We like our Austin as weird as it gets, but sometimes it can get a little weirder and wilder where the blacktop ends near this slice of Texan heaven. Below are some excellent spots to get away from it all within two hours of Austin. From boating, fishing, and hiking to taking steps through Texan history, there’s sure to be something for everyone on your upcoming camping trip. Get out, get weird, and enjoy some excellent campsites within two hours of Austin.
Pedernales Falls State Park: Johnson City, TX
Pedernales Falls State Park offers a diverse amount of stuff to do, no matter what you’re into. The river rats in your group will enjoy tubing and kayaking on the Pedernales River. This limestone in the river is 300 million years old. It is in the Marble Falls formation, and part of the southwestern flank of the Llano uplift. Hike up to the Pedernales Falls from the scenic overlook at the north end of the park. Here, the river drops about 50 feet in elevation over a distance of 3,000 feet. Enjoy views of cascading water over tilted, layered stair steps of limestone. Other campers may get into hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, geocaching, bird watching, or riding horses. White-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, armadillos, skunks, opossums and, raccoons can be spotted throughout the park. Campsites with electricity hookups, as well as primitive sites, are available.
Situated on the calm banks of Granger Lake, Taylor Campground is a quiet and relaxing oasis for some fun, family camping. Only a quick 40 minutes from Austin, this it is located in the hills of the Texas Blackland Prairie. Fans of nature tend to enjoy the hiking trails available, while those with boats are welcome to set sail for a fun day on the lake. Taylor Campground is one of the top five destinations in central Texas for catching white bass and crappie. The campground features 48 camping sites, each with electricity and water hookups.
From golfing to geocaching, there are tons of opportunities for fun at Lockhart State Park, a quick 43-minute trip from Austin. The land was originally Native American territory with a rich history. In 1840 the Comanche tribe raided homesteads in the Guadalupe River valley and south to Matagorda Bay before retreating. Pioneers eventually settled in the area, and during the Great Depression, the land was made into a state park in cooperation with the New Deal programs of the time. Today visitors enjoy camping under the stars with sites featuring electricity and full hookup options available, biking, fishing, hiking, and even checking out excellent local attractions like the famous barbecue Central Texas has to offer.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built this quiet and relaxing getaway in 1934, and it’s been a local favorite ever since. Fishing enthusiasts come the for largemouth and Guadalupe bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and rainbow trout. The river is stocked with trout in the winter. No license is needed to fish from shore within the park. A big draw to the park is Falls Dam. Tubes for chilling on the water are available for rental from the store every day. Full hookup camping sites are available for rental, as well as cozy, screened-in shelters that offer a gorgeous view of the river.
The perfect place to get away without feeling too far away, Cedar Breaks Park is the ultimate destination for city folks looking to feel at one with nature (but stay within 30 minutes of home). Popular Lake Georgetown is a reservoir on the north fork of the San Gabriel River in central Texas. Boating is a fun option if it’s available, and fishing in the area is said to be excellent. Hikers will enjoy the San Gabriel River trail, which winds its way around Lake Georgetown dense juniper forest, hardwood bottomlands and prairie grasslands. Hunting for small game is permitted, but hunters must have a permit.
Government Canyon State Natural Area: San Antonio, TX
In the vast urban jungle that is San Antonio, an oasis into nature exists at Government Canyon State Natural Area. In fact, this 12,000-acre spot of wilderness even protects the city’s drinking water. Tons of activities are available for the entire family, including a massive playground and discovery trail for the kids. Tours of the historic Zizelmann house, which was built in the 1880s, are available, and make sure to check out 110-million-year-old dinosaur tracks along the Joe Johnston Route, a hiking trail in the camp. Campsites are only available on Fridays and Saturdays. They generally fill up fast, so make sure to book well ahead of time.
Founded in 1955, Krause Springs draws plenty of visitors every year to swim in its natural pool that flows into Lake Travis. It’s located a quick 30 miles from Austin and features primitive camping, as well as 24 RV sites with full hookups. The park is privately owned, so you must be a camper to swim. Make sure to show up early for swimming, as the natural pool tends to fill up quickly. A manmade pool is also available to guests on the property. An annual Fourth of July celebration takes place every year, and make sure to check out the butterfly garden on the premises.
Just an hour west of Austin lies Inks Lake State Park, a perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. As the lake’s water levels stay the same year-round, any time is a great time to check out some great fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Hikers will enjoy the park’s nine miles of trails across rocky hills and shady forests. Enjoy a gorgeous sunset in any of the park’s 200 campsites. Twenty cabins are also available for rental. During the swimming season, take a dip at Devil’s Waterhole. Explore scenic waterfalls Valley Spring Creek is running. A special youth group camping area is available for chaperoned groups of young people.
Wilderness and the great outdoors converge with rugged backroads to create a rejuvenating weekend retreat at Shaffer Bend Recreation Area. The 508-acre park is the perfect destination for the avid hiker or horseback rider in your life. Enjoy gorgeous scenic views across the park around the lake. Summer getaways mean plenty of swimming and fishing opportunities are available. The Colorado River is also close by. Wildlife watching opportunities are abundant, as the park is a preserve for cardinals, cedar waxwings, and some larger species of animals like whitetail deer and feral hogs. Camping sites are available but expect to rough it here, as they are primitive in nature.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area: Fredericksburg, TX
The ancient, mystical-feeling, pink, granite dome that rises above Central Texas in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has been greeting generations of visitors for thousands of years. Explore 11 miles of hiking trail around the park during the day, and stare up at the dreamy night sky in primitive camping conditions. Rock climbing and geocaching are also popular activities in the park. Rock climbers must check in at park headquarters. Your fur babies are welcome to come camping with you, but they are not allowed on many of the trails and must be kept on a leash.
Lake Bastrop South Shore Park is the perfect spot to bring a large group for a relaxing weekend full of canoeing, fishing, and swimming. The 176-acre park also offers mountain biking, mini golfing, fantastic bird watching, and watercraft rentals. The Osprey Point Hall on the property fits up to 120 people and includes air conditioning, heat, catering kitchen, fireplace, and a large smoker grill. Multiple camping options are available, including sites with full hookups, primitive sites, and cabins to bunk in. Try to snag a camping spot on the water for beautiful views and a little more privacy than other campsites in the park.
Maybe you want to get away, but just can’t go far? If you live in Austin, McKinney Falls State Park is practically in your backyard. Check out the park for some rugged beauty and the chance to get away while still easily getting back to your home if you forget your toothbrush. The swimming and fishing at Onion Creek is excellent. Get your bike out or hike the nine miles of trails throughout the park. Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail is excellent for strollers and road bikes, as its surface is paved. Get comfy for the night at 81 campsites and six newly-remodeled cabins.
Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway: Somerville, TX
Smack dab between Austin and Houston lies Lake Somerville State Park, an oasis for fishing, boating, hiking, and connecting with your friends and family in nature. The park is made up of four units. Birch Creek Unit is on the north side of the lake, while Nails Creek Unit lies on the southwest side. The 13-mile Lake Somerville Trail connects these two pieces of land, and on both sides, swimming, hiking, fishing, and swimming are available, with plenty of room in-between to explore. Both units offer watercraft rentals, and the lake can be explored by kayak, canoe, and motorized boat. Both electric and primitive camping options are available throughout the park.
Lost Maples State Park is known for the color of the leaves on its trees every fall, but year-round, the park is absolutely stunning. Visit any time of the year to see beautiful wildflowers, deep canyons, and scenic views of the Sabinal River. If you do happen to catch the park during the fall season, look for a special stand of Uvalde Big Tooth maple trees, a specialty of the area. Make sure to explore over 10 miles of hiking trails around the park. One path even takes hikers along the top of a 2,200-foot cliff. Both full-hookup and primitive campsites are available throughout the property.
Explore miles of equestrian, hiking, and biking trails on the vast grounds of Pace Park while you camp on the cliffs of beautiful Lake Travis. Both swimming and boating are allowed on the vast waters, and staff is available to answer questions and point the way to the best fishing locations. The area is home to a variety of interesting wildlife, including a number of whitetail deer, raccoon, foxes, ringtail cats, and dozens of bird species. Both primitive and full-hookup camping sites are available. Reservations are highly recommended for both kinds of camping.
[two_third_last]The founders of Ardor Farm claim that their land is a slice of heaven, and maybe you will, too. The farm was purchased in 2015 as an oasis for wildlife and a place to raise their Nigerian dwarf goats. Their aim is to sustainably farm the land while imparting wisdom upon others about the importance of good land stewardship. Visitors may enjoy more than three miles of hiking trails around the property. Camping areas come complete with a composting toilet, picnic table, fire pit, running water and cool showers outside. Glamping sites are also available with a full queen-size bed. [/two_third_last]
Located in the limestone bluffs of Texas Hill Country, Meridian State Park offers a tranquil space to unwind with family and friends. There’s much to explore within the park, including hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, and exploring historic structures that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps over 80 years ago. It is notable that a portion of one trail within the park is wheelchair accessible. A variety of campsites are available throughout the park. Whether you are interested in primitive camping, bringing all your friends to a group campsite, or hooking everything up with an RV, there are plenty of options for a cozy weekend in Meridian State Park.
Plenty of fishing, camping, and family fun awaits visitors on the shores of Lake Whitney State Park. A wide array of wildlife resides in the park. Keep an eye out for deer, raccoons, snakes, armadillos, and opossums. Wild turkeys and bald eagles have also been sighted on the grounds. In the mood for some prime fishing? The lake offers largemouth, striped, and white bass. Maybe you’ll catch a prized blue catfish! It should be noted that you do not need a fishing license to fish from the shore of a state park. Just a short drive from Whitney you’ll find three major cities, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco, in case the need for civilization strikes, but there’s plenty to do out here first.
Isabella Neff, fondly known by many as Mother Neff, donated the original six acres of Mother Neff State Park in 1921. Many years later, new generations are still discovering why this spot was so very dear to her heart. Camping, hiking, and geocaching are popular activities throughout the park. At the visitor’s center, guests are greeted with interactive exhibits about this beloved destination, as well as plenty of Texas history. Nearly 3.5 miles of trails are available for both beginner and seasoned hikers. Multiple campsites are available throughout the park, as well as a cabin that sleeps up to eight campers.
Just two hours northwest lies the unspoiled wildness of Colorado Bend State Park. There’s plenty to catch your attention out here, including marveling at the beauty of Gorman Falls, cooling off in Spicewood Springs, fishing or boating along the river, and testing your limits on 35 miles of hike and bike trails throughout the park. Check out a wild cave tour, but know you’ll get dirty along the way! Young campers may complete activities from the visitor’s center to become a Junior Ranger. Primitive and group sites are available for campers of all expertise.
On 50 acres of Texas Hill Country land, Braun Oaks Campground offers an oasis to experienced and beginner campers alike. Explore elm and oak tree forests with a plethora of trails that cross the property. There are many opportunities to view some local wildlife. Don’t be surprised if you run into a roadrunner, but maybe without a coyote on his tail. While some campsites are accessible by car, others require some hiking to get to. Enjoy the outdoors, and feel free to bring your friends, as large groups are encouraged.
East Eden Farm, a working, sustainable farm in the heart of East Austin, features all the stops a green foodie could dream of, including a fresh farm stand local produce, eggs, jam, dried and canned goods, local meats, and medicinal and culinary herbs, as well as an award-winning, farm-to-table restaurant on site. Campers may enjoy the natural springs on the property, a quick walk to a state-of-the-art rock climbing facility nearby, and a plethora of cool bars and restaurants nearby that serve a true Austin flavor.
The Guadalupe River is the main attraction at this Hill Country state park. While swimming is the main event on the river, there is much else to do while exploring the history and scenery of the area. Fishing is also popular, and equipment for rent is available in the park. Check out the three miles of hike and bike trails. Trails range from the 2.86-mile Painted Bunting Trail to the .26-mile Barred Owl Trail, which leads to a scenic overlook of the river. In the Discovery Center, take a closer look at nature using magnifying glasses, microscopes, and binoculars and exploring hands-on discovery boxes and exhibits.
Stephen F. Austin, known as the American founder of Texas and the “Father of Texas” by many, chose this area as a base for establishing Anglo-American colonies in the state. Today, visitors are welcomed to explore the history of the state and famous landmarks close to the park. Activities available in the park include geocaching, biking, and hiking. A 12-mile nature trail guides hikers while educating them about local plant species of the area. Group camping is available. For interested golfers, a public course is available right next door.
Take a peek into Texas history at Goliad State Park & Historic Site while walking in the footsteps of Native Americans, Spanish explorers, missionaries, and early settlers who inhabited the land throughout the past. There are many historic sites to view both in the park and close by. to stop in Mission Espíritu Santo is open to visitors interested in touring the colorful chapel and exhibits inside. In addition, visitors to the park also enjoy hiking, biking, and exploring the San Antonio River, which offers excellent fishing.
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