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You might find it hard to believe that one of the most popular recreation areas in Texas once housed a commune of pirates and outlaws. After pillaging and plundering their way through the towns along the Gulf of Mexico coast, famous French pirates Jean and Pierre Lafitte fled to Galveston Island to escape conviction. They set up a makeshift government on the island, where they continued their privateering operations — and the rest, as they say, is history.
The colorful legends of this barrier island are just one reason why folks flock from near and far to camp at Galveston Island State Park. This 2,000-acre swathe protects a diverse ecosystem of marshland, beaches, and prairies, making it a seventh heaven for nature enthusiasts. Outdoor adventurers will find no shortage of activities to enjoy, from paddling and angling to hiking and geocaching. Book an RV in Galveston County and take your time exploring everything this coastal paradise has to offer.
Park your rental RV at the state park campground and hit the water. Fishing is permitted both at West Bay and in the Gulf. Bass, catfish, and red drum are just a few of the species that might bite. You won't even need a fishing license to cast your line from the shore. Clean your catch at the park's fish cleaning station before frying up your prize back at your campsite.
If you'd rather fish in deeper waters, lug your kayak, canoe, or paddle boat down to the boat launch and set out. Or, you can venture down the park's canoe trails for a unique view of the park's landscape. Birders will want to take the Jenkins Paddling Bayou Trail, while the Oak Bayou Paddling Trail offers a challenge for experienced paddlers.
Galveston Island State Park isn't exactly a haven for hikers, but the park's four-mile trail network puts you up close and personal with the island's flora and fauna. The Freshwater Pond Loop meanders around one of the park's ponds for seven-tenths of a mile. Keep your eyes peeled for gators along the way! For a longer walk, hit the Heron's Walk Trail, which leads out and back to a viewing platform where you can watch for wading birds.
If you want to camp in an RV at Galveston Island State Park, you have two options. The best part is, both options put you right by the water! A total of 56 sites are allocated for motorhome camping at Galveston Island State Park. Of those, 36 sites are located on the beachside, with the remaining 20 by the bayside. All RV camping sites come with water and electric hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, and easy access to restrooms and showers. Beachside campers can also beat the Texas heat at the shade shelter provided with their site.
Galveston Island State Park's campgrounds accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long. Pets are welcome to accompany you for your RV camping trip, but they must be kept on a leash and away from buildings and beaches.
All done camping at Galveston Island State Park? Load up the RV rental and take a short drive northeast to the resort city of Galveston. Take the town trolley to Moody Gardens, the city's top family-friendly attraction. This aquarium, cinema, museum, theme park, and water park all rolled into one is the perfect place to treat the kids to a day of fun.
When camping in an RV in Galveston, you're just a stone's throw from Space City. Drive an hour northwest into Houston to discover world-famous attractions like Space Center Houston and the Houston Zoo. Or, venture off the beaten path and catch a show at the Miller Outdoor Theater, or tour the underground cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park.
Prefer to swap urban attractions for more time in the great outdoors? Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 44,000 acres in Brazoria County, and it's just under 40 miles from Galveston Island State Park. Hundreds of species inhabit this federally protected area, from river otters and turtles to bobcats and alligators. Grab a park map from the Discovery Center, where you can also learn more about the wildlife that lives in the refuge.
Galveston is your best bet for finding fuel, groceries, and RV camping supplies. You'll also find a few upscale dining options here. Many of Galveston's gourmet restaurants along Seawall Boulevard offer beachfront seating and the freshest seafood you'll find anywhere in Texas.
Once your bellies are full and you've seen everything there is to see on Galveston Island, hit I-45 to continue your adventures through the Lone Star State.