Primitive Camping in Texas

••• backpacking in crimea on summer image by Galyna Andrushko from

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Sometimes there is an urge to get away from cell phones, traffic jams, texting, the Internet and all the other traps of modern life. An urge to get back to the basics, to reconnect with nature is one that many people feel but few act upon. For the dedicated and active few who really wish to ride off into the sunset to seek solace and silence, backpacking or primitive camping is the way to go. Few states offer the variety of landscapes and areas in which to return to nature that are available in Texas.


According to Camping Earth, “Primitive camping is generally not a good family outing. A privative camping enthusiast is one who is in excellent physical condition and has conquered advanced camping skills.” In other words, primitive camping and backpacking is best suited for healthy and fit survivalist types who want to escape from the modern conveniences and the instant gratification culture. A person must want to hike into the wilderness while carrying all her supplies to explore nature.


The Texas Parks and Recreation lists 33 parks throughout Texas that have primitive camping available; just choose one according to what you want to do and see. For example, Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera offers primitive camping with equestrian access, so you can experience Texas the way the cowboys did—on horseback. Dinosaur Valley State Park, north of Glen Rose, rewards hikers with some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks not only in North America but also in the world. Mustang Island is located just south of Port Aransas, with five miles of beach, which means plenty of water play like swimming, surfing and fishing.


More often than not, primitive camping locations in Texas tend to be areas that must be hiked to, often up to 10 miles just to get to a remote area. Primitive camping, by nature, allows more mobility than regular tent camping and is intended for the individual who wishes to explore a vast area by foot or horseback. Day treks away from a single chosen campsite are also popular so you can see the sights in the area without having to pack up and set up camp elsewhere.


With primitive camping, there are no designated campsites. Since you carry your equipment and provisions with you, you simply select an area that appeals to you and set up camp. Be forewarned that most of the parks do not permit ground fires and do not provide fire rings for primitive camping, so you will need a contained stove and warm bedding if you wish to camp somewhat comfortably.


Primitive camping entails living on the basics and foregoing restrooms, showers and facilities where you can obtain food and water. This means you must be strong and fit enough to carry whatever you need or know how to find it while camping. Texas is a more arid region but there are lakes, streams and rivers can provide water. Using these bodies as sources of drinking water does require treatment by boiling and/or filtering first. In some Texas parks, fishing and hunting are allowed by permit but you also need to have some food with you in case you do not catch anything unless you are comfortable with going without. Double-check all this information with the Texas park you choose to camp in before trekking into the wild.