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Free RV Camping on Texas Beaches

While many Texans flock to the beaches of South Padre Island to escape the summer heat, there are less-crowded beaches just a little farther north, where RV camping on the beaches of the Gulf Coast is permitted and encouraged. Better yet, camping is either free or included with a low-cost entry pass.

Padre Island National Seashore

Of all the free beach camping, Padre Island National Seashore provides the best opportunity to get away from it all – tune out the world and tune in to nature. At 60 miles long, this beach is the longest, remaining, undeveloped barrier island in the world. The beaches are beautiful and the surroundings all natural. Entry is $10.00 for a one-day pass or $20.00 for seven days.

Once in the park, follow the road past the visitor center to the beach camping area where you can camp for free. You may stay for 14 consecutive days and then leave for 48 hours before returning for a maximum of 56 days per calendar year. Just fill out a registration form for your vehicle at the entry kiosk when you arrive. 

The farther down the beach you drive (usually conditions allow about 5 miles by regular two-wheel drive vehicles), the farther you’ll be away from any other people if that’s what you’re after. You’ll need to check beach driving conditions and be aware of the tides. This is true whenever you drive on a beach. We’ve camped here several times alongside RVers in large fifth-wheels and even a few motorhomes. Another year the beach was flooded after a storm and closed to traffic altogether.

Port Aransas

A $12.00 annual beach pass is required to park anywhere on the beach except within the I.B. Magee County Park boundary. The pass is sold at the county park visitor centers, the local grocery store, and local convenience stores. It’s a shame to have to pay to park on the beach, but it’s not so bad when you realize the pass also covers you for three nights of free camping anywhere on Port Aransas beaches with the exception of I.B. Magee County Park. 

You can expect a lot more traffic than at Padre Island National Seashore but the beach road is extra-wide, hard-packed, and maintained. On the main beach, the parking area is far enough back that we’ve never feared soft sand or the possibility of waves licking at our tires at high tide. Any size of RV should be fine here. If you prefer to drive and camp closer to the ocean’s edge, you can do so south of Beach Access Rd 1. Small campfires are permitted on the beach between beach markers 0 and 62.

Magnolia Beach

Magnolia Beach is approximately 12 miles southeast of Port Lavaca. Located on an oyster-fishing bay, the beach is covered in broken shells – not the fine sand of the beaches of Port Aransas and the National Seashore. No matter what size of RV you’re in, you should feel comfortable parking on this firm surface rather than the softness of a sand beach. 

Facilities include covered picnic tables, garbage cans, and public restrooms. The beach is clean and, although the restrooms are generally not very well maintained, they do have running water. 

You can only walk the shoreline for about a mile before private property signs get in your way but this shoreline is still relatively untouched by developers and tourism. It’s a bit of a hidden gem and, so far, there’s no fee or permit required to camp here. Although there’s not a posted stay limit, we’ve been told that if you appear to be settling in for the long haul, you will be asked to move on. 

We found the residents of this small community to be friendly and welcoming. In fact, we have great memories of making friends with some of the locals on our first visit. 

Free Camping Near Houston

Speaking of meeting locals, continuing north along the coast soon brings us to the greater Houston area. Here, lining up a Boondockers Welcome host to stay with is probably one of your only free options (outside of a Walmart or other retail parking lot). Scroll down to see the list of hosts we currently have within 50 miles of downtown Houston. They invite you to stop in for a night or two when you’re ready to leave the beaches behind. 

Note: the above suggestions for beach camping are a sample of the information you’ll find in my Frugal Shunpiker’s Guide, RV Boondocking in Southern Texas. 

Boondockers Welcome Logo

Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers that provide overnight stays with each other for free while traveling through an area. We help RVers to travel more economically and find options when campgrounds may be full. It’s a great and safe way to meet fellow RVers or for people curious about the RV lifestyle to learn from members, while also providing a safe place to park for one night or up to five nights.

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Boondockers Welcome Hosts Near Houston, Texas

Happy Campers In Houston Heights

Houston, TX
hosted by lasislas

1920's bungalow in the heart of Houston in a small neighborhood called the Heights. It's a quiet, residential area so no parties, loud music or grilling/cooking outside on the lawn. Perfect for a stop through--about 2 miles from I10. While quiet the neighborhood is bustling with tons of new growth! …

Gregbeth's Host Location

Spring, TX
hosted by Gregbeth

Driveway in suburban area on cul-de-sac street. 30amp connection. WIFI. Max 23'. Sorry, but subdivision is becoming more picky so need to be stealth mode. No more than 1 night.

Nassau Bay Texas

Nassau Bay, TX
hosted by Kchurchill

We are located a short 10 minute walk from Johnson Space center. The government facility is closed to the public but Space Center Houston is a public attraction. Galveston Bay is 5-6 miles away. Repair facilities are very close. There is a Mercedes Sprinter repair station 6 miles away. There …

By The Bayou

Baytown, TX
hosted by TomandCindy

1 acre well maintained in a suburban setting across the street from the bayou. Quiet, pleasant restful. we don't have a cement pad but the ground is well stabilized. Very restful there is a small cemetery adjacent. So the neighbors won’t be loud. The bayou is accross the street and …

Urban Oasis

Conroe, TX
hosted by yggm

We own a large 1/4 acre lot with beautiful trees that is 5 minutes from The Woodlands and all it has to offer - hike and bike trails with tons of rental bikes, SUP, kayaking, paddleboats, shopping, Children's museum, events, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Lake Woodlands, The Woodlands Waterway, iFLY …

Brady Family Ranch

KATY, TX
hosted by KarenB

Our extremely quiet 10 acre ranch is home to horses, chickens, cats, and goats. Tables, chairs, and plenty of "outside" let you relax (especially if you've been a bit "cramped" in the RV.) Standard electrical connections: 50 amp, 30 amp, and 20 amp (GFCI) are right at the site, and …

Tiff’S Retreat

Huffman, TX
hosted by tmarsh7

We are located in Huffman, Texas. Just 45 minutes away from Houston and all that the city has to offer. Great restaurants, sporting events, the arts and more! We sit on 6 acres and have a swimming pool.

Out In The Farm Country

Brookshire, TX
hosted by Romeurei

Very quiet location to spend the night out in the country, about 15 min from I10 and Brookshire.

Small Town Retreat

Wallis, TX
hosted by BrendaSanchez

Our property is gated and fenced and under 24/7 surveillance cameras. We are located 2 blocks away from city hall, the local police station and the EMS station. There is a Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Restaurant’s and fast food joints and a Starbucks less than 10 miles away. If you …

Buck Acres

Montgomery, TX
hosted by AlwaysHome

We are currently developing an RV park about 1/2 mile away from Lake Conroe, TX. In the meantime, we'd love to offer boondockers a place to stay. No fees for dry camping, $15/night for access to the home's electricity and water - or $10/night for just electricity. Security lights and …

Vintage Girl Hideaway

Sweeny, TX
hosted by Cernice

Acreage in county road. There is a train track within 1 mile but it does not bother us. Quite area , small town 2 miles with grocery store, dollar store and a few places to get some close to home cooked meals. Have charcoal grill you are welcome to use. …

Comments

  • Paulmark

    Paulmark   

    Is there room to camp on Texas beaches year round?
  • Marianne

    Marianne on 05/18/2019 9:01 a.m. moderator  

    The beach width changes with a big storm and, of course, a bit less but daily with the tides. Otherwise, it should be pretty consistent. You may wish to avoid hurricane season although there's always ample warning.
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