Backcountry Camping

 

A Primitive Camping Experience

 
2 campers inside a tent and 1 outside in the woods
Trio of campers in the Big Thicket backcountry

NPS Photo

Whether you want to hike or paddle, Big Thicket National Preserve offers primitive, backcountry camping throughout much of the park's lands and waterways.

What does "primitive" camping mean? There are no developed campgrounds or designated campsites in the preserve. You must bring all of your supplies with you and be willing to hike in a minimum of 200 feet from your vehicle. If you're paddling, you'll need to be able to carry all of your camping supplies in your boat.

 
 

Where to Camp

Camping is available year-round in units where hunting is not allowed. In units that allow hunting, camping is allowed March-September. Check the park map to see the location of each unit.

 
hiker wearing large backpack filled with camping gear, standing on a trail in the woods
Are you prepared to backpack in the Big Thicket?

NPS Photo

Year-Round

Camp here any time of the year! These areas do not allow hunting:

Spring and Summer Only

Camping between March 1 and September 30? Camp in these areas as well as the year-round ones above.

Restrictions

Camping is prohibited in some areas of the preserve. These include:

  • Within 350 yards of the Pitcher Plant Trail;

  • the Kirby Nature Trail and all areas south of the bridge over Village Creek in the Turkey Creek Unit;

  • the Little Pine Island-Pine Island Bayou Corridor Unit, the Loblolly Unit, the Menard Creek Corridor Unit, and the Hickory Creek Savannah Unit, including the Sundew Trail;
  • sites posted as Day-Use Areas; and
  • areas open to hunting during hunting season.
 

Camping Regulations

  • Campsites must be at least 200 feet from all roads, trails, and preserve boundaries, and at least 100 feet from water. Campsites on sandbars on the Neches River or Village Creek may be within 25 feet of the water.
  • Human waste must be buried 6" to 8" deep and at least 50 feet from water and trails. All trash must be packed out.
  • Pack out all trash. Burying or burning trash is prohibited.
  • Campfires are allowed, except during established burn bans. Cutting trees or branches is prohibited.
  • Group size is limited to 8 people.
  • Motorized vehicles are prohibited on trails. Bicycles are allowed only on the Big Sandy Trail.
  • Possession of glass containers is prohibited on all waterways and sandbars.
 

Campfire Safety

A campfire can enhance your camping experience, but if not properly tended and fully extinguished, it can lead to catastrophic and deadly consequences. Please follow these guidelines for campfire safety.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

No, we do not have campsites. All camping in the preserve is primitive, backcountry camping.
Sleeping in a vehicle at a trailhead or day-use area is prohibited.
You need to be at least 200 feet away from the road, trail, and park boundary before you can set up camp. In addition, you need to be at least 100 feet from any water body. For overnight paddling trips, you can camp on a sandbar within 25 feet of the water.
Paddlers on Village Creek and the Neches River can camp on sandbars within 25 feet of the water line.
No reservations are needed. You can pick up a permit on the same day as your trip. You only need to reserve a permit in advance if you'll be picking up your permit after-hours or if your trip starts on a holiday when the visitor center is closed (Thanksgiving, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1).
We can arrange for after-hours pickup. Call us before 5 pm and we can advise you on how to pick up your permit.
No, we do not have quotas for permits.
Yes, and depending on the complexity of your itinerary, we may need to issue you more than one permit. Rangers at the visitor center can help you with trip-planning.
No, permits must be picked up at the visitor center.
Yes, dogs are allowed as long as they're kept on a leash.
Campfires are allowed as long as you only burn dead and downed wood (nothing that's still standing). Drench and extinguish your fire when you're done. Fires may not be allowed during county-mandated burn bans. Contact the visitor center to see if any burn bans are in effect.
Yes, you can fish while camping if you have a Texas fishing license.
Due to the potential presence of heavy metals in our waterways, we recommend that you bring all the water you'll need for your trip.

Last updated: April 5, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625

Phone:

409-951-6700

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