A couple of months ago, I posted the attached question about boondocking on South Padre National Seashore (SPNS): http://www.airforums.com/forums/f386/boondocking-padre-island-anyone-26158.html
The responses gave us lots of very helpful information, which we appreciate (as always). It deserves an update.
We went this past weekend (Saturday-Monday Nov 18-20). Its about 5 hours from our home in Houston.
The executive summary is that SPNS provides 5 miles of uncrowded beach boondocking accessible by almost any vehicle, provided the driver is moderately careful.
Admittedly, I'm only speaking about when we were there. I understand that the driving conditions vary. However, you can get a report by calling the ranger station. We did not need 4WD, but I personally wouldn't go there without it, as trouble lurks! But hey, this is Texas! There's nothing a good-ol-boy likes more than justifying his monster 4WD truck by pulling somebody out of a tight spot! And they drive by every 15 minutes!
There is a paved RV parking site at the entrance. No electric, but there is fresh water and a dump station at the entrance. Kind of cramped, however, for those of us who dislike those 'line-'em-up-close' campsites.
After you get onto the beach, there are five miles of good driving beach where you can boondock. After that they recommend ONLY 4WD vehicles, and even those can get in trouble. We didn't go that far... only about 1 mile down. I think the fishermen go into the 4WD area.
At this time of year, the weather was fabulous (70 degrees, but windy) and the beach was pretty deserted - especially Sunday afternoon and Monday (see pics). The water was cool, but you could wade comfortably. We know from experience how hot it can get in the summer, and I suspect during more crowded periods you won't get 1/4 mile (yes, quarter-mile) spacing between campers.
I would offer the following positive comments.
1. Beautiful blue/green water with small waves most of the time.
2. Lots of surf fishing (based on the number of vehicles we saw with huge surf casting poles)
3. Attractive sand dunes (if you're into that)
4. LOTS OF SOLITUDE!
5. Interesting birdlife - lots of giant blue herons, hawks, and numerous seabirds
6. Relatively clean beaches (according to the brochure, 98% of the 'trash' washes up from the gulf.)
7. Bonfires are allowed.
1. Driving is allowed on the beach - good thing, or we couldn't get there. However, you can see from the pics that the 'roadway' comes pretty close to the edge where you camp.
2. Not all drivers observe the 15 MPH speed limit.
3. There's no "quiet time". Vehicles can (and do) come by at all hours. Early morning fishermen start rolling through at 6am.
4. There's still a lot of trash, even if campers didn't bring it.
Recommendation: if you have a generator and are in the vicinity, DON'T MISS IT!
P.S.: there's a small town before you turn off to head to the beach. They have a drive-thru manual carwash. We sprayed everything down with fresh water as soon as we got off the beach.