Along the shady banks of the Elm Creek lies one of Texas’s most unique state parks, Abilene State Park. Surrounded by a lush landscape and a thick canopy of trees, the park is a fantastic place to visit for RV lovers looking for a quiet getaway not too far from the city of Abilene. Originally built in the 1930s thanks to the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park covers nearly 530 acres of land with elm, pecan, and live oak trees in abundance.
One of the biggest attractions to Abilene State Park is the vast amount of activities that are available for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There are many trails to bird watch, hike, or participate in a game of geocaching on, and during the summer, you can enjoy the pool or the cool nights by a campfire. The lake is also a great place to do some fishing or take out a boat to explore the water. Wanting to learn more about the history of the park and flora and fauna in the area? Check out one of the many ranger-led programs that are held during the peak season.
There several campgrounds that offer facilities for RV camping so you will have plenty of choices for accommodations. The maximum length for RVs and trailers is 91 feet long, and some sites also offer full hookups. The peak season at Abilene State Park runs from April until October.
Located in the Callahan Divide, it isn’t uncommon to describe Abilene State Park as a hidden gem. Whether you are coming from Abilene, Dallas, or Fort Worth, you will have to take FM 89 southwest for 16 miles through Buffalo Gap. You will then have to continue on Park Road 32 to the park entrance. It is recommended that once you reach Buffalo Gap you should reduce your speed in order to see the signs leading to the park.
While in the park, you will notice signs indicating the main office and the different campgrounds. Be sure to pick up a colored trail map, as it is more detailed than a black and white one on your way in. There are no speed signs in the park, but it is recommended that you drive below 40 miles per hour as there may be little children and families walking on the roads.
In case of flooding or inclement weather, the park may close to protect its visitors and lead them to a safer location. While flooding is not unusual for the area, be sure to check the forecast before you travel to help park officials with relocating campers. Rather than driving in the park, it is recommended that you walk or ride a bike to better experience all that the park has to offer. This will also save you the trouble of having to find parking for your car or RV, as the park can get pretty crowded during peak season.
The pet-friendly Brushy Trail Campground is centrally located and close to several hiking trails. If you are driving a large rig this is the campground for you since rigs up to 90 feet in length can be accommodated.
All sites have electric hookups, but one host site features full hookups. You’ll also have access to a dump station, restroom, and hot showers, and you’ll have a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern available at each site for you to use. Just be sure to leave the site just like you found it when you leave.
If you don’t plan on leaving for at least three weeks, it’s a good idea to become a park host or just get a park pass. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Oak Grove Campground is one within the Abilene State Park that is suitable for RV camping. Centrally located near the Group Hall, this pet-friendly campground provides easy access to many activities in the park. Rigs up to 91 feet in length can be accommodated here, and the lots are spacious enough so you can get some privacy from your neighbor. These campsites are on gravel or paved pads under the majestic shade of Texan trees, and they are also located close to the showers, bathhouse, and dump station.
Electric hookups are available for all sites in this campground, and a few even offer full hookups. Amenities at each site include a fire ring, picnic table, and lantern post. Reservations are highly recommended if you wish to guarantee that you will have a site waiting for you upon your arrival.
The Pecan Grove Campground is located on the southern edge of the park near the Elm Creek Nature Trail. The maximum length for trailers and RVs is 63 feet at this pet-friendly campground. Electric hookups are available, and there is one host campsite in the Pecan Grove Campground that offers full hookups. A dump station is also nearby.
The campsites are located on gravel pads in a beautiful shaded area, and other amenities in the campground include a fire ring, picnic tables, restrooms, hot showers, and a lantern post. Remember that you are not permitted to bring your own firewood into the park and must always use what is provided. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance and are highly recommended.
Wagon Circle is another campground that is great for RVs and trailers offering 36 sites with electric hookups. Each site can fit a rig up to 45 feet long, and pets are welcome. Some sites are partially shaded so you can cook up a nice meal on the fire ring with grill and dine under the stars on the picnic table provided. The parking surface is gravel at most sites, so keep that in mind when parking. You can stay connected to the outside world thanks to the availability of Wi-Fi, and restrooms are within walking distance.
If you are interested in camping without a reservation, all of the sites that aren't already taken will be available for you to use. This can be a good option during the off-season, but if you are visiting during the peak months all of the sites may be booked out in advance.
If you are looking for something a little different when it comes to accommodation options, you should consider staying in a yurt at Abilene State Park. The park has seven small yurts and one that is on the larger side.
The smaller yurts are suitable for up to five guests and feature a patio, fire ring, picnic table, a microwave, fridge, and two beds. The larger yurt is suitable for up to eight visitors and contains three beds along with the same amenities that are in the smaller yurt. Please note that pets are not allowed at either yurt and they don't feature air conditioning. If you do want to stay in a yurt, you will need to reserve it prior to your arrival so make sure that you plan your trip in advance.
For visitors to Abilene State Park that are leaving the RV at home, you can still stay in one of the campgrounds since they are available for tent camping. If you are looking for tent-only camping there are two sites with this designation that are located within the Pine Grove Loop at the Pecan Grove Campground. These sites are equipped with electricity and are located close to the waters of Lake Abilene. If you do want to stay at the tent-only sites, it is wise to make an reservation in advance.
The park offers a free program to all students over the age of 14 who want to learn more about the park. In the program, you will learn how the park is maintained and operated. The program also covers wildland firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement, and much more. It is a five-week program that really dives into what makes Abilene State Park so great, so if you are staying in the area for an extended stay it will be perfect for the kids. If you want to sign up for the program, the park website allows you to register. If you are in the park and want to participate, head to the main office.
Geocaching is a simple treasure hunt activity that the whole family can enjoy. You will need a device that can use GPS, a pen or pencil, your own bag of treasure, a spirit of adventure, and a keen eye. Remember to bring a water bottle and wear comfortable shoes while you go exploring. Be sure to write your name in the logbook when you find a treasure spot and replace it with your own personal treasures. After you have replaced the treasure, remember to leave the place as undisturbed as you found it to keep the adventure going.
Texas is home to over 200 species of birds, many of which call Abilene State Park home. Be sure to bring your binoculars and a nice sun hat in your camper so you can make the most of the birding opportunities that are waiting for you. You can stop by the camp store and pick up a few brochures on the birds most commonly seen in the park. Campers often see hummingbirds, the Mississippi kite, and the Northern cardinal. There are different birds to see year-round in the park so bring your favorite bird book and go exploring.
Each summer, the park opens its swimming pool to all campers who want to cool off from the Texas heat. The pool does cost a small fee to use, but it is well worth the price of admission. Originally built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the pool is one of the most popular summer attractions at the park. Be sure to read all pool regulations and keep a watchful eye on your children when they visit. It is never a bad thing to have too much sunscreen on in a Texan summer, so make sure to pack yours and a snack if you visit the pool
If you love to hike, you will have to make sure that you pack your hiking boots before your journey to the park. There are over six miles of trails waiting for you to enjoy, and each trail is ADA-accessible. There is only one moderate trail, and the rest are considered easy, so visitors of all ages will be able to have fun out on the trails. You can easily take a leisurely stroll or jog while you observe the various wildlife and flowers that are found within the park.
Abilene State Park has a few different spots where you can cast your rod and try to land the big one. Remember that you will need a valid fishing license in order to catch anything in the lakes, creeks, or ponds within Texas. The park offers both boat and shore fishing with a one-acre pond available for children to learn how to fish. The park is regularly stocked with crappie, bass, catfish, and perch. You can choose any kind of bait, but remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of water if you plan on being out on the water all day.