• Make The Most of the Dash

Boondocking / Camping for Free in Southern Texas and Other Budget-Friendly Alternatives

In our pre-planning and doing our research before crossing the border from New Mexico, we quickly realized that it wasn't going to be easy to find free camping options in Texas. Seems approximately 95% of the state of Texas is privately owned which does not leave much room for public lands. So where were we going to boondock while making our way east through southern Texas, and what would be our alternatives?


Now Texas does have the Open Beaches Act which is a Texas law that protects public access to the shoreline along 367 miles of the Gulf Coast. This provides for free camping on the beach


There are many apps available that collect data and rely on input from fellow campers and boondockers that share their campsite finds complete with reviews, photos and GPS coordinates. Some of the apps that we use are:


  • iOverlander

  • Campendium

  • Public Lands

  • National Park Service

  • National Forest Explorer




Another app that we came across was the TX State Park app that lists all the state parks in Texas, even has a map view option, with detailed information on each park and a link for campsite reservations. This is an alternative/ back-up should there not be a free campsite option available for your location.Texas state parks charge a day-use entrance fee per person (12 yrs and older) plus the campsite fee per day - each park differs in pricing. We found that state parks provided electric hook-ups, potable water, hot showers, and other amenities.


Talking with other fellow travelers, campers and boondockers is a great way to learn about other resources for free campsites and boondocking options. This is how we found out about two (2) websites -

  • freecampsites.net - very similar to iOverlander with reviews, photos, GPS coordinates and more

  • Lower Colorado River Authority - the LCRA manages approximately 11,000 acres of parks that are located along the lower Colorado River in Texas. These parks are listed and shown on a map, on their website, with links to all the parks that are available with free campsites.


Using these resources, as listed above, we found the following locations at which we camped either for free or a nominal fee:


1. iOverlander, Campendium, and freecampsites.net:

  • South Padre Island Beach - South Padre Island

  • Free access via Beach Access #6 - county entrance

  • $12.00 entrance fee at Beach Access #5 during peak season and when the booth is open - city entrance

  • No limit to the length of stay

  • No facilities - Pack it in-Pack it out

  • Magnolia Beach - Port Lavaca

  • Free - 14-day limit within a 30-day period

  • Flushing toilets and cold showers and potable water

  • Fort Anahuac Park - Anahuac

  • Free - Permit required - 14-day limit within a 30-day period

  • Call (409) 267-2409 for free permit

  • Flushing toilets and potable water

  • Stowell County Park - Winnie

  • Free - Permit required - 14-day limit within a 30-day period

  • Call (409) 267-2644 for free permit

  • Flushing toilets and potable water

  • Claiborne West Park -Vidor

  • $3.00 donation per stay - limited to 1-3 days

  • Only accept cash or check

  • Call (409) 745-2255 for reservations, but walk-ups are welcome between 7:00am and 5:00pm

  • Flushing toilets and potable water

2. LCRA website:

  • Hollywood Bottom Park - El Campo

  • Free - limited to 5 consecutive days or no more than 10 days within any calendar month

  • Porta-pottie - cleaned once a week

3. National Park Service app:

  • Big Bend National Park - Pine Canyon 1

  • $10.00 per day (50% off with annual pass) - reservation required in advance (online)

  • Park entrance fee is also applicable (free with annual pass)

  • No facilities at campsite - Pack it in-Pack it out - bear-proof trash box and food locker provided

  • Padre Island National Seashore - Malaquite Campground

  • $14.00 per day (50% off with annual pass) - first come-first serve - 14-day limit within a 30-day period

  • Park entrance fee is also applicable (free with annual pass)

  • Flushing toilets, cold shower and potable water - Dump station on site

4. Texas State Parks app:

  • Monahans Sandhills SP - Monahans

  • $4.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Campsite with electric & water - $15.00 per day

  • Lake Colorado City SP - Colorado City

  • $4.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Primitive campsite with water - $15.00 per day

  • Campsite with electric & water - $20.00-22.00 per day

  • Choke Canyon SP - Calliham

  • $5.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Primitive campsite with water - $12.00 per day

  • Campsite with electric & water - $22.00 per day

  • Mustang Island State Park - Corpus Christi

  • $5.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Campsite with electric & water - $20.00 per day

  • Goose Island SP - Rockport

  • $5.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Primitive campsite with water - $10.00 per day

  • Campsite with electric & water - $20.00-22.00 per day

  • Brazos Bend SP - Needville

  • $7.00 per day entrance fee / 12 yrs & under free

  • Primitive campsite with water - $12.00 per day

  • Campsite with electric & water - $15.00-25.00 per day

  • Campsites with screened shelter, electric & water - $25.00 per day


Please note that we are not sponsored nor receiving compensation from any of the apps, websites, or their respective creators. We are just sharing this information hoping it may be helpful to you as it was to us.


For a video recap of our stay at these campsites, please see our video found on our YouTube Channel - Make the Most of the Dash.



If you have any questions, please either leave it in our comments section of this blog, in the comments section of our YouTube video or email us. We will do our best to answer you as quickly as possible.


As always, make the most of the dash!


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