As a family who loves to camp, fall and winter are our favorite seasons to head into the great outdoors and pitch our tent at some of the most beautiful places in Texas.
And let’s face it – camping in the heart of summer (or even when it gets too warm in spring) can be unbearable in a tent. So when the calendar opens up for the fall and winter months, I quickly pencil in a few weekends for us to pack up and find our zen at our favorite Texas camping sites.
By this time of year, the mosquitoes have evaporated, the fire serves us heat, and the weather is actually quite gorgeous. It also helps that we typically don’t visit campgrounds with water features – who really goes in the water in the winter time? Instead, we opt for places with good hiking trails and a bit of dramatic scenery for our daily hikes.
Before You Go
If you’re a regular camper in the Lone Star State (or you imagine becoming one), we recommend purchasing a Texas State Park Pass. The gems of our state are protected through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, so it saves you money to buy the pass and waive the park entry fees.
Whether you’re staying in a cabin, renting a teepee, or sleeping in the family tent, get ready to visit our favorite Texas camping destinations for the fall and winter!
Head for the hills to enjoy a few nights camping in this beautiful mountainous area of West Texas. With gentle mountains that undulate and are lined with green shrubbery and trees, this area of Texas is a welcoming change from the hustle and bustle of city living.
Hike into or ride your horse to the primitive campsites located in the beautiful Limipa Canyon Primitive Area. Daily adventures include hiking and mountain biking up ridges and down valleys, and they have the “best little bird blind in Texas.” And when night falls, soak up the stars with beautiful night skies, thanks to the lack of light pollution in the surrounding areas.
Check with the park ranger before building a fire, as there could be a burn ban in effect. If that is the case, layer up, and don’t forget extra blankets for night time.
The name pretty much says it all. In a state whose flora doesn’t exhibit the same transformation of color like other states do, this park is truly phenomenal. Like a mirage emerging from the craggy hills of Central Texas, Lost Maples is home to a special stand of Uvalde big tooth maples. Of course, the prime time to see these lost beauties is in the fall, which also makes it a competitive time to reserve a camping spot.
This Texas camping destination offers a “Fall Foliage Report” to keep you updated on what’s happening with the leaves, but even if your camp reservations don’t fall during their spectacular display of color, the 10 miles of hiking trails and dramatic canyons make it a year-round beautiful place to camp and explore. Reserve these sites early, and look forward to a spectacular weekend of fall camping.
If you haven’t made it to Arizona’s Grand Canyon just yet, don’t worry – you can stay in Texas. Otherwise known as “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” the Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, and it’s located in the Texas Panhandle, near Amarillo.
A gorgeously colored landscape of dramatic formations that rise and fall from the Earth, Palo Duro places you in the center of what feels like a wild west movie. Campers have access to hiking trails, bike trails, or horseback riding through the multicolored rocks and layers of the canyon. The park is dotted with hoodoos, those surreal desert formations otherwise known as rock towers. .
Then again, you don’t always have to be on the move. At a place like Palo Duro, throw a blanket on the ground and be still for a while to take in the magnificent beauty that surrounds you.
If the quirky west Texas art town of Marfa in the high desert plains is calling your name this winter, then head to El Cosmico. The lodging options are fantastic: you can pitch a tent, stay in a Sioux-style teepee, or rent a safari tent, scout tent, or a Mongolian yurt!
Cook your meals in the outdoor kitchen and dining area as a way to meet fellow campers, or head to the hammock grove to enjoy a respite in this sleepy, one-stoplight town.
Check out their mercantile store, where you’ll pick up one of the best “hotel” style robes on the planet. I know this, because I own one.
While El Cosmico isn’t the total solitude offered by your typical state park, it’s a rarity to find a cultural blip on the map like this, where you can camp within town limits, rent bikes to help you tour the city, and then visit a nearby world-renowned, minimalist art hub.
Over 112,000 acres in size and more than 40 miles of lush trails wind their way through the protected and heavily forested Big Thicket area in Southeast Texas. It’s a special place brimming with biological diversity: you’ll find cacti growing near long leaf pines and bald cypress trees growing near southern magnolias.
While there are no developed campgrounds, the Preserve does allow for primitive camping for those that like to get off the beaten path and head into true solitude for their Texas camping experiences.
Paddling options are available for avid canoeists and kayakers, and hunting is allowed in 6 designated areas of the Preserve during the fall hunting season.
Check out more Texas Treasures in The Light Lab!