In our Texas camping guide, we’ve highlighted a large number of great camping spots. In addition, we have written previously about some of the most popular camping spots in Texas’ most popular state parks.
Each of the campgrounds on my other lists has its own personality and collection of amenities. All of them, though, have one thing in common: a price tag.
This cost is fairly cheap and doable for short-term visits. However, the daily fees might quickly mount up if you are planning a long-term camping excursion, especially for larger family tents. This is especially important if you’re on a trip with your family.
It is possible that seasoned campers on a budget are considering their alternatives. It’s not always easy to secure a free campsite for your hiking tent, as most hikers learn the hard way. As a result, we came up with the idea of compiling a quick guide to free camping in Texas.
How Free Camping in Texas Comes at a Cost in Texas
If you’re looking for free camping in Texas, you might expect to pay a price. Some facilities are only available at state-run parks or privately owned campsites.
The majority of Texas’s campsites may be found in the state’s more developed areas. You’re roughing it in more ways than one when you go free camping.
More self-reliance and forethought are required. Water, sewage systems, garbage cans and picnic tables are often not available. Parking, bathrooms, and connections may be available at some free public campgrounds, but don’t put your money on it.
You’re taken off the beaten path when you go free camping. In most cases, this means a lot more work, but a lot more fun as well.
Going free camping also necessitates familiarity with the areas you intend to visit. All over the United States, including Texas, there are several federal, state, and municipal entities that administer the property.
As well as publicly held lands, there are privately owned lands and federally owned lands. A metaphorical minefield of rules and regulations must be traversed in order to achieve success.
If you park your automobile in a remote area and assume that no one would notice, you may be wrong. You need to know where to stay and where to avoid. The last thing you need is for your free camping excursion to turn into an unlawful one.
Before Setting Up Camp, Here are a few things to keep in mind
In Texas, there are several sites where you may legally pitch a tent for nothing. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before setting out to any Texas campground.
As a first consideration, be aware that time limits will almost certainly apply regardless of where you choose to stay. This usually means that you can only stay in one area for a maximum of 14 days at a time. In order to prevent any problems, make sure you know exactly what limits apply before you decide to set up your tent.
If you need a new tent, check out our Coleman Hampton 9 Person Tent review.
Keep in mind the “Leave No Trace” guidelines when you’re out and about. You must remove any rubbish from the premises before leaving. This is a good option to keep in mind.
The longer time you spend in a hotel, the more rubbish you generate. Fortunately, there are several free campsites in Texas that are close to a dump station.
You must also leave the area in the same condition in which you found it. There will be no taking of anything you find, no making campfires, and so forth.
Where Can I Go to Legally Camp?
Texas is one of the most challenging states in which to find free campgrounds. When the United States desired Texas to join the union, this was the way things were done.
Only if most of the Republic of Texas’s undeveloped territory could be kept would Texas agree to the terms of the treaty. This implies that most of the time, you are on someone else’s territory.
For those seeking free or almost free camping options in Texas, the following are three options to consider:
You can search for wildlife management areas (WMAs) maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Wildlife Division.
There are almost 714,094 acres of land in 47 Wildlife Management Areas. Overnight camping is available in 21 of these WMAs. There are certain WMAs in Texas that don’t allow campers to park. For a complete listing of WMA camping areas, see this page.
There’s no better way to guarantee peace of mind than to consult with a local ranger. In BLM (Bureau of Land Management) administered areas or Forest Lands, there may be free parking.
The easiest way to get in touch with a National Forest or BLM office is to phone or stop by. The rangers at the park are more than ready to assist you and send you in the right direction when it comes to camping.
The rangers are the ideal individuals to ask for information on the area because they know it best. Everyone in Texas, especially in the West, is quite welcoming, and they’ll go out of their way to assist you.
Free camping, or the pursuit of free camping, has grown in popularity in recent years as a recreational activity. Free camping locations may be found through a wide variety of web tools. If you’d want to construct your own list, try FreeCampsites.net or Campendium.
Wildlife Management Areas in Texas Have Some of the Best Free Camping Spots Around.
WMAs in Texas are unquestionably the greatest places to go free camping. For the most part, camping aren’t available at any of the national parks. A little cost is required to get a camping permit.
An annual permit for Texas WMAs is only $12. ” This is essentially free, unless you have a religious objection to paying for camping.
Located in Big Bend Country, Elephant Mountain WMA and Black Gap WMA are both excellent places to camp for free. Hunting chances abound in both, and both are close to Big Bend National Park, one of the most picturesque in the United States (see out our hunting tents).
Make careful to carry your own drinking water to Elephant Mountain’s campsites. The wildlife viewing area, on the other hand, is wheelchair accessible, and the campers include composting toilets.
Do keep in mind that 25 miles of the Rio Grande pass through the Black Gap WMA if you enjoy river camping. There are roughly 30 rustic campsites in the park. Picnic tables and shelters may be found at several of the campgrounds.
Only one paved road goes to the campground, which is why it gets so little use. One of the greatest free campgrounds for individuals who like to avoid crowds.
Gulf of Mexico
Free camping is simpler to obtain in South Texas, near the Gulf Coast. Fishing and paddling enthusiasts will delight in the Tony Houseman WMA and Matagorda Island campsites. They are both open all year round.
Fire rings and picnic tables are provided, but you are also welcome to bring your own fire pit. Observing animals is made easier thanks to the expansive beautiful terrace.
Connecting with nature on Matagorda Island is easy. Visitors to the location will not be able to flush their toilets, drink water, or use their cars. You’ll have a blast as long as you have everything you need on the boat with you.
Sunday Beach may be found at the area’s northernmost reaches. It’s a great place to unwind, fish, and take in the local wildlife.
The Pineywood area, unlike much of Texas, has a wide variety of free camping options. Old Sabine Bottom WMA, North Toledo Bend, Moore Plantation WMA, Alabama Creek WMA, Bannister WMA, Alazan Creek WMA, and Caddo Lake WMA are just a few of the state parks where you may set up your tent for free.
Caddo Lake is probably the most beautiful of the WMAs. It’s a great location for lakefront campers. You don’t need a fishing license to enjoy the lake’s 70 different types of fish.
The permitted camping spot is located on the west side of the lake, surrounded by a magnificent bottomland hardwood forest. RVing is not permitted in this area, as should be obvious.
Read our Michigan Dispersed Camping Guide as well.
Campgrounds with RV hookups that are free to use
City Park in Levelland
Despite the fact that Levelland City Park isn’t the most picturesque place to camp, it does provide top-notch amenities. Electric and water hookups are available. Near the campsite, you’ll find dumpsters and a disposal station. For three nights, you may camp for free at Levelland City Park.
City Park of Dunas
Free RV campgrounds in West Texas are hard to come by, but they are attainable. There are few campgrounds like Dunas City.
Parking is a breeze because to the flat spaces that dot the area. Dumas City Park provides access to a dump station, potable water, and free electrical hookups for RVs and campers. Here, the first night is on us. After the first night, you’ll only be charged $10 per night at this low-cost campground.
The Park at Stinnett
If you’re looking for a free campsite in Texas for RV camping, Stinnett Park is a great option. Electricity and water hookups are available at each site.
There is a restroom at the City Hall within a short distance. The nearest petrol station is a short walk away, while the nearest food shop is a few kilometers away. For the next three days, you can stay here for free. Paying for a permit is the next step.
Magnolia Beach is a great place to pitch a tent or park an RV for the night. There is a lot of wind and noise in this area, so be sure to pack an insulated tent for noise reduction.
The camping site has shower and bathroom facilities. Parking won’t be an issue because the beach is so large. Hookups, on the other hand, are not available at this campground.
The beach in the north end of the city
RV camping in Texas may be a terrific experience at Padre Island National Seashore, which is open year-round. The beach is available all year round because to the pleasant climate.
North Beach has most of the services you require. On the access road, there’s a big dumpster. A trash station and free water are available at the Malachite Campground’s entrance. The beach is only a few kilometers away.
Near the park’s administrative center are free showers. Fortunately, the South Padre Island resort town is on the same island and has everything you could want.
It’s good to know that this is a pet-friendly campsite if you frequently travel with your pets.
Schreiner Park in the Center of Town
It’s a terrific place to fish (bring your fishing tent) and camp, located on the shores of the South Llano River in Schreiner City Park. There are flush toilets, drinking water, barbecues, a basketball court, a disk golf course, and a seasonal pool to use as amenities and facilities.
You may set your camp right on the water’s edge. A camping hammock is an excellent addition to any campground that has trees. For a taste of the city’s past, you may visit downtown.
Check out our post on the best dispersed camping spots near Telluride as well.
In Texas, where can I park my RV?
The following are a few of the greatest places to “Boondock” in Texas:
Schreiner Park in the Center of Town
Beaches in Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore
An amusement park named Sam Rose Collins
Is it expensive to set up camp in one of Texas’ many state parks?
In Texas, you can expect to pay anything from $15 to $25 per night for a campsite. It is possible to discover campgrounds that price less than $10 per night.
Purchasing a Texas State Park Pass is well worth your while if you frequently camp in the Lone Star State. 89 state parks are included in the $70 fee. It is possible to use the Texas State Park Pass for a whole year.
Is it possible to camp at a Texas state park overnight?
Overnight camping is permitted in the majority of Texas’ state parks. Some require you to secure a camping area ahead of time, while others do not.
Unfortunately, free camping in Texas is not easy to come by. Preparation, knowledge of rules, and safety should always come first.