Best Cool Weather Camping Spots in Texas
So I was looking around my facebook feed when I came across an article named 'Top 10 Places to Camp In Texas.' Naturally, I was intrigued. I begrudgingly clicked on it, and to my surprise, it seemed most likely typed up and ranked by someone who confuses 'nature walks' with actual hiking. So, here are the hands-down, absolute best places in Texas to pitch a tent and enjoy nature. It's a shockingly short list.
Most people don't know this, but much of the Northwest and Panhandle region of Texas (including OK's panhandle) sits atop a giant, perfectly flat layer of sedimentary rock. While the US Geology department calls this part of the country the 'Llano Estacado,' those in the know call it the caprock. Literally, land capped off with flat rock. AKA - The Great High Plains.
If you've ever driven the Texas panhandle, you'd notice that once you get on the caprock, you can see the horizon is perfectly level in every direction. It's quite stunning.
Not letting natural resources go to waste, Texas scored pretty big by making the most of what they had into several different destinations. The first, and closest park being Caprock Canyon State Park.
While it doesn't offer the picture perfect views you'll see in the other two destinations we'll talk about, it's generally considered the best hiking destination in Texas. Between manageable terrains, an abundance of wildlife, and views you'll only find in that particular state park, it's where most campers will go to get away for a weekend.
Give or take 100 miles to the North of Caprock Canyon, you'll find Palo Duro Canyon... AKA - The Grand Canyon of Texas.
While it's technically the same system as Caprock Canyon, (which is the state park on the Southern boudary) Palo Duro Canyon is an awe to anyone that views it. It's located just South of Amarillo, and access to this natural wonder is easy as driving a vehicle down some winding, loud, pebble and tar Texas roads.
While mostly known as a 'day' destination, there is a ton of free access to the park. Not just for hiking though... You're more than welcome to bring a mountain bike and hit the trails, bring a kayak and test the waters, or head South to more open areas with the 4x4. Camping is welcome even though officials will try to press you into one of their fantastic cabins.
While the weather is nice there pretty much year round, the best time to take it all in is November through February.
They always say everything in Texas is 'bigger,' and parks are on the same plane. Big Bend National Park is a massive park that seems almost endless. It stretches 118 miles along the Mexican border, down the banks of the Rio Grande. It's also just about the coolest place to pitch a tent in the lower 48.
From biking to hiking, river trips or just driving excursions, Big Bend offers just about everything you'd want to see. Diversity of plants, from basin dwelling lush green vegetation up to high desert vistas more liking to Joshua Tree.
If you're going, plan for a full day for driving both there and back.
This is where the other three destinations on the list fall completely off. The Guadalupe Mountains are the pinnacle of Texas beauty.
Located just across the state line from New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe is like nowhere else in Texas.
Miles of dunes, hundreds of cliffs, sweeping meadow vistas, miles of trails, perfect bodies of beautiful azure waters, deep caverns for the daring to explore, and a rich history you can touch and feel. It's very ideal for any adventurer.
There aren't many words to describe Guadalupe. Even those who spent years visiting the park are still left somewhat speechless. The best way to know is to visit.
Fair warning though, December through February, it's brutally cold at night... April through August is equally hot... Plan accordingly in the small window nature allows.