Camp Tonkawa Springs, Garrison

I fell in love with Camp Tonkawa Springs a few years ago, and just can’t get enough of it!

Check out My Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit.

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Know Before You Go

We visited on a Saturday, and even though it was busy, it wasn’t REAL busy!  Go early, it did get busier as the day went on.

No lifeguards on duty, swim at your own risk!   Please bring life jackets for young children and weak swimmers, it’s deep!

No dogs.

There were the friendliest people here.  Honestly, I was a little worried because alcohol is allowed, and the front gate staff only came down once or twice, but the other visitors were amazing!  Nothing ever got out of hand, no loud music (no music at all while we were there), and about 5pm the local police showed up just to hang out!

Wednesdays are Family Day!  Only $3/person, and NO ALCOHOL allowed!

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Spring Fed Pool

A constant 68 degrees, the Spring-fed pool is amazing!  The bottom is soft sand, and the rock sides were made by the Civilian Conservation Corp.  in the 1930’s when it was a Boy Scout Camp.  In the 1980’s Ozarka Water Company leased the land to bottle the fresh spring water!

The water isn’t filtered or chlorinated, it comes straight out of the spring!  I love the absence of chemicals, and the darker water absorbs the sunlight, letting you swim longer without a sunburn.  You still need to use sunscreen, and reapply often.

We didn’t see any fish in the lake, but there were some little tadpoles and froglets swimming along the edges.

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The Trees

There are several terrific trees for climbing, and then jumping into the cold, spring water!  The kids were having a blast!

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The trees have these great “holes” in them to make climbing easy!

You’ll notice a lack of diving boards or slides, but that’s okay.  The kids have plenty to keep them busy!  My kids started a Sweetgum Ball War with the other kids swimming there, and had a blast!  The next day, they complained how sore their arms were from throwing so much!  I love that they found ways to entertain themselves!

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We met these boys, who the kids played with most of the day!  I told them I would add their great jumps, too!

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Thanks Mason and Mitchell from Carthage, or somewhere close to it!   See You Soon (probably not)!

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The Bridge

The kids had such a great time playing on this bridge, jumping and doing flips!


Water Toys

You can take tubes, floats, toys, etc.  We had to drive the 20 miles to Walmart in Nacogdoches to get these tubes, because I was FREEZING in the water!   They have an air compressor at the front gate where you can air them up!

My daughter brought her volleyball, and was so excited that there were 2 sand volleyball courts!  Her brothers didn’t want to play, but she was thrilled when another group asked her to play!


There are picnic tables all around the swimming hole, so bring a cooler and lunch!  The closest food is approximately 20 miles away!  NO GLASS ALLOWED!

There are not grills, but you can bring grills.


Sorry, the only restrooms are port-a-potties, but my son claims they are the cleanest ever!

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Fallow Deer

We were thrilled to spot about 20 Fallow Deer on the Camp Tonkawa Springs ground!  They told us at the front gate that some would eat out of your hand, and we grabbed some strawberries and grapes we had in the ice chest, and they immediately came to us to eat!  LOVE!  We were told there were some babies back in the woods, but we didn’t see any.

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Camp Tonkawa has RV camping sites and tent camping sites.  We brought our tent and had the tent area completely to ourselves, except for another tent on the other end.  We camped in campsites T1, which I recommend because there’s no one to camp on the other side of you.

The campsites are kept extremely clean, as is the entire park!

The downside was that all the tent camping sites are next to a road, and although there were few cars at night, we did hear some.  There is also an oil rig nearby, and I could hear it at night.  That wasn’t a problem, because after a while it just became white noise.

The whip-poor-wills did make noise all night, but I loved that!

The Fallow Deer also came up to us in the evenings, hoping for a smore!

Each of the tent campsites has electricity and water, but bring a table and EZ Up for shade.

It’s East Texas, don’t forget the bug repellent.

A huge bonus to camping there is that you get the pass to use the bathhouse with real potties and showers!

Things To Do in (near) Garrison


Zip Nac offers daytime and even nighttime zip lining!  Click HERE for more information!


You can’t beat the fried catfish and onion rings at Clear Springs in Nacogdoches!

Camp Tonkawa Springs

4675 CR 153, Garrison

 (936) 564-8888

Click HERE to visit their website.


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  1. Are people allowed to jump off of the trees? I was there last summer and no one was allowed to jump off them.

    1. Veronica, there were kids in the trees the entire time we were there, and the trees even have long nails driven into it to allow you to get to the higher branches. We were never told not to.

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