Gulf shores, tall pines, and lazy bayous—experience the wild side of Space City.
Houston, the fourth largest city in the USA, might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think “camping.” But look beyond the high rises, freeways, and urban sprawl, and you’ll find plenty of places to escape to nature. With an annual average temperature of 69°F, the Bayou City offers outdoor adventure for campers throughout the year. Once you’ve taken in the cultural scene, head out of town to your secluded campsite at night.
West Houston The Brazos River winds through the countryside west of Katy through hardwood trees and upland swamp. Go hiking and biking along the riverbanks at Stephen F. Austin State Park, where the campground includes both tent camping and full hookup RV sites. With camping sites throughout the area, you can pitch your tent in a pecan orchard, or park your caravan at a working cattle ranch or horse rescue farm. Lake Houston and Northeast Head northeast from Houston along Highway 59 to find one of the city’s favorite gateways to the outdoors. The 4,500-acre Lake Houston Wilderness Park protects wooded parkland along the shores of the eponymous lake, with 20 miles of hiking and bike trails, including 13 miles of equestrian trails for horseback riding. Continue northeast to Big Thicket National Preserve, just north of Beaumont, for backcountry camping amid the longleaf pine forests. Far North Drive north along I-45 past Lake Conroe and you’ll encounter a chain of state parks and national forests. Get out on the water of the lake in Huntsville State Park, or explore the vast woodlands of Sam Houston National Forest (home to three developed campgrounds). Lake Livingston State Park, just east of Huntsville, protects one of the largest lakes in Texas. The giant pines, hardwoods and swamps of Davy Crockett National Forest sit just a bit further north (two hours from downtown Houston). Southwest and the Gulf Coast For beach camping and bird watching, head south toward the Gulf of Mexico. Keep an eye out for alligators and diverse birdlife along the swamp trails of Brazos Bend State Park. Setting up camp in or near Galveston Island State Park gives you easy access to the city with its shopping, dining, beaches, and stellar sunsets.
Summers in the Houston area can get hot and humid, so unless you’re RV camping near the cooling waters of a beach or lake, it’s best to plan your trip for fall, winter, or springtime. While winters tend to be mild, temperatures can drop at night, so pack layers for camping in December and January. Rainstorms occur throughout the year but tend to be most common during the Atlantic hurricane season (June to November).
- Having your own transportation is a must in and around Houston, especially if you plan to explore outside the 610 Loop. - Remember to bring plenty of insect repellent, as you’re likely to encounter mosquitos year-round. - During hunting season (November to January), backcountry camping is restricted within some state and national parks. Check ahead of time. - Most Texas state parks require reservations for both daytime visits and overnight stays, so be sure to book in advance.