The State of Texas has over 40 state parks, each with their own ecosystem and mysteries waiting to be discovered. Palmetto State Park is often called the most tropical of all the parks, with a mixture of wild animals and tropical plant life - it remains a little jungle full of surprises. The park covers 300 acres divided between two counties with a massive network of trails, rivers, and a four-acre lake, called Oxbow Lake, that is kept stocked throughout the year.
The San Marcos River runs directly through the middle of the park, making it a great place to take your canoe or kayak. There are 37 RV and tent sites available. Monthly passes are available, if you would like to stay more than a few weeks, and the opportunity to become a park host, who helps visitors and keep the park litter free, is available.
Palmetto State Park takes its name from the dwarf palmettos that can be found all over the area. With temperatures ranging on the warmer side during the day and the cooler side at night, it’s best to take a jacket with you just in case. While a campfire may warm you up, you can never be too cautious. Remember to bring binoculars as there are over 200 species of birds that call Palmetto State Park home throughout the year and a wide variety of plant life that lives high in the trees. When you visit Palmetto State Park in your RV, you’ll be guaranteed to see something new and exciting.
RV Rentals in Palmetto State Park
Transportation in Palmetto State Park
Located 10 miles northwest of Gonzales and close to I-10, the park is easy to access. Be mindful not to enter through the back door of the park because it will be harder to navigate with your rig or trailer. Just look out for Park Road 11 and you will see that you are on the right track. The roads through the park are well paved, but be cautious when it has rained a lot. The San Marcos River may cause flooding in some parts of the park. Palmetto State Park is located close to Luling City, so you are able to get little things like groceries and toiletries that you may have forgotten to pack for your weekend getaway.
Most of the RV campsites are back-in rather than pull-through, but despite that they have plenty of space to maneuver your rig to the position that you like. Depending on how long your drive was, you may want to stretch your legs on some of the trails or simply relax in your shaded lot. While motor scooters are not permitted in the park, be sure to bring your bike on the many trails available. Navigating in the park is very simple, just follow the signs to the park store and bathrooms. There are several of parking lots located in the north and south side of the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Palmetto State Park
Campsites in Palmetto State Park
The Campground at Palmetto State Park
There are 37 sites in the park, 17 of which have water and electricity hookups for RVs. Only one site is available that has a full hookup at a higher price. 19 of the sites offer water access only, but these are available only for tents or pop-ups. Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring, and a grill. A few of the campsites have a smoker, just in case you want to try your hand at barbecuing. Amenities include clean showers, restrooms, and a playground for children. Most of the sites are located in a beautiful wooded area, offering a peaceful atmosphere and generous shade from the Texan heat. Pets are allowed to stay with you, but must be on a leash. Pets are not allowed in any of the park buildings.
You will need reservation of at least two weeks out to get a good spot, if you are unable to make a reservation keep in mind that you may not have a site to pull into due to the limited number of spots available. There is a dump station available on the way out of the park since most of the campsites don’t have a sewer hookup. There is no limit on how long you can stay, but if you stay more than two weeks it’s best to buy an annual pass. For those who wish to stay at the park for an extended time, you can become a camp host responsible for greeting new campers and keeping the park litter free. Primitive sites, group sites, and cabins are also available.
There are no first-come, first-served sites available at this state park.
Seasonal activities in Palmetto State Park
If you are bringing a fishing pole in your camper to Palmetto State Park, there are quite a few fishing spots available and Oxbow Lake is regularly stocked with Florida Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Channel Catfish. If you intend to do some pier fishing then a license will not be required, but if you plan to go in either the lake or the river to fish then you will need a valid fishing license. Several campsites are right next to the lake and the San Marcos River, so you can fish from the shore as well.
Tubing along the San Marcos River can be a very relaxing pastime. The river runs through the entire park so you can use this opportunity to see the different types of plants and birds. If you forget to bring your own tub, you can rent one from the main office at the entrance of the park. While tubing a life jacket is required and remember to read the safety guide on how to keep you and your loved ones safe on the water.
Palmetto State Park has several trails available for you to explore. The longest trail is the Palmetto Trail with dwarf palmettos and cypress trees along the path. The wooded area has a lot of coverage from the sun but remember to wear your sunscreen when you go exploring. Be careful of the warning signs about snakes and how to interact with the wildlife. Each trail is well managed and very clean. If you want a challenge try hiking all the trails and seeing who can find the most interpretive trail signs.
Palmetto State Park is one of the best places to go birding. With over 200 species of birds calling the park home, you have plenty of chances to see unique birds like the Red-shouldered Hawk and the Crested Caracara. The park is located on the Great Texas Birding Trail, making it a real hot spot for all different kinds of birds. Bring a set of binoculars in your RV and maybe a bird snack that you can find in the park store. If you look around the park store you will find a book full of recipes for bird snacks ideas.
Geocaching has become a big thing at state parks in the last few years. If you have never heard of geocaching, then don’t worry about it. In simple words, it is a big scavenger hunt that the whole family can enjoy. You will need a few supplies to make it a successful scavenger hunt: a GPS or smartphone with coordinates, sturdy hiking boots, a pencil or pen, a water bottle, and a bag full of small items to trade. To play you may have to download the Geocache app from your app store, but the object of the game is to find the hidden objects and record your name in the logbook. When approaching a coordinate remember to be careful not to disturb the wildlife around you, putting things back where you found them will help keep the adventure alive. However, this is a thrilling, interactive activity to enjoy during your RV road trip to the park.
Exploring the Park's History
Palmetto State Park is full of rich history since it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. You can still explore many of the park's original historic structures today. Just head over to the picnic pavilion, water tower, or rock table to see these remnants of the past. Landscape architects were employed to ensure these structures fit in the natural landscape of the area. You'll see that native sandstone was used to blend in these man-made structure with the natural habitat.