Palo Pinto Mountains State Park
Here’s what you need to know about the new North Texas State Park west of Fort Worth, which is slated to open to the public in 2023.
As the weather cools and thousands of Texans head outdoors, here are some tips for finding a campsite in one of Texas’ more than seven dozen state parks.
“More and more people are discovering Texas the outdoors,” said Thomas Wilhelm, state parks branding and marketing manager. “As our population grows, the demand for outdoor space in Texas continues to increase. “
Visits have grown steadily in recent years, and in 2020 Texas saw a sharp increase in the number of people exiting and visiting state parks, he said. But the more people go to state parks, the more time it takes to plan a visit.
Here are some tips for getting a great campsite in one of Texas State Parks.
Types of State Park Passes
When you visit a state park, you can get a day pass or a camping pass. Think of a day pass as an entrance fee, allowing you to explore the park for the day. A camping pass is required to stay overnight at a site. Costs vary by park, but children under 12 are free.
Frequent visitors can also opt for a Texas State Park Pass, which includes unlimited free admission to any of the state’s 89 parks for the pass holder and guests in the same vehicle. The annual pass ($ 70) can also save holders money on camping fees.
Camping and day passes can be booked in advance. (It’s probably a good idea to have a reservation as the parks tend to fill up.)
When to book a campsite
Booking a Texas campsite will likely require some planning. Reservations for campsites open five months in advance at 8 a.m., and popular spots will fill up quickly, Wilhelm said. This is especially true for weekends and holidays. (Fall also tends to be a busier time for state parks, said Wilhelm.)
He recommends booking at least two weeks in advance, but the timing depends on the park you’re visiting. Some sites, like the cabins at Palo Duro Canyon, will sell minute open bookings, he said.
“If you’re under the two week window it’s going to be really hard to find a place,” he said.
Campers looking for a specific campsite should book as far away as possible.
“My best recommendation is to look at your calendar, count the five months from that opening day and be prepared to book that day,” Wilhelm said.
Reservations can be made online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website or by calling 512-389-8900.
Aren’t you camping? Daily reservations are open 30 days in advance.
Trying to book the weekend of?
For us procrastinators, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife reservation website maintains a list of campsites across the state available for the current weekend.
Camping in North Texas?
Some of the most popular parks in North Texas include Ray Roberts Lake, Dinosaur Valley, Cedar Hill, Lake Mineral Wells, and Purtis Creek. State parks that tend to have more availability include Eisenhower, Lake Tawakoni, Fort Richardson, and Cleburne.