Whether you want to hike or paddle, Big Thicket National Preserve offers backcountry camping throughout much of the park's lands and waterways.
A free permit is required for camping in the preserve. All permits are issued at the visitor center. No reservations needed.
Check in for your permit at the visitor center. You'll need to provide the following information about your trip:
To check out, call 409-951-6701 and leave a message that includes the name of the permit holder and the date.
Where to Camp
Camping is available year-round in the Big Thicket, though there are some seasonal closures to certain areas. Most of the preserve is open for camping during the spring and summer months (March 1–September 30). In fall and winter (October 1–February 28), camping is limited to areas that do not allow hunting. Check the park map to see the location of each unit.
From March 1 to September 30, these areas allow camping:
From October 1 to February 28, these areas allow camping:
Restricted Areas—No Camping Allowed
Camping is prohibited in some areas of the preserve:
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
Permits are free!
No reservations are needed—you can pick up a permit on the same day as your trip. If you would prefer to get a permit before your trip, permits are available up to 14 days in advance. (Advance permits are necessary for trips beginning on these holidays when the visitor center is closed: Thanksgiving, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1.)
No. Big Thicket National Preserve does not have campsites or campgrounds. All camping in the national preserve is primitive, backcountry camping, or backpacking.
The following campgrounds are near Big Thicket National Preserve:
Additionally, many privately-owned campgrounds can be found in the Big Thicket region.
No. 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.
Yes, campfires are allowed. When gathering firewood, use only 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.
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: December 13, 2022