When you think of Texas, camping probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. (For most people, hiking and pitching a tent seem more like Colorado things.) The Lone Star State has many claims to fame—including but certainly not limited to sprawling cities like Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, keeping it weird in Austin, cowboys, the Alamo and barbeque—but its diverse landscape doesn’t always register as a top highlight. Though it should!

Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the Mexican states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon to the south and southwest, and Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico on the other sides, Texas is massive. It's the second largest U.S. state by population and area. Not surprisingly, there are tons of incredible state parks, beautiful beaches and other protected areas where you can sleep outside. PSA: please remember that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the campsites, and outdoor spaces in general, pristine for generations to come! Don’t your great grandkids deserve to snooze near ancient caves and swim in spring-fed pools? We certainly think so.

To help you pick the perfect spot to snuggle up alongside Mother Nature, we’ve rounded up the best camping in Texas. (Just do yourself a favor and make a reservation well in advance. As they say, “the early bird catches the worm.” Or, in this case, gets a dope campsite.)

RELATED: THE 15 BEST STATE PARKS IN TEXAS FOR CAMPING, STARGAZING & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

Best Camping in Texas PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK
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1. PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK

Planning a Texas Panhandle road trip? You’ll definitely want to do the drive through Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The renowned route passes a jaw-dropping array of escarpments with plenty of viewpoints to stop and admire the majesty of it all. Oh, and there’s absolutely no reason to sleep in your car. (Not sure if that thought crossed your mind, but it’s not the best idea). Instead, consider one of the campsites with electricity. Prefer an off-the-beaten-path spot to slumber? Follow the trail to the primitive, first-come, hike-in campsites.

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Best Camping in Texas BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
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2. BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

It’s pretty incredible that you can see the Chisos Mountains, walk through the Chihuahuan Desert, soak in Langford Hot Springs, drive to the ruins of Sam Nail Ranch and gape at the Rio Grande-carved Santa Elena Canyon all in one place! But that’s the magic of Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. We totally get why people never want to leave. If that applies to you, why not shack up at one of the four developed campgrounds operated by the National Park Service? Just skip the summer months due to extreme heat.

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Best Camping in Texas GUADALUPE RIVER STATE PARK
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3. GUADALUPE RIVER STATE PARK

When you’re in San Antonio and need to escape into nature, Guadalupe River State Park is the spot to do it. Less than an hour north of the city sits a stunning stretch of riverfront real estate that offers a slew of water-centric activities such as tubing, swimming, floating and paddleboarding. Guadalupe River State Park also has nearly 100 campsites. Those requiring reservations have electricity, tent pads, water hookups, fire rings with grills and picnic tables. Ready to rough it? Check out the more rustic walk-in campsites on a river terrace above the Guadalupe River.

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Best Camping in Texas PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
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4. PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE

Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. What exactly does that mean? Well, this protected area that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre encompasses 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, tidal flats, nesting grounds for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles⁠ and even Spanish shipwrecks dating back to 1554. Camping on the seashore sounds pretty dreamy, right? We agree. Just be sure to pack everything you need because the amenities are scarce. You won’t find any RV hook-ups nor food or firewood for sale.

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Best Camping in Texas ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA
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5. ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA

The undisputed crown jewel of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is the 425-foot pink granite monolith. That’s obviously a massive draw for rock climbers. Expert-led excursions are available. There’s also 11 miles of trails to traverse. Another seriously awesome aspect of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area? It’s a designated International Dark Sky Sanctuary. That means world-class stargazing. We should all thank our lucky stars for the trio of campsites—walk-in tent sites with water, primitive camping areas and group camps—which are an out-of-this-world place to be when the sun goes down.

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Best Camping in Texas COLORADO BEND STATE PARK
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6. COLORADO BEND STATE PARK

Hikers, waterfall chasers and birdwatchers flock (get it?) to Colorado Bend State Park in Texas Hill Country, where it’s all about karst topography—in other words sinkholes, limestone cliffs and caves—plus spring-fed creeks and, of course, the 70-foot cascade known as Gorman Falls. Colorado Bend State Park is also an awesome place for an overnight with a mix of walk-in rugged riverbank campsites that cater exclusively to tents, drive-up sites for RVs, backcountry camping areas and group campgrounds for up to 48 people.

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Best Camping in Texas FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS STATE PARK
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7. FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

The westernmost point in Texas, Franklin Mountains State Park boasts over 100 miles of trails for biking, hiking and jogging. Crave more adrenaline-pumping pursuits? McKelligon Canyon is a formidable challenge for rock climbers. With so much activity, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Picnic areas overlooking the desert landscape are a scenic spot to replenish. Equally enticing? The camping options, ranging from primitive drive-in sites sans water or electricity and rustic walk-in sites with shade shelters, grills and little else to a triple-sized tent campsite that fits up to 24 people. (We just keep thinking about a family reunion.)

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Best Camping in Texas CAT
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8. GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

There are a ton of cool things to call out about Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Perhaps most notably the fact that it’s home to the world's most extensive Permian fossil reef and the four highest peaks in Texas. Curious about the overnight setup? Tent and RV sites are available. Now the question becomes whether you’ll opt to stay over at the easily accessible Pine Springs Campground just off the U.S. Highway 62/180, near the visitor center or the more secluded, off-the-beaten-path Dog Canyon Campground, which sits at 6,300 feet in elevation. Both sites have amenities such as drinking water and flush toilets.

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Best Camping in Texas MUSTANG ISLAND STATE PARK
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9. MUSTANG ISLAND STATE PARK

Perched along the Gulf of Mexico, Mustang Island State Park is a coastal dreamland with beautiful beaches, algae-covered tidal flats and fascinating flora. Wildlife lovers will go, well, wild for the chance to peep endangered sea turtles (nesting season runs from April to July) and a wide variety of native birds. You can also explore 20 miles of kayaking trails, build sandcastles, surf and shack up at any one of the 48 campsites with water and electricity or 50 drive-up primitive sites steps from the ocean.

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Best Camping in Texas CADDO LAKE STATE PARK
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10. CADDO LAKE STATE PARK

Boasting one of only a few natural lakes in Texas, Caddo Lake State Park invites visitors to fish, paddle and marvel at the beauty of bald cypress trees draped with Span­ish moss. Let’s talk about spending the night. A full hookup campsite in Woodpecker Hollow is great for newbies or people who can’t part with their favorite modern conveniences. You can still gaze upon nature but it’s from the comfort of a real bed in an RV. Whereas sites in the Armadillo Run and Squirrel Haven areas provide the quintessential tent camping experience.

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Best Camping in Texas DINOSAUR VALLEY STATE PARK
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11. DINOSAUR VALLEY STATE PARK

Calling all budding paleontologists, history buffs and camping enthusiasts: Ready to step back in time and catch a glimpse of the world as it was 113 million years ago when ancient herbivorous sauropods and carnivorous theropods roamed? Dinosaur Valley State Park awaits. Walk in actual Acrocanthosaurus footprints in the limestone bed of the Paluxy River (BTW summer is the best time to see dino tracks because it’s dry and the water levels are low), ride horses and do some awesome camping. The hike-in primitive campsites feel especially on brand for this prehistoric destination.

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Best Camping in Texas LAKE LIVINGSTON STATE PARK
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12. LAKE LIVINGSTON STATE PARK

Perch fishing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking are the most popular pastimes at Lake Livingston State Park in the southern portion of the Piney Woods region. It also has fantastic camping facilities, from full hookup campsites in the Piney Shores loop with lake views, picnic tables, water and sewer access and nearby restrooms to those with electricity and running water. We wouldn’t call it full-blown glamping, but you definitely don’t have to totally rough it at Lake Livingston State Park.

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RELATED: THE BEST CAMPING IN COLORADO FOR TOWERING PEAKS, SHIMMERING LAKES AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

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