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New overnight reservations at state parks turn Texans into happy campers

Overnight reservations at state parks turn Texans into happy campers

Austin Photo: News_kevin_TPWD_Holmes parks_August 2012_camping
Start planning that safe summer getaway. Photo by Rob McCorkle

If the COVID-19 pandemic has given you cabin fever and you suddenly feel the urge to go camping, good news: Texas state parks are now accepting new overnight reservations.

Starting May 27, visitors will be able to make camping reservations at parks with arrival dates between June 1 and September 7. This gradual reopening of overnight reservations will be limited to varying degrees at individual parks to align with safe business practices currently followed in Texas.

The announcement comes just one week after existing reservations began being honored again. Day passes and overnight reservations still must be obtained in advance — even for annual pass-holders — and can be purchased online or by calling 512-389-8900.

"No one is more pleased than us to welcome more outdoor enthusiasts back into state parks as part of the continued reopening of Texas," said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in a statement. "Our careful and deliberate approach to phasing in the reopening has served our visitors, volunteers, and staff well as we have continued our emphasis on the safety of everyone in the parks.

"Even in this limited capacity, we are glad that we can get more Texans and their families safely back on the trails and in the campsites to enjoy all the many unique spaces and places that make Texas State Parks so special."

TPWD urges visitors to continue to adhere to local, state, and federal guidelines for safety and social distancing before traveling. 

In addition, the following rules apply:

  • Masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged, but not required. (Masks will not be provided by the parks.)
  • Six-foot social distancing is required.
  • No groups larger than five people are allowed, except for families or people living in the same household.

Visitors are encouraged to bring all necessary provisions, including their masks and hand sanitizer, with them to help local businesses stay in stock for their own communities, TPWD advises.

Texas parks reopened for day use only on April 20 as the first step in Gov. Greg Abbott's plan for getting the state back to business amid the COVID-19 crisis. Parks in all corners of the state had been a refuge for Texans with cabin fever when shelter-in-place began in March. But by the end of the month, restrictions in parks tightened, and on April 7, they closed their gates indefinitely.

Texas State Parks will continue to operate at a limited capacity. All transactions at parks, equipment rentals, and in-person interpretive programs have been suspended, and all headquarters, visitor centers, and nature centers also remain closed for now.

To troubleshoot issues with the reservation system online, visit the reservation help page on the TPWD website. To find out about park closures due to weather, construction, and other factors, check TPWD's Texas State Parks Alert Map.