Free camping in Texas

Free Camping in Texas

Are you searching for the best free camping spots in Texas? If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. 

Even though Texas is the second-largest U.S. state, there aren’t many free campgrounds in it. I’m not talking about interstate rest stops or Walmarts – I’m talking about pleasant spots with beautiful sights and smells meant for recreation. 

I have 14 such locations to share with you. With just a little preparation and planning, you can have an unforgettable outdoor adventure at any of these places!

How Do I Find Free Camping Sites in Texas? 

Thanks to resources such as iOverlander and Campendium, finding Texas-based campgrounds where you can pitch your tent or park your RV and enjoy nature doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Both of the two aforementioned resources provide hefty databases on free camping spots and make finding them as easy as it gets. 

Furthermore, both iOverlander and Campendium heavily rely on user-submitted reviews and information. Camping enthusiasts can inform future visitors on where to fill up fresh water or dump tanks, as well as comment on the general condition of the campgrounds and the roads leading up to them. 

So, as far as I’m concerned, these resources are a pretty good place to start if you’re looking to spend a couple of nights in the Texan countryside – or the seaside – without charge. 

14 Best Free Texas Campgrounds 

Most camping enthusiasts don’t want to pitch their tents just anywhere – they’re looking for the best camping spots wherever they go. After all, everyone wants to spend their outdoor vacation in the most beautiful place possible. 

If you count yourself among such individuals, you’re in luck: I’ve collected the 14 best places in Texas where camping is completely free. Let’s dive right into it! 

1. Fort Anahuac Park

Fort Anahuac Park
Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Located just 40 miles from downtown Houston, the city of Anahuac is known as the “Alligator Capital of Texas”. Don’t let that discourage you, though – the city’s park offers unforgettable (and completely safe) waterfront camping. 

What is more, there’s a myriad of outdoor activities to enjoy here. Once you’re done stretching out and relaxing, you can play ball in the park, fish from the pier, or visit some of the park’s famous historical markers. 

While there are no hook-ups at Fort Anahuac Park, there are picnic areas, covered pavilions, and restrooms with showers. There are also plenty of trash receptacles located throughout this 40-acre park – make sure to use them and leave your camping spot exactly as you found it. 

2. Schreiner City Park

Schreiner City Park
Photo by Larry D. Moore via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

As I mentioned in the intro, there aren’t many free camping options in Texas, particularly in the state’s western half. That’s precisely what makes Schreiner City Park so great – although it’s within a walking distance of downtown, it’s still one of the best places to boondock in this part of the Lone Star State. 

Situated on the South Llano River, Schreiner City Park provides waterfront camping spots, grills, bathrooms, a basketball court, a disc golf course, and a seasonal pool. There are also multiple water spigots located throughout the park, all of which are easily accessed. 

Some of the park’s boondocking spots are in the open, while some are tucked away among the trees. The last thing worth mentioning here is that Schreiner City Park is dog-friendly, although you’ll have to keep your four-legged friend on a leash at all times. 

3. Magnolia Beach City Park 

Here we have yet another splendid waterfront campsite – Magnolia Beach City Park. This place is located just south of Port Lavaca, which is about 110 miles to the west of Houston. 

The greatest thing about Magnolia Beach City Park is that it allows boondockers to park their rigs right there on the beach and watch the waves rolling straight into their “front yards”. This campground’s shower and bathroom facilities are a dream come true for any boondocker – they are sparkling clean due to the fact that they’re rinsed on a daily basis.

If you’re looking for some peace and privacy, this is a great area to boondock. Magnolia Beach City Park is spacious enough for campers to spread out and enjoy some solitude and quietness right next to the sea. It offers breathtaking views of Matagorda Bay, it is rarely crowded, and, most importantly, it’s completely free!  

4. Fritch Fortress Campground 

 Fritch Fortress Campground 

Although it’s located on top of a cliff that overlooks Lake Meredith, Fritch Fortress Campground is technically not a waterfront site. Still, the view of the aforementioned lake makes camping here totally worth it. The lake itself is sort of a hidden oasis and a haven for migratory birds. 

Those who decide to camp here can expect grills, picnic tables, and covered pavilions. The boondocking spots are quite spacious (large enough for Class A’s) and are pull-offs from the road. The best – and the most important – facility at Fritch Fortress Campground is the modern bath house with flushable toilets and hot showers. 

So, if you’re into amazing sunsets and stunning cliffside views combined with having access to all the essential amenities, Fritch Fortress Campground is certainly one of your best options. I should also point out that this campsite has an excellent cellular signal. 

5. Bolivar Flats Free Beach 

Bolivar Flats Texas
Photo by Bettina Arrigoni via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Located on the Bolivar Peninsula – which is about 60 miles southeast of Houston – Bolivar Flats is very similar to the incredibly popular North Beach, which I’ll talk about next. However, Bolivar Flats is much closer to Texas’s general population and stands as a far more accessible boondocking option. 

To get here, I recommend taking a ferry from Galveston. Once you arrive, you will immediately notice that Bolivar Flats Free Beach features hard-packed sand: you won’t have to worry about driving or parking your rig. There are also trash cans and porta-potties, so make sure to keep everything clean. 

One really important thing to mention here is that, when coming to this place via Rettillon Road, you should keep in mind that camping on the right side requires a yearly permit that costs around $10. Everything on the left side is fair game, however. 

6. North Beach (Padre Island) 

North Padre beach

Those wishing to camp on astonishing sandy beaches overlooking the Gulf of Mexico should definitely consider heading over to North Beach. Situated on the Padre Island National Seashore, this place has some of the most amazing boondocking spots in the entire state of Texas. 

However, if you’d like to park your RV here, you will also need to be quite cautious – the experience can be intense. You have to be okay with your rig getting salty, and you’ll have to carefully monitor high tide. But even so, spending a couple of nights here is undoubtedly a gorgeously unique boondocking experience. 

You will find a sizeable dumpster at the access road. Also, at the entrance of Malequite Campground, you will be able to dump & fill up water. I should also mention that the park’s headquarters have free showers, and those can definitely come in very handy. 

7. South Beach (Padre Island) 

South Beach Padre Island

As you can already guess, this particular free campsite is also located on the aforementioned Padre Island, opposite of North Beach described above. And just like North Beach, South Beach also allows camping right next to the water – it’s a beautiful, unique, and free boondocking experience. 

However, you’ll have to be aware of the tide. Those who don’t pay attention to it could easily have their rigs stuck, and that’s certainly not a situation you want to find yourself in during a vacation. Therefore, do not set up camp during low tide upon arriving at South Beach. 

Here, you’ll have an unforgettable time on a beachfront property you’ve always dreamed of. There is only one limitation – one cannot boondock on South Beach for more than two weeks at once. Also, I would advise coming here with weather information in mind, since the cell service is pretty weak. And finally, keep in mind that South Beach gets quite crowded during summer weekends. 

8. Silverton Municipal Park 

There are several reasons that turn Silverton Municipal Park into one of the best free non-waterfront camping spots in the entire state of Texas. The city of Silverton is an extremely peaceful and charming place with a bunch of excellent mom & pop restaurants – you can always go there to recharge your batteries. 

And when it comes to the park itself, one can expect basketball hoops, tennis courts, and a nice playground for the kids. In other words, there’s something for everyone. The entire area is very well-maintained and one can stay there for up to two nights without having to register at the city hall. 

An important thing to mention here is that the city no longer provides electricity to those wishing to boondock in the municipal park. You will, however, have access to a water hydrant (which is located close to the aforementioned children’s playground) and a couple of trash cans. 

9. Mustang Island 

Mustang Island, Texas

Here we have yet another wonderful Texan island on whose beaches camping is completely free. Located right next to Padre Island, which I’ve talked about above, Mustang Island has about five miles of coastline featuring sand that is soft but still firm enough for most rigs to drive on.  It’s one of the most beautiful beach camping spots in Texas.

Here, you will find plenty of space for fun in the sun – you can watch the birds, kayak, fish, picnic, and, of course, swim and surf. In total, Mustang Island has 50 drive-up primitive sites and 48 electric and water campsites. There are also full restrooms and showers, as well as portable toilets along 2 miles of the coastline. 

The proximity to the city of Corpus Christi should also be mentioned: you can go there and visit USS Lexington, Texas State Aquarium, and much more whenever you want. Mustang Island is also close to the unique beach community of Port Aransas and the aforementioned Padre Island National Seashore. 

10. Brazoria Beach

A part of the county-run Surfside Beach, Brazoria Beach is yet another fantastic destination for boondockers. It is located about 50 miles south of downtown Houston and it provides plenty of space: it is more than suitable for folks with the largest of rigs. 

Besides the beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and the soothing sounds of the waves at night, Brazoria Beach also has incredible cellular speeds on all major networks. One can stay here for up to two weeks at once, which is, in my opinion, more than enough to enjoy this spectacular Texan beach. 

As I said above, Brazoria Beach is very wide, but it also features moderate tides: those interested in boondocking here won’t have to worry that much about having their RVs stuck. The last thing worth mentioning here is that this particular free campsite stands as one of the best options on the list for lovers of wildlife: here, you will see a lot of turtles, alligators, and birds. 

11. Spring Creek Park Campground 

Spring Creek Park Texas
Photo by Stedil via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Next up is Spring Creek Park Campground, which is located in the city of Tomball (just to the northwest of Houston). And while you can certainly park your RV or pitch your tent here for free, you will have to submit an online form in order to be able to do so. Doing that takes only a couple of minutes and definitely shouldn’t stop you from checking this place out. 

Although the park’s amenities – the restrooms and the bathhouse – are nothing to write home about, they’re fully functional and can be used whenever you need them. At the Spring Creek Park Campground, you will find eight concrete pads for RV parking, all of which are equipped with sewer, electric, and water hookups. 

There are only two drawbacks: one cannot stay there for more than a week and there’s not much privacy, especially when compared to the waterfront campsites described above. But if you’re looking for a nice boondocking spot in the Houston metropolitan area, this county-run campground is a pretty good option. 

12. Sea Bee Park 

The home to Sea Bee Park is the city of Abilene, which is situated some 200 miles west of Dallas. In this park, you will find four dry-camping campsites, as well as flush toilets. And that’s about it – Sea Bee Park is definitely not rich in amenities. 

However, it makes up for this lack of facilities with some truly unforgettable views of the nearby lake. It’s an excellent option for folks interested in water sports, as well as for all those looking for an accessible short-stay campground (you can stay here for up to two nights). 

Another thing worth mentioning here is that Sea Bee Park is very safe, as it is regularly patrolled by the police. Furthermore, it is very close to a grocery store and a gas station, and it also features a couple of covered picnic tables. So, getting some food and eating it right there in the park is as easy as it gets. 

13. Neches Bluff Overlook

Neches Bluff Overlook offers scenic views of beautiful pine-hardwood forests and can be found in Davy Crockett National Forest, which is situated some 100 miles to the north of downtown Houston. Besides the aforementioned views, this place also has a strong cell signal and offers quite a bit of privacy to boondockers. 

Those wishing to stay here can do so for up to two weeks, and they have to be self-sufficient – here, you will find no trash services or restroom facilities. If you really want to take a shower, however, you can do so in the newly renovated shower house at Ratcliff Lake Park, which is about half an hour of driving away. 

Both the campsites and the road leading up to them are big-rig friendly, and there’s a very strong internet signal. It goes without saying that Neches Bluff Overlook operates on a first come – first served basis, so if you want a really good spot, try to arrive there early (especially on weekends). 

14. Elephant Mountain WMA

Elephant Mountain Texas
Photo by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The very last free camping area in Texas I’ll be taking a look at is Elephant Mountain WMA (Wildlife Management Area), which is managed by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is located south of the city of Alpine, which itself is situated some 300 miles west of San Antonio. 

Once you set up camp here, make sure to take a couple of short walks around the campsite – if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see bighorn sheep, javelinas, and other wildlife. And make sure to plan ahead and bring everything you may need since there’s no cell signal at Elephant Mountain WMA. 

I should also point out that you’ll need to register at the self-registration station in order to be able to boondock here for free. And when it comes to the facilities, the only one you can expect is a single composting toilet. 

The Takeaway 

Night camping in Texas

While there aren’t many free camping areas in the Lone Star State, the ones that are there are usually completely free to camp at. 

Most of the places listed in this article offer some pretty gorgeous views and have the most essential facilities – it’s up to you to choose which one of them suits your personal needs the best.

Check post on the best dispersed camping spots near Flagstaff and our guide to dispersed camping near Buena Vista as well.