Padre Island National Seashore | BIRD ISLAND BASIN CAMPGROUND

RV area at the Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

RV area at the Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

CAMPING SEASON

The Bird Island Basin Campground at Padre Island National Seashore is open year-round.

TYPE OF CAMPING

Both tent campers and those in RVs are welcome at the Bird Island Basin Campground. However, the campground is geared more for small RVs and van campers. If you have a large RV, you might want to first try the Malaquite Campground. Large RVs can use Bird Island Basin, but you don’t get much room between campsites, so awnings and porches are out of the question if the place is packed. You’d be better off camping on the Gulf Coast beaches if space is what you are after.

Bird Island Basin Campground Map

Bird Island Basin Campground Map

NUMBER OF SITES

There are 34 campsites designed for RVs, though there are no rules preventing tent campers from occupying these sites. However, the space between the parking area and Laguna Madre is pretty small, and picnic tables take up much of this space, so there isn’t a lot of room for a tent.

Picnic tables for the RV sites at Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

Picnic tables for the RV sites at Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

If you are tent camping, there is an area at the very end of the road that is designated as the Tent Area. As far as I know, there are no limits on the number of tent campers, and there are no specific tent campsites, so you can pitch a tent anywhere you like. In fact, the guy working at the Worldwinds windsurfing shop near the entrance of Bird Island Basin told me that guests can pitch a tent anywhere on the property, not just at the tent area.

Tent area parking at Padre Island National Seashore's Bird Island Basin Campground

Tent area parking at Padre Island National Seashore’s Bird Island Basin Campground

AMENITIES

The National Park Service describes the Bird Island Basin Campground as “primitive,” but this is not exactly accurate. In my opinion, primitive camping means there are no facilities of any type, which is what you get when camping on the Gulf Coast beaches at Padre Island National Seashore. While there are no modern restroom or shower facilities at Bird Island Basin, there are two fancy outhouses—what I call portable toilets housed in permanent buildings. There is a two-stall facility at the entrance and a single stall facility at the Tent Area.

Fancy outhouse at the Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

Fancy outhouse at the Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

If you want to use a modern toilet, you can venture over to the Malaquite Visitor Center. Toilets and outdoor rinse-off showers are available every day from 7 AM to 9 PM. Another option is to camp at the Malaquite Campground where there are modern restrooms and actual showers, albeit cold-water. It is a much nicer campground, and unless you have a reason for camping at Bird Island Basin, it should be your first choice for camping in a developed campground at Padre Island National Seashore.

There are no grills at Bird Island Basin Campground, but each RV site comes with a picnic table. Since there are no specific tent spots, there are no specific picnic tables for tent campers. There are, however, a handful of picnic tables at the Day Use Area by the windsurfing shop, and a few tables are scattered here and there along the beach at the Tent Camping Area. All tables are taken on a first come, first served basis.

There is an RV dump station located at the entrance to the Malaquite Campground that is available to all campers at Padre Island National Seashore.

Picnic tables along the Laguna Madre at Bird Island Basin, Padre Island National Seashore

Picnic tables along the Laguna Madre at Bird Island Basin, Padre Island National Seashore

TERRAIN

Camping at Bird Island Basin is the same as camping on the Gulf Coast beaches, but without the pounding waves. Needless to say, the terrain is flat, and there isn’t a shade tree in sight. And with no vegetation, there is no privacy between campsites. The parking spaces for the RV sites are as close together as spaces in a shopping center parking lot.

RV parking spaces at the Bird Island Basin Campground are packed tightly together

RV parking spaces at the Bird Island Basin Campground are packed tightly together

Tent campers have the luxury of roaming the area, but most will choose to be as close to Laguna Madre as possible. The ground near the shore is hard packed sand, not loose sand like you’d find on a Florida beach.

Shoreline at the tent area of Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

Shoreline at the tent area of Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore

RESERVATIONS

All campsites at Bird Island Basin are taken on a first come, first served basis. No reservations are accepted.

FEES AND PAYMENT

There is a fee to camp at Bird Island Basin. Payment is made at the self-pay station at the entrance. First find an empty campsite, then return to the pay station to fill out a registration form and make a payment. You can pay with cash, check, or credit / debit card. For card payments, write your card information on the form. When done, tear off your receipt and place the payment envelope (with your payment inside) into the drop box.

At the time of this writing, the camping fee is $8 / night ($4 / night if you have a Senior or Access pass). However, be sure to get the latest fees on the National Park Service’s official Bird Island Basin web page for Padre Island National Seashore.

CAMPGROUND RULES

•  Check out time is 12 PM.

•  There is a 14-consecutive day camping limit. After 14 days of camping you must leave the park for at least 14 more days before returning to camp again. There is a 28-day yearly limit.

•  Generators are allowed, but not between 10 PM and 6 AM.

•  No ground fires are allowed.

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Last updated on February 27, 2022
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