- Lyanne Guarecuco Special to the American-Statesman
When you live in Texas, is there such a thing as weather that’s not ideal for camping? Whether you’re into summer adventures near the water, or you’re more about the amazing views and campfires as the weather finally begins to cool down, our list of the best campsites for both tents and RV's around Austin has something for every camper, every season and every level of expertise.
Cost: $20 to $24 per night, plus a $6 daily fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: Established as a state park in 1976, McKinney is a great place to swim, camp and explore. It’s merely 13 miles from the Capitol, but the nine miles of trails, the access to the Onion Creek and its famous limestone ledges make it easy to feel as though you’re outside city limits. The park’s amenities include water, electricity with 30 or 50 amp hook-ups, picnic tables, tent pads, restrooms with showers, a fire ring with a grill, nine miles of trails to hike or bike, fishing, swimming and birdwatching.
Distance: Approximately 20 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $14 for adults 12 years and older and $6 for children per night. $14 per night for an RV camp site. For day guests, the costs are $7 per adult, $5 per child and free for children under four years old.
Amenities: Krause Springs seems completely unaffected by Austin’s drought history as it remains lush and green enough to feel like more of a rainforest than a 115-acre property in Texas. Established in 1955, Krause Springs is a privately owned property in the Hill Country perfect for swimming, hiking and camping. There are 32 springs on site feeding into both a manmade pool and a natural pool that flows into Lake Travis. Their amenities include extensive room for tent campers, 24 RV sites with water and electricity with 30 or 50-amp hook-ups, burn barrels for campfires, restrooms with showers, Butterfly Gardens and 115 acres to explore.
Distance: Approximately 50 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $11 - $23 per night, plus a daily $6 fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: Inks Lake is a consistent campsite to visit year-round since its water levels stay about the same throughout the year. With nine miles of hiking trails and easy access to Inks Lake, it’s the perfect campsite for dual land and water activities. Inks Lake State Park is also home to the Pecan Flats, a self-guided 3.3 mile trail perfect for hikers of all ages, and Devil’s Waterhole for swimming. Amenities include 200 campsites, 22 cabins (including 2 ADA-accessible cabins), water, electricity including a 20 or 50-amp hook-up, restrooms with showers, 9 miles of hiking trails, Inks Lake to swim, water ski, scuba dive, fish or boat in, waterfalls and waterholes.
Distance: Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $14 - $18 per night, plus a daily $7 fee for campers 12 and up. There’s also a Group Primitive Campsite that accommodates 75 people for $100 a night.
Amenities: Home to Central Texas’ famous pink granite dome, Enchanted Rock is one of the more popular campsites in Texas, since it’s the perfect place for an uphill hike with rewarding views at the top. Located near Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is known for its sunrises and sunsets, and amenities include 11 miles of hiking trails, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, picnicking, bird and nature studying, stargazing, geocache, unique rock formations, outdoor grills and restrooms with showers.
Distance: Approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $17 - $23 per night, plus a daily $4 fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: This park’s main attraction is its easy access to the Blanco River, and it is the ideal place to swim, canoe, kayak and fish in. It’s also one of the easier parks to navigate if you plan on camping with children, since it’s a smaller park with not as much hiking involved. Amenities include 29 campsites, water, electricity including a 30- or 50-amp hookup, restrooms with showers, sewer access for RVs, picnic tables, easy access to the Blanco River, some hiking, nature study, boating, fishing, and canoe and tube rentals.
Camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking, nature study, boating, fishing, tubing, canoeing
Distance: Approximately 1 hour from downtown Austin
Cost: $10 - $40 per night, plus a daily $5 fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: Known for its huge scenic limestone slabs, Pedernales State Park provides easy access to the Pedernales River for swimming, wading, tubing or fishing. This park also has numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking, which range in difficulty and distance. If you’re looking for some more mild adventure, this park also has a bird blind and a butterfly garden to explore. Additionally, the 10 miles of rugged trail for horseback riding (the park does not provide horses) set this park apart from others. Amenities include 69 campsites, water, electricity with a 30-amp hook-up, restrooms with showers, a fire ring with a grill, swimming, horse pens, well water for horses, and picnic areas.
Distance: Approximately 1 hour from downtown Austin
Cost: $10 - $20 per night. Annual permits are available, too.
Amenities: Pace Bend provides some of the most stunning views of Lake Travis since it’s located along the Lake Travis shoreline. This wildlife preserve has access to limestone cliffs, rocky coves, trails for hiking and biking, and plenty of opportunities to spot animals like whitetail deer, raccoons, foxes, and birds in their natural habitat. Pace Bend is the ideal place to set up camp in time to watch one of the most beautiful views available of the sun setting over lake Travis. Amenities include 20 campsites with water and electrical hook-ups, over 400 primitive campsites, showers, outhouse restrooms, barbecue grills, boat ramps, swimming areas, and trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.Distance
Cost: $12 - $20 per night, $60 a night for a large campsite which accommodates 100 people, plus a daily $3 entrance fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: Palmetto State Park is notorious for its dwarf palmettos and its easy access to the San Marcos River. Even though it is on the smaller scale, this park is fully equipped to accommodate all kinds of water activities: they have four-person pedal boat rentals, one-person kayak rentals, one-person paddle board rentals, tube rentals, and fishing boat rentals. Amenities include tent and RV sites, water, electricity with a 30 or 50-amp hook-up, cabins for rental, geocaches, trails for hiking and biking, fishing, birdwatching and a picnic pavilion with an air conditioned kitchen.
Distance: Approximately an hour and 15 minutes away from downtown Austin
Cost: $10 - $75 per night.
Amenities: This is one of the larger state parks with 32 miles of routes for different levels of difficulty regarding hiking and biking. The access to caves provides a unique outdoor experience for anyone looking for a campsite with all kinds of different activities, and the views of the Colorado River are hard to beat. Amenities include primitive campsites, larger campsites to accommodate groups between 16-48 people, hiking, biking, caving, fishing, swimming, paddling, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, guided tours, 32 miles of multiuse trails, and access to the Colorado River and Lake Buchanan.
Distance: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $20 - $24 per night, plus a daily $3 fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: This park is a little less “rough and tough” and a lot more of a recreational experience with a nine-hole golf course and a park pool. It’s the perfect escape for large groups with access to its Group Recreation Hall, furnished with a full kitchen. Additional activities include picnicking, camping, fishing, hiking and nature study. Amenities include water, electricity hook-ups, picnic tables, restrooms and showers, a barbecue pit, swimming, and golfing including equipment and golf cart rentals.
Distance: Approximately 45 minutes from downtown Austin
Cost: $15 to $24 per night, plus a daily $7 fee for campers 12 and up.
Amenities: There is no better place to gain access to the famous Guadalupe River than through the miles of river frontage this park offers. The Guadalupe River State Park is known for its lush landscape and swimming areas, where campers can swim, fish, tube and canoe. There are also 13 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding with scenic views of the Guadalupe River. Amenities include 85 campsites with water and electricity hook-ups, primitive camp sites, swimming, four miles of Guadalupe River frontage, fishing, tubing, canoeing, 13 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, picnic areas, geocache and bird watching.
Distance: Approximately one hour and 30 minutes from downtown Austin