Embark on a family camping adventure this spring
AUSTIN, Texas – Maybe you’ve already given camping a shot and are ready for that next step in your camping experience. Perhaps you’ve never camped before, but are looking to find that perfect park to spend the night under the stars, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You might even be an avid camper, but the idea of camping with a park ranger sounds intriguing and you just might learn something new. If so, Texas Outdoor Family’s Adventure Camping Series is for you.
This spring, three of Texas’ most beautiful parks will host the ever-popular Texas Outdoor Family program designed to familiarize families with the outdoors and show them how to tent camp, cook outdoors and make the most of their state park experience. Three jewels of the Texas State Park System — Palo Duro Canyon, Caprock Canyons, and Martin Dies, Jr. state parks — offer the perfect opportunity for families seeking to spice up their camping experience with a bit of adventure.
The Texas Outdoor Family Adventure Series dates are May 14-15 at Palo Duro Canyon, May 14-15 at Martin Dies, Jr. and a two-night workshop May 28-30 at Caprock Canyons. The cost for up to six people is only $65.
Highlighting the Palo Duro Canyon campout is a ranger-guided hike through the “Grand Canyon of Texas” to its famous geologic wonder, The Lighthouse. Hike through picturesque red canyon walls, 800 feet high, formed thousands of years ago by the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River. Be sure to bring your camera, as the views are second to none. The event also features “Cowboy Cooking” that teaches the fundamentals of Dutch oven cooking.
For water enthusiasts, Martin Dies, Jr. is the workshop to attend. After receiving instruction from certified rangers you’ll spend three hours paddling in B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir and along the gently flowing Angelina River. Centuries-old bald cypress and other old-growth trees provide habitat for pileated woodpeckers, great-horned owls and other intriguing wildlife. Experience this mystifying park from the water in a way few others do.
The Caprock Canyons event features a two-night campout over Memorial Day Weekend at one of the most scenic parks in Texas. Highlights of this workshop include hiking and geocaching within the beautiful Caprock escarpment, a narrow rocky stretch of canyons cut through the high plains and Dutch oven cooking like the ranchers of the area did in the 1800’s. Experience one of the best views of the night sky anywhere in Texas. Families should be on the lookout, too, for a glimpse of the official Texas State Bison herd started by legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight.
“These expanded programs are aimed at families who are looking for more adventurous camping experiences,” explains Lindsey Davis, Texas Outdoor Family Program coordinator. “We recognize that many families want to expand their outdoor recreation knowledge, but are uncomfortable going alone to a remote site with limited facilities. The Texas Outdoor Family Adventure Camping Series allows the families to enjoy their time together in a safe environment with knowledgeable rangers to guide and assist at any time.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Texas Outdoor Family program, which launched in the summer of 2008, has taught more than 1,300 families throughout the state, most of them from urban environments, how to safely enjoy the great outdoors. Families are provided with all the camping gear necessary for an enjoyable weekend campout. The workshop costs $65 per family (up to six people), and includes individual camping sites for each family, restrooms with hot showers, professional park ranger-led programs and instruction, park police officer-provided public safety and security, a curriculum tailored to the host park and state park Junior Ranger certification programs. The entire approach adopts a ‘Leave No Trace’ philosophy so it’s environmentally friendly.
Families are expected to bring their own sleeping bags, personal items and food for the two-day workshops, and suggested shopping and packing lists for meals and personal items will be provided.
Visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoorfamily for more information, including the complete schedule of weekend workshops. Families can register by calling (512)389-8903 and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., or send an e-mail to tofsp [at] tpwd [dot] state [dot] tx [dot] us anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with directions and details will be sent.