Prime Camping Season at Texas State Parks

AUSTIN November 5, 2013 – If enjoying cool, crisp evenings snuggled up to a crackling campfire or simply pitching a tent beneath the stars with your family sounds appealing, then head to a Texas State Park where you can watch the leaves turn and shooting stars light up the heavens while making lasting memories.

Texas State Parks offer a variety of ways to stay overnight — comfortable cabins, screened shelters or the ideal campsite for your tent. Reservations fill up quickly during this popular camping season, so book your next overnight trip today.

Garner State Park remains far and away the camping leader in the Texas State Park system, recording 232,660 overnight stays during the past fiscal year that ended Aug. 31. Other popular state parks included in the Top 10 overnight destinations, in descending order, were: Inks Lake, Huntsville, Cedar Hill, Lake Livingston, Ray Roberts (Isle due Bois), Tyler, Brazos Bend, McKinney Falls and Goose Island.

For those who have never camped out or simply need to brush up on their rusty camping skills, sign up for one of the Texas Outdoor Family workshops being offered at a number of state parks for one and two nights. For only $65, families of up to six can receive instruction from park rangers on how to set up a campsite, cook outdoors and other valuable outdoor skills. Even better, all equipment (tent, lantern, cooking stove and dishes) are supplied, with the exception of food and sleeping bags.

“The cool, crisp fall season provides some of the most family-friendly camping experiences that Texas State Parks have to offer,” says Robert Owen, Texas Outdoor Family program coordinator. “We are seeing a growing number of families make special Thanksgiving memories, by cooking a turkey and all the trimmings at their campsite in a Dutch oven.”

To learn how to cook outdoors using a Dutch oven ( a cast iron pot), head to the Birch Creek unit of Lake Somerville State Park near College Station on Nov. 16-17 for a Texas Outdoor Family workshop featuring a special Dutch oven cooking event.

For five years now, the Texas Outdoor Family program has been teaching families not just outdoor cooking methods, but also how to camp efficiently and safely, learn new outdoors skills such as kayaking and geocaching, and how to follow established Leave No Trace camping practices. More than 3,500 families have participated in the educational state park campouts throughout the state since the program’s inception.

Most workshops begin on Friday evening and end Saturday, but in recent years, Texas State Parks have begun offering some two-night campouts and even comfort “camping” that utilizes park mini-cabins.

Reservations are still being accepted for the Lake Somerville campout and fall Texas Outdoor Family workshops at the following state parks: Estero Llano Grande in Weslaco (one of nine World Birding Center sites), Nov. 23; McKinney Falls in Austin, Dec. 7; and Lake Ray Roberts/Johnson Branch near Denton, Dec. 7.

A number of Texas State Parks also are hosting fall evening events to engage park visitors.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park will be hosting its popular Cowboy Campfire from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19. Pull up your favorite lawn chair and experience the music and poetry of the old time cowboys.

Houston area families can kick off their outdoor weekend festivities every Friday night at Stephen F. Austin State Park near San Felipe by attending an interactive ranger-led campfire program that introduces visitors to the nighttime sights and sounds of the Brazos River bottomlands. Head to the amphitheater to learn about the things that “go bump in the night.”

Other state parks are offering campfire programs to teach outdoor survival skills, such as how to start an outdoor fire, and how to cook over a campfire. To learn more, visit:

For a complete listing of upcoming Texas Outdoor Family workshops and information about Texas State Parks camping options, and tips on camping safety and etiquette, visit:

Customers can book reservations by calling the Customer Service Center in Austin at (512) 389-8900 or by using the online reservation system: For the best service, customers should call during afternoon hours Wednesday through Friday, though customer service representatives are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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