Campgrounds in Austin take advantage of the compact nature of the city that boasts a surprising number of lovely parks and green spaces right in the metropolitan area and within only a few minutes driving time of Downtown Austin and all the many popular attractions located there. Additionally there are several extensive state parks within a couple hours of the city that preserve true wilderness.
Great Austin camping can be found at McKinney Falls State Park, which is only a couple miles from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and about thirteen miles from the State Capitol. This is a small (745 acre) park that is readily accessible to the bustling capital city, but still provides a welcome refuge that is rich in wildlife. It is located at the confluence of two creeks that provide fishing and swimming. Adjacent to it are the Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer golf courses, comprising one of the best 36-hole complexes in Texas. This is not a Lake Austin campground right on the shores, but you will be located only about five miles away from both it and newer Lady Bird Lake.
McKinney offers Austin campsites with screened shelters equipped with bunk bed platforms and 84 campsites with both water and electricity. There is hiking and cycling as well as a touch of the city’s history. The park is named for pioneer Thomas F. McKinney who bought property here in the early 1850s and became an important race horse breeder in the city. You can visit the ruins of his stables, trainer’s cabin, and homestead in the park.
Finding a Lake Austin campground is fairly easy since it is a reservoir in a river (as opposed to mountain lake with distinct boundaries) and is quite long. Most of the lake lies within the city of Austin, but it stretches for quite a distance (more than ten miles) northwest of Downtown Austin. Additionally, the citizens and government have been active in preserving a greenbelt right through the city.
Probably the best Lake Austin campground is found in Emma Long Metropolitan Park. This lovely park consists of more than 1,100 acres right on the lake. Only 70 of these acres are developed, and there are miles of hiking trails and lovely meadows full of wildflowers in the spring. It is a good ten miles from downtown, but still within the city limits, and provides boat ramps, 66 campsites (with and without utilities), volleyball courts, a large sandy beach and swimming area, showers and restroom facilities. Many visitors come by boat or car rentals on a day trip from the city. If you do this, you cannot use the Austin camping facilities, but can use the swimming area, restrooms, and other day use facilities.
Other campgrounds in Austin include numerous RV parks and mobile home planned communities accommodating pop-ups and trailers. Many permanent residents live in these, and they provide the same kind of facilities you might see in any planned housing community, including swimming pools, activity centers, game rooms and arcades, playgrounds, laundries, libraries, and even cable television and Internet hook-ups. Only a very few have tent sites. Most of this kind of Austin camping will accept visitors on a nightly rate, but they are most economical on a weekly basis, making them excellent for family vacations.
If campgrounds in Austin city aren’t wild enough for you, head northwest to Lake Travis. Here excellent camping is available in Pace Bend Park. This area is only about 30 miles from Downtown Austin, and provides hunting, fishing, hiking, and water sports.