In Houston, Spring comes with a gradual warm up from winter, lasting from mid-March through May. And this is the perfect season for camping and outdoor activities before hot Summer days set in. So, we started planning our next camping destination with our group of friends and came up with one of the best campgrounds near Houston – Stephen F. Austin State Park.
With close proximity to Houston, this is one of the best state parks you can visit for a nice shady hike and connect with nature. The forest is dense and you can find a lot of wildlife while trekking. The trails are well-maintained but can be a little muddy after recent rains – a good portion of the park is river-bottom land near the Brazos so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Also, May-June is the perfect time to see a lot of fireflies.
The Camping Experience
We arrived at the campground at around 3 PM. We were five families and had booked three campsites. Each campsite was spacious enough to accommodate two tents. The campsites are clean and well maintained. We booked the one without electrical outlets.
The park has good hiking and biking trails. As soon as we arrived, the kids started riding their bikes and scooters. the grown-ups decided to have fun as well, so the men choose to play football and the ladies decided to play badminton.
After a while, we started planning our trail as we had a plenty of time before sunset. The trail was nice and clean and we were lucky enough to get dry trails – otherwise, it gets muddy after rain. We walked up to the Brazos River and came back within an hour and a half.
This was our second camping (see our first camping experience here), and we decided to buy our own tent and camping gear for this one. We had bought an instant tent, so setting up the tent was far easier than the previous time.
Soon after, it was twilight and the fireflies came out. The whole campground was glittering with tiny greenish-yellow lights. It was mesmerizing and we sat there looking at the fireflies for a while. This was the first time Pakhi had seen fireflies, so she was super excited to see all these flying lights. My husband caught a couple of them for her and then let them go after a while.
After all the fun, we started preparing for the barbecue. We usually bring our own grill as most of our friends are vegetarians and don’t like to eat anything cooked over the grills available in the park. We grilled a lot of vegetable skewers. Essentially, the vegetable skewers consist of mushrooms, paneer, onions, tomato, and broccoli – all marinated in spicy yogurt sauce. After the delighting barbecue, we prepared some tea – Indians can enjoy tea anytime!
The night was beautiful with a clear and starry sky. We lit our campfire and had our dinner which we brought with us. We also roasted marshmallows in the campfire. Kids always enjoy these kinds of activities so every kid had their own stick of marshmallows to roast. After that, we played Antakshari as usual and shared lots of stories related to adventures, politics, technology etc.
After all the chit-chat, dinner and roasting part it was time to say good night. As we stayed late near our campfire, we saw a couple of raccoons trying to grab some leftover food from the trash. We had left one of the coolers open and the raccoons started heading over to the coolers. Fortunately, one of us noticed this and we were able to save our morning breakfast from those creatures.
We woke up early in the morning as we had to leave the site before 10 AM. We prepared veg sandwiches, scrambled eggs, tea and warmed up the milk for the kids. There was a nice play area for kids so we spent some time over there as well and then returned to our sites for packing as it was already 9:30 AM by then.
The campground was great! They have about forty campsites for RVs with electricity, water, and sewer. Many other campsites have either water only, or no water at the site, primarily for cool weather dry camping or tents. The campground has lots of roadways and bicycle paths for biking. The park has many trails just for hiking. Some trails are easy, little kids can enjoy too. It is located about 3 miles off to the I-10, there is no traffic noise so you can enjoy nature peace. The park is very shaded by big trees, which was wonderful since it was so hot. Overall it was a great camping trip for us. We will definitely come back here again soon.
If you are planning for camping here, I would recommend you to visit Stephen F. Austin State Park — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.