Mustang Island State Park

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About Mustang Island State Park

Sand, surf, sun, and sea turtles -- Mustang Island State Park has got everything you need for a good time! (except maybe a beach chair. And sunscreen). Paddle the 20 miles of over-water trails in your kayak on the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail, ogling at the oodles of fish swimming below. Hold sand castle contests on the park’s five miles of coastline, and at night, come back to spot massive sea turtles laying their eggs in the damp sand -- if you’re lucky, you may even spy the smaller endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle, which is only found off the shores of Mexico and Texas! Take your bike for a spin in the sand along the shoreline, then retreat to one of the many picnic shelters nestled in the sand dunes to pig out. Once your stomach settles, take a dip in the salty gulf water, buoyed by your high spirits -- and maybe a water noodle or two. Trust us, for a good time call Mustang Island.

Campgrounds in Mustang Island

Mustang Island Campground

1. Mustang Island Campground

At Mustang Island, you don’t have to cut your beach visit short when the sun goes down -- just sleep in the sand! Okay, you’ll actually be sleeping...

Sarah
Sarah: Mustang Island is a great place for beach camping. They do not have designated sites, you just drive right onto the beach and...
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Hipcamper Sarah

Mustang Island is a great place for beach camping. They do not have designated sites, you just drive right onto the beach and pick where you want to pitch your tent. You should not have trouble keeping good distance from your neighbors, which gives you a sense of having your own private beach! Disclaimer though to some cars with low clearance..you may get stuck in the sand! Rangers are on hand to pull you out though in case it happens!

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Hipcamper Ryan

Actually, the previous tip is incorrect. Mustang Island SP is like big parking lot behind the dunes for RVs. You can camp on the beach and it only requires a $12 yearly beach parking sticker for your vehicle., but it is unrelated to Mustang.

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Hipcamper Lisa

Mustang Island SP offers camping in a developed camping area directly behind the dunes, OR primitive beach camping (review left by Ryan Jordan below is actually incorrect). SP entrance and camping fees apply to both. While there are plenty of people, it's a nice alternative to the more crowded (& dirtier) beaches of nearby Port Aransas.

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Hipcamper Guy

We had a great experience at Mustang Island State Park. The beach was clean and there was plenty of space for a private campsite. In fact, it was as if we had the entire beach to ourselves. My girls loved the freedom of accessing the surf and sand directly from our camp. You can see some highlights from our trip here... https://vimeo.com/channels/texasstateparks/140013238

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Hipcamper Leanna

We've camped twice at MISP. The first was in July 2013. The sand was so hot it burned the pads of our feet but we didn't mind at all! We originally reserved a spot in the numbered campsites not realizing you cannot see the ocean because of the dunes. If you have an RV it's great but we opted to move to the primitive sites directly on the beach. We arrived on a Wednesday and loved the quiet seclusion. However by the weekend the beach was overflowing with day use guests. Don't worry though, they all seem to clear out just in time to enjoy a tranquil sunset and dinner by the campfire. However, it's the sunrises that are really spectacular...wake early and enjoy.

Hipcamper Molly

Mustang Island is a great spot to enjoy the beach. It's clean, quiet, and always has plenty of space. There are shower spickets on the beach, so you can rinse off if needed, as well as porta-potties. Every time I've been, it's been a bit windy at night. So be prepared for some flying sand.

History of Mustang Island State Park

Mustang Island was named for the wild horses that roamed the island for hundreds of years. No one is sure how the mustangs got here. Spaniards might have brought them, or perhaps they swam from a shipwreck.

In the 19th century, ranches began infringing on the mustangs’ habitat. By the late 1800s, the herds of wild mustangs had disappeared from the island.

Karankawa Indians were the earliest known inhabitants of Mustang Island. Fish and shellfish, small game and local plants kept them healthy and well-fed year-round.

French explorer Jean Beranger came to the island in the early 1700s while scouting for a colony site. He was the first to record seeing Karankawa here.

Alonso Álvarez de Pineda first mapped this section of the Gulf Coast in 1519.

In 1747, Captain Joaquín de Orobio y Basterra landed here and trekked overland to a bay that he named San Miguel Arcangel. That bay was renamed Corpus Christi by Diego Ortiz Parrilla, who explored the coast in 1756.

Settlers began farming and running cattle, sheep and hogs on the island in the mid-1840s. The island was hard to get to and didn’t have much drinkable water, so few people settled here.

A small fort built on the island during the Mexican War (1846-48) guarded the entrance to Aransas Bay. During the Civil War, the Union Navy blockaded the coastal area, but no major battles occurred here.

The island has always appealed to survivors, dreamers and schemers. Some of those dreams and schemes have come to fruition.

A major construction project to dredge and stabilize Aransas Pass began in the 1880s and took nearly 40 years. This project allowed ships access to the Corpus Christi port. Corpus Christi is a major shipping hub today.

The island’s only town began as Mercer’s Dock; a hurricane destroyed it in 1875. It was replaced by a community named Mustang Island. Subsequent names were Ropesville and Tarpon. In 1911, the town’s name became Port Aransas.

A booming tourism industry developed on the island in the 1900s. Mustang Island is still a popular vacation destination.

TPWD bought 3,954 acres on Mustang Island in 1972 from private owners. The park opened in 1979.

The unique and fragile barrier island ecosystem is protected within the park’s borders. The park offers visitors outdoor recreation and programs on the nature and history of the area.