Keep your cool when tent camping in Texas

Keep your cool when tent camping in Texas

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to do quite a bit of camping from Africa to South America. Some were memorable; others I want to forget. One of the best was on the Kanektok River in Alaska. That was a fly-fishing float trip along a river that provided some outstanding drift fishing for huge rainbow trout. Among my worst camping trips was one in Mexico along the Pacific coast. While out surfing one day, we returned to find out that somebody had stolen our camp – as in tents, chairs, stoves, lanterns and more. Talk about a surprise.

Several years back, I made a three-day canoe camping trip down the Devils River in West Texas. That was with Beaumont’s Tom Munro, who liked that stream so much his family bought some ranch land along the river. What made this trip so unusual is that we could only put our tents up on flat rocks in the river because the land is all private property. Sleeping on a rock about the size of a sofa that’s surrounded by flowing water is a hardcore camping experience. After setting up camp one evening Tom fried some catfish fillets, and we sat there and had one heck of a meal on one of the prettiest rivers in the world.

On a recent trip to Huntsville State Park, four of us hit the weather just right for a few days of camping along the shoreline of Raven Lake. It was about as good as Texas tent camping gets. The days were cool, there were no mosquitoes, the nights were cold and our nightly campfire under a sky full of stars was unbeatable.

The great thing about Texas is that we have lots of parks all over the state that offer a variety of camping experiences. Some are great; others are so, so. One of my favorites is Village Creek State Park in Lumberton. This is about a 20-minute run from Beaumont and offers primitive tent camping along the shoreline of Village Creek. One tent camping option, and one of my all-time favorites, is to put in a canoe or kayak at the park and float downstream while fishing for bass and perch. At the end of the day, you can set up camp on any of the many pearl white sandbars. It’s some of the best camping this side of Patagonia, and a quick hit for a Southeast Texas tent camping escape.

Some of the most unforgettable camping I’ve done has been on the beaches from Bolivar to Aransas Pass. The big negative about camping on a beach is the sand – it gets in everything, from the tent to your sleeping bag. We did a lot of beach camping back in my high school days. It was always fun to wake up, step outside the tent and wade the surf.

One of the best beach camping adventures you can take is out of Port O’Connor on Matagorda Island. This stretch of sand and surf is spread out over 30 miles, and most of it is uninhabited. The only access is via boat. If you like to roam the beach, this is the place to go. You can set up a tent camp in the dunes and be protected from the wind. This is a true wild camping adventure that involves packing in all your gear while watching out for rattlesnakes and fiddler crabs. But it’s also a place where the surf is green to the beach more often than not.

The most important thing about tent camping is the weather. Right about now it’s best to time for camping with the calm and sunny weather between fronts. The worst possible camping situation is rain. It can make things miserable in a hurry. That’s when a well-made and waterproof tent is priceless.

The summer months in Texas can set up some uncomfortable nights in a tent. Sweating and swatting mosquitoes during a night of tent camping is a big time bummer. That’s why I try to get my camping jag done during late winter and early spring. One of the finer pleasures in a tent camper’s life is sitting beside a hot fire at night, then zipping up in a warm and comfortable sleeping bag.


Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.