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Camping on the Guadalupe

Camping on the Guadalupe


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 05/24/2022
Posted On 07/19/2022 09:58:16

Camping | Hiking | RV Trip | Texas | Spring Branch | Austin | San Antonio | Central Texas | Guadalupe River State Park | Guadalupe River | Campgrounds | Texas State Parks Pass | Camping in Texas | Texas State Parks



After nearly four months without taking our travel trailer on the road, we made plans to meet friends for a two-day RV trip in our home state of Texas. Our friends had reserved a campsite at Guadalupe River State Park. Luckily, we were able to find a nearby site so that we could all conveniently visit during our camping getaway.

Located in Spring Branch between Austin and San Antonio, the state park and campground is very popular because of its namesake, the Guadalupe River. Swimmers, rafters and river floaters in Central Texas flock to this area during the late spring and summer months. The miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails are an indication that there is more to the state park than just the river.

Don't miss this quick read which will help you visualize some of what you can expect to see and do during a stay at Guadalupe River State Park. We also provide you with a brief introduction to the Texas State Parks Pass. You'll find a link to more information about being a pass holder - perfect for helping you decide whether purchasing a pass makes sense for you!

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Overview of Camping Amenities at Guadalupe River State Park

In addition to the Wagon Ford Walk-In Tent Area with 9 native campsites, Guadalupe River State Park has two camping loops with a total of 85 water and electric sites. The Turkey Sink Camping Area has 48 sites with 50-amp electric and water and the Cedar Sage Camping Area is home to 37 sites with 30-amp electric and water. Although no sites have sewer, there is a dump station located on the main road leading into and out of the park. All sites have tent pads, picnic tables and a fire ring with a grill. The use of generators is not permitted within the campground.


Entering Guadalupe River State Park

Entering Guadalupe River State Park

Campsites at Guadalupe River State Park can be reserved for as little as one night. Reservations and site selection are available online at Reserve America.

During our late spring visit, the park was clean and all services appeared to be available. Restrooms in the two campground loops were well maintained with individual locked shower stalls.

Effective June 27, 2022, an alert on the park website reads: "Campground showers are closed. No showers are available in the park until dry conditions improve. Please use water wisely when you visit. Bring your own drinking water or buy water from vending machines at headquarters and restrooms in the park. Expect low water level and flow rate in the river."

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Campsites are priced at $20.00 (30-amp) and $24.00 (50-amp) per night. Those staying for a week are offered a discounted rate which equates to paying for six nights and getting the seventh night free. The park's entrance fee is $7.00 per day per person over the age of 12. (This daily use fee is charged to both overnight campers and those just enjoying the amenities at the park during daytime hours.

Don't miss our article, "Is the Texas State Parks Pass Worth the Annual Fee?. If you'll be camping or visiting any additional Texas State Parks within the next year, you'll want to know whether or not you can save money on daily entrance fees or camping (1/2 price on second night of two consecutive nights). Having the annual pass saved us $152.50 during our first year as pass holders and $236.50 during our second year. The global pandemic impacted some of the tentative plans that we had for camping during our third year of being passholders. Even with stays at only four campgrounds and day visits to three additional Texas State Parks, we still saved $41.50 by having a state parks pass.

The park headquarters is also home to a state parks store with limited camping supplies including fire wood and ice plus souvenirs available for purchase.

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Fun Times at the Guadalupe River

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest draws to the state park is the Guadalupe River. Especially on warm weather days, both campers and park visitors with day passes will be found at the river. Water lovers can usually be found swimming, floating, rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, wading and even fishing. Those who prefer the land are usually watching the fun from the sidelines - somewhere along the four miles of river frontage inside the park.


Fun in the Sun on the Guadalupe River

Fun in the Sun on the Guadalupe River

The restrooms nearest the river have six individual changing rooms - especially nice for day visitors who are headed back home after enjoying the river.


Restrooms nearest Discovery Center

Restrooms nearest Discovery Center

The Guadalupe River State Park Paddling Trail is a 5-mile paddling trail that starts in the state park. Paddlers have their choice of where to take out - most choose the 5-mile paddle and exit at Nichol's Landing County Park. Die hard paddlers can continue on for another 5 or 10 miles on the Upper Guadalupe - Nichol's Landing Paddling Trail. (It's important to be aware that the river does flow in a loop - the current will NOT bring floaters back to their starting point!)

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In addition to a picnic area and a small playground with a couple of swings and a slide, the park has a Discovery Center. Built with younger explorers in mind, the center is full of hands-on activities. Inside, kids will find gadgets like binoculars, magnifying glasses and microscopes that they can try out on Saturdays and Sundays.


Discovery Center

Discovery Center

Bird watchers will enjoy the bird blind, and there's also a monarch waystation inside the state park. The waystation is designed to "create, conserve and protect" monarch butterflies as they migrate.


Guadalupe River State Park's Woodland Blind

Guadalupe River State Park's Woodland Blind

Monarch Waystation

Monarch Waystation

Hiking, Biking and Horse-Back Riding at Guadalupe River State Park

No matter if you are a hiker or mountain biker, Guadalupe River State Park has 13 miles of trails from which you can choose! Five of the trail miles are designated as multi-use where you'll also be sharing the path with horse-back riders. The Bauer Unit is home to 8 of the park's most remote hiking and biking trails as well as the remains of the Bauer House (circa 1878) and windmill. Since we spent all of our time south of the river, the closest that we got to the historic home was a view from the scenic overlook atop the limestone bluff.


Treetop View from atop the Guadalupe River's Limestone Bluff

Treetop View from atop the Guadalupe River's Limestone Bluff

Accessing the less crowded trails of the Bauer Unit requires a drive to the park's northern entrance or traipsing through the Guadalupe River to reach the River Access Trail. Once on the north side, trails range from the easy 0.7 mile long Little Bluestream Loop to the more challenging 1.7 mile Bamberger Trail. (The friends that we were camping with did cross over the river with their three dogs and came back very excited about their long morning hike in the Bauer Unit!)

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South of the river, trails range from 0.2 miles to the multi-use Painted Bunting Trail at 2.8 miles in length. Due to its trailhead being very near our campsite, we walked the easy and short Turkey Sink Trail a couple of times.


Hiking the Turkey Sink Trail

Hiking the Turkey Sink Trail

From the "far" end of the trail, we had easy access to the 0.6 mile long Bald Cypress Trail, most of which is alongside the Guadalupe River. As you would guess, the trail gets its name from the large cypress trees that line the banks of the river. A fellow camper commented that he was "searching for his roots" along the trail!


Searching for My Roots on the Bald Cypress Trail!

Searching for My Roots on the Bald Cypress Trail!

Peace and Quiet on the Guadalupe River

Peace and Quiet on the Guadalupe River

The remainder of our hiking was done on the Cedar Sage Trail, River Overlook Trail and Discovery Center Loop. A part of the loop was doubling as a "story trail" during our visit - perfect to help motivate younger children to keep on hiking. Pages of the book The Thing About Bees were posted on signs along the trail. By hiking out and back, park visitors could read the entire book!


"The Thing About Bees" Story Trail

"The Thing About Bees" Story Trail

Because our stay in the state park spanned from Sunday to Tuesday, we missed out on the guided tours to the Honey Creek State Natural Area adjacent to the park. Registration is required for the two-mile long hike offered each Saturday and on select Sundays at 9:00 AM. Park visitors are also welcome to join one additional 3/4 mile guided hike out to the scenic overlook weekly on Thursdays.

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Campsite 47 at Guadalupe River State Park

Campsite 47, where we spent our two days camping, was located in the Turkey Sink Camping Area. The site had easy back-in parking on a level paved parking pad. We had 30-/50-amp electric and on-site water. The site was clean and quite spacious. Even though we were next to the restrooms / showers, there was plenty of space between. The tall shade trees around the site helped to keep the RV cool - even when the sun was beating down.


All Set Up in Campsite 47 at Guadalupe River State Park

All Set Up in Campsite 47 at Guadalupe River State Park

Most of the trees shading our campsite were on the side of the RV where the front door is located. The trees were well positioned to provide some shade over the uncovered wooden picnic table as well as the tent pad. Unlike in some campgrounds, the combination of the trees and the spacing between the RV pad and tent pad provided for some privacy.

We had good phone and data service with both Verizon and T-Mobile, our two mobile phone providers. Broadcast television stations at the campground were very limited. Additional amenities at the site which we did not use utilize during our short stay included a lantern hook as well as a fire pit with a grate.


Cooking Breakfast Tacos

Cooking Breakfast Tacos

Since our park pass was expired at the time that we made our online reservation, we paid a total of $76.00. This initial charge included two nights of camping in a 50-amp site at full price plus park entrance fees for two people for two days.

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Upon our arrival at the park, we purchased a new Texas State Parks Pass valid for one year at a cost of $70.00. Our new pass gave us a $40.00 discount on our reservation:

  • 50% discount on our second night of camping - $12.00; plus
  • waived daily entrance fees for the two of us - $7.00 x 2 people x 2 days = $28.00.
The bottom line was a total charge of $106.00:
  • $70.00 for a Texas State Parks Pass which will give us half-off of our second night of camping when we book two consecutive nights as well as waived daily entrance fees for our travel party through May 2023; plus
  • $36.00 for two nights of camping.

The additional $30.00 that we paid upon arriving at the park provides us with the benefits of being a Texas State Parks pass holder that will last us for another year into the future!

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Least Favorite Campsites at Guadalupe River State Park

We have a goal of walking around each campground that we stay at in order to choose our favorites sites. We use this information for future visits that we may make to the campground, and also provide it to any of our readers who have an interest in our favorite campsites.

As we began our walk around the Turkey Sink Camping Area, it quickly became apparent that our list of favorite sites would be a long one. We decided, instead, to create a list of our least favorite sites:

  • Although we don't think that there would be a lot of road noise, if other sites were available we would not select Site 38 due to its close proximity to the main park road;
  • Sites 45, 60, 62, 68 and 72 were not as well shaded as most other sites within the loop;
  • Because we typically don't use the campground's public toilets and showers, we would not return to Site 47 for a future visit - if we had a choice. In addition to being beside the restroom facility, there was a bigger than normal drop-off from the bottom stair step to the ground. (We chose this site for our stay as it was nearest the site reserved by friends who invited us to join them for this short getaway); and


    Drop-off at Campsite 47 (with Bathhouse in Background)

    Drop-off at Campsite 47 (with Bathhouse in Background)

  • While it would be nice to have a double-wide paved parking pad like the one on Site 74, the site would not be long enough for our 33 foot long travel trailer.

Unfortunately, our short stay did not allow us the time to choose our favorite (or least favorite) campsites in the Cedar Sage Camping Area.

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Texas State Parks Pass

If we piqued your interest at all by sharing a few of the perks that holders of the Texas State Parks Pass receive, don't miss reading Is the Texas State Parks Pass Worth the Annual Fee?. We review the benefits of the pass in greater detail, provide a cost versus benefit comparison and also some examples of how you can benefit by purchasing a pass.

Fun Times at Campgrounds

What campground activities have left you with the most memorable camping trips?




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Camping on the Guadalupe







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