palette of oranges and reds during the autumn months.

For hikers, Lost Maples State Natural Area boasts a network of scenic trails that wind through 2,174 acres of diverse landscapes. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual nature lover, you’ll find trails suited to your skill level and preferences. From leisurely strolls along the West Trail to more challenging hikes through the steep limestone canyons, there’s something for everyone.

While exploring the hiking trails, keep an eye out for rare green kingfishers, which can be spotted year-round. These colorful birds are a treat for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

Aside from hiking, Lost Maples State Natural Area offers other recreational activities to enjoy. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines in the crystal-clear waters of the Sabinal River, while stargazers can marvel at the vast night sky undisturbed by city lights.

To enhance your experience at Lost Maples State Natural Area, consider camping within the park. The campgrounds offer a chance to immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings and wake up to the soothing sounds of nature. It’s important to note that camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan accordingly.

Lost Maples State Natural Area – Highlights

Activity Highlights
Hiking Scenic trails through diverse landscapes
Fishing Crystal-clear waters of the Sabinal River
Stargazing Unobstructed views of the night sky
Camping Immersive experience in tranquil surroundings

Experience the magic of fall foliage and embark on memorable hikes at Lost Maples State Natural Area. Plan your visit today and witness the breathtaking beauty of this hidden treasure in the South Texas Plains.

Pedernales Falls State Park: Riverfront Haven in Hill Country

Pedernales Falls State Park is a hidden gem situated along the picturesque Pedernales River in the heart of the Hill Country, just a short 30-minute drive west of Austin. This expansive park is known for its breathtaking riverfront views, diverse wildlife, and an array of outdoor activities that cater to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

For those who love water activities, the Pedernales River is a paradise waiting to be explored. Visitors can cool off by taking a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters, rent a tube or kayak to paddle along the river, or simply relax on its sandy banks while enjoying the serene surroundings. The park offers several access points to the river, making it convenient for visitors to enjoy their favorite water-based activities.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Pedernales Falls State Park boasts an extensive network of nature trails that wind through its rugged terrain, showcasing the region’s unique flora and fauna. Hikers can embark on the scenic 5.5-mile Wolf Mountain Loop, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and a chance to spot native wildlife along the way. If mountain biking is your passion, the park also offers designated trails that cater specifically to this exhilarating activity. And for those who prefer exploring on horseback, guided trail rides are available for an unforgettable equestrian experience.

To make the most of your visit, Pedernales Falls State Park provides a range of camping options, including drive-in campsites and primitive sites that require a minimum two-mile hike. Whether you prefer the convenience of RV hookups or the tranquility of a secluded spot surrounded by nature, there is a campsite to suit every preference.

Facilities and Amenities

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay, Pedernales Falls State Park offers various facilities and amenities, including:

  • Clean restrooms and shower facilities
  • Picnic areas with barbecue pits
  • Visitor center with interpretive exhibits
  • Group picnic pavilions (available for reservation)
  • An equestrian camping area for horse enthusiasts

With its idyllic riverfront setting, scenic nature trails, and a range of recreational opportunities, Pedernales Falls State Park is the perfect destination for those seeking a tranquil escape and an immersive experience in the beauty of the South Texas Plains.

Big Bend National Park: Outdoor Adventure Paradise

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park, the oldest national park in Texas, is a paradise for outdoor adventurers. With its diverse terrain and stunning landscapes, the park offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy.

The park boasts over 200 miles of hiking trails, allowing hikers to explore its rugged mountains, vast desert landscapes, and scenic canyons. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll, there’s a trail for everyone in Big Bend National Park. From the popular Window Trail with its breathtaking views to the challenging South Rim Trail, hikers will find themselves immersed in the beauty of the South Texas Plains.

For those who prefer to explore on wheels, the park offers 250 miles of roads perfect for bike rides and scenic drives. Experience the thrill of driving along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which offers spectacular views of Santa Elena Canyon and the Chisos Mountains.

Water enthusiasts will delight in the opportunities provided by the park’s southern border, formed by the magnificent Rio Grande River. Visitors can enjoy rafting, canoeing, and kayaking along the river, immersing themselves in the tranquility and grandeur of the surrounding landscape.

March marks the peak season for wildflowers in Big Bend National Park, particularly the iconic bluebonnets. The park becomes a vibrant tapestry of colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities and photography.

When planning a trip to Big Bend National Park, it’s important to note that the developed campgrounds within the park often sell out quickly, especially from February to April. Therefore, it’s advisable to make advanced reservations to secure a spot at one of the developed campgrounds.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and adventure of Big Bend National Park. Whether you’re hiking the trails, exploring the river, or marveling at the wildflowers, this outdoor paradise offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

“Big Bend National Park offers a diverse range of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to rafting and wildlife viewing. It’s a true gem for anyone seeking adventure in the South Texas Plains.”

Developed Campgrounds in Big Bend National Park

Campground Description
Rio Grande Village A riverside campground with RV and tent sites, as well as amenities such as showers and a camp store.
Chisos Basin Located in the Chisos Mountains, this campground offers stunning panoramic views and tent sites.
Cottonwood A small campground near the Castolon historic district, suitable for tents and RVs.
Rio Grande Village Group Campground A group campsite that can accommodate up to 20 people, with picnic tables and fire grates.

Martin Dies Jr. State Park: Paddling Paradise in East Texas

Martin Dies Jr. State Park, located in East Texas, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a paddling adventure. With its vast network of bayous, sloughs, and ponds lined with majestic bald cypress trees, this park offers a unique and picturesque setting for paddling enthusiasts.

The park’s main attraction is its expansive 26,810-acre lake, which boasts over 50 miles of well-marked paddling trails. These trails meander through serene waterways, providing paddlers with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of the surrounding nature.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, Martin Dies Jr. State Park caters to all skill levels. From calm and peaceful waters to more challenging routes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. As you navigate the paddling trails, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this park home.

Fishing Spots in Martin Dies Jr. State Park

In addition to its exceptional paddling opportunities, the park also offers fantastic fishing spots for anglers. With its abundant lakes and waterways, Martin Dies Jr. State Park is a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

The park’s 26,810-acre lake is teeming with over 70 species of fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. Fishing from the shore does not require a license within the state park, making it accessible to all visitors.

Whether you prefer casting a line from the shore or exploring the lake by boat, Martin Dies Jr. State Park offers an unforgettable fishing experience for all skill levels.

Camping Options in Martin Dies Jr. State Park

To fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park, consider camping overnight. Martin Dies Jr. State Park offers a variety of camping options to suit every preference.

The park features 46 spacious campsites equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to restroom facilities. For those seeking a more unique experience, the park also offers ten historic cabins, providing a cozy retreat amidst the natural surroundings.

If you’re an avid angler or simply enjoy waking up to the sound of gently lapping waves, the Mill Pond Camping Area offers campsites closest to the water, providing easy access to the lake.

Whichever camping option you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the tranquility of the park after the day visitors have left.

Activity Description
Paddling Trails Over 50 miles of well-marked paddling trails through bayous, sloughs, and ponds.
Fishing A 26,810-acre lake teeming with over 70 species of fish, with fishing from the shore permitted without a license.
Camping 46 campsites and ten historic cabins, with the Mill Pond Camping Area offering proximity to the water.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Wilderness and Hiking Trails

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, located in the South Texas Plains, is a true wilderness park and a hiker’s wonderland. This park offers a pristine and untouched natural environment for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. With its rugged mountain peaks and diverse flora and fauna, it provides a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.

The park is home to eight of the ten highest mountains in Texas, including Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the state. Hiking trails in the park stretch over 200 miles, offering a range of difficulty levels to cater to both novice and experienced hikers. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there is a trail for everyone to enjoy.

While exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park, visitors have the opportunity to witness its stunning natural beauty, including unique geological formations, lush forests, and picturesque valleys. The park is also rich in biodiversity, with a variety of plant and animal species calling it home.

Hiking Trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

  • The Guadalupe Peak Trail offers a challenging but rewarding hike, leading to the highest point in Texas. From the summit, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • The McKittrick Canyon Trail meanders through a scenic canyon, boasting colorful fall foliage and an abundance of wildlife.
  • The Devil’s Hall Trail takes hikers through a narrow slot canyon, featuring towering rock walls and unique rock formations.

For those seeking a camping experience in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, it’s important to note that the developed campgrounds in the park do not have shower facilities. However, the park provides a true wilderness experience, allowing visitors to disconnect from modern amenities and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Dinosaur Valley State Park: Walk in the Steps of Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Valley State Park, located near Fort Worth in the South Texas Plains region, offers visitors a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Spanning over 1,587 acres, the park is a haven for dinosaur enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

One of the park’s main attractions is the five track site areas located on the bed of the Paluxy River. Here, visitors can witness dinosaur tracks preserved in the rock formations, giving them a glimpse into the prehistoric past. These tracks are visible when water levels are lower in late summer, allowing for an awe-inspiring experience.

Aside from the dinosaur tracks, Dinosaur Valley State Park also features fiberglass dinosaur sculptures that were part of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. These life-sized replicas add to the park’s immersive and educational atmosphere.

For those interested in camping, Dinosaur Valley State Park offers primitive campsites surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. It’s an excellent opportunity for families and camping enthusiasts to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse themselves in the great outdoors.

The Unforgettable Tracks of Dinosaur Valley State Park

“Walking among the dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park was a surreal experience. It’s incredible to think about the creatures that once roamed this land and left their mark. The park’s dedication to preserving and sharing these tracks is truly commendable.” – Sarah, dinosaur enthusiast

Campsite Information at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Campsite Type Availability Amenities
Primitive Campsite Available No water or electric hookups

Colorado Bend State Park: Wilderness and Rock Climbing

Colorado Bend State Park, located along the Colorado River, is a pristine wilderness offering a wide range of outdoor activities. The park is a heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, with its extensive network of hiking trails that traverse the stunning South Texas Plains. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are trails available for every skill level, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

One of the main highlights of Colorado Bend State Park is its 400 caves, making it a popular destination for cave exploration enthusiasts. Guided tours are available for those who want to delve into the depths and uncover the secrets of these hidden natural wonders. Additionally, the park is renowned for its incredible rock climbing routes, providing a thrilling adventure for climbers of all abilities.

For those who enjoy camping under the starry night sky, Colorado Bend State Park is the perfect place. The park offers primitive campsites, allowing you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. With its remote location, the park is a paradise for stargazing enthusiasts, offering regular nighttime stargazing events where you can marvel at the wonders of the universe above.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or simply a chance to reconnect with nature, Colorado Bend State Park has something to offer everyone. From hiking and rock climbing to cave exploration and stargazing, this rugged wilderness is a hidden gem in the heart of the South Texas Plains.


Are there family-friendly camping sites in the South Texas Plains?

Yes, the South Texas Plains region offers family-friendly campgrounds with various amenities and activities for families to enjoy.

What types of camping options are available in the South Texas Plains?

The South Texas Plains region offers a range of camping options, including RV camping with full hookups, tent camping, and hike-in primitive sites.

What outdoor activities can families enjoy in the South Texas Plains?

Families can engage in a variety of outdoor activities in the South Texas Plains, such as hiking nature trails, fishing in designated spots, and stargazing at International Dark Sky Parks.

Where can families go for fishing in the South Texas Plains?

The South Texas Plains region offers designated fishing spots where families can enjoy fishing activities.

Are there stargazing opportunities in the South Texas Plains?

Yes, families can enjoy stargazing in the South Texas Plains region, especially at the International Dark Sky Parks.

What are some popular attractions for families in the South Texas Plains?

Families can explore attractions such as climbing the tallest peak in Texas, swimming in the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, and visiting the Paluxy River to see dinosaur tracks.

Is it necessary to book campsites in advance in the South Texas Plains?

Yes, it is recommended to book campsites ahead of time, especially during peak seasons, to ensure availability.

Can families go horseback riding in the South Texas Plains?

Yes, some campsites in the South Texas Plains region offer options for families to go horseback riding.

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