Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore

Camping

Camping

Bird Island Basin

Primitive camping only. A camping permit is required and is available at the Malaquite Visitor Center. No reservations are taken for camping, but space is usually available. There are chemical toilets only. Suitable for both RV and tent camping. A fee is charged in addition to the park entrance fee: $5 per day, or a $10 annual fee. Bird Island Basin is located on the Laguna Madre approximately four miles from the visitors center. In addition to camping, Bird Island Basin has a windsurfing area (ranked by Windsurfing Magazine as the best flat water sailing site in the continental USA) and a boat-launching ramp. Please note that a 14 day camping limit is in effect at all camping areas. At the end of 14 days, campers must vacate their site and leave the park for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to camp. A fee is charged for camping.For information on improvements being made see the articles on Bird Island Basin in the News and Management Documents section of this website.

IMPORTANT: Please be aware of the new Bird Island Basin parking regulations effective March 1, 2008, as well as the new Bird Island Basin Windsurfing and Camping regulations.

Follow this link to the BIB Parking Regulations.

Follow this link to the BIB Windsurfing and Camping Regulations.

Malaquite

Semi-primitive, providing only toilets, rinse showers, picnic tables and 50 designated sites (8 sites are for tent camping only, 26 are for tent or RV camping, and 16 are for RV's only). An $8 fee is required; $4 with a Golden Age or Golden Access passport. There are no hook-ups. There is a gray water dump station and potable water filling station prior to entering the campground. Please do not run generators after 10 p.m. For security, the area is patrolled by rangers. Camping is accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations are accepted. The campground is rarely full; during fall, winter, and spring usually less than half the sites are occupied. A camping permit is required and is available from the campground host, patrolling rangers, the entrance station, or from the information desk at the Malaquite Visitor Center. Campsites are located less than 100 feet (33 meters) from the beach and have an unobstructed view of the Gulf. The Visitors Center is 1/2 mile south along the beach. Please note that a 14 day camping limit is in effect at all camping areas. At the end of 14 days, campers must vacate their site and leave the park for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to camp. A fee is charged for camping.




North Beach

Primitive and at no charge. A camping permit is required and is available from the Malaquite Visitor Center. Open to RV and tent camping. No reservations are taken for camping, but none are needed as space is always available. There are no facilities and no designated sites. Camping is permitted from the dunes to the water's edge (about a 100 ft. distance) and from the park's northern boundary to the northern barricade of Closed beach (about a 1 mile distance). Campers may choose a location and stake out a claim. Open to two-wheel-drive vehicles, however, beach conditions may vary with weather and campers should always use caution to avoid becoming stuck in unexpectedly deep sand. Be aware that this stretch is often used by people traveling from the park to a nearby fishing pier (out of the park) and that there is a moderate safety risk because of the traffic flow. Please note that a 14 day camping limit is in effect at all camping areas. At the end of 14 days, campers must vacate their site and leave the park for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to camp. A fee is charged for camping.




South Beach

Primitive and at no charge. A camping permit is required and is available from the information desk at the Malaquite Visitor Center. No reservations are accepted; space is always available. Camping is on the beach within 100 feet of the water's edge. There are no designated sites. Campers may choose any location they desire and stake out a claim. The camping area extends from the dunes to the water and from the end of Park Road 22 down 60 miles to the southern boundary of the park at the Mansfield Channel. There are no roads; all driving is on the beach. The first five miles after the end of the park road are open to two-wheel-drive vehicles. The lower 55 miles are open only to four-wheel-drive vehicles. The beginning of the four-wheel-drive area is marked. Please note that in Texas beaches are considered highways and all vehicles on them must be street-legal and licensed. Be aware that driving conditions on the beach may vary with the weather and sometimes areas of soft sand may be found in the two-wheel-drive area making driving difficult and becoming stuck possible. Some areas within the four-wheel-drive area (particularly Little Shell and Big Shell beaches) usually have very deep sand. A site bulletin on how to prepare for driving down island are available by contacting the Visitors Center. Contact the Visitors Center before driving down island to check on beach conditions. Driving off the beach and into the dunes, grasslands, and mudflats is not permitted. Please note that a 14 day camping limit is in effect at all camping areas. At the end of 14 days, campers must vacate their site and leave the park for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to camp. A fee is charged for camping.




Yarborough Pass

Primitive - there are no facilities. A camping permit is required and is available from the Malaquite Visitor Center. Reservations are neither accepted nor needed because space is always available. Located on the Laguna Madre 15.5 miles south of the visitors center. No fee is charged for use. Access to this campground is possible only through the four-wheel drive area of South Beach. To find the campground drive to the 15 mile marker then backtrack approximately 100 yards and look for a notch in the fore-island dune ridge. Driving through the notch places one on a caliche road, parts of which are sometimes flooded by marshes. Follow the road approx. 1-2 miles to the campground. Be aware that the notch through the dunes is sometimes filled with exceptionally deep and soft sand in which even four-wheel-drive vehicles become stuck occasionally. The flooded areas may be deep. Use caution when crossing to avoid flooding engine or exhaust. Do not drive in the mudflats surrounding the campground. The upper layers of the mud dry first, giving the appearance of solid ground, but leave soft mud underneath in which it is easy to become bogged down. Fines for damaging the mudflats are heavy. Please note that a 14 day camping limit is in effect at all camping areas. At the end of 14 days, campers must vacate their site and leave the park for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to camp. A fee is charged for camping.

Campgrounds

In general: 

  • All camping is first-come, first-served; no reservations are accepted. 
  • There are no public R/V hook-ups anywhere in the park, but an R/V dump station and a water filling station are available.  
  • Camping is permitted only in the five camping areas available for public use (however, these five areas cover a huge area).  
  • All campgrounds are open year-round. 
  • All camping is primitive, except for the Malaquite Campground, which is semi-developed. 
  • All campers must have a camping permit available from the Malaquite Visitor Center, the Malaquite Campground host, or any patrolling ranger.  
  • A camping fee is charged for the Malaquite Campground and a Use fee is charged for Bird Island Basin, but fees are not charged for camping anywhere else.

More information is available from the Malaquite Visitor Center at (361) 949-8068.

Bird Island Basin

A camping permit is required and is available at the Malaquite Visitor Center. No reservations are taken for camping, but space is usually available. There are chemical toilets only. Suitable for both RV and tent camping. A fee is charged in addition to the park entrance fee: $5 per day, or a $10 annual fee. Bird Island Basin is located on the Laguna Madre approximately four miles from the visitors center. In addition to camping, Bird Island Basin has a windsurfing area (ranked by Windsurfing Magazine as the best flat water sailing site in the continental USA) and a boat-launching ramp.

Malaquite 

Semi-primitive, providing only toilets, rinse showers, picnic tables and 50 designated sites (8 sites are for tent camping only, 26 are for tent or RV camping, and 16 are for RV's only). An $8 fee is required; $4 with a Golden Age or Golden Access passport. There are no hook-ups. There is a gray water dump station and potable water filling station prior to entering the campground. Please do not run generators after 10 p.m. For security, the area is patrolled by rangers. Camping is accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations are accepted. The campground is seldom full; during fall, winter, and spring usually less than half the sites are occupied. A camping permit is required and is available from the campground host, patrolling rangers, the entrance station, or from the information desk at the Malaquite Visitor Center. Campsites are located less than 100 feet (33 meters) from the beach and have an unobstructed view of the Gulf. The Visitors Center is 1/2 mile south along the beach.

North Beach 

Open to RV and tent camping.  There are no facilities and no designated sites. Camping is permitted from the dunes to the water's edge (about a 100 ft. distance) and from the park's northern boundary to the northern barricade of Closed beach (about a 1 mile distance). Campers may choose a location and stake out a claim. Open to two-wheel-drive vehicles, however, beach conditions may vary with weather and campers should always use caution to avoid becoming stuck in unexpectedly deep sand.  Be aware that this stretch is often used by people traveling from the park to a nearby fishing pier (out of the park) and that there is a moderate safety risk because of the traffic flow.

South Beach

No reservations are accepted; space is always available. Camping is on the beach within 100 feet of the water's edge. There are no designated sites. Campers may choose any location they desire and stake out a claim. The camping area extends from the dunes to the water and from the end of Park Road 22 down 60 miles to the southern boundary of the park at the Mansfield Channel. There are no roads; all driving is on the beach. The first five miles after the end of the park road are open to two-wheel-drive vehicles. The lower 55 miles are open only to four-wheel-drive vehicles. The beginning of the four-wheel-drive area is marked.

Please note that in Texas beaches are considered highways and all vehicles on them must be street-legal and licensed. Be aware that driving conditions on the beach may vary with the weather and sometimes areas of soft sand may be found in the two-wheel-drive area making driving difficult and becoming stuck possible. Some areas within the four-wheel-drive area (particularly Little Shell and Big Shell beaches) usually have very loose sand. A site bulletin on how to prepare for driving down island are available by contacting the Visitors Center. Contact the Visitors Center before driving down island to check on beach conditions. Driving off the beach and into the dunes, grasslands, and mudflats is not permitted.

Yarborough Pass 

Located on the Laguna Madre 15.5 miles south of the visitors center. No fee is charged for use. Access to this campground is possible only through the four-wheel drive area of South Beach.

To find the campground drive to the 15 mile marker then backtrack approximately 100 yards and look for a notch in the fore-island dune ridge. Driving through the notch places one on a caliche road, parts of which are sometimes flooded by marshes. Follow the road approx. 1-2 miles to the campground. Be aware that the notch through the dunes is sometimes filled with exceptionally deep and loose sand in which even four-wheel-drive vehicles become stuck occasionally. The flooded areas may be deep. Use caution when crossing to avoid flooding engine or exhaust.

Do not drive in the mudflats surrounding the campground. The upper layers of the mud dry first, giving the appearance of solid ground, but leave soft mud underneath in which it is easy to become bogged down. Fines for damaging the mudflats are heavy.