Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Stella Shon
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I used my Thousand Trails Cabin Pass in late July 2023 to stay at the Thousand Trails Colorado River campground in Columbus, Texas. My family of 5 found this campground delightful, though the cabin was pretty cozy. The river access, wildlife, peace and quiet among nature, and proximity to the small town of Columbus made this a great place to get away for a weekend and recharge.
Let’s explore the campground and what we liked about our stay in a cabin at Thousand Trails Colorado River.
Thousand Trails Colorado River is in the small town of Columbus, Texas, a little over an hour west of Houston, an hour and a half southeast of Austin, and about 2 hours east of San Antonio.
Our arrival from the west side of Houston was extremely easy, as the campground is very accessible to the Houston area. It took us less than an hour to get to the campground, with most of our trek on I-10 and a short drive up Texas State Highway 71. Thousand Trails Colorado River is just a mile or so from the highway, so it felt like we were there in no time.
Most people drive to this campground and stay in RVs, but if you’re flying in, the closest airport is William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), just slightly closer to the campground than George Bush Intercontinental (IAH). It takes about an hour and a half to get to the campground from either HOU or IAH, though that can vary quite a bit depending on Houston traffic.
The town of Columbus has some attractions, but the main draw of this campground is its natural environment, with river access, wide open spaces, quiet, and wildlife.
I booked a 2-night stay at Thousand Trails Colorado River to test out my new Thousand Trails Cabin Pass, which covers nightly fees for stays at Thousand Trails campgrounds. We planned a stay at Thousand Trails Yosemite Lakes, and I wanted to see what one of the campgrounds was like before we made our out-of-state trip.
Thousand Trails Colorado River is close to home for me, and we had a mostly available weekend open, so I checked the Thousand Trails website for availability, booked my stay, and we were good to go.
With the Cabin Pass, I didn’t pay any nightly fees. I had to pay a $100 damage deposit, which was refunded after my stay. We should have had to pay a $10 nightly pet fee, as we stayed in a pet-friendly cabin and brought our dog, but we weren’t asked for it at booking or when I called to confirm check-in, even though I indicated we’d have a pet when I booked the stay.
I was thrilled that we booked a quick getaway close to home and had a $0 bill. Had I paid for this stay, I would have used my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns 3x points per dollar on travel purchases, including campgrounds.
While we stayed in a cabin, that’s not the most popular way to stay at Thousand Trails Colorado River, as there were just 4 cabins at this campground. Most guests stay in RVs, though the campground also offers tent sites.Hot Tip:
I bought a Thousand Trails Cabin Pass for $1,495 to cover a year of cabin stays at Thousand Trails campgrounds nationwide, including this stay at Thousand Trails Colorado River. Read my review of the Thousand Trails Cabin Pass to learn more about how it works and how I’m getting value from it.
We arrived on a Friday night, and knowing we’d arrive after the welcome center’s 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, I called ahead to warn the campground of our after-hours arrival.
The campground said it was no problem to get there after hours and took payment for the $100 damage deposit over the phone. They told me our keys and the welcome packet would be waiting for us at the welcome center when we arrived.
Driving into the campground at night was more fun than I’d expected. We were greeted by a green-lit road that made it easy to see where we needed to go. It was a pleasant arrival, and we were all excited as the roadway lights illuminated a couple of deer along the way — just a hint of the wildlife we’d see throughout the campground.
The welcome center was the first stop along the road leading into the campground and easy to find. I just had to walk up to the porch to grab our welcome packet with keys, and we were on our way.
The packet included a campground map, and our cabin was circled. A line was drawn on the roads from the welcome center to the cabin so we could see how to get there. We also had the cabin number on the keychain, so there was no mistaking where we needed to go.
Even in the dark, it was easy to find our cabin. The map was easy to read, the roads were just lit enough for us to find our way, and the cabin wasn’t very deep into the campground.
One of the main draws to Thousand Trails campgrounds is the amenities. This location had a boat launch for river access, fishing ponds, a pool, a drive-in golf cart theater, sports courts for basketball, walking trails, pickleball/tennis and volleyball, mini golf, a playground, and more.
The campground also had practical amenities, including a laundry room, bathhouse, vehicle storage, and propane.
It was around 100 degrees when we visited the campground, and we enjoyed hitting the pool!
The pool was open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. near the activities center. It had plenty of chairs, loungers, and restrooms, and there was a small gazebo for shade. The hot tub was inside a small building behind the pool but was under maintenance during our stay.
The pool was about the same size as a residential pool, but there was enough room for us and the few other guests who stopped by for a swim. The pool had multiple entrances and a seating shelf along one of the walls. It was about 5 feet at its deepest point.
Just outside the pool gates, near the pickleball/tennis court, were picnic tables under the shade of oak trees.
The campground is bordered by the Colorado River, which is suitable for boating and paddling. The activity center had information about paddling trails with details about a 6.5-mile trail that takes about 2 to 5 hours to paddle.
At the far end of the campground was a boat launch, where we walked down to get close to the river. A couple of fellow campground guests took their motorboat out for a fishing trip as the sun started to go down.
Near the pool and activity center were some sports courts, including basketball, pickleball/tennis, volleyball, and bean bag toss.
The basketball court had 2 hoops and was partially shaded by large trees nearby.
The pickleball/tennis court, right behind the pool, was also shaded. We saw a couple playing pickleball while we swam in the pool.
Tucked away to the side of the pool behind the basketball court was a volleyball court. It was just a net — no sand or playing surface other than grass — but the net looked to be in good condition.
I saw a horseshoe court on the map, but not in person. I think this bean bag toss must have been it.
We enjoyed the mini golf course. It was well spread out with 18 holes and lots of shade. We were incredibly thankful for the enormous trees in Texas on a hot summer day!
It was a really fun course, and we sank a few hole-in-ones!
We walked to the mini golf course from our cabin, but it was a bit far. Next time, we’d probably drive over.
Next to the pool was the activity center, which was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It was mainly a gathering spot, and we didn’t spend any time there except to peek in and see what was there. We said hi to some cats under the porch, though!
There were a few tables and chairs in the main area, an art station for kids, a ball rack, basketballs, and a pool table. This could be a good hangout spot if you’re tent camping and want to cool off indoors or your RV or cabin starts feeling too cramped.
There was also a spot for coffee with a microwave, another nice amenity if you’re tent camping without small appliances.
In another room was a reading area with comfy chairs and bookshelves.
I didn’t look too hard at the book selection, but it mainly seemed like old mysteries.
We enjoyed the mini golf and pool, but the natural setting really brought us to Thousand Trails Colorado River. The green, open spaces, countless oak and pecan trees, and deer made this campground a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a weekend tucked away in a cabin.
We saw deer nearly everywhere we went in the campground, though the deer kept their distance from us. The campground had deer feeders on-site.
There were so many peaceful and scenic spots to spend time at the campground and lots of shade under huge oak and pecan trees to stay out of the hot Texas sun.
We stayed in a 4-person pet-friendly cabin. It was one of only 4 cabins in the campground, and all were in the same area. While there were a few cabins together along with some RV sites in the same area, it was very quiet, and we hardly saw anyone else during our stay — just a couple of fellow cabin dwellers briefly on their porch next door.
I noticed a couple of larger cabins but didn’t see those occupied during our stay. They were unavailable when I booked our cabin, so I’m assuming those are retail cabins unavailable on the Cabin Pass. Too bad, because we would have liked a larger cabin.
The cabin we stayed in with 2 adults, 3 kids, and a dog had an occupancy of 4. It was cozy and shattered any illusions we might have had about our family’s ability to live full-time in a tiny home.
Still, it worked out fine for a weekend, and we enjoyed staying here. I considered it better than most hotel rooms we stay in because it had a (tiny) kitchen, front porch, and patio.
We stayed in the Austin cabin, named after Texas colonizer Stephen F. Austin.
This little cabin was tiny — the smallest one we’ve stayed at among Thousand Trails campgrounds. It had a queen-size bed and 2 twin bunk beds, and we brought an inflatable mattress for a third kid to sleep on.
My decades of Tetris experience came in handy as we fit our family, dog and all, in this space for a weekend. The bunk bed ladder was not attached, so we moved it to the side of the bunk beds closest to the bathroom and then put our dog’s crate between the bunk beds and the door.
We put the inflatable bed in the remaining open space between the bunk beds, queen bed, and bathroom door. It worked for nighttime, but we stored the inflatable bed on the bunk beds during the day, so we weren’t walking on it as we got around the cabin.
We’re experienced in squeezing 5 people into spaces designed for 4, but this was a challenge because of how little open floor space was in the cabin. We usually don’t have a dog crate to accommodate, either. Still, my family was so charmed by this cute little cabin on the river that no one minded once we got it worked out. And we’d gladly do it again now that we know what to do.
With such a small space, having a porch and patio outside the door was nice to stretch our legs. And when we needed more space beyond our cabin, we took advantage of the campground’s amenities, including the pool and mini golf.
The cabin’s decor was Texas-themed, with a metal art Texas flag on the wall, a red, white, and blue quilt with a star-like pattern, and an informative plaque about our cabin’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin.
There was a window unit air conditioner. Normally, I’d be concerned about it keeping up with the Texas heat, but the cabin’s size worked to our advantage here because it never struggled to keep this small space cool, even in some of the hottest days of our triple-digit summer. There was a ceiling fan above the bed, too.
I liked the lightweight quilt set, as it made this cabin feel more home-like, a stark comparison to the all-white hotel comforters we often encounter.
There were nightstand shelves on either side of the bed. Both had standard outlets, and 1 had an alarm clock.
In addition to the queen-size bed, the cabin had 2 twin beds in a bunk bed configuration. The ladder was moveable, and we moved it closer to the bathroom door so we had more space for our dog near the front door.
The kids enjoyed sleeping in these bunk beds, with linens in tubs below the bottom bunk. We also used the below-bunk space for storage, which was great for keeping kid bags off the limited floor space.
On the kitchen table when we arrived was a note that the cabin had been cleaned, along with a list of cabin use guidelines — mainly a checklist of tasks to complete before leaving the cabin.
Though the queen bed was made when we arrived, we were expected to put linens on the bunk beds on arrival. On departure, we needed to clean and put away dishes, empty the trash, gather linens, and sweep the floor before turning off the lights and air conditioner. These tasks were easy, and we didn’t mind doing them.
Just past the foot of the bed was the dining and kitchen area — just as tight as the rest of the cabin. There was a kitchen table for 4 with fold-out wings to add to the surface space when in use. The table was shoved to the side, with one of the chairs unusable until we pulled the table out.
Above the table was a TV with satellite channels, which always came through clearly.
In the corner behind the kitchen table was a just-big-enough kitchen. It was much smaller than other Thousand Trails cabin kitchens we’ve used, which usually have more counter space, larger refrigerators, and stovetops. Still, it was good enough for a weekend. The kitchen had a minifridge, microwave, sink, coffee maker, and cabinets with dishes, glasses, and cookware.
Though this kitchen didn’t have a stovetop, a propane grill was on the patio just outside.
The kitchen made good use of the space, with knives stored on the wall and cooking utensils, cutting boards, and a bowl stored on or around the microwave.
Straight back from the front door, the bathroom had a toilet, sink, and shower. The countertop was just large enough for the sink and some toiletries, but there was open shelving below for the toiletry items we brought.
On the counter were single-use toiletries from Eco Botanics, including bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion.
The shower was a small enclosure with an adjustable handheld showerhead. It had a couple of hooks for hanging towels or swimsuits in the shower and small shelves for toiletries.
In the wall cabinet next to the sink was a collection of towels.
The front porch added to the space and was a nice spot to sit with a drink and watch deer in the morning and evening. The metal patio table and chairs set was sturdy.
Our view from the porch often included some wild neighbors — deer hanging out under the trees.
Next to the cabin was a small patio with a new-looking picnic table and a propane grill. During our visit, there was a burn ban and no stovetop inside the cabin, so it was nice to have this grill available for hot meals.
Just behind our cabin was a bathhouse. It would have been helpful if we needed to shower or use the bathroom more than 1 person at a time.
The showers were much larger than the shower in our cabin and were accessible with roll-in capabilities and a shower seat.
I can’t say much about the service because we didn’t interact with any Thousand Trails Colorado River staff on-site. That’s not bad since we didn’t need any more assistance than we got. The person I talked to over the phone about our after-hours arrival was pleasant and helpful; that was our only interaction. As promised, we picked up our welcome packet from the welcome center and then dropped our keys at the key drop before the welcome center opened on Sunday morning, so our key transaction was contact-free. Still, we felt taken care of as the cabin was clean and stocked, the amenities we used were all in good working order, and the cabin and campground were comfortable.
Thousand Trails Colorado River is just 10 minutes from downtown Columbus, where you can find the copper-domed historic Colorado County Courthouse.
Just around the corner from the courthouse is Hound Song Brewing, open every day but Mondays, where we enjoyed some beers and snacks on the dog-friendly patio before we headed to the ice cream shop next door.
Nearby the courthouse and brewery is the Santa Claus Museum, which we would have loved to visit but had limited hours. It’s only open on Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. but opens on Saturdays in December from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A little further down the road are the painted churches of Schulenberg, about 25 minutes from the campground. Ornate and beautiful, these churches are an interesting place to visit, whatever your beliefs are. We visited the Dubina-painted church, a restored version of the church that was a religious center for the early Czech settlers in the area.
There are 4 painted churches in Schulenberg available to tour. You can walk in free Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or join a guided tour for a fee. While you can self-tour for free, the churches have donation boxes and postcards for sale on the honor system.
While Thousand Trails Colorado River isn’t the most impressive campground covered by our Cabin Pass, we will return to it frequently. The campground is a convenient spot for us to visit often, and we loved bringing our dog on vacation to stay in a pet-friendly cabin. The campground had fun amenities, and Columbus is a cute small town to explore. We enjoyed having a quick getaway close to home and look forward to visiting again.
You can stay at Thousand Trails Colorado River using an RV membership or Cabin Pass, but cabins and sites are available to non-members for nightly or weekly fees.
The pool is open year round with daily hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There is no restaurant on-site at the campground, though there are restaurants and grocery stores nearby.
The campground is pet-friendly and you can bring a pet to approved cabins and sites.
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