As the passion for the great outdoors begins to grow, many campers create their own camping bucket lists. A list of adventures they want to embark on, hikes they want to enjoy and out-of-the-ordinary lands on which they want to pitch their tent. For many campers, both experienced and newcomers, Texas holds a special draw. This draw might come from growing up with cowboy westerns or knowing the great history of adventure in the state. It could be due to the sheer vastness of the state and the sense of wonder that goes along with that. In many ways, Texas represents all we love about the great outdoors.
Over the past few weeks, we have celebrated camping in the Lone Star State through a series of post as we bid to create Crua’s Ultimate Guide to Camping in Texas. We highlighted the vastness of the state as we turned our attention to the regions of Texas. We’ve offered advice on how to prepare for Tent Camping in Texas and what to expect in each of the four seasons.
The sheer diversity of the great state of Texas is something we have pointed out again and again. There is no one way to camp in Texas. A camping trip to Texas could mean a peaceful family outing in the prairies. It could mean a stay by one of the many great lakes, sandy beaches or removing all amenities for a more primitive experience in the outback.
So far in our guide we’ve given our insights on all of the above and highlighted some of our favourite locations for each. Now we want to look at one of the more adventure-filled trips. This is our guide to river camping in Texas.
What is River Camping?
A quick note on what exactly exactly is river camping. River camping is pitching your tent by the river and enjoying all the activities that the river has to offer. A river-orientated camping trip can be one of the most fun experiences for any camper. This goes doubly for camping in Texas where there are some fantastic rivers with 15 major rivers flowing through the state. There are also a huge number of named streams and waterways. There’s a lot of choice for river camping in Texas.
There are activities a plenty in river camping. Obviously, if you want to stay put there is ample opportunity for swimming, fishing or exploring the riverbeds. However, day long trips downstream is what river camping is all about. In Texas, the majestic rivers are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. If you plan ahead, you can easily find places that rent equipment near a river campsite. Another much loved activity is tubing. What better way to explore a river and immerse yourself amongst the wildlife than by relaxing in your own inflatable tube as the water guides the way.
As we already mentioned when we examined the seasons of Texas - the Summers can sometimes get uncomfortably hot. River camping provides the perfect medium in those hot months. For many, having a river nearby and basing your adventure around the fresh waters is the only way to survive. It also creates an unending list of activities so you can really make the most of your trip.
Keeping Safe While River Camping in Texas
Although we highly recommend river camping and see it as the perfect active holiday, the river must be respected. This shouldn’t put you off but we wanted to highlight a few things to keep in mind.
Keep your distance - This word of warning is for your belongings more than anything. Especially if you are heading out for the day, make sure you set up camp a good distance away from the river. A rise in water level can sweep your belongings away or destroy them altogether. Make sure to keep everything on high ground and never camp on a dry riverbed.
Know the river - Once you have chosen which of the many wonderful rivers you want to camp by, it’s time to plan ahead. Make sure you familiarize yourself with streamflow-data and become aware of current water conditions. A good place to find out more is at the United State Geological Survey.
Let others know when venturing alone - Even if you are just breaking off from your group momentarily for a quick dip or to explore the riverbed, always let a member of your group know. This is especially important for younger members of your party.
Beware the dangers - River camping is a safe and fun experience once you know the dangers. Know what to do if you capsize a kayak, don’t sneak up on any wildlife that congregate by the river and practice caution when partaking in all water activities.
Top Locations For River Camping in Texas
With river camping, there is nothing stopping you from embarking on a primitive camping adventure. However, with so many major rivers going through state and national parks, river camping caters for all levels. A fully equipped campsite can heighten the enjoyment of a relaxing camping trip by the river.
Below are just a few of the majestic rivers of Texas at which to enjoy your river camping adventure in Texas.
Guadalupe River - Guadalupe River State Park
Located just a short drive from San Antonio and Austin, Guadalupe River is arguably Texas’s most well known. Four miles of river flows through the park and caters for a host of water activities. River revellers can swim, canoe, fish or go tubing. Off the river there are many beautiful hikes with stunning scenery all around. Equipment such as fishing rods can be rented from within the state park itself. A popular state park with a host of campsites to choose from.
Frio River - Garner State Park
The crystal clear, cool waters of the Frio River bring thousands of people to Garner State Park each year. In one of the most picturesque settings in all of Texas, the Frio River flows through the state park for almost three miles. River campers can enjoy the beautiful scenery and all the activities mentioned above. Paddle boating is just another activity that is immensely popular in this area. While embracing the crystal clear beauty of the Frio, you can set up camp in one of the many campsites available within the park.
Sabinal River - Lost Maples State Natural Area
The scenic Sabinal River meanders through the corner age of Lost Maples State Natural Area. This is not a state park so amenities can be slightly less sophisticated that the previous too mentioned. However, there is still over thirty standard campsites to choose from. The Sabinal River is one of the most beautiful waterways in the entire state. Each fall countless people come to see the renowned fall colour.
However, all year round river camping enthusiasts can take in the incredible wildlife and the breathtaking, steep canyon walls that highlight the river’s beauty. Activity-wise it’s much of the same. Lots of fun, lots of hikes, lots of activities and never enough time.
A camping adventure in Texas is intensified by pitching your tent near one of the many majestic rivers. Fresh flowing water adds something a little bit special to any trip. Our advice is to take in the scenery, embrace the wildlife and allow yourself to be open to adventure. There is nothing quite like river camping in Texas. Go out and enjoy it!