In recent weeks we have been compiling Crua’s essential guide to camping in Texas. First, we explored the different camping seasons of Texas. We took a closer look at the different climates in the sometimes extreme conditions of the Lone Star State. We gave some of our best tips for surviving the blistering hot summers. We also looked at the different activities available and which activities are best to do in each season.
We then had a detailed examination of the State Parks of Texas. Through our own experience and that of our Crua community, we recommended some of the best state parks to visit in each of the seven regions of Texas.
Now it is time to look at the nuts and bolts of camping in Texas. We want to give some tips, must knows and other essentials that you need to consider before going tent camping in Texas.
Buy Your Texas State Parks Pass
If you are staying in a Texas state park, you will need a park pass. A pass is good for one year and includes unlimited access to over 90 state parks. Your pass is good for you and any other guests that are riding in the same non-commercial car. If you are entering by boat or other means, you can bring up to five guests with you who are entering in the same way. Your pass will also give you discounts of up to 10% on most retail and rental items in Texas state park stores.
Making Reservations For Tent Camping in Texas
Almost all reservations for Texas state parks are not site-specific. Most parks operate on a first come first serve basis. You can place a site on hold but the park will only allocate the site upon check-in. A reservation does guarantee you a site ahead of those that do not make reservations however. When you make a reservation, the parks will require a deposit. This amount equates to the site fee for the first night of each site reserved.
Reservations for most campsites can be done online at tpwd.texas.gov/business/park_reservations/. However, there are exceptions as some reservations must be done over the phone. These include group facilities and most ADA facilities. Once you have decided what state park you will be staying in, it is good practice to look up if a camp pass is required in advance and also if reservations can be done online. The last thing you want is niggly issues to be taking away from what should be an amazing camping adventure.
Dealing With Wildlife When Tent Camping in Texas
Texas state is full of majestic flora and fauna. On a camping trip in Texas there are wonderful opportunities for bird watching and wildlife watching alike. We don’t tend to focus on the dangers of wildlife when camping. Most animals, deadly or otherwise, would rather just leave you alone. The old adage that they are “more afraid of you than you are of them” applies in most instances.
However, when tent camping, it is good to be aware of the dangers and prepared for whatever comes. After all, every once and a while, a camper can accidentally find itself in the presence of a startled creature protecting its territory. In our guide we wanted to have a quick look at some of the animals that are good to be aware of:
Scorpions - There are over a dozen species of scorpions in Texas. This means that in some cases, they can be hard to avoid. Although there are some poisonous scorpions in Texas, most are not poisonous. Stings from scorpions are not completely uncommon. The good news is that, even when untreated, the reaction to a sting tends to only last for a very short period. The best way to treat a sting is to apply ice as soon as possible. This will reduce swelling and burning.
Mountain Lions - Like in many areas of North America, mountain lions or cougars do habitate the regions but are very allusive. Mountain Lions tend to only prey on smaller animals. For this reason it is best to ensure that children do not wander off far alone in areas where cougars are present. This is another reason why we recommend staying in groups when possible.
Rattlesnakes - When hearing war stories of camping in Texas it is common to hear a mention of rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are often misunderstood and do not go out of their way to confront humans. However, if you stumble upon one by accident there is a possibility they could bite.
More often than not these are warning bites which usually occur when accidentally trampled upon. The rattlesnake is venomous but they can decide exactly how venous their bite is.
If you spot a rattlesnake, it is best to leave it alone and not anger it. If you do get bitten by a rattlesnake you should call emergency services right away.
A Texas Camping Essential Item - A Well Insulated Tent
An often overlooked element in any camping trip is what you would expect to be the most obvious - the tent itself.
Tent camping in Texas is one of the most impressive ways of seeing the great state. When you pitch your tent under the stars of the Texan night sky, you are following in the footsteps of seasoned campers and cowboys alike. What better way to spur you inner adventurer. If you are on a once in a lifetime trip in Texas, you should ensure that you have equipment that will add to the overall experience.
As highlighted in our feature on seasonal camping in Texas, there are great extremes when camping in Texas. During the summer it can get uncomfortably hot in parts while temperatures can drop below freezing in winter. It is important that you have a tent with great insulation. Your tent needs to be capable of keeping you warm in winter and cool during the summer months.
Tent camping in Texas is a bucket list item for many adventurers. If you decide on taking the plunge make sure you have all the essentials checked off the list. Be aware of camp pass requirements and make reservations ahead. Give the dangers of wildlife respect without becoming too cautious. Finally, pack a great tent and experience the Lone Star State the way it’s meant to be experienced.