Quality Overnight Camping within 2 Hours of DFW

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  • Most monthly activities in a Scout troop's annual program plan will involve camping for one or two nights. This page collects destinations that are worth driving to, but not too far away. This wiki page is likely the one that most troops will return to most often.
  • Destinations are not included on this page unless they offer more than pitching camp on an open grassy field. Local destinations that do not meet this criteria can be found on the more inclusive list at Car Camping.

1 Four DFW Counties

Tarrant County

Denton County

  • Murrell Park. About midway along the Northshore Trail of Lake Grapevine. This is by no means wilderness, and in good weather the trail will be shared with suburban joggers and mountain bikers. But the trail is long, wooded, and pretty. And the park is large, with room to spread out and camp under trees between the park roads and the lake. This is car camping unless you make a point of hiking in, but cars are not parked right in each campsites like they are in a stereotypical state park campsite. Feels more remote in winter than in summer. (North shore of Lake Grapevine in Flower Mound).
  • Hickory Creek Park. Primitive campsites that require a short walk from the parking lot and are as wooded and secluded as could be reasonably expected this close to development. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. (Just north of the I-35E bridge over Lake Lewisville.)
  • Sycamore Bend Park. Very primitive camping on the lake, which means fewer visitors to this park than at most others. Trailhead for the lengthy trail to Pilot Knoll Park. (North and west of the I-35E bridge over Lake Lewisville.)
  • LLELA (Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area). Primitive camping only. The camping area is in the middle of a large (2,000 acre) secluded area. Part of the camping area is within sight of the Trinity River near a launch point that will send you downstream toward Dallas. There is also a tranquil beaver pond with a paddling nature trail for canoes and kayaks. There are also nature trails, each about two miles long, including one that passes next to a well-preserved log house from the mid 1800's. (Below Lake Lewisville Dam near Old Town Lewisville).
  • Hills and Hollows. A very small (25 acres) Scout camp. Encroaching development can be seen and heard from all four campsites. But this camp has a lot of vertical relief and is a great place to teach beginning topographic map skills before attending an NTOA orienteering meet. Some campsites are accessible by car, others may require a moderate walk. (Southwest Denton).
  • Johnson Branch Unit. Lake Ray Roberts State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. The trailhead to more than 20 miles of DORBA trails is located near the Dogwood Canyon primitive camping area. Primitive camping areas that require a short hike into campsite from the parking lot. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. A mix of open areas and oak forest. (30 min NE of Denton).
  • Isle du Bois Unit. Lake Ray Roberts State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. Hawthorn primitive camping area is located at the junction of the Jordan Park M-U Trail (4.5 miles N to trailhead) and Ray Roberts Greenbelt M-U Trail (3.5, 6.8, or 12.8 miles S to trailhead), making this a local backpacking option. Canoeing access points at all three trailheads along the Greenbelt Trail. Primitive camping areas that require a short hike into campsite from the parking lot. A mix of open areas and oak forest. (25 min NE of Denton).

Collin County

  • East Fork Park. Trailhead to the Collin County Trinity Trail (On Lake Lavon).
  • Blackland Prairie Raptor Center The entire center can be reserved for a flat fee. This can be expensive for a small troop. A raptor show can also be arranged for a small additional fee. Car camping. (In Wylie on Lake Lavon).
  • Erwin Park. 8 miles of hiking trail. A very large open area surrounded by trees. Car camping. (In McKinney).

Dallas County

  • Camp Wisdom. All the usual facilities of a council summer camp but without the blackout days in June and July or the lengthy drive: canoes on a private lake, fishing, swimming pool, dining hall (and conference center), shooting ranges for rifles and archery, and enough room to go exploring. Vehicles may be briefly driven into campsites for car camping. Can also hike in to campsite. The only downside is that the highway can be heard from most campsites as continuous background noise. (In Duncanville).
  • Cedar Hill State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. (On Joe Pool Lake in Cedar Hill).
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2 Brazos & Trinity River Prairie

  • Camp Tahuaya. A council summer camp in a rustic setting. (2 hr S of Dallas and Fort Worth).
  • Camp Shuler. A small Scout camp consisting of 50 acres of undeveloped land almost on Lake Whitney, with easy lake access across undeveloped Corps of Engineers land. (1 hr 20 min S of Fort Worth).
  • Dinosaur Valley State Park. Short hike in to primitive campsites across the river (wet crossing) and up the hill. Swimming in a portion of the river. Dinosaur tracks. Also the usual state park car camping campsites. (1 hr S of Fort Worth).
  • Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. 2 mile hike to remote backpacking campsites for small groups. 11 miles of DORBA hike and bike trails. Trail access to Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway. Excellent rock climbing in Penitentiary Hollow. (1 hr W of Fort Worth).
  • Worth Ranch. Council summer camp with the usual facilities (with the waterfront on the Brazos River rather than a lake). The camp is located one day's canoe trip downstream on the Brazos River from Possum Kingdom Lake dam. There is also a nice hike out to Kyle Mountain and back. Several campsites have stone shelters with cement floors, restrooms with plumbing, and frequent breezes coming up over the bluffs from the river bottom. (1 hr 15 min W of Fort Worth).
  • Camp Constantin. Council summer camp with the usual facilities (but no pool). Waterfront on beautiful Possum Kingdom Lake with numerous boating options: rowboats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, catamarans, and motorboats. Two signature activities are paddling across the lake to Devil's Gate and hiking to Johnson's Peak. Vehicles may be briefly driven into campsites for car camping. Can also backpack in or out of camp over Johnson's Peak. (1 hr 30 min W of Fort Worth).
  • Camp Perkins. Council summer camp for the Northwest Council based out of Wichita Falls. Small at 60 acres. (1 hr 50 min W of Denton, Fort Worth).
  • Fort Richardson State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites. Small lake. The main attraction is the replica frontier Fort Richardson parade ground. In some past years there have been frontier reenactments in October. (1 hr 10 min W of Denton and Fort Worth, in Jacksboro).
  • Sid Richardson Scout Ranch. Longhorn Council's large (2,700 acres) high adventure camp. Vehicles may be briefly driven into campsites for car camping. This camp is large enough to backpack for multiple days. (1 hr W of Denton and Fort Worth, on Lake Bridgeport).
  • LBJ National Grasslands. Larger than any other camping area this close to DFW. You can always just show up and camp almost anywhere you want. There are about 75 miles of well marked multi-use trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Canoes and kayaks can be used on Cottonwood Lake. There are no restrooms or other facilities anywhere apart from the developed park with restrooms and campsites that can be reserved at Black Creek Lake, and a large group facility that can be reserved at Valley View Group Camp. Can camp tight next to the car. This destination is also big enough to backpack for several days. (1 hr W of Denton and Fort Worth, 15 min N of Decatur).
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3 Lake Texoma & Arbuckle Mountains

  • Turner Falls This is not really a place where you go for Scout-type camping. And it is more expensive than most other places a troop might visit. But during the summer it is unusually good family fun in the water, and a troop could reasonably choose to host a family camp here. (1 hr 20 min N of Denton).
  • Camp Simpson. A large (2,000 acres) council summer camp with the usual facilities. (2 hr N of McKinney).
  • Cross Timbers Trail. Challenging backpacking with frequent small changes in elevation and frequent views of Lake Texoma. (1 hr N of Denton and McKinney).
  • Camp James Ray. A former council summer camp with the usual facilities. Vehicles may be briefly driven into campsites for car camping. Can also backpack into campsites. (1 hr N of McKinney).
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4 Near Piney Woods of East Texas

  • Tyler State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. One of the best in the Texas state park system. The park is covered in beautiful pine forest ringing a large private lake. There are lots of trails and a permanent NTOA orienteering course. Canoes and kayaks can be rented on the lake. Screened shelters and a dining hall are also available. Car camping in a developed park at its best. (1 hr 30 min E of Dallas).
  • Fairfield Lake State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. Backpacking 2.25 miles on Big Brown Creek M-U Trail to primitive camping area near restrooms. 5.3 mile Dockery M-U Trail follows the park boundary. (1 hr 35 mi SE of Dallas).
  • Fort Parker State Park. The usual state park car camping campsites and lake shore. Fort Parker. Can rent canoes and paddle down the river back to the state park for a trip of 2-4 hours. (1 hr 50 mi S of Dallas).
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