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The Hill Country is well-known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities, so why wouldn’t you want to extend your stay with some local camping?
It’s hard to put clear borders on the Texas Hill Country, but it’s an area that sits on the Edwards Plateau in the central part of the state and spans about 31,000 square miles. Its name comes from its landscape of rolling hills, but it’s also loaded with lakes, rivers, and springs.
It’s a popular spot to embrace nature – and not just for those making day trips from Austin or San Antonio. Camping options abound, attracting local and out-of-state travelers alike.
If you’re looking to camp in the Hill Country, you can’t do much better than one of these spots. With destinations near beautiful bodies of water and incredible geological formations, you can find your perfect spot to detox from the city.
1. Inks Lake State Park
Why you should go: Famous for its spring wildflowers and gorgeous sunsets, Inks Lake State Park has nearly 200 campsites as well as some cabins. It also has the Devil’s Waterhole, a famous swimming hole that’s not scary like its name suggests but is popular with cliff jumpers.
Pros: The water level in the lake stays pretty constant (unlike the nearby Lake Travis) so regardless of what time of year you visit, you should be able to enjoy activities like swimming, kayaking, paddling, and boating. It’s even possible to scuba dive at this park!
Cons: There are no pets allowed in the cabin or primitive camping areas. If you are staying in a place where you can bring your dog, they have to be kept on a six-foot-long leash.
If you go: 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet, TX 78611; 512-389-8900
2. Hill Country State Natural Area
Why you should go: Hill Country State Natural Area has a picturesque landscape that changes from hills to grasslands and canyons. Most of this area was once part of a ranch, but these days it’s a peaceful place to hike, with nearly 20 miles of trails.
Pros: This natural area is particularly popular with horseback riders, and they even have an equestrian campsite and a day-use equestrian area with a water trough and hitching posts – you’ll need to bring your own horse though! If you don’t have your own, you can contact local companies for guided rides.
Cons: All of the campsites available here are primitive campsites (20 total), and they require hiking in. That said, some do have water and toilets nearby – chemical or vault.
If you go: 10600 Bandera Creek Road, Bandera, TX 78003; 830-796-4413
Related read: 12 Must-Visit Texas Hill Country Towns
3. Krause Springs
Why you should go: Many people know Krause Springs as one of the state’s most enchanting swimming holes, but it’s also possible to camp here. They welcome RVs and tent campers, but they only take reservations for RVs (there are 24 RV sites).
Pros: The best thing about staying here is getting to be so close to the springs themselves. There are 32 in total, and you can swim in their clean, cool waters, which hover at around 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, in both the natural pool and manmade pool. There’s also a small butterfly garden to explore.
Cons: Sorry, but no pets are allowed here! Also, it’s worth mentioning that all the showers here use fresh water from the spring, so don’t expect anything steamy…but honestly, that could be a plus depending on which season it is!
If you go: 424 County Road 404, Spicewood, TX 78669; 401-236-7554
4. Pace Bend Park
Why you should go: With nine miles of shoreline, Pace Bend Park is looped by a bend in the Colorado River and characterized by tall limestone cliffs and scenic rocky coves. They have a mixture of primitive campsites (45 in total) and improved campsites (20 that have water and electrical hook-ups).
Pros: You can get your thrills here in a variety of ways. There’s cliff jumping if you’re feeling brave, mountain biking on the trails, and lots and lots of boating. If you want to swim without boats motoring around you, you can head to Mudd Cove, Kate’s Cove, or Gracy Cove.
Cons: These campsites can get booked out quickly so reserve in advance (they open about a month ahead of time) and bring cash or a checkbook because they don’t accept credit card payments at the entrance booth.
If you go: 2805 Pace Bend Road North, Spicewood, TX 78669; 512-264-1482
5. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Why you should go: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is famous for its namesake “rock” – a gigantic granite dome that spans 640 acres and reaches 1,825 feet above sea level. It’s a fun challenge to hike up to its summit since the park compares it to climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. Come on calf muscles!
Pros: Along with hiking almost 11 miles of trails, you can go climbing and bouldering here. There are 55 campsites as well as a group campsite that can hold 50 people – all are walk/hike-in tent camping only. Many of the visitors to this natural area don’t stay overnight, but if you do, you’ll be treated to some beautiful starry skies.
Cons: Enchanted Rock is one of the Hill Country’s gems, so it’s very popular. Reservations are required on weekends, school breaks, and holidays, and are still highly recommended otherwise.
If you go: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624; 830-685-3636
6. Pedernales Falls State Park
Why you should go: Pedernales Falls State Park gets its name from the long stretch of limestone slabs that are literally hundreds of million years old. You can hike on and all around them, in addition to checking out a variety of other hiking trails.
Pros: There are 69 campsites with electricity plus some primitive campsites to choose from. “Each campsite had plenty of space, so you weren’t too close to neighbors but not too isolated either,” one visitor remarked. Swimming, paddling, cycling, and horseback riding are all available activities as well.
Cons: This park gets busy, especially on holiday weekends, so reservations are key. Save yourself the disappointment of getting turned away, and plan your trip well in advance.
If you go: 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830-868-7304
Related read: 7 Charming Glamping Spots in Texas Hill Country
7. Colorado Bend State Park
Why you should go: Colorado Bend State Park is home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Texas – Gorman Falls – which is reachable by a three-mile round-trip hike. It’s also where you can go on wild cave tours, swim in spring-fed watering holes, and paddle down a slow-moving river.
Pros: With so many things to see and do in this park known for its natural beauty, it makes sense to stay overnight to get the most out of your visit, and with over 40 campsites to choose from, it’s much easier to snag a spot here than at other campgrounds.
“I love how it feels like so many different places depending on where you are in the park,” said one camper. “Down by the river is so green and lush and then up top is savannah-y.” There are also loads of armadillos roaming around!
Cons: The amenities here are limited so be prepared. There is potable water, but not at every site, and just one outdoor shower for rinsing. There are no flushing toilets, no hookups at any of the sites, and no RV sewage disposal facilities.
If you go: 2236 Park Hill Dr, Bend, TX 76824; 325-628-3240
8. Guadalupe River State Park
Why you should go: You have four miles of river to play in at Guadalupe River State Park. You can embark on a five-mile paddling trail, go swimming, or go tubing. Whatever you decide, enjoy the gorgeous views of the bald cypress trees and limestone bluffs standing tall on the riverbanks.
Pros: You can pick your favorite way to camp here with a variety of campsites to choose from – some have water and electricity, some have just water, and ready-to-use Tentrr campsites even feature safari tents. For fewer crowds, you can explore the Bauer Unit, a remote day-use area with more challenging trails.
Cons: The river banks and bottom are pretty rocky, so unless you want to be slipping or hobbling around you should bring some good water shoes. Also, the river’s water level can vary so it’s a good idea to check with the park before your visit.
If you go: 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070; 830-438-2656
Related read: 10 Gorgeous Texas Hill Country Cabin Rentals
9. Mountain Breeze Campground
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Why you should go: Tucked in a bend in the Guadalupe River, Mountain Breeze Campground is extra nice in the summertime when you can go tubing and rafting. You can camp in a tent, RV, or cabin, and they also have some “cool buses” you can rent, which are refurbished yellow school buses.
Pros: This campground has tube and raft rentals, and you can bring your own too, you’ll just need a shuttle wristband. For more to do, there’s some good trout fishing, a sand volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. They also regularly host concerts and other themed events, so watch their calendar.
Cons: This campground is known as a bit of a party place so if you like that, great, and if not…maybe choose a different spot for your tranquil getaway. They even advise not bringing children on holiday weekends.
If you go: 201 Mount Breeze Camp, New Braunfels, TX 78132; 830-964-2484
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