Your own backyard is often the best place to camp, up to a certain age. Then, somewhere along the line, many people feel the need to get a little braver, a little wilder and a little more remote.
Central Texas is a great place to explore those boundaries — or lack thereof. With public parks scattered throughout the Austin area, it’s easy to pack up and head out for a night or two without going too far away from the comforts of home.
Many parks have camp sites available on a day or two notice. But camping is a popular activity in the Austin area, so consider calling ahead — or checking online — to make reservations as far in advance as you can. Often times, camp officials will recommend the best campsites for you.
The key to a fun camp trip is preparation. So here’s a checklist of things to consider bringing.
Blissful Places for Camping in the Austin Area
Emma Long Park: Located just west of central Austin near Westminster Glen, Emma Long Park is one of the City of Austin’s largest metropolitan parks. The drive out there is beautiful, and it gets even better once you arrive at the edge of the Colorado River.
Park entrance fees are $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends. Campsites cost an additional $10 to $25, depending on what amenities you’d like. The park has primitive camping for those who want to rough it, and it has sites where you can just pull your car up, pitch a tent and even have running water and bathrooms nearby.
McKinney Falls State Park: Known as one of the most beautiful natural areas around Austin, McKinney Falls State Park has fishing, hiking, bike trails and excellent camping. It’s located in Southeast Austin.
It costs $6 to get into the park. Campsites cost $20-$24.
Pace Bend Park: Operated by Travis County, Pace Bend offers campers a lot of excellent views — even now while Lake Travis water levels are low. The limestone cliffs and trails are great for exploring.
It’s about an hour west of Austin. Pace Bend has primitive camping, including spots on the beach, and more developed sites for those who want to stay close to modern amenities.
Krause Springs: Privately operated and thoroughly enjoyed for years, Krause Springs offers a pristine, spring-fed swimming hole and plenty of space to pitch a tent and relax in nature.
Like Pace Bend, Krause is located in Spicewood, and area packed with interesting backroads and breathtaking Hill Country views. Camping is $14 per person, per day. It has dozens of campsites, and it’s one of the most popular places just outside Austin to kick back and enjoy the country lifestyle.