Campsite at Colorado Bend State Park, TX
Photo Credit: Ryan Claunch

Wanting to go camping in Texas this spring or summer but worried about the hot weather? Check out 5 of our favorite Texas parks, all of which either feature swimming spots or shady tree canopies to duck under and beat the heat.

-CENTRAL TEXAS –

Inks Lake State Park

Getting there: From Austin: 1hr. 15 min drive, northwest
Activities: Paddling, fishing, swimming, hiking
Park highlight: Devil’s Waterhole, swimming spot
Amenities: Park store, boat rentals, lots of campsites, playgrounds, fishing piers, boat ramp, picnic areas
Attractions close by: Longhorn Cavern State Park (Check out our trip to the caves here), Krause Springs, Wineries (Pedernales Cellars and Torr Na Lochs)
Park website: Click here

We’d recommend this park if… you’re looking for a variety of water activities for your weekend outdoors. The park also makes for a great family vacation spot.

Take a dip in the cool, spring fed waters of Devil’s Waterhole, then hike along Valley Spring Creek to see a series of waterfalls and find a secluded spot to soak in the sun.
Devil’s Waterhole can be reached by hiking up the Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail or by canoe/kayak.
Many drive up campsites are available right along the lake, providing visitors with direct access to fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
A large portion of the lake that surrounds the park is sectioned off as a No Wake Area, making for smooth, easy paddling to view the surrounding nature and wildlife.

Colorado Bend State Park

Getting there: From Austin: Less than 2 hr drive, northwest
Activities: Hiking, swimming, fishing, biking, cave tours
Park highlight: Gorman Falls, 70 ft. spring fed waterfall
Amenities: No hookups, water, composting toilets only
Attractions Nearby: Sulpher Springs Camp (featuring a large spring fed swimming pool)
Park website: Click here

We’d recommend this park if… you’re looking for a weekend to get back to nature and avoid large crowds.

Refresh at Gorman Falls, a 70 ft. spring fed waterfall nested under a dense canopy of trees
Dip in the park’s spring fed pools, accessible from Spicewood Springs Trail
Explore the park’s 5,300 acres of wilderness via 35+ miles of hike and bike trails.
Pictured here: River Trail
Almost all trails in the park allow biking. Trails are single track, rocky, and mostly flat.
Pictured here: Cedar Chopper Loop Trail
The primitive campsites are situated along the river and spread out around a wide glade. Each site has shade and feels private due to surrounding trees. Photo credit: Ryan Claunch

– WEST TEXAS –

Balmoreah State Park

Getting there: From Austin or Fort Worth: Roughly a 6 hr. drive, west
Activities: Swimming, scuba diving
Highlight: San Solomon Springs
Amenities: Swim, cabins, campsites, bathrooms/showers, water
Attractions close by: Marfa, McDonald’s Observatory, Fort Davis
Park website: Click here

We’d recommend this park if… you’re already in West Texas. This park is in a remote location and offers little else besides the swimming pool, making it more of a one day/night attraction rather than a weekend destination. Hit the park on Thursday or Friday (weekends can get pretty crowded in the summer) before heading to Marfa for art galleries or the Marfa lights.

The pool at Balmoreah State Park is a true oasis in the desert. The water ranges as deep as 25 feet and is crystal clear, making this a coveted spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The pool features a few diving boards in deeper sections, attracting young and old alike.
Fun fact: more than 15 million gallons of water flow through the 1.3 acre pool each day.
The swimming pool is busy any time the weather is warm.
To avoid the crowds, arrive early and claim a spot under one of the few shade trees to store your towels/drinks, then dive in and enjoy the 72-76 degree year round water.

– EAST TEXAS –

Caddo Lake State Park

Getting there: From Dallas: 2 1/2 hr. drive, east; From Houston: 4 hr drive, northeast
Activities: Paddling, fishing & some limited hiking
Park highlight: Hell’s Half Acre paddling trail, 8 mile loop
Amenities: Full hookup & water only sites, bathrooms/showers, backcountry camping available at Goat Island (managed by WMA)
Attractions close by: Boat Tours & Historic Towns of Karnack, Jefferson, & Marshall
Park website: Click here

We’d recommend this park if… you’re looking for a weekend paddle or fishing trip and have an adventurous spirit.

Hell’s Half Acre is a 8 mile loop paddling trail, cutting through a dense sunken cypress forest. The launch for this route is at Mill Pond (Caddo Lake State Park).
Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the park as well as from outside outfitters. On our trip, we rented canoes from Riverbend Outfitters in Uncertain, TX.
With over 50 miles of paddling trails, you are sure to experience a diverse set of scenery. Some trails are narrow and dense, while others open up to reveal the sky.
Pictured here: Side trail off of Hell’s Half Acre.
The calm waters of the many paths that cut through the cypress forest create beautiful, still reflections. Birders, fisherman, and nature photographers are drawn Caddo Lake year round to witness the ever-changing beauty of this natural lake.
Pictured here: Mill Pond Paddling Trail.
All of the campsites at Caddo Lake State Park sit along Mill Pond and feature tent pads, a fire ring and a picnic table.

– SOUTH EAST TEXAS –

Double Lake Recreation Area

Getting there: From Houston: 1 hr drive, north
Activities: Mountain biking, paddling, fishing, hiking
Park highlight: 20 miles of mountain biking, single track trails
Amenities: Full hookup & water only sites, group sites available, bathrooms/showers, sand volleyball court
Attractions close by: Huntsville State Park, Sam Houston National Forest & The Lone Star Hiking Trail
Park website: Click here

We’d recommend this park if… you’re looking for a place to combine camping with mountain biking. It’s also a great place for families due to the swimming, hiking, biking, and volleyball options.

Around 20 miles of single track trails surround the 23 acres of lake featured at Double Lake Recreation area.

Little elevation and mostly smooth trails make this destination perfect for the beginner mountain biker. Roots, logs, and tight turns make the trail challenging at times, but doable even if you don’t have suspension on your bike.
Most of the trails at the park are covered by a thick forest of pine and oak, shading the trails and cutting the heat from the Texas sun.

Don’t let the Texas heat dissuade you from getting outdoors this spring or summer. Camping in Texas can be enjoyable, even when the temperatures rise! Plan ahead for places that help you cool off and make sure you always prepare for your trip with lots of water and sunscreen.

Get outdoors and book your campsite today!

Colorado Bend State Park Website: Click here
Inks Lake State Park Website: Click here
Balmoreah State Park Website: Click here
Caddo Lake State Park Website: Click here
Double Lake Recreation Area Website: Click here

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