I've been up and down the I-35 corridor, first in a pop-up camper and now in a 31-foot travel trailer.  I've found that the shorter the drive, the more time spent having fun.

A combination of a bad experience on a long drive pulling the pop-up and work commitments that usually require me being close to work for a weekend remote broadcast mean it's Belton or Stillhouse Hollow Lake for us.

When you don't want to spend more than a tank of gas, where's the best Central Texas camping spot?  When I say "camping spot", I'm referring to my idea of camping, which is enough juice to power the A/C and clean water to use in the sink & toilet.  Tent-camping has its place, but that place is not in Texas in the middle of the summer.  I did a lot of tent-camping when I lived in Alaska, which shows you I'd rather deal with deadly wildlife than deal with the heat in Texas.

"Three to See - 3 Favorite Central Texas Camping Spots"

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    Westcliff Park

    The first of two parks from Belton Lake I have in my "Three to See" list is Westcliff.  We've spent a few weekends at Westcliff, and it's always a good time.  When we had kayaks to take out, the convenience of being right on the water meant it wasn't a long trek to get them in the water.

    We'd take the kayaks out, and both boys have a designated "point" that they've named for themselves after a kayaking adventure.

    The fun at Westcliff starts with an insane hill that will have you praying that you got your brakes checked.  The spots are, for the most part, right on the water, which is good AND bad.  The good is the view and the nice breeze.  The bad is the lack of shade.  A shade from the camper or from a canopy would be recommended.

    There is a swimming beach on-site, and even though the majority of sites are right on the water, it's nice to have a designated area free of debris and random fishing boats getting close to the shore.  There's also a nice playground for the kids, which is a great escape if the kiddos begin to get antsy.

    Highly recommended site if being close to the water and having a designated swimming area is a priority.

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    Dana Peak Park

    Dana Peak Park is one of only two available camping grounds on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, and the park features all-new facilities thanks to the flooding that took place less than a decade ago.

    The drawback to this campground is the lack of shade.  That's offset by being close to the water and having a clear 360-degree view of the surrounding area.  If you're into biking or hiking, there are miles of great trails surrounding Dana Peak Park.

    I nearly died on those trails several years back, but most people aren't as stupid as I am and should have nothing to worry about.  The flat ground is nothing much to look at, but it's great for games with the kids.

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    Live Oak Ridge Park

    Live Oak Ridge Park has been our go-to park for several years.  Not only do we love the staff, but it's such a convenient location.  Within just two miles of my wife's job and the kids' schools, they can be out of school and at the campsite within five minutes.

    The location's proximity to Walmart & HEB in Belton is also a great help.  Ice, beer, bait, it's all within a five minute drive.  I also love having a great place for breakfast tacos nearby.  There's nothing worse than packing up on a Sunday morning and being forced to wash dishes before packing up to leave.

    The drawback to Live Oak Ridge is being directly across from the Deadfish Grill.  Not only does it make me want to be drinking beer while watching a game on their TVs in the bar, but the sunset cannon makes my Thunder Buddy, Lexi, lose her mind with fear.