Whether you want to hike or paddle, Big Thicket National Preserve offers primitive, 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.
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.
Restricted Areas—No Camping Allowed
Camping is prohibited in some areas of the preserve. These include:
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!
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 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).
No, Big Thicket does not have designated campsites. All camping in the preserve is primitive, backcountry camping.
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.
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.
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: July 10, 2021