Yes, you can camp for free in Texas! Particularly on the beach, Texas offers great camping and RVing options for free or at a low price.
One of the most popular camping destinations is the Padre Island National Seashore — the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, stretching over 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats. There are also numerous unique low-cost Texas Hipcamp camping, glamping, and RV sites near Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Big Bend National Park, and the beaches with amenities such as toilets, swings, access to fishing, a hot tub and more (listed below).
The campgrounds on Padre Island National Seashore are open year-round and on a first-come, first-served basis. Options include three free campgrounds as well as two low-cost options with more established amenities. Camping permits are available at the kiosk of each campground entrance, and while there are no RV hookups available in the park, a dump station is available for all campers.
North Beach: Running along the Gulf of Mexico, this primitive camping site can be used with a free camping permit available at the park entrance station. The only cost to access the area is the park entrance fee. Campfires are permitted, and the closest flush toilets and cold-water showers are available about 12 miles away at the Malaquite Visitor Center. This campground is tent, van, trailer, and RV-friendly.
South Beach: South Beach runs from the south end of Closed Beach to the Mansfield Channel, along the Gulf of Mexico. The park entrance fee is the only cost required to access the grounds, and free camping permits are available at a self-registration kiosk at the park entrance. South Beach does not have paved roads, amenities, or reliable cell reception. The closest amenities are available at Malaquite Visitor Center. This campground is tent, van, trailer, and RV-friendly.
Yarborough Pass: The Yarborough Pass is located 15.5 miles south of the visitor center and only requires the park entrance fee to set shop there. The camping space is very primitive, with no facilities, and the nearest amenities from the entrance station are about 12 miles away. Bring your own tents or vans.
Malaquite Campground: The Malaquite Campground features 48 semi-primitive designated sites and is run on a first-come, first-served basis. For those not fully sold on the primitive campgrounds, this option offers flush toilets, cold-water rinse showers, and paved parking at $14/night. This campground is tent, van, trailer, and RV-friendly.
Bird Island Basin: At $8/day, the Bird Island Basin offers chemical toilets and the opportunity for windsurfing, kayaking, boating, birding, and fishing. The park does not take reservations and is open to tents, vans, trailers, and RVs. Flush toilets and cold-water rinse showers are available at the Malaquite Pavilion Bathhouse.
If you’re looking for a low-priced campsite with a few more amenities, Hipcamp has a number of excellent options starting at $15 per night. Most of these camps include toilets, and some also include other amenities such as fire rings, swings, and a hot tub.
1. Al’s Hideaway Primitive Camping: Northwest of San Antonio near Guadalupe River State Park, Al’s Hideaway is pet-friendly tent and RV camping with a toilet and outdoor shower and shared kitchen and pool. There are two creeks on the property: one is a dry creek that is seasonal, and one creek is spring fed. Al’s Hideaway has 17 acres for hiking. Nearby Medina Lake offers water sports and nearby Medina River offers float trips. $25 per night.
2. Low Gear Farmstead: Enjoy the silence of the San Saba River as you camp in a natural pecan orchard an hour’s drive from Enchanted Rock State Park. A compost toilet is provided, and you can bring your tents and vans. $20 per night.
3. Creekside Tent Spots @ Organic Farm: Hairston Creek Farm sits on 36 acres of valley land between Marble Falls and Burnet, TX. The BYOT (bring your own tent) campsite is sprinkled with pecan trees and wildflowers, and a plethora of activity options along the farm’s country road. $25 per night.
4. Richardson Creek: Though you do have to bring your own tent or van for this creek-side experience, the property includes a picnic table and toilet, and you can wander around and hike in enchanting woods and stunning orchards. $35 per night.
5. Lakeside Vineyard: Spend your mornings stepping out of a late model travel trailer only to find yourself taking in the views and scents of an operational vineyard. A 15-minute walk to Lake Ivie, trailer amenities include a bathroom, microwave, mini-fridge, and two-burner propane stove. $40 per night.
6. Dos Rios Camping: Explore the banks of the Llano River in the Texas Hill Country on this 3-site property. The property includes a fire ring, picnic table, and a composting toilet. $35 per night.
7. Aat the Ranch: A 2-hour drive from San Antonio and 4 hours from Dallas/Ft. Worth, this Best of Texas 2019 finalist stretches across 30 private fenced-in acres near Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park. You will have access to a hut tub, toilet, potable water, and best of all, privacy. It’s practically free at $15 per person per night!
8. The Goat Pens: Located on South Country Road near the Terlingua Ghost Town, the campsite is tent and RV-friendly. You can use it as a basecamp for Big Bend State and National Parks, or simply spend a remote getaway on the property among unique fauna and flora. $35 per night.
9. Beach Camp: Located on the Llano River near Inks Lake State Park and not too far from Austin and San Antonio, this tent and RV campsite is the perfect country road getaway. The property has electricity, a huge covered deck with a table and chairs, and direct access to fly fishing, wading, and tubing. $40 per night.
10. Texas Treehouse Swings Camp: Choose your own adventure from 4 glamping sites featuring a shared treehouse. The property is located 17 miles away from Surfside Beach and you can choose between a pop-up camper, a roof deck with hammock (to complement your own tent setup), or bring your own RV or van. Six swings and a treehouse are available for campers to share. $25 per night.
11. Bamboo Hideaway Campsite: Just 25 minutes outside Austin, near Bastrop State Park this magical campsite with twinkle lights and a hammock also offers picnic tables and a fire ring for $25 per night.
12. Happy Horse RV: Tucked between Austin and Bastrop, this quiet land hosts 6 RV and tent spots with hook-ups (but no dump station). Fire rings, outhouses, and hot water showers are also provided. $40 per night.
Now’s the perfect time to decide on your next camping and glamping adventure in Texas. Whether it’s a first-come, first-serve campground or a comfortable glamping location, #FindYourselfOutside (TIP: Get $10 off your first booking when you create a new account here and use the referral code JOURNAL)
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