We arrived in Austin, Texas for the new year and boondocked for a week in a Walmart on 290 in Austin to get some truck repairs done. One week at a Walmart was enough for us, so we looked for some free or cheap campgrounds within an hour of the city.
Spoiler alert: There isn't much.
Most state campgrounds are $24+ per night with per-person daily access fees that ring your nightly rate up to $35+. And all private campgrounds easily are $40 per night unless you opt for a slightly cheaper weekly rate.
Enter Sandy Creek Park in Leander, Texas, about 45 minutes from downtown Austin. The campground is situated on Travis Lake in the hilly country northwest of Austin. The road to get here involves 15-20 minutes of significant up-and-down winding, and there are a good number of cars traveling on the road. Though the speed limit is 15-30 most of the time, there are sports cars and motorcycles that will ride your bumper and look to pass you on the double yellow. I've driven over 25,000 miles in our truck-and-trailer combo this year, and this was among the more winding roads I've been on.
The campground itself has a few U-shaped terraced levels leading down to the boat ramp into Travis Lake, and there's a lot of boater activity. However, the campground itself was empty the entire week we were here with just one other RVer staying a single night. There are no easy turnarounds for larger rigs in this campground, and low-hanging branches provide obstacles for taller rigs. Even our fifth wheel, with a modest 11'10" max height, had a hard time in some spots. Ultimately, we decided to park parallel to the road in one of the more open campsites by the park entrance. When leaving, we elected to back out beyond the entrance before turning up and out of the park.
I'd say our 30' fifth wheel is about the max length recommended in this park. There are no hookups at Sandy Creek Park but there is a dump station, which I included pictures of. However, I didn't attempt to use it for two reasons: (1) a sharp corner entering the U-shaped dump station turnout and (2) low-hanging trees preventing me from swinging my rig wide.
Water is available at several faucets spaced every few campsites, but some of them don't have the traditional grooved fitting to connect your water hose. Filling is also a two-man job as you need to turn and hold to keep water flowing.
Park employees staffed the fee booth for 5 of the 7 days we were here and police patrolled the area a few times per day.
Overall, Sandy Creek Park is a clean campground with a great location right outside Austin for an awesome price(considering the other parks in close proximity). It has everything a camper could need except electric hookups, though the dump station is tough to access for larger rigs.