Palmetto State Park Review & Rating

Texas Outside Rating: 9.1

Palmetto State Park Website
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Palmetto State Park Overview:

Review and Rating of Palmetto State Park in Gonzales Texas

Palmetto State Park is a fantastic 270 acre State Park located just outside of Gonzales Texas.  This great Park made our list of the Best State Parks in Texas and some of what helped make it one of our favorites include:

  • it is very clean and well maintained
  • the RV and tent sites are excellent
  • there is lots to do within the Park and nearby
  • the rustic cabin to rent is unique
  • it's a very scenic park rich in diversity

There are only 19 RV sites and 20 tent sites and they are all outstanding, as such the Park is very popular - make reservations early.  The roads are paved as are the RV sites and RVs will be able to get into most of the sites fairly easily - make sure you get a site long enough for your RV when you make a reservation. 

The beauiful and well done stone buildings in Palmetto State Park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the early 1930s and the Palmetto State Park opened in 1936.  The terrain is flat to gently rolling and heavily treed.

Bring your bikes or hiking or running shoes to enjoy the trails and your fishing poles to catch some fish for dinner.  The San Marcos River runs through the Palmetto State Park and there is also a small lake with canoe and paddleboat rentals.

The Park is named after the stand of dwarf palmetto  plants that are found in large clusters around the Park's ephemeral swamp. You're also likely to spot white-tailed deer, armadillos, squirrels, raccoons, and numerous birds.

Palmetto State Park is a birding "hot spot" thanks to more than 240 species of birds that have been observed in and around the Park.  It is located on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, has long been noted as a birding "hot spot."

One of the things that really impressed us was how clean and well maintained Palmetto State Park was during our stay.  The leaves were falling off the trees, yet there were no leaves on the trails, on the roads or parking pads.  The restrooms were clean and the trails were very well maintained. 

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Amenities and Fun Things To Do:

The 19 RV sites at Palmetto State park are in a loop and all of the sites are back-in into the interior of the loop or around the outside perimiter of the loop.  The parking pads are paved and level and each site has water and electric (20, 30, and 50 AMP) and the hook-ups are conveniently located toward the middle of the site.  Each site also has a picnic table on a concrete pad, fire ring, BBQ grill, and lantern hanger.  All of the sites are well shaded and spacious. Restrooms with showers are close by.

The tent sites are on or close to Oxbow Lake and each site has a two or three car paved parking spot, tent pad, picnic table on a cement pad, fire ring, and lantern holder.  Some of the sites are on a bank above the San Marcos River, some are along the shoreline of Oxbow Lake, and the rest back up to the forest.  All of the sites are shaded and showers and restrooms are close by.

Next to Oxbow Lake is a rustic and cozy cabin that you can rent.  The cabin has heating and AC, a double bed plus a bunk with double beds, cedar furniture, microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker, and a ceiling fan.  Outside the cabin is a deck that goes around 3 sides of the cabin and has 4 wooden rocking chairs.  There is a large picnic table, fire ring, outside water spicket, parking just outside the door, and a trail down to the San Marcos River.

Some of the amenities at Palmetto State Park include:

  • the 4 acre Oxbow Lake with 4 person pedal boats, 3 person canoes, fishing boats, and inner tubes for rent - a limited supply of fishing equipment is available for loan and no license is required to fish in State Parks
  • wood and ice for sale and souveniers and more at the Park office
  • a dump station
  • fishing pier on Oxbow Lake
  • a concrete walking path down to the San Marcos River for river access or for launching or returning kayaks
  • a couple of picnic areas and a playground
  • a very cool rock pavillion with a kitchen for rent

One of the things that we really like about this park are the over 5 miles of trails that are fantastic for biking, hiking, or jogging.   The trails are flat, crused stone, and wide - and they are great for everyone from 2 to 92.  There is an Interpretive Trail, a trail that follows the San Marcos River, one that goes around Oxbow lake and another that goes through the Ottine Swamp.  Here is a link to a map of the trails.

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A Typical Texas Outsider Day:

We were passing through Gonzales on our way home from a fun Thanksgiving in Port Aransas and decided to stay here for a night.  All we had time to do was walk around the third of a mile interetrive trail that goes through the strands of palmettos - very interesting and infromative.

Before leaving the next morning we rode bikes on the 1 mile Offine Swamp Trail, the 1 mile Mesquite Flats trail, and the 1 1/4 mile San Marcos trail - all of which we really enjoyed.  An easy and scenic pedal through the trees, swamp, and along the river.  Some of the things we saw during our ride were:  an artesian well and mud boil; the Refectory built of stone by the CCC in 1930; extinct mud boils; lots of white tail deer; and a water tower built in 1936.

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Cool Nearby Activities:

Gonzales is about 10 miles south of Palmetto State Park and is loaded with history, antique shops, several dining options, and a great city park with a nine-hole golf course, boating, fishing, swimming pool, picnicking, camping, and bird-watching. Gonzales is well known for it's historic home tours with restored homes dating from the 1880s to the 1920s.  You might also visit the the Gonzales Memorial Museum.  Gonzales was home to the cannon that was used in the "Come and Take It" Battle on Oct. 2, 1835, when the first shot of the Texas Revolution was fired.

Just a few miles north of Palmetto State Park is Luling which is renowned for it's barbecue, rich oil history, 200 colorfully decorated pump jacks, fresh produce and plants, Texas' first inland canoe paddling trail on the San Marcos River, and abundant watermellons and the infamous Watermellon Thump festival. 

For canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts, you can paddle the Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail - put in at Luling City Park and travel 14 miles to Palmetto State Park, portaging around one dam along the way.  Paddlers will enjoy a gentle family-friendly ride on this quiet river lined with beautiful trees and wildlife.

Shiner Texas is not too far and the Shiner Bock Brewery has an informative, fun and thirst quenching (the beer samples are on Shiner!) tour. 

The are some golf courses nearby - check this golf map to fine one - if you want to chase that white ball for awhile. 

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Campground Information

Website Link
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Area Map
Campsite Map
Location Map
Texas Outside Favorite Sites: 7 and 9 for RVs and 36, 37, or 24 for tent sites

Campground Rating

Overall Rating:
Scenic Beauty:
Things To Do:

Additional Pictures of Palmetto State Park

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Texas Outside Campground Rating System

Texas Outside uses a tough rating scale and it’s difficult for a campground to get a “10”.  Each park is rated on:

  • Scenic Beauty: a campground that is flat with no trees or character gets a “1” and hills, lots of trees, beautiful lake site, and lush ground cover gets a “10”
  • Park Condition:  the cleaner, well kept, and maintained campgrounds receive high scores
  • Amenities: we are looking for lots of amenities like restrooms, dump stations, playgrounds, boat ramps, shelters, concession stand, rental toys, and more.
  • Campsites:  low scores are given for sites that are right next to each other (good for getting to know your neighbors, but not what we’re looking for when we’re camping); have no lantern holder, no water or electricity, no fire pit, no grill, or no picnic table (or it’s rotten wood); have no trees and no view; the ground cover is crushed rock (my bare feet hate that stuff!); and they require a lot of work to get your rig level.
  • Things To Do: Bonus points are given for campgrounds that offer lots of fun things to do at the park or very nearby – this includes: biking, hiking, climbing, boating, entertainment, golf, swimming, fishing, volleyball, horseshoes, and more