For RV lovers in the Lone Star State, you have to check out Lake Mineral Wells State Park if you are interested in some lakeside recreation and relaxation. Located around 80 miles west of Dallas, Lake Mineral Well State Park is perfect for a weekend trip or if you want to stay for a week or two.
Back in the day, the area around what is now Lake Mineral Wells State Park was a cattle trail, and later a rail line due to its close proximity to a well-known mineral resort. Like many other state parks in Texas, this place combines the history of the area with some cool, family-friendly activities. There are some unusual features unique to the park that are must-sees. Penitentiary Hollow, which is basically a small canyon, is a great place for rock-climbing. Moreover, about half of the park’s hiking trails are wide enough to accommodate horses, and the park has many equestrian-friendly facilities.
If you are looking for camping variety, you won't beat Lake Mineral Wells State Park. There are four different camping areas that are suitable for RV, tent, and even equestrian campers. You will have the choice between 30- and 50-amp sites, and there are also plenty of water collection points for your convenience. The park is open all year round, and if you feel like really stretching your legs, check out one of the other area attractions, like the regionally-famous Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose.
From Fort Worth, Lake Mineral Wells State Park is pretty much a straight shot west along Interstate 20 to the Mineral Wells Highway (U.S. Highway 180). Both are four-lane divided highways for most of the route so driving will be fairly straightforward. Watch for an elbow-shaped curve in the Mineral Wells Highway, just west of the suburb named Cool that is part of Mineral Wells. Remember to watch your speed, especially if you are towing a trailer.
If you need to pick up any supplies prior to your arrival, there are plenty of places you can stop along the way, including Mineral Wells, Weatherford, and Graford. The closest major cities to the park are Dallas and Fort Worth.
The park is open all year round, but if you are concerned about the weather conditions you can call the park office for an update.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park is a relatively small park which is essentially a lake and a network of hiking trails. So, there is not very much parking outside the RV camping areas. However, there is ample parking on the south shore of the lake near the boat launch and on the north shore of the lake near the equestrian/hiking/mountain-biking trailheads.
The Plateau Camping Area is a great choice if you have a rig that requires a 30-amp electrical connection. Each of the 30 sites in this area is equipped with 30-amp electrical and water hookups for your convenience, along with a barbecue grill, fire ring, and picnic table. This campground is the closest to the lake so it is popular with fishers, swimmers, and boaters.
Rigs that are up to 69 feet in length will be able to stay in the Plateau Camping Area, so for those traveling to the park in a large rig, this will be a great place to stay. Along with site-specific amenities, the campground is also home to two lakeside observation points, restrooms, and a shower area. The dump station is shared with the Live Oak Camping Area, so you won't have to travel too far in order to use it. Your furry companion is also welcome to join you during your stay, just make sure they are on a leash when outside the RV.
The Live Oak Camping Area is the largest of the four that are located within Lake Mineral Wells State Park. Suitable for RVs and tents, Live Oak features 47 sites that are equipped with 50-amp electrical and water hookups so you will be camping in luxury. Each site has a barbecue grill, fire ring, and picnic table for you to enjoy during your stay.
The amenities in and around the Live Oak Camping Area include two fishing piers, restrooms, shower facilities, and a dump station. You'll also be within walking distance to all the activities available at the lake. Pets are welcome to join you during your stay, and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.
Reservations for the Live Oak Camping Area can be made online before your journey to the park and are encouraged so that you'll have a site waiting for your arrival.
There are no specific first-come, first-served sites available at any of the four camping areas within Lake Mineral Wells State Park. If you do have a spur of the moment visit, you will be able to stay at any sites that have not previously been reserved, however, there is some risk to this since you won't have a guarantee that a site will be free. The camping areas are open all year round, so make a reservation in advance to avoid the headache of arriving with nowhere to stay.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park even has a camping area suited for equestrians! In the Cross Timbers Camping Area, there are 20 equestrian campsites available all year round that can also be used by RVs. None of the sites in the Cross Timbers Camping Area are equipped with electrical hookups and there is no dump station. However, there are plenty of water collection points, as well as restrooms, showers, and a parking area.
Cross Timbers is basically the gateway to the park’s biking/hiking/equestrian trails. Therefore, this is the perfect campground if you plan on hitting the trail often throughout your stay. Like all of the other camping areas within the park, sites within the Cross Timbers Camping Area can be reserved prior to your arrival.
If you are looking to do some tent camping, you should consider staying in the Post Oak Camping Area. Featuring 11 sites that are also suitable for tents, this is the perfect place for visitors wanting to get more in touch with nature since the sites are close to trees.
Although there are no electric hookups in the Post Oak Camping Area, all sites come equipped with a water collection point, picnic table, and fire ring for your convenience. Since the camping area is on the smaller side, you can expect a quiet stay with little noise since there are no RVs allowed.
Reservations for the Post Oak Camping Area can be made prior to your arrival and are recommended due to the limited number of sites that are available.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the park and the surrounding environment, you will have to check out the ranger programs. Held at various times throughout the year, there are many ranger-led programs within the park that are suitable for visitors of all ages. For the young ones, there are specific junior ranger programs, including the kids' wilderness survival program. The whole family can enjoy regularly scheduled camping workshops and nature hikes.
Most of the extra-wide, mixed-use trails are north of the Lake. The Cross Timbers Green Trail is awesome to go hiking on. For something a bit more challenging, take the Green Trail to the Yellow Trail to reach the Maroon Trail. That sounds like a long way, but it’s only about two miles. The Maroon Trail straddles a high ridge and then descends into a natural bowl.
The hiking-only trails, such as the aforementioned Red Waterfront Trail, are closer to the lake. Also worth checking out is the Primitive Camping Trail. It goes through the remains of an ancient forest and the sweeping grasslands that attracted cowboys to this area so long ago.
Whether they want to climb the rock, watch from a distance, or go on a guided tour through "the Squeeze" and some other extremely narrow rock crevices, most RVers include Penitentiary Hollow on their Lake Mineral Wells State Park visiting agendas. The top of Penitentiary Hollow has a nice overlook view of the lake and its surroundings. To reach this area, take the Red Waterfront Trail from the Post Oaks to the Four Elms.
With no high-powered boats to worry about, you can splash about in most areas of the lake during the summer months. The main swimming area is near the boat launch so it is very easy to access. There’s a small nameless island not far from the swimming area, and many people enjoy racing to the island and back. The water is generally clear and calm, which is always a plus. There are no lifeguards on duty at Lake Mineral Wells State Park so swim to your abilities.
Lake Mineral Wells is fantastic for some calm boating since visitors can't waterski, jetski, or tube. There is a lot of stuff in the southern part of the lake, and the northern part of the lake is almost entirely undeveloped. So, you can choose between activity and serenity. The park rents a variety of watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and even flat-bottom boats equipped with trolling motors. So, if you didn't travel with a boat to the parkl you won't miss out on all of the fun.
If you love to fish, you will be very happy you chose to visit Lake Mineral Wells State Park. There are six fishing piers, and one of them is artificially lit. You do not need a fishing license to fish from a pier or the shoreline, as long as you use poles and lines. Crappie and sunfish bite really well here. In the winter, there are hordes of crappie anywhere near cover. In the spring, they spawn in shallow areas.
Catfish are plentiful in the fall and winter. Drift fish with cheese, liver, live bait, or blood bait. Largemouth bass bite near the dam in the spring if you use spinners. In the summer and fall, stay in that area, but switch to crankbait or worms. Sunfish also bite pretty well here and there. There is also no size or quantity limit for sunfish.