Meridian State Park is one of the most accessible and attractive destinations in the Texas Hill Country for RV lovers of all ages that are craving an escape to the countryside. Located 50 miles north of Waco, Meridian State Park is popular with Texans and those traveling around the country due to the great mixture of recreational facilities and superb camping amenities.
The history of the park dates back to the 1930s when members of the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the park, including the dam wall and open-air pavilion that is still in use to this day. The main attraction to the park is the 72-acre Lake Meridian that was built by the corps. Here you can fish, swim, and paddle until you will be going wrinkly from the water. Off the lake, you can participate in one of the many ranger-led programs, go hiking on the five miles of trails or explore the signature limestone cliffs that you can only find in this part of Texas.
There is something for everyone at Meridian State Park for those who want to do some camping. There are sites large enough for rigs up to 93 feet in length, many tent site configurations, and even cabins for those wanting a little more luxury. Meridian State Park is open all year round with the peak season running from April until October.
Driving to Meridan State Park is quite easy since Highway 22 goes west from Hillsboro almost directly into the park. It’s a little narrow, but also very straight for the most part, so you won't have too many problems navigating it. One area to be on the watch for is the sharp curves east of Whitney and west of Laguna Park as the highway skirts around Lake Whitney. On the way to and from Meridian State Park, you’ll also pass through Peoria. These are one-light towns for the most part, but small towns like these give the Hill Country much of its character.
Most of the park facilities are on the eastern shore of Lake Meridian. There are several wicked curves on the western shore, but for the most part, the road is pretty straight. Watch your speed and you should be fine. If you are concerned about the weather conditions, it is recommended to contact the park prior to your arrival.
If you are just visiting for the day, there is a parking lot near the southeast edge of the park where you are welcome to pull up. It is also located near a boat ramp, restrooms, and shower block.
Cross Timbers Campground is the only RV-friendly campground in the park and offers 16 RV sites of various sizes. If you are traveling with a larger rig, you can stay at sites 1 through 8 that are pull-through and can accommodate rigs up to 93 feet in length. These sites tend to be more open, offering pretty views of the Texas countryside.
Only pop-up tents and small RVs (less than twenty feet) are allowed at the other sites in the campground due to their smaller size. These back-in sites have electric and water hookups. If you stay here, you will have a bit more privacy since most of them are guarded by enchanting Texan trees.
Every site at Cross Timbers Campground has a picnic table, fire ring, and foldable grill. Sites 1 through 8 also have lantern poles and barbecue grills. Campground amenities include two restrooms, two shower rooms, a dump station, and a camp store. Plus, you'll still be close to all the action of the lake. Pets are welcome, and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.
There are no specific first-come, first-served campgrounds or campsites within Meridian State Park. If you do plan a last-minute trip, you can still make a reservation up until your arrival by calling the park office, or you can hope that a site is free and you can take it upon your arrival. This is not guaranteed, especially if you are traveling in an RV due to the limited number of sites that are available.
If you didn't bring an RV to Meridian State Park (or you want to kick back in a space a little bigger than most rigs), you should consider staying at one of the cabins located within the park.
There are a total of three cabins to choose from, all of which have the same amenities. They are suitable for up to six guests and feature one bunk bed that has twin beds and one that has full beds. There are no kitchen facilities in the cabins, but there is power for you to charge your devices and play some games once the sun goes down. You will have to bring your own linens to the cabins if you wish to stay here since none are provided by the park. Pets are not allowed at the cabins, but if you want to cook up a meal there is a fire pit and picnic table outside.
Reserving a cabin prior to your arrival is a must and for the holiday weekends, there is a two-night minimum reservation. You are able to make a reservation up to six months in advance of your stay, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment!
For those visiting Meridian State Park with a group, there are a few different options that you have when deciding on a place to stay. If you have a youth group there is one campsite specifically for these types of groups and it is located within the Cedar Ridge Campground. No RVs are allowed in this campsite and amenities are limited to a fire ring and water collection point. If you wish to use a restroom, you will have to walk around a mile there and back.
The other group camping option in the park is site number 32 within the Cottonwood Cove Campground. There are more amenities available here, including picnic tables, outdoor grills, fire rings, and a lantern post. You will also be much closer to restroom facilities, but this campground is also suited to tents so you won't be able to bring any RVs. Reservations for both group camp areas can be made by calling the park prior to your arrival.
Along with Cross Timbers Campground, Shinnery Ridge Campground is the other main area where guests to Meridian State Park who are camping stay during their visit. This campground is not RV-friendly due to the site sizes and locations, so if you want to stay at Shinnery Ridge you will have to camp in a tent. You will have a choice between sites with a water hookup or a totally primitive site within the Shinnery Ridge Campground, and each site comes equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill.
Reservations for sites within the Shinnery Ridge Campground can be made online using the same system as Cross Timbers Campground.
For the most part, Lake Meridian has fairly clear water that’s excellent for swimming. That’s especially true in the southeast corner of the lake, which is where the main swimming area is located. However, since no powerboats are allowed on the lake, you can leave your RV and swim pretty much anywhere you please. Remember that there are no lifeguards on duty so you will be swimming at your own risk. The stone refectory is close to the swimming area, as are parking and picnic areas.
One of the best ways to explore the lake is to hop on a watercraft and go for a paddle. If you forgot to add your kayak or canoe to your RV, don’t fret. Rangers rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards all year long. All rentals include paddles and lifejackets so you will be prepared for your time out on the water. The entire lake is a no-wake zone, so there’s plenty of time to relax on the water.
Fishing is a great way to pass some time and potentially catch your own dinner on your RV getaway. Fishing is permitted from the edge of the lake and on watercrafts, and there is also an ADA-accessible fishing pier near the boat launch. Catfish, sunfish, and bass are usually biting, depending on what time of year you cast out a line.
Catfish usually lurk in the dirtier areas of the lake, bass like underwater vegetation, and sunfish in shallow areas usually go for worms. Trout may be available as well, as rangers add about 2,000 of these fish a year. If you forgot to pack your fishing equipment in your RV, loaners are available at park headquarters so nobody will have to miss out.
If you love to hike, you will love visiting Meridian State Park. There are over five miles of trails to enjoy with many previous visitors recommending the two-mile Bosque Hiking Trail. It’s a rather challenging trail that goes through the limestone cliffs to the north of the lake. It ends at Bee Ledge, which is one of the nicest lake overlooks in the park. But watch your step. They call this point a “ledge” for a reason. Another trail to check out is the Shinery Ridge Trail. The loop trail begins and ends at a parking area and although it’s rated moderate, much of the trail is paved and wheelchair-friendly.
The renowned Texan bluebonnets bloom between mid-March and the end of April, so if you are a flower fan, visiting the park during this time is a great chance to also be able to snap some pictures. Early April is usually the best time to see them and in some years, these flowers are almost literally everywhere. That’s especially true after a wet winter and a warm February. Other types of wildflowers known to bloom in the park include Indian paintbrushes and primroses. The park has an area known as WIldflower Field which is always worth a visit and the best place to see a cluster of gorgeous flowers.
During the middle part of the Great Depression, CCC Company 1827 worked feverishly to get Meridian State Park ready for the 1936 Texas Centennial. Near the lake, the workers built a dam and a refectory (which is a meeting space and concession area) and many years later both are still functional. That refectory is still a cool place to have meetings, so you can combine work with an RV vacation. The CCC workers also constructed a number of bridges and other points, mostly out of locally-sourced materials, so it is worth spending a little time admiring the work they did to make the park what it is today.