If you are a camping aficionado, Lake Texoma is the place to be as the 70-year-old, man-made lake offers a variety of outdoor opportunities. From pack campers to full RV explorers, there is something for everyone.
“There are simply a lot of options on the lake,” Lake Texoma Association executive director Terri Weir said. “If you want to camp, we have several campgrounds — mostly on the water’s edge — but some on bluffs. It is a beautiful and peaceful place (with) lots of trees. Lake Texoma is the place to be.”
According to Weir, there are about 35 listed campgrounds on Lake Texoma — operated by the U.S. Corps of Engineers or privately — and there are still more around the lake.
“There are strictly RV camping sites, tent camping, primitive camping,” Weir explained. “And we have marinas, too, that have some sites available, both on the Texas and Oklahoma sides.”
The Corps of Engineers operates nine of the camping sites on Lake Texoma including the Texas dam site. There are 30 first come-first serve RV camp sites on the dam with more room for tent-only camping. There are public shower and bath facilities as well.
In addition, the listed sites include Buncombe Creek, Caney Creek, East Burns Run, Johnson Creek, Alberta Creek Resort, Big Mineral Camp, Bridgeview Resort, Cedar Bayou Marina, Cedar Mills Marina, Eisenhower State Park, Falconhead Resort, Gone Fishing RV Resort, Juniper Point East and West, Lakeside Platter Flatts, Preston, West Burns Run, Lake Texoma State Park, Lighthouse Resort, Mill Creek Resort, Newberry Creek Resort and Texoma Shores Resort.
There are about 1,200 camp sites on Lake Texoma not including cabins, cottages and mobile homes. And many primitive/tent sites are not listed.
Campsites vary from full hook-ups for RVs, water/electric for tents or fire rings only for primitive, according to Richard Kellogg, who is the assistant park manager for Eisenhower State Park.
“We see all types from RVs to tents, even hammocks, even though those aren’t very safe,” Kellogg said. “People love the outdoors and there is no better place than Lake Texoma to be outdoors.”
Kellogg noted the screened shelters and trail system draw many campers to the park.
“Also, the environment here brings a lot of people; we have specific noise, alcohol and pet rules,” said Kellogg. “These are important to people for a safe and fun camping experience.”
One trend is ‘Glamping,’ or glamour Camping, which is simply bringing as much of home with you when you go out into the wilderness, including RVs with bathrooms, showers, cooking appliances and electronic devices such as televisions and computers. There are sightings of Mercedes Benz vans outfitted with Winnebago campers, RVs with add-ons, camps with lighting systems and the like.
Even with glamping as a current trend, many see camping as being simple, and the basic act of getting back outdoors is the important part.
“We love being outside; getting away from the electronics and restrictions,” said Paul Neighbour, a lifetime camper from Allen who was recently at Lake Texoma with his wife Courtney and son Trent. “We go at least once per month; we love making a fire, cooking outside and fishing and hiking.”
Rachel and Paul Eberwine, of Plano, like the slower pace of camping.
“We love the outdoors; it is so fun and relaxing,” Paul Eberwine said. “Camping is a new idea for us, but it is becoming our favorite thing to do. This is a great lake here. We love to explore the trails. We will be back for sure.”
Another phenomenon of camping is ‘park hosting,’ that is, working for a park for camping privileges. Many lifelong campers see this as an opportunity to help the very parks they visit; the couples (usually) live at the park for a specific time and work about 24 hours per week helping the park run smoothly.
“This really helps with the hiring freeze we have now,” Kellogg said, referring to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “There is so much to do, and these hosts fill the need. They really help us a lot.”
Kellogg noted that hosts man the entry booth, the office, act as guides and do cleaning at the park. Some have specialized skills such as vehicle maintenance, which can be utilized at specific state parks.
Ren and Scott Fiedenberg are from Irving and are first-time park hosts at Eisenhower State Park. They are into their first six-month stint with the park.
“We are trying to visit all 95 state parks in Texas. We’ve made 54 of them,” explained Scott. “And being hosts is one way to do it. We wanted to give back; we love camping and want to help others love it.”
“We love the quiet, the outdoors (and) we love to hike,” Ren said. “We find something new every day.”
“Yes, we are big on the parks, all of them,” said Scott, who is a 30-year veteran of camping. “We love ESP, but we fall in love with all of them!”
The Fridenbergs admitted that camping becomes different when living at a park.
“We are adjusting to living on site; park hosting is a nice way to camp,” Scott said. “We help them fill in the gaps in staffing, and we get to experience the park on a more long-term basis.”
Debbie Goldman has been a park host for three years. She has been at ESP for about two years.
“The camping here on the lake is wonderful, it’s all wooded,” smiled Goldman. “The trails are great. We see wildlife all the time. There is something for everyone.”
The Goldmans have graduated from tent camping to RVs over the years but still love the thrill of being outdoors and seeing nature’s sights.
“Camping allows you to drink coffee outside and watch the birds; there are so many here on the lake. My favorite is the rainbow bunting. They are so beautiful,” said Debbie. “We absolutely love it here.”
Whether one wants to bring home with them or just get back to nature, Lake Texoma is an excellent place to camp. So bring your games, bikes and s’more sticks and get camping!
For more information on camping on Lake Texoma, visit the Lake Texoma Association website: www.laketexomalonline.com and click on the guide/map tab.
For more information on park hosting, visit the TPWD website under “Volunteer” opportunities or visit Texans for State Parks at texansstateparks.org.