Now and then, we all experience an innate urge to leave the city and the noises and people that come with it behind and look for some peace of mind under the soothing sounds and sights of an open starry sky. If you live in Austin, Texas, you don’t have to go far to experience this peace and quiet – between fishing, lakes, sports, and everything in between, you have all the ingredients for the perfect family vacation covered.
Before you can start packing to leave for your next adventure in the great outdoors, you might want to scroll down below and check out these locations, considered to be some of the best places to camp near Austin.
1. Sandy Creek Park
Stretched out over a 25-acre area of land, this park is a quiet and tranquil camping ground located next to Lake Travis. Because of the lack of electricity and big metropolitan set-ups, this park may be considered a ‘primitive’ one, but it is a great place to go to when you need to unplug from the world and get away. Beautiful and quiet, this is the place for the kind of camper who likes to lounge around and take in the serene and gorgeous views.
2. Lockhart State Park
If the purpose of your visit is to have fun activities throughout, you’re better suited towards a family vacation at the Lockhart State Park. With activities such as hiking, swimming, and even playing golf, you and your loved ones are going to make the most out of this fun-filled trip. The best thing about the Lockhart State Park is its famous BBQ – a delicious dish that you need to try out at least once during your visit there.
3. Stephen S. Austin State Park
With a huge variety of campsites, this park is your go-to when you are looking for a fun break from the everyday hustle-bustle of your city life. If you are going with a large group, you can use one of their group campsites that can host up to 60 people at a time, or as a family, you could rent out some of the cabins or mini-cabins available. At the Stephen S. Austin State Park, you get the chance to interact with nature, making this one the best places to camp in Austin, Texas.
4. Inks Lake State Park
This beautiful park is a stunning escape from city life, but features several activities that can bring the vacation energy up a notch! The beautiful sunsets are perfectly matched with the Inks Lake – where because of constant sea levels, you can go for activities such as fishing and even scuba diving, with equipment available for rent yearlong! If you’re there, another place you can visit within the park is the Devil’s Watering Hole, the perfect place for some downtime with friends, just swimming around and enjoying yourselves fully.
5. McKinney Falls State Park
For the more organized camper, this state park can be a great way to relax and de-stress from the pressures of everyday life. With almost 80 camping sites available, campers can choose between sites where water and electricity are available, regular sites, and even camping cabins for the whole family to stay in. One site in this park that you need to visit is the five-century-old Cypress tree, Old Baldy, representing 500 years of history all in one place.
McKinney Falls State Park, located in Texas, US, is a fantastic place to visit and enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family. It is located just 13 miles from downtown Austin at the region between Williamson Creek and Onion Creek. This Falls State Park offers various activities ranging from biking, swimming, birding, hiking, wildlife observation, camping and picnicking along the banks of the Onion Creek.
This Park got its name from the businessman, Thomas F. McKinney, who was also a horse breeder and a rancher, and it began operation on April 15, 1976. It is situated on a 641-acre of land, and it features more than 80 campsites, including hike-in and developed sites. It also has a group dining hall, group shelters and screened shelters.
The park has so many designated hiking trails, with key features such as the scenic lower and upper falls located in Onion Creek. Additional features include:
•Flora: There are sycamores, pecan trees and bald cypress sitting at the banks of the Creek, with Ashe juniper, live oak, and mesquite found on the dry uplands. It contains other trees such as Red Oak, Wafer Ash, Chinaberry, Mexican Plum and Texas Persimmon. The roads are usually lined with wildflowers during spring.
•Fauna: Raccoons, white-tailed deer, and Fox squirrels are common all over the park. There are also many species of birds like the Northern cardinal, Carolina wren, Northern Mockingbird, Blue jay, Greater Roadrunner, Painted bunting and Mourning dove. Alligator snapping turtle, Blanchard’s cricket frog, and Red-eared slider inhabit some places in and around the creeks. The park also contains various species of snakes including the Texas indigo racer, Texas rat snake and Western diamondback rattlesnake.
•Historical sites: This State Park also features an overhang used by Native Americans for shelter for many years called the Smith Rock Shelter, along with remains of McKinney’s gristmill, stone house, and horse trainer’s cabin.
Things to do at the Park:
Since the park is located just close to the capital, you can engage in many activities such as camping and hiking on the mountains, and swimming and fishing in Onion Creek. While fishing in the Onion Creek, beware of the flow because it can flood with rainfall. Before visiting, contact the park for creek conditions, and go through the swimming safety tips.
You can stay in one of the campsites or rent one of the remodeled cabins. There’s also a primitive camping site for nonprofit sponsored youth groups to use.
There are halls available for group gatherings. The hall contains a sitting area, kitchen, and an outdoor grill.
•Biking and hiking:
Bike and hike for about nine miles of trails. The hike and bike trail has a strong surface, ideal for road bikes and strollers. You can take a Rock Shelter Trail to see the camping sites of early visitors or participate in a virtual tour using the interactive trails map.
•Fishing and swimming:
Fishing in the Williamson or Onion creeks does not require any license. You can hire fishing fear for use to be returned afterward.
Programs such as geocaching, atlatls, and birding are available. Kids can become junior rangers by completing tasks to earn badges.
From its inception, the park became a popular swimming spot. There was a subsequent ban on swimming in April of 1981 after complaints were tendered in by some school children of having nausea and cramps after swimming. Further test showed that the water contained a fecal coliform count of 2600/100 ml of water, way over the 200/100 ml count maximum. Most of this was as a result of the rainwater running off from the urban areas located upstream the park, resulting in the run of oils, animal waste, and dirt into the creeks. Another factor was the Williamson Treatment factory.
There was an eventually lift on the ban in June 1993, because the treatment plant was shut down, and a citywide hazardous chemicals collection program was launched. There is still a restriction on swimming, especially after heavy rains because of the potential of having high fecal counts.
In order to maintain the cleanliness of the park, these items are not allowed in the lower and upper falls area:
•Alcohol or glass
•Food and snacks
•Thermal bags coolers or ice chests
•Speakers or loud music
•Pets in the water
•Footballs, soccer balls, Frisbees or other balls
6. The Enchanted Rock
The Enchanted Rock is known around the country as some of the best places to camp in Austin, Texas, and a fascinating landmark that has attracted tourists for long. The Enchanted Rock stands out impressively because of the beautiful dome that watches over Texas. However, the surrounding park is much more than just that – with the potential to do things like hiking, bird watching, stargazing, and just enjoying an afternoon picnic with your friends, the Enchanted Rock is a great place to bring family and friends. Obviously, there is a climb involved, so make sure you are prepared and hydrated, but the view at the end of the climb makes it all worth the struggle and the wait.
7. Cedar Breaks Park
This gated park promises families with nothing but complete fun – you can choose from more than sixty campsites, each one provided with water, electricity, a picnic table, a grill, and even a fireplace. If you’re not a fan of all the dirty work that comes with camping, you can get one of these sites and take the time to relax during your trip. Promising beautiful views of the Lake Georgetown, Cedar Breaks is the perfect place to bond with family and make some great memories.
As one of the oldest State Park operating in this region, the Bastrop State Park isn’t just a great place to create memories. The long age of park means that almost every aspect of the park is dripping with history. The Lost Pines is one such example – this is a three-mile extended area with pines, which are stunningly beautiful, and will make for some beautiful pictures fit for your next Instagram post. With various kinds of campsites, cabins, and even hiking spots available, this park has something for everyone.
9. Pace Bend Park
10. Arkansas Bend State Park
11. Blanco State Park