Over the River and Through the Woods {South Texas Autumn… Camping Style}


The traditional Thanksgiving song Over the River and Through the Woods brings pictures to mind of children bundled up in sweaters, yellow and red leaves on the trees, a fireplace with a blazing fire in Grandmother’s house.

South Texas clearly didn’t get the fall memo: the memo that dictates a shift in temperature, a change in seasonal appearance.  It’s still gorgeous outside here.  Sunny and warm with cool evenings.  The leaves on all of my trees are still a perky green as if spring is in the air.

But while we lack traditional autumn weather, we make up for it with perfect camping weather.  We can still head over the river and through the woods, although we’ll just do it camping style.  It’s time to pack up the tent and sleeping bags, the ingredients for s’mores, some firewood and oh yes, don’t forget those sweet little children of yours.south-texas-autumn-camping-style

First time camping with kids?  You have nothing to fear.  Kids instinctively know what to do in the wild woods.  You don’t need to worry about packing things to do.  A couple of sticks, some rocks and a path to explore are all you need.  Build a roaring fire at dusk and you’ll have yourself a merry little band of wild children dancing to the light of the fire.

Afraid I’m exaggerating? 

Take along a scavenger hunt for the kids to complete as they hike through the woods.  Or bring along your favorite camping songs and stories to read while you sit around the fire.  A pack of cards is multi-functional (our family favorite is the game of Spoons.)  

Are you a camping veteran? 

Why not try something new on the next trip?  Load up the bikes and check out Goliad State Park’s Angel of Goliad bike trail.  Head to Palmetto State Park and rent paddleboats for a day.  Set up camp at Inks Lake State Park and then head over to Longhorn Caverns to explore.  If you’re visiting one of the many beautiful state parks, make it a history adventure as you learn about the history and impact of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Not ready to venture so far from home?  The Coastal Bend boasts of plenty of gorgeous camping spots.  Check out Rockport’s Goose Island State Park to spot beautiful cardinals or Lake Corpus Christi State Park if you’re a family of fishermen.  If you’re really adventurous and not opposed to sleeping near sand, head to Mustang Island State Park.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones.  Your kids are little darlings in the car so you can head a little further from home.  Why not try Palo Duro Canyon with its many winding trails or venture out past the state parks and star gaze at the Eagle Eye Observatory at the Canyon of the Eagles.

south-texas-autumn-camping-styleNot really a camping type of person? 

Do it anyways.  It’ll give your kids a chance to connect to nature, gaze at the stars unobstructed by city lights, see creatures in their natural habitat, and just be kids without the pressures of our current cultural stream.

So grab your gear (don’t forget to pack the hot chocolate on the off-chance that it is actually cool in the morning) and head out over the river and through the woods.  Then come back and tell me how brilliant my suggestion was.  I’ll be waiting for your response while I’m sitting in the woods listening to the sounds of nature blending with the sounds of my children running free being, well, children.


  1. Love your article! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in busy city life that we forget to take some time out to enjoy nature and let our kids run wild, even if it’s just for a couple days. Texas has some beautiful, rugged places to explore – sometimes it just takes that little reminder to make the time and go do it!

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