Trip Date 03/19/2019
Posted On 03/28/2019 16:42:35
Camping | Hiking | Texas | Bastrop | Austin | Bastrop State Park | Central Texas Campgrounds | RVing in Central Texas | Texas State Parks | Best Places to Camp Near Austin
Days before the beginning of Spring, we pulled our RV to Bastrop State Park in Bastrop, Texas for two nights of RV camping. We chose this central Texas campground as it was less than 1 1/2 hours from our Austin area home and would give us the perfect opportunity to test everything before a long spring RV road trip.
If you are considering RVing in central Texas, Bastrop State Park is one of the best places to camp near Austin, plus it is a member of the Texas State Park network. This post will provide you with a brief overview of the campground and campsite amenities as well as the hiking opportunities available to park guests. We'll also share our favorite campsites within the park along with why we like them!
Campground Amenities at Bastrop State ParkWith a total of 70 campsites, Bastrop State Park has some great options for both RV or tent campers. The park is in an area referred to as The Lost Pines because of the loblolly pine trees which are separated by 80 miles from the Pineywoods in East Texas. Although the park, located just over 30 miles east of Austin, has had its share of natural disasters in recent years, a visit to the park confirms that it is on the road to recovery. Burning for 55 days, the 2011 Bastrop Complex Wildfire affected 96% of the park. Less than 4 years later, a Memorial Day Flood caused a dam collapse in the park. Finally, in 2015 the Hidden Pines Fire burned in the county for another 11 days.
The park was clean and the bathhouses in both the Copperas Creek and Piney Hill Camping Areas may just be the nicest that we've seen at any campground. Dumpsters for landfill trash as well as recycling are located near each bathhouse. Something that we haven't seen before were Dish Washing Stations, one under the roof of each bathhouse. With our campsite located near one of the bathhouses, we were amazed at the number of campers regularly walking with dishes to clean!
Either newly built or recently remodeled, the men's and women's bathhouses were sparkling clean. So often it looks like something is growing between the tiles in either the shower stalls or on the bathhouse floor - but not at Bastrop State Park!
Park guests have a variety of both land and water recreational activities from which to choose. There are plenty of picnic tables and grills where you can enjoy a meal or snack, trails for hiking or biking and even some pretty cool historic sites. The park's playground has slides, swings and more for the youngsters ready to expend some of their energy.
Although Bastrop State Park Lake has been empty since the dam collapse, fishing is still available in Lake Mina. As with all Texas State Parks, no fishing license is required when fishing from the shore (and the park even has fishing equipment to lend)! The park also has a pool open from May to September within the grounds. The additional fee for the Bastrop YMCA managed pool is $3.00 for park guests or $5.00 for those at the park only for swimming.
There are more options than just tent and RV camping - the park also has both group barracks and individual cabins available for rent. It was fun to reminisce about my stay over 30 years ago with my parents and sister in the Pioneer Village Cabin Area. I didn't remember that the cabins were originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (or maybe I didn't even know about the CCC in those days)! Priced from $80.00 to $200.00 per night, the 14 historic cabins sleep from 2 - 8 people.
In addition to the cabins, the CCC and Works Progress Administration built other structures still standing for visitors to admire today including a Refectory, Golf Shelter and Shade Shelter.
For campers who are interested in possible day trips, options include driving (or biking) the scenic 12 mile Park Road 1C which connects the park to Buescher State Park. There's also the 30 mile journey to the Live Music Capital of the World (Austin) or the short drive to historic downtown Bastrop.
The cost for our two night stay totaled $30.00 with our Texas State Parks Pass discounts. The pass waived the $20.00 daily use fees ($5.00 per person per day) plus we received a 50% price reduction on our second night of camping ($10.00).
Campsite Amenities at Bastrop State ParkWe lucked out when we did an online search for a campsite at Bastrop State Park just a couple of days before our desired dates - there were still two campsites available that would accommodate our 33 foot rig! Sites are priced at $14.00 (water only), $20.00 (water and 20-/30-amp electric) and $25.00 (water, 20-/30-/50-amp electric and sewer) per night. In addition to utilities, each site has a picnic table, grated fire ring and most also have a grill.
We chose site 59 in the newer Copperas Creek Camping Area when we made our reservation. Located across from the bathhouse, the site has back-in parking on a paved surface. Unfortunately the pavement had some side-to-side slope and was not quite long enough to park both our RV and tow vehicle. The good news was that the overflow parking where we parked our Expedition was right next to the site.
Site amenities included 20-/30-amp electric, water, an uncovered wooden picnic table on a concrete base, fire pit with a grate, grill and a double lantern hook. The site did have some tall pine trees, however the few that would accommodate the hanging of hammocks were all close to the road. Probably due to the loss of many of the trees between the park and the highway, the site also came with a noticeable amount of road noise.
The only dump station within the park was in the Piney Hill Camping Area. Long RVs may have some difficulty maneuvering the relatively tight turn to reach the dump when the parking area for the bathhouse is full.
Due to the park's close proximity to Austin, there is a good assortment of broadcast television stations - most with good reception. We also had excellent phone and data service with both Verizon and T-Mobile.
Favorite Campsites at Bastrop State ParkWith our Bastrop State Park map in hand, we walked through both of the camping loops to pick out our favorite sites so that we're prepared for a future visit. All sites were clean in both loops, however it's important to note that on-site utilities, parking (back-in vs. pull-through) and length drastically differ between campsites.
Copperas Creek Camping AreaOf the two loops, we prefer the sites in the Copperas Creek Camping Area, even though none were pull-through. Our favorite sites (in order of our preference) are:
- Site 69 is the best site in the loop, however will probably never be available as it is dedicated to the Park Host;
- With double-wide parking areas, campsites 54 and 52 would easily accommodate both a longer RV and a tow vehicle;
- Located next to the Park Host, site 70 has a little less concrete but still has a nice, paved area with site amenities including picnic table, etc. and full utilities; and
- Of the remaining sites with full utilities, our next favorite is site 73.
A few other comments to note about sites within the loop:
- Sites 62 - 68 all have very small driveways accommodating only smaller RVs or tents.
- Campsites 69 - 78 are the only sites with full utilities in Copperas Creek;
- While sites 76 and 78 are both long with double-wide parking, the sites have few trees therefore allowing the sun to beat down and probably heat up an RV; and
- Although not quite long enough for our car and RV, with its nice trees alongside the pavement, site 53 is well-shaded.
Piney Hill Camping AreaSites in the original Piney Hill Camping Area are all pull-through with full utilities. The camping loop sits up on a hill and was therefore slightly windier during our stay. Our favorite sites (again ordered by preference) are:
- Although not level, Sites 5 and 6 have trees spaced so as to accommodate hammocks and also have concrete picnic tables;
- With all utilities and a few tall trees, our next favorite Site 2 does not have trees from which hammocks can be suspended;
- Site 18, with its wooden picnic table and nice view, will get morning sun but should be nicely shaded in the afternoon; and
- While Site 21 has more limited trees, a wooden picnic table and requires an extension to hook-up to sewer while parked, it rounds out our favorites list.
Final comments about sites within this loop include:
- Sites 1 and 22 are Park Host sites;
- Sites in the Piney Hill Camping Area are not available to tenters and are not quite as level as in the newer camping area; and
- The number of trees decreases as you move further toward the back of the camping loop.
Hiking at Bastrop State ParkBastrop State Park has over seven miles of hiking trails ranging from some easy paved trails perfect for those pushing strollers to challenging backcountry trails. Rather than trail hiking, we walked mostly uphill along Park Road 1A from Copperas Creek Camping Area to the Scenic Overlook to enjoy the view.
We did, however, take the longer 1.7 mile Scenic Overlook Hiking Trail back to our campsite. Hiking through the park brings mixed emotions - sadness for the many blackened tree trunks standing and lying in the forest and happiness when seeing new growth.
Starting as a rocky path, the terrain of the mostly downhill hiking trail was quite diverse. It changed from rock to sand to packed dirt with some wooden steps and bridges interspersed along the way. The trail also took us past the Historic Water Fountains built nearly 90 years ago by the CCC.
Central Texas CampgroundsIf you're planning to camp in Texas, don't miss our other reviews of central Texas campgrounds. Our posts titled Review: Lake Somerville State Park - Birch Creek Unit and Review: Taylor Park and Campground will help you decide the best place to stay during your visit.
Camping near Austin, TexasFor those wanting to camp in the Austin vicinity, what campgrounds would you encourage them to check for availability ... and, why do you recommend these campgrounds?
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