West Texas is typically not lush and green, but Possum Kingdom Lake, one of the oldest and largest reservoirs in the Brazos River Basin, is the exception. Today, Possum Kingdom Lake is more like a natural lake than an artificial reservoir. People who take their RVs to Possum Kingdom State Park can expect lots of nautical nonsense. However, that’s just the beginning.
With about 300 miles of shoreline, there are lots of land-based things to do at Possum Kingdom Lake, like getting some exercise on one of the hiking or biking trails in the park, or grabbing the family and having a picnic or BBQ at one of the picnic areas around the lake.
The facilities, especially at the RV campground, are very nice so, above all, Possum Kingdom State Park is a camping park. There’s a reason both the YMCA and Boy Scouts of America come here year after year. Possum Kingdom State Park is designed for campers, and it’s primarily intended for RVs.
In case you’re wondering, there are several versions of how Possum Kingdom Lake got its name story. Park rangers and locals will be glad to bring you up to speed on the various theories while you are out and about in the park.
Just a couple of hours from Dallas, Possum Kingdom Lake, located in Caddo, Texas, is about halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene. The location is about where the Texas topography changes from black land prairie and small hills to flat and arid semi-desert. From Fort Worth, you can take the direct route to the park, on Interstate 20 to Highway 16. Or, you can take the scenic northern route through Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto, Metcalf Gap, and a few other small towns.
Most RVers like to take their rigs on the scenic route, which is US-180, a wide and well-maintained highway. You should have no problem maneuvering along the roads no matter what you are driving. When you get closer to the park, you’ll have to take some smaller farm-to-market roads, but hey, getting there is half the fun.
Once you get to Possum Kingdom State Park, there is not a whole lot of RV parking because not much is needed. There are so many RV sites, and everything is so close that you may not do much driving. There are some parking areas next to the main boat launch, near the fishing pier and marina, and the main hiking trails.
Lakeview Campground has 15 sites with water that are perfect for any sized RV or trailer. Right on the shoreline, each site has its own campfire ring, a grill for cooking, a picnic table that seats eight, and an ample cleared space for hanging out around the fire. Some of the sites are shaded, while others are bright and sunny. There are modern restrooms nearby with running water as well as a shower house. The RV dump site is also nearby. In addition, you are right next to the boat ramp, which is perfect if you brought your boat along. One parking lot on each side of the campground means your guests won’t have far to walk when they come to visit. It is best to make reservations online well in advance because they fill up fast. Pets are always welcome, but they must be supervised and restrained adequately at all times.
Shady Grove Campground features 40 RV sites with water and 20/30/50-amp electrical hookups that are open during the peak season but closed during the winter. Many of these sites offer front-row views of Possum Kingdom Lake. Your site will have a waist-high BBQ grill, campfire ring, and a picnic table that seats eight people. The sites are arranged in a loop around a restroom and shower house area. There is also a shower house and restroom at the end of the campground just past campsite 39. The parking pads here vary from 24 to 54 feet in length, and all of the large sites fill up quickly, so make sure you reserve yours well in advance. Reservations can be made up to five months in advance. Pets are welcome to join you, but you have to watch them and have them restrained during your stay.
Spanish Oaks Campground is the premium campground featuring 21 RV campsites that stretch from the fishing pier to the swimming area, so there is plenty of elbow room. You'll love the fantastic views of Possum Kingdom Lake right from your campsite. Each site has a 20/30/50-amp electrical hookup, as well as a water hookup. Your site will also have a grill, fire pit, and picnic table. Other amenities include a shower house and a modern restroom, a children’s play area, and an extra-large picnic area in case you want to host a group too large to accommodate at your campsite.
The Possum Kingdom State Park Store and Marina are located just past the shower house so you can pick up any last-minute camping needs. There is also a fish cleaning station to clean your catch so you can cook it up for dinner. Pets are welcome here as long as you supervise them at all times and keep them restrained during your visit.
Chaparral Trail Campground offers 38 mixed RV and tent campsites with water hookups and gorgeous views of Possum Kingdom Lake. Your site will have a BBQ grill, fire pit, and picnic table for your enjoyment. The driveways vary in size from 18 to 39 feet in length, so rigs that are medium to small are best suited for this campground. There are modern restrooms in the middle of each loop, and the shower house with hot water is located between sites 94 and 103. There is a playground for the kids in between sites 87 and 114. Pets are allowed at Possum Kingdom State Park Campgrounds, but you must keep them properly restrained and supervise them at all times during your visit.
Take a break from your RV and try one of walk-in, primitive campsites for a night or two. The primitive campground is open all year because there aren't facilities that need winterizing. If you don't mind backpacking to your campsite, you probably won't care that you have to walk almost a half-mile to get to the bathroom. Now, that is what you call primitive camping. If more than one night is too much for you, don’t worry. Your RV beckons a short distance away.
You are in store for some excellent hiking during your RV trip to this state park. The moderate 1.4-mile Lakeview Trail is an excellent place to see wildflowers in the spring. The flowers usually bloom between mid-March and the end of April. Climb up to the 0.4-mile Longhorn Trail Overlook for an even better view of things. If you want more of a challenge, try the steep 0.5-mile Chaparral Ridge Trail. If you look closely, you may catch a glimpse of the Fish Sculpture. You have to see this thing to believe it.
Don't forget to pack those binoculars in the rig. Copious numbers of deer live at the park, and many of them are not too shy around people. There are lots of raccoons and armadillo foraging about for most of the year, also. There are a few less-desirable animals as well, such as rattlesnakes and skunk. But these critters hardly ever get close to the water or the hiking trails. Possum Kingdom Lake is also an excellent place to find birds. The area attracts both water and prairie birds. Look for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler as well as golden-fronted woodpeckers, canyon wrens, painted buntings, dickcissels, canyon towhees, rufous-crowned sparrows, Mississippi kites, wood ducks, wild turkey, greater roadrunners, and grasshopper sparrows.
Whether you are hunting with a rifle, bow and arrow, or an air gun, pack it up in the RV before heading to the park because there are a plethora of different critters here to hunt. If you are looking for a big game animal like whitetail or mule deer, pronghorn, javelina, or desert bighorn sheep, you can find them all in the woods at Possum Kingdom State Park. Small game like rabbits, hares, and squirrels are abundant as well. Possum Kingdom State Park also allows you to hunt waterfowl, upland game birds, and fur-bearing animals. Make sure you follow the Texas Parks and Wildlife rules and regulations and carry your ID, hunting license, and hunting tags with you when you go.
At Possum Kingdom Lake, the water usually warms up in March and stays warm until well into the fall. The swimming area is on the west side of the park, far away from the boat launch, marina, fishing pier, and other busy park areas. That’s a nice bonus. No lifeguard is on duty, so it’s best to swim with a buddy. But the water is fairly tranquil most of the time, and since Possum Kingdom Lake is artificial, there are almost no underwater drop-offs. In addition to swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling are also popular at Possum Kingdom State Park.
The boat launch is between the Lakeview and Shady Grove Campgrounds. Personal watercraft are not allowed near the swimming area, and there are some no-wake zones here and there. But other than that, Possum Kingdom Lake is a great place for powerboating. The crowds are never too bad since the lake covers so much acreage (19,800 of them to be exact). If you prefer kayaking or canoeing, that’s okay also. Stick close to the shoreline, especially around the fishing pier and swimming area. Boards, canoes, skis, and other watercraft and water equipment are available for rent at the marina. Boating slips are available, as well.
The fishing pier is located near the park store and, quite conveniently, so is a fish cleaning station. Anglers do not need a license to fish from shore. Some algae outbreaks in the early 2000s disrupted fishing for a while. But today, bass, crappie, and catfish are abundant. Late summer and early fall are a good time for bass because that’s when the underwater vegetation grows out the most. Stick to depths around 20 feet and use light line. For catfish, try fishing Costello Island and using live bait. Crappie like the piers and docks, especially in the spring.
Have you ever wanted to hunt for hidden treasure? I think we all used to like that sort of thing when we were young, but now the adults are getting into the game as well. Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt with over two million geocaches hidden all over the world. Geo means earth and cache means hidden, so that is where this game got its name since these geocaches are all hidden outside and usually in parks. Go to the geocache.com website to find some geocaches near you, grab your smartphone to use as your GPS, and you are off to look for hidden treasures.