Located just an hour outside of Houston, Stephen F. Austin State Park is a secluded natural getaway with a network of hiking trails and excellent wildlife viewing. The five miles of hiking trails lead you through forests of cedar elm, Osage orange, and cottonwood trees. The upland swamps next to the Brazos River are home to armadillos and bobcats. There are over 100 bird species found in the park throughout the year, making it a great spot for birdwatching. You’ll be able to spot Mississippi kites, northern parulas, barred owls, and pileated woodpeckers.
The San Felipe de Juan Historic Site is located just next to the park, where you’ll find a museum focused on the region’s history. You can learn more about the 19th century Texas settlers, as well as the region’s ecosystem. Park rangers also give guided tours along the nature trail, which highlights native plant and bird species.
The campground in the park has over 70 sites for RVs, many of which have full hookups for your rig. The sites connect directly to the park’s hiking trails, and you’ll be just steps from the Brazos River.
Stephen F. Austin State Park is located only an hour outside of Houston, making it easy to reach by RV. The park is easy to access, and all of the campsites can be easily reached by large RVs or trailers.
If you are driving from Houston, take I-10 west from the city and you’ll reach the park in under an hour. From Austin, take TX-71 east and you’ll get to the park in around two hours. Coming from San Antonio, take I-10 east and you’ll arrive at the park in a little over two hours.
The park is easy to access, and has few narrow roads or tight turns. The Brazos River does occasionally flood, so take caution when driving in the area after a heavy storm.
There are 78 campsites located in the park’s campground. 39 of the sites have full hookups and 39 have electrical hookups. All of the sites have a fire pit and picnic table, and are pet-friendly. However, all dogs must be kept on a leash.
The park’s nature trail connects directly to the campground, as does the Ironwood Trail. You’ll also be just minutes from the Brazos River, as well as the 18-hole Stephen F. Austin Golf Course. The San Felipe de Austin Historic Site is nearby as well, where you’ll find a museum showcasing the history of early Texas settlers.
All of the sites are open year round, and can be booked up to five months in advance. You’ll also need to book at least a day in advance. The park is a popular destination, so you should try to book your as early as possible.
RV campers who want to tee off can walk to the golf course located just next to the park. The 18-hole course has plenty of tree cover and varied terrain along the Brazos River. You’ll often find white-tailed deer crossing the fairways. The course is open to walk ups, but you can also book tee times in advance. The course is about a ten-minute walk from the RV campground.
The park is a popular destination for birdwatchers, with the hardwood forests populated by dozens of species of birds. You can also catch a wide range of birds as they migrate during spring and fall, stopping for a drink along the Brazos River. Commonly spotted birds in the park include pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, warblers, white eyed vireos, and yellow billed cuckoos.
Texas has a number of excellent regional bird watching societies, and you can find field guides and bird checklists on their websites. The park office may also have bird checklists.
If you want to learn more about the region’s history, head over to the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, located just next to the park. The museum gives you more information on the early Texas settlers, as well as the wildlife in the area. San Felipe de Austin was the center of immigration for settlers before Texas declared its independent status. You’ll also learn about the history of the United States and Mexico in the 19th century. Museum hours vary, and many of the exhibits are only temporary. Check the museum website for current hours and exhibits.
The park plays host to a number of events throughout the year, including guided hikes and interpretive tours. These programs vary depending on the season, so check the park website or visit the park office to get a current schedule. The park hosts summer camps for kids as well, training kids to be junior rangers. Call the park office or visit their website to register. You can also find an interpretive guide to the park online, should you want a self-guided tour around the area.
The five miles of trails are also open to mountain biking so don't hesitate to bring your bike in the camper or camping trailer. The hardwood forests and swamp make for varied rides, and there is a trail for riders of all experience levels. The Ironwood and Barn Owl trails connect directly to the RV campground, so it’s easy to connect to the whole network of trails.
The trails are shared with hikers, so take extra caution, especially when riding through the forests. The park does not rent any biking gear, so make sure to bring everything you need along with your rig.
Stephen F. Austin State Park has over five miles of trails that take you through the park’s hardwood forests and upland swamp. There is a short nature trail that highlights the plants native to the region. The park also offers a range of guided hikes that walk you through the areas natural sites.
Hiking is excellent throughout the year, but tends to be best in spring and fall, when temperatures are mild. If you come in the spring, you can also see Texas wildflowers in bloom.