Located as far east as you can go trailing alongside the border of Louisiana and all the way down almost to Houston is the Piney Woods Region of Texas. Five state forests and four national forests mean tons of camping opportunities. Favorite things to do in this part of Texas are hiking, fishing, paddling the river, and camping, then the next day — repeat! The Piney Woods is like nothing else you’ll see in Texas. To me, it’s the most favorable of all regions with its thick pine trees, beautiful oak trees, timeless woodlands, and rich forests. I always love traveling to this area because of the unforgettable scenery.
Though I haven’t actually camped at every place on this list, I have traveled many miles near and far in this area. You’ll no doubt be satisfied anywhere you choose to camp, and you’ll also find wonderful outdoor things to do and beautiful campgrounds in the Piney Woods of East Texas on this list.
1. RV Camping At Lake O’ The Pines
Camping anywhere in the Pines is so serene and still. But, 10 miles west of Jefferson’s charming town lies Lake O’ The Pines, where RV camping is as good as it gets. There are plenty of wooded spaces and tall pine trees at Brushy Creek Park Campgrounds, and at Johnson Creek Campground, you’ll have great views of the lake. Just east of the dam is Buckhorn Creek Campground, where the dam protects the park from the wind.
Pro Tip: When in this area, you must check out the best outdoor things to do near Jefferson. There is so much to do in this charming town.
2. Tyler State Park
One of my most memorable times camping at Tyler State Park was when I took my son and niece when they were both eight years old. We stayed in a screened cabin and slept on cots that were provided. The kids fought the entire time they were kayaking on the lake, but we still had fun, and they were pals afterward. Campsites in this state park are nestled in the deep forest, and though it can get quite humid at times, especially in the summer months, the scenery and ambiance are quite enjoyable.
Pro Tip: When in Tyler, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is a must-see. The peak seasons for beautiful rose blooms are October and mid-to-late May. If you’re in the area in October, you may want to see about attending the Texas Rose Festival. I hear it is wonderful.
3. Lake Palestine Resort
I have many ties to Palestine, Texas. My papa lived there for many years, and we visited him at least every other month when I was a little girl and well into my twenties. He told me once that I was his favorite granddaughter and hoped to see me do great things in life. Depending on what type of camping you like to do, Lake Palestine Resort has an RV park and many camping options in lodges and cabins right on Lake Palestine. Boating and fishing are big-time sports there.
Pro Tip: If you’re in this area in late March to early April, be sure to stop by Davey Dogwood Park to see the beautiful dogwood and redbud trees in bloom along with many other wildflowers that pop up during the springtime.
4. Davy Crockett National Forest
Acres and acres of woodlands and streams are what you’ll find at Davy Crockett National Forest. You’ll find plenty of camping available for RVers, group camping, and campsites for tent camping at Ratcliff Lake. Nature viewing, bicycling, hiking, boating, and picnicking can be done there. If primitive camping is your style, you’ll find plenty at Neches Bluff Overlook.
Pro Tip: It’s possible to see black bears in this area as it’s the perfect territory for them to live in. Just follow guidelines for black bear safety, and you’ll be fine.
5. Caddo Lake State Park
It’s not a secret, but you will find treasures here at Caddo Lake State Park. With some of the most scenic camping areas in East Texas surrounded by massive bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, this state park encompasses one of the largest naturally formed lakes in Texas. Rent a historic cabin or screened shelter, or choose from 46 campsites that vary in amenities. Your time here will not be wasted or boring! If you have the time, take a guided tour of Caddo Lake. Many outfitters do this, and it’s a trendy thing to do when in this area.
Pro Tip: Alligators live in the park, but don’t expect to see any. But in case you do, do not feed them!
6. RV Parks In The Oldest Town In Texas
Camping in RVs is on the rise whether you own one or are trying out RV rentals. It’s widespread here in Texas. And when in East Texas, Nacogdoches (with a silent “g”), the oldest town in Texas, has many up-to-date RV facilities to choose from. Whether you’re looking for somewhere quiet, or perhaps larger areas with lots of amenities or a local park, this area of East Texas will welcome you. Places like Camp Tonkawa Springs RV Park and Piney Woods RV Park are two parks that, to me, look wonderful places to stop for a weekend or even just a night.
Pro Tip: If you’re bringing a car along, hop in and go to the old town of Nacogdoches and find a place that serves up some mean barbecue and burgers.
7. Big Thicket National Preserve
Backcountry camping is available year-round in most areas of Big Thicket National Preserve, located almost at the end of the Piney Woods Region in Kountze, Texas. Bring your camping gear and sleep under the stars in the woods or near the water. Hiking or canoeing are the only ways to get to these camping areas. If you’re brave, go for it. This chick is not!
Pro Tip: Backcountry camping in Big Thicket requires a permit, but it’s free.
8. Lake Fork Camping And Bass Fishing
The summer months at Lake Fork might provide you big bass for dinner! If you like bass fishing, then you’ll love this area — it’s nothing to take home a Yeti full. My best friend’s son won a lot of money catching big bass in fishing tournaments at this lake. And, the camping isn’t bad either. Many of my friends have owned lake houses on Lake Fork over the years, and fishing has been a big part of it. So, I’d say if you like camping and fishing, you should check out camping out at Lake Fork.
Pro Tip: If camping at a lodge is your style (it’s mine!), and you like bass fishing, Lake Fork Lodge in Alba is a top bass fishing lodge in America.
9. Camping In Mineola
I have not been camping in this area, but I have been to the same yoga retreat in Mineola three times. But if doing outdoor yoga in the woods and staying in adorable cabins count as camping, then I have! I can definitely vouch for the small-town charm on Main Street and the beautiful country in this area of East Texas. There are so many places to camp here, including primitive camping in Mineola Nature Preserve on the Sabine River and over ninety RV Parks and campgrounds.
Pro Tip: When traveling here, take the scenic route on US 80 and not the freeway.
10. Jellystone Park At Whispering Pines
Okay, grandparents, get the grandkids together for a happy reunion and take them to Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines, located just outside of Tyler, Texas. It’s a year-round family resort with a Yogi Bear theme. This is a fun-filled camping experience all grandparents need to do with the grandkids at least once! Though I’ve not camped here, my grandson has with the other side of the family. I did take him and picked him up, and I have to say, I wished I had been invited! The cabins are quaint, but the outdoor fun I saw was even better. Kids were jumping on this outdoor balloon-type thing, swimming in the pool, and playing on the playground. I’d say the best time to go is in the summer.
Pro Tip: While it’s fun to sleep in cabins, this park is also RV ready.
Coldsprings, Texas, is on the eastern edge of Sam Houston National Forest, and not too far down the road is a wooden camping area called Rock’n E RV Park. The park has 39 large wooded campsites and offers nature trails, a small camp store, a playground, a pavilion, and more. It looks like a perfect place to get out in nature and take in the awesomeness of the national forest’s woods.
Pro Tip: Rock’n E RV Park was voted the best RV park in the area for the past four years. Sounds like a winner to me.