Pitch a tent
Maybe you have a hankering for one last summer adventure, or the prospect of cooler fall nights has you dreaming of sleeping under the stars. Either way, you can make it happen without going far.
There are many places to enjoy the great outdoors on a campout in the scenic landscapes around San Antonio. Whether your style is a tent at a primitive campsite or a cabin in the woods, these eight spots have what you need.
Blanco State Park
Just an hour from San Antonio on the banks of the refreshingly chilly Blanco River, this park has camping, swimming, fishing, hiking and boating. The park store rents tubes and kayaks, or bring your own craft (electric motors only). Fish from shore for bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and rainbow trout and, in the winter, trout — no license needed. Overnight options include 17 full hook-up sites and 12 with water and electricity. Blanco State Park offers a way for those new to the camping game to ease into it, as the town of Blanco lies just outside the gate.
Government Canyon State Natural Area
This 12,000-acre state natural area on the city’s north side exists to protect San Antonio’s water supply, with 23 walk-in campsites and 40 miles of trails as a happy side benefit. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and tent pad, and camping is available Friday and Saturday nights only. Located on the edge of the Balcones Escarpment, the park contains both rugged canyons of the Edwards Plateau and a broad plain as well as a stretch of forest. Steep slopes on some of the trails provide scenic overlooks and many bird species can be spotted in the park.
Guadalupe River State Park
Four miles of Guadalupe River flowing through the park mean plenty of places to swim, fish, tube the rapids, or canoe. Camp at one of 85 water and electric sites or nine walk-in sites. Thirteen miles of hike-and-bike trails snake along both sides of the river, including some open to horses. Sign up for guided two-hour walks to Honey Creek State Natural Area on Saturday mornings, the only way to access those 2,293 acres.
Hill Country State Natural Area
An incredibly scenic 5,400 acres, this natural area sports roughly 40 miles of trails through a variety of landscapes, from wooded creeks to rocky peaks. This is no place for camping newbies, though. Three walk-in primitive campgrounds — no water, vault, or chemical toilets — and two hike-in campgrounds without water or toilets are located as far as 3.5 miles from parking. Bring plenty of drinking water, and whatever else you think you might need. After all, the park’s unofficial motto is: “We don’t have it, you’ll need to bring it!”
A former state park, this city park on the Guadalupe River has RV and tent camping, cabins, and even a house. Playground, butterfly garden, sand volleyball, basketball, 7.5 miles of hike and bike trails, river access, kayak and canoe rentals (seasonal Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend), fishing, and picnic areas with standing grills are just a few of the activities that will keep campers of all ages occupied. With 517 acres, this is the largest municipal park in Kerrville and also a good place for honing your camping skills in relative comfort.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Convenience is sweet, but sometimes you want to camp far from the noise and lights of the city. Those willing to drive a couple of hours to Lost Maples find it well worth the extra effort. Pull right up to one of 30 campsites with water and electricity, or hoist a pack and hoof it to one of seven primitive camping areas – including one more than 3.5 miles in and up steep slopes. Expect great wildlife watching and stellar stargazing, but no cell service at the park.
Medina River Natural Area
This 511-acre park features ten miles of hike-and-bike trails and a group camping area for you and 24 of your closest friends with parking, restrooms, water, and a covered pavilion. Reservations required. There are designated fishing areas on the river (license required) and a canoe and kayak put-in/take-out, but no swimming allowed.
Palmetto State Park
This park offers the best of both worlds — close by yet far enough away to feel you’ve really left San Antonio. Swim, tube, fish, and canoe on the San Marcos River and Oxbow Lake. Pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards available for rent, as well as a fishing boat for the lake, which also has a fishing pier. Nineteen tent-only campsites and 18 RV sites, as well as a six-person cabin are available for overnight stays while almost five miles of trails is available for exploration.