Traveling Texas

6 incredible Texas campgrounds worth the drive

Fort Griffin is one of the amazing Texas campgrounds worth visiting. Fort Griffin Historic Site/Facebook

Traveling in Texas by RV? Don’t make the mistake of thinking campgrounds in the Lone Star State are all alike. From underground caverns to wandering reptiles, RV campgrounds in Texas have plenty to entice jaded travelers. Here’s a half-dozen campgrounds you won’t want to miss. Visit these six choice to discover unusual, luxurious, and unforgettable attractions.

On the beach

The Texas Coastal Bend is a region all beach-loving RVers should visit. On the Beach RV Park on Mustang Island offers easy access to the pleasures of beachside living. Each of the campground’s full-service RV sites are within a stone’s throw of the water. You’ll also find it easy to enjoy Port Aransas attractions, with a trolley stop adjacent to the park.

Outdoor recreation opportunities abound here. Kayakers will find rewarding water trails nearby, including three loops that make up Mustang Island Paddling Trail, and a scenic quartet of waterways at nearby Lighthouse Lakes Park. From this beachside park, you’re also minutes from numerous deep-sea fishing charters (and local fishing piers) for redfish and speckled trout. Beach combing, sunbathing, and surfing will keep the whole crew happy as you camp within earshot of Gulf Coast waves.

Among the gators

Brazos Bend State Park, southwest of Houston on a bend in the Brazos River, will thrill Texas RV travelers who want to get back to the wild. Alligators rule the roost at this park, so be prepared to share the trails and waterways with those irascible reptiles.

Nearly 40 miles of trails within the park are also home to coastal prairie and wetlands creatures such as river otters, foxes, and dozens of bird species, so don’t leave the camera behind. Standard water and electric campsites makes it easy and affordable to spend some time getting back to nature just a short drive from Houston.

Near underground caverns

Do you enjoy going below the surface while camping? Kickapoo Cavern State Park campground in South Texas is the place for you. The guided, quarter-mile cave tour near the campground holds plenty of visual interest.

You’ll also have the chance to watch clouds of Mexican freetail bats emerge from Stuart Bat Cave each evening from April to October. The marked trails throughout the park protect fragile species while allowing visitors to enjoy wildlife. Full hook-up and water-only campsites welcome visitors to stay and get to know this park’s natural wonders.

Under dark skies

Several remote Texas campgrounds are known for their "dark skies," or minimal light pollution, which allows for maximum stargazing. One of our favorites is at Fort Griffin State Historic Site near Abilene. A range of campsites, from full hook-ups to primitive, lets you match your style of camping with night-sky viewing.

Amateur astronomers will enjoy monthly ranger-led night-sky events. No matter what else you have planned, save time to search the heavens for sights you may have missed at brighter locations. You’ll also want to explore the park itself, home to the official Texas state Longhorn herd and once the location of an 1860s fort.

In luxury

RV camping in a forest is one way to spend your vacation, but what if you’d like a little luxury near the campground? Lajitas Golf Resort in Big Bend Country hosts campers at onsite Maverick Ranch RV Park and offers plenty of ways to relax in style.

From the 18-hole, Lanny Wadkins-designed course voted Best Resort Course in Texas, to the services of Agave Spa, RV park guests have access to all the resort has to offer. There’s also skeet and trap shooting, ziplining, hiking and mountain biking at Big Bend State Park, and trail rides that originate at the resort. If your RV camping dreams include luxurious surroundings, you’ll want to book a campsite at Lajitas.

For family fun

Having kid-friendly fun built in at the campground can make the difference between fond vacation memories and a family vacation disaster. The Texas State Railroad Campground in the East Texas Piney Woods is ready to help.

Not only will families find comfortable RV campsites waiting right next to vintage Rusk depot, they’ll also find plenty of ways for youngsters to burn off energy. A splash pad playground, fishing lake, tennis courts, and shuffleboard are just a few ways for the kids to play as you camp. You can also book seats on themed train rides powered by antique steam or diesel engines.

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Here's what to make of the Rockets free agency moves. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No NBA team with title aspirations entered the offseason with more questions than the Houston Rockets. Ironically, Houston's situation got more precarious as the offseason went along. From head coach Mike D'Antoni walking away after the season to general manager Daryl Morey following suit shortly after that, the Rockets have been a sinking ship in desperate need of stability. They found some of that once new head coach Stephen Silas was hired, but the boat took on more water when star players James Harden and Russell Westbrook demanded to be traded a couple of weeks later.

It's been a giant roller coaster and it was unclear how Houston would approach their free agency. Would they double down on contending for a championship to try and convince their star players to stay or would they be forced to rebuild?

It looks like Houston tried to thread the needle and accomplish both: They appear ready to rebuild if they can't convince James Harden to stay, but also addressed roster needs and acquired better fitting pieces for their stars. It's hard to say whether or not they got better, but they're certainly a lot younger and look to play a lot different. Let's take a look at each player and how they fit into the framework.

Christian Wood

Contract:

3 years, $41 million

Grade:

B+

If there's a signing that embodies Houston's offseason, it's Christian Wood. For obvious reasons and some subtle ones, Wood is the exact kind of player Houston had to acquire this summer. Let's start with the obvious: Wood is the perfect player to have alongside both James Harden and Russell Westbrook because of his unique set of skills. Wood can hit threes at a high clip for someone his size (36.8% for his career) and stretches the floor for the moments you want Russell Westbrook barreling to the rim or James Harden trying to break a trap.

Lob threat

The Rockets didn't have a big man with that capability on the roster last year, so they had to resort to trading for Robert Covington and going small so they could properly space the floor. However, in doing that the Rockets lost their best lob threat and limited themselves on offense even further. This is where Wood solves the second problem: He may not be as good of a lob threat as Clint Capela, but he's damn close.

Over the past few years, the Rockets have slowly phased out pick and roll out of their offense and resorted to isolation. Part of it is because of how teams have defended the pick and roll, but part of it is also them not having the option anymore. James Harden is too good of a pick and roll ball handler for it to not be a part of the Rockets' attack. Adding more pick and roll to Houston's offense should be a priority next season, regardless of what else Silas decides to do.

Clint Capela was the perfect center for James Harden. P.J. Tucker was the perfect center for Russell Westbrook. Christian Wood is the perfect center for both.

Defensive rebounding

Another weakness Houston needed to address this offseason was their defensive rebounding (26th in NBA last season). It got to the point where it was a rarity that Houston would win the rebounding battle against good teams. This was partly by design and partly because of roster weakness. Houston was so porous at rebounding in the beginning of the season, they decided to emphasize turning over opponents to even the possession battle. If Houston were to even marginally improve in defensive rebounding, it could have a drastic positive impact on their defense.

Per 36 minutes:

22.0 PPG

10.6 RPG

1.5 BPG

65.9% True Shooting

Houston also replenished their coffers in the process of acquiring Wood. By flipping Robert Covington to the Blazers, the Rockets netted two draft picks back after losing two the prior offseason in the Westbrook trade. It may not matter in the grand scheme of next season, but these assets could be especially useful if Houston pivots to a rebuild. They could also be useful to upgrade the roster at the trade deadline if Houston gets Harden's buy-in. (As an aside, the series of transactions that led to Wood are impressive and reflect well on new GM Rafael Stone's ability to get deals done.)

The subtle reason Wood embodies their offseason is his age, 25 years old. Wood would immediately become the youngest starter on the team and be a building block piece on the next iteration of the Rockets. He's also old enough to make an immediate impact should Houston acquire a ready-made blue chip prospect in a James Harden trade. With the 76ers rumored to be a team interested in Harden's services, it probably isn't a coincidence that Ben Simmons (24 years old) falls neatly into Wood's age group. It also probably isn't a coincidence that the ideal team for Simmons has always been imagined to be a team that can spread the floor at the four other positions on the court. Having Wood is great start to try and accomplish that.

David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, and Jae'Sean Tate

Contracts:

Negligible

Grade:

B-

Nwaba, Brown, and Tate are all being placed in one category because it's quite clear what the Rockets are trying to accomplish: Take bets on young, cheap wings on the market and hope one pans out enough to make the final rotation for Stephen Silas.

While David Nwaba technically wasn't signed this offseason, he's essentially a free agency signing because the Rockets signed him up a few months ago with the knowledge he wouldn't be able to play in the first year of his deal. He's the oldest of this group (27 years old), has the largest wingspan (7'0"), and has logged the most NBA minutes (3295). Because of all this, he's probably the safest bet to make Houston's final rotation. However, just because he's the 'safest bet' doesn't mean he's a 'safe bet' per se.

Nwaba suffered a season-ending achilles injury on December 9th of last season and has spent the past year rehabbing. It's unclear how he will respond from this, but before the injury, Nwaba had found a nice role in Brooklyn as a combo forward who could shoot well enough from beyond the perimeter (34.4% for his career). The Rockets have desperately needed competent perimeter defenders off the bench since their 2017-18 campaign and a healthy Nwaba was just that.

Sterling Brown, 24, found his way on the fringes of the Bucks' rotation the past few seasons and gained the trust of head coach Mike Budenholzer enough to play nearly 15 minutes a game. Brown is a pesky defender and average three-point shooter (34.5% for his career) and like the other wings in this category, he doesn't need the ball. He's probably the second most proven wing here and if he cracks the rotation, it's unlikely he will have to play more than he did in Milwaukee.

Jae'Sean Tate, 25, is probably the most intriguing prospect of this bunch as he's never played in the NBA before. Tate played under new Rockets assistant coach Will Weaver on the Sidney Kings and averaged 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 66.0% shooting from the field last season while earning first-team All-NBL honors. He's 6'4" with a 6'8" wingspan and was considered to be one of the top basketball prospects outside the NBA before signing with Houston. The Rockets appear to be quite high on him considering they used part of their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal.

The Rockets already have much of their rotation locked in:

James Harden and Russell Westbrook will likely play at least 35 minutes a piece, P.J. Tucker will probably play around 32 minutes, and finally Danuel House and Christian Wood will likely play around 30 minutes each. That leaves 78 minutes for a bench that already has Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore. Also, Houston will probably sign another center before the season starts. Now, the Rockets may try to ease the load off of some of their older starters, in which case there might be more time available. However, whatever way you slice it, they really only need one of these wings to crack the rotation for regular season purposes.

It's unlikely all three signings end up backfiring for them, but we'll see. Stranger things have happened.

It's also convenient that all three of these players are 27 years or younger should the Rockets decide to trade Harden at the trade deadline. Like Wood, these signings give Houston the option to pivot in another direction. Because of Houston's lack of room under the apron, they didn't have the option to use their full mid-level or bi-annual exception. Ring-chaser types also weren't going to sign with the Rockets for the minimum given the uncertainty surrounding their stars. This was a nice way for Houston to hedge their bets while also filling out the roster with possible contributors.

The Rockets aren't done making moves yet, but they're close. Understanding the circumstances, it's hard to be too critical of what they did in free agency.

Overall Grade: B

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