Texas offers loads of interesting places, landscapes and outdoor activities - yet I’ve visited the state only a few times, with just one visit to a few parks in the Austin area. A few photos from this trip are below. This blog is to explore potential tent-friendly campsites and attractions or points of interest that we’d like to visit and experience as a family.
As usual I began my search by looking at maps. Then I requested a Texas Travel Guide from the Texas DOT website. The catalog is full of information, but overly geared towards fee-based attractions and urban amenities. I want to experience natural Texas and usually do this by camping so I searched through the Texas State Parks website. Again, full of information but lacking “insider information” for tent campers. I had a tough time determining which campgrounds might be best for tents and not overrun by RVs.
I ordered the Texas version of The Best in Tent Camping guidebooks, this one authored by Wendel Withrow. Having read several of these for other - eastern - states by author Johnny Molloy, I knew it would provide the insider tips I needed as a tent camper. Which sites have shade trees and some privacy? Which sites may not be level or have sufficient space for two tents? Which sites have the best views or best access to lakes or streams? Which sites are well away from RVs? In this book Withrow answers these and other questions. The author selects only the campgrounds he feels are best for tent campers scattered across the state, does not limit the choice to State Parks, and groups campgrounds into geographic regions across Texas. The book has a diagrammatic map showing all sites in the book, but it was hard to read and I wanted a web-based map where I could zoom in and pan around. So, I built one…
I’ve created a pin map of campgrounds recommended by Mr. Withrow using a codebase by Chris Arderne, a data scientist working from Oxford, UK. This map functions by pulling all data from a Google sheet on the fly. The default pin color for sites is green. Sites I find particularly interesting are orange, and parks which my research indicates have been closed since the book publication are red. Enjoy!
Click to play with my Tent-Friendly Texas Campgrounds Map displayed below.
Sources for more comprehensive information on these sites include:
- Texas Parks & Wildlife
- Texas Public Campgrounds Directory
- Corps of Engineers Lakes & Rec Areas
- US Forest Service
- Discover the Forest
- Sabine River Authority
- reservations online at Recreation.gov
- river tubing & swimming
- sightseeing nature and geologic features
- dark sky sites
- landscape photography
- Waterpark, such as Schlitterbahn
- Downtowns, shopping centers
- River tubing
Ah…river tubing is the point of overlap. That will help my trip planning.
Eventually we hope to have something to report here about our travels. For now, it’s still just a dream.