PITCH A TENT

9 gorgeous places to camp in Central Texas for a quick getaway

Pedernales Falls boasts 69 campsites, plus a four-person hike-in primitive site and an equestrian group camp. Pedernales Falls State Park/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Perhaps you're looking for one last outdoor adventure before summer ends, or maybe the prospect of cooler fall nights has you dreaming of, well, dreaming in a tent. Either way, it's easy to make it happen in Central Texas.

With its natural beauty, rolling hills, and picturesque vistas, the area is teeming with places to enjoy the great outdoors with a camping adventure. Pitch a tent at a primitive campsite, or rent a cabin in the woods. Regardless of your style, these nine spots are perfect for a camping getaway.

Bastrop State Park
Famous for its extensive loblolly pine forest, better known as the Lost Pines, Bastrop State Park was ravaged by forest fires in 2011 and 2015. It remains a great spot for camping though, with 35 full-hookup sites, 19 electric-only sites, and 16 tent-only and six walk-in sites. Choose one of the latter and you won’t have to share your peace and quiet with air conditioning or TV noise. Some of the longer hiking trails are closed, but seven miles remain open. The hilly, 12-mile Park Road 1C between Bastrop and nearby Buescher State Park by car or bike is a contrast of recovering and still-forested areas. (And don’t even think about throwing that butt out the window.)

Black Rock Park
Enjoy swimming, kayaking (rentals available), and bank fishing at this Lower Colorado River Authority park on the west shore of sprawling Lake Buchanan. Or just float. Overnight options include cabins, tent camping, or RV sites. For land-based recreation, choose from a playground, horseshoe pits, and a volleyball court.

Canyon of the Eagles
A 940-acre park on the northeast shore of Lake Buchanan, Canyon of the Eagles offers tent camping at wooded Chimney Slough and at Tanner Point, and hike-in-only sites on a small peninsula. It also has an RV park if a real bed is more your groove. Tent campers have access to the RV bath house and amenities including a swim beach, nature programs, observatory, and 14 miles of hiking trails. And if you suck at camp cooking, there’s a great restaurant on site.

Inks Lake State Park
This state park, a classic Texas Hill Country landscape, has nearly 200 campsites, many on the shore, and 22 cabins (two ADA-accessible). Oh, it also has a lake, of course, where you can swim or paddle in a large, no-wake zone (paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks available for rent). Fish for sunfish, catfish, and bass from two piers or the shore — no fishing license needed — and clean your catch at one of two cleaning stations. Plus, there are nine miles of hiking trails. The park store sells all the essentials and there’s even a food truck that sells snow cones, root beer floats, nachos, hot dogs, and more.

Continue reading on CultureMap.

Photo by Jacob Power

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

My dog, Sally, is never going to a public dog park again. I've always had my concerns about dog parks, like aggressive dogs, potential bacteria and disease, and unsupervised activity.

But, I thought, I've heard good things about Officer Lucy Dog Park in Bellaire. Let's see if Sally has fun there. I adopted Sally last New Year's Eve. She's grown into the sweetest, gentlest, most adorable dog I've ever owned.

She's also grown into one of the biggest dogs I've ever owned. It didn't say that on the card on her cage at the shelter.
Here's what happened: I brought Sally to the dog park around 8 am last Thursday. There was a guy in there with three dogs. I asked him, "Are your dogs safe?" He said, "Yeah."As we walked along the fence toward the entrance, I noticed one of his dogs defecating. The guy made no effort to pick it up. I told him, "Hey…"

He said, "I got it, worry about your own dog." He looked annoyed that I called him out about his dog pooping.

Attack at the park

That was a bad sign and I should have turned around right there. The moment we entered the gate, his three dogs attacked Sally. It happened in an instant and it was a frightening, horrible scene. They had Sally pinned down. They were snarling and one was going after her neck. Sally was screaming, a sound I had never heard her make.

This was for real. It wasn't playing, dogs sniffing each other out. These dogs were hurting my amazing dog. I'll never forget the awful sound of growling and barking and crying.

Ken to the rescue

I jumped in the middle and kicked the dog going for Sally's neck as hard as I could. I yelled "Get off!" and "Do something" to the other dog's owner. He just stood there.

I grabbed Sally and slammed the gate behind. The other dogs were hurling themselves at the fence, still trying to get at Sally. The moment we were safe, here's my admission, I went into a rage hollering at the other dogs' owner. He never said sorry, just that, "...two of my dogs are in heat."

That took a terrible situation to 11. I unleashed a torrent of profanity. The guy didn't back off. He told me to F-off, and how about this, "I was here first. If you don't like it, don't bring your dog in here."

That made me 1,000 times angrier. There is a list of rules on the gate at Officer Lucy Dog Park. No vicious dogs, no dogs in heat, on and on. The problem — and this was my original concern about public dog parks — you can have all the rules you want, but if you don't enforce the rules, you have no rules.

I was furious. You never know how you're going to react in a situation, but if his dogs had killed Sally, I would have spent last Thursday night in jail. People dump on me all day long — get in line — but it you can't hurt my dog.

Continue on CultureMap to read what happened when Ken Hoffman called the police.


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