Thursday, June 14, 2018

Best Places to Camp in Texas Each Month of the Year

Guadelupe Mountains National Park

It is possible to hike, camp and backpack year round in Texas. Our winter is mild, spring is temperate, summer is somewhat hot, but fall is fantastic. While it is possible to spend time outdoors all four season, I've compiled a month-to-month list of places to visit based on my experience and preferences. I've taken into consideration factors like the crowds, festivals, weather, rain, heat, water, insects and even flora (such as poison ivy). So here's my list.

Caddo Lake State Park and Sam Houston National Forest 
Reason: Caddo Lake is a unique ecosystem which includes the lake, bayous, wetlands and cypress forrests. Sam Houston is a vast expanse of piney woods with an abundance of wildlife. At this time of the year there is less rain, cooler weather, fewer insects and less poison ivy. You may not be able to jump in the lake, but you'll still be able to paddle, fish and explore the cypress forests.

Seminole Canyon State Park

Seminole Canyon State Park, Lake Amistad and Judge Roy Bean Museum
Reason: Sink into the canyons, view ancient artifacts, swim in the lake and discover a little bit about Texas tall tales. The Rock Art Rendezvous Festival only happens once a year during this month - check with the Witte Museum for info about tours and the festival. Also there is cooler weather and less crowds at this time of the year.

Yuca plant in bloom

Guadelupe Mountains National Park and Monohans Sandhills State Park
Reason: Hike in the high desert at Guadelupe or get your some sand between your toes at Monohans. The weather is more temperate and the flora are just starting to bloom. Bag the peak of Guadalupe Mountain and you'll have reached the highest point in Texas. The Monohans Sandhills State Park is nearby as well as Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Enchanted Rock State Park and LBJ State Park
Reason: Listen to the big rock talk to you as the sun sets at Enchanted. Learn about a Texas Legend at LBJ. Beat the summer crowds and enjoy the temperate weather. See unique rock formations, climb, explore a cave and see cactus in bloom. Full moon night hikes are always fun.

Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore
Reason: Bask in the sun or go for a stroll along the beach at Mustang or Padre. The weather is starting to heat up, so it's a great time to hit the beach. Mustang Island is a peaceful place. Padre Island National Seashore can be festive or isolated if you have a 4x4 vehicle that can travel farther down the beach.

Pedernales River

Pedernales Falls State Park
Reason: Walk on a river bed or swim in a water hole. You should expect hot weather, but there are plenty of shade trees and water holes available to cool off. You cannot swim in the area along the falls, but you can swim upriver or downriver or in one of the many water holes.

Davis Mountain State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, McDonald Observatory, Balmorhea State Park
Reason: Watch and listen to birds, travel back in time, gaze up at the stars and cool off in a natural spring. The town of Fort Davis puts on a truly Americana Fourth of July celebration. The weather may be hot, but you can stay at the Indian Lodge or cool off in the spring fed pool at Balmorhea. At night check out the Star Party at the observatory.

Colorado Bend State Park, Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Caverns State Park
Reason: Fish along the river, seek a waterfall or go deep into a cavern. During the heat of the summer it helps to be close to cool water or cool caves. Swim, fish or relax in the water and find some shade during the hotest part of the day. Or duck into the caverns to cool off.

Pecos River

Devil's River State Natural Area
Reason: It's remote, it's pristine, it's one of those places that are legendary, but few people have actually visited. It may be warm, but you'll be surrounded by pristine water. Best to explore the Devil's River in a canoe, kayak or SUP.

Caprock Canyon State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Reason: Canyons are cool and these are some of the best in Texas. The soft light of fall blends well with the colors of the canyon. See unique red rock formations, explore canyons or just watch Bison graze on the prairie.
Review Caprock Review Palo Duro

Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park and Bandera
Reason: Hike to your heart's content, then mosey into to town with the other cowboys. Time it right and you'll have the chance to observe the fall foliage. On any given Saturday you will likely encounter some real cowboys walking around Main Street in Bandera.

Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park
Reason: Climb in the mountains, paddle down the river or get lost in old western town. Not too hot, not too cold, just about ideal weather and smaller crowds make it the perfect time to visit the sky islands in the desert.

That's my list. What's your favorite area to explore in Texas?

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