Monday, January 28, 2013

Stephen F. Austin State Park

We spent January 22 - 24 (2 nights) at Stephen F. Austin State Park near Sealy, just off of Interstate 10 about 30 miles or so west of Houston. We had never been to this park before, and that’s a shame, for it is a real jewel.

The park actually sits on land that was part of the San Felipe de Austin town site; I'll provide more information about this in another entry. The historical complex is just east of the park. The park is on the west bank of the muddy Brazos River, and a golf course is located along the east boundary of the park.

A loop in the campground provides 40 sites with full hookups for trailers. Our site had only 30 amp electrical; I do not know if 50 amp is available within the campground or not. There are 2 other loops for camping as well. One loop contains 20 screen shelters, and the other loop contains about 40 sites for tent campers. These two loops share restroom/shower facilities.

The firebug getting a fire ready at our campsite, #39.

In our camping area, sites were all pull thrus, and they were located far enough apart to provide sufficient privacy. Each site contained a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and a pole for hanging lanterns or whatever. Each camping site was well cleared and had a very clean look. As with most state parks, all internal roads are paved, and all camp sites have paved parking. The park also recycles aluminum cans, so be sure to dispose of these properly.

View of our campground from our campsite. The wagon is located at the site of one of the hosts, and it contains firewood for sale.

One of the screened shelters available to campers

A typical site available to tent campers

Although some state parks do offer WiFi and, occasionally, even cable TV, neither was available in the park. However, the park is close enough to Houston that we were able to pick up a number of TV stations. We also picked up the local CBS affiliate from Bryan/College Station.

We picked a great time to be in the park. Daily temps reached into the low 70s both days, so we spent almost all of our time outside. We were fortunate to be at the park while fires were permitted, so we enjoyed an evening fire both days of our stay.

The park offers numerous programs throughout the year, but since we were there during the week, none was available during our stay. Most such programs occur on the weekends when more people visit the park. During our stay, we saw no campers in the screened shelters or the tent sites; there were probably 15 to 20 trailer sites occupied each night. During weekends and times of the year when the weather is more reliably pleasant, I’m sure the park has near full occupancy since it is so close to Houston.

I saw evidence of an active park staff throughout the park. One screened shelter, for example, was undergoing a major upgrade. 3 park hosts were located in the park, and all stayed busy each day. Trails were clear and well-maintained.

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