Community-Oriented Oasis

Rainbow Ranch thrives on its inclusive atmosphere.

Brad Camp (l) and Ragen Allsbrooks (photos by Alex Rosa for OutSmart magazine)

Tucked away in the Texas Hill Country is an outdoor oasis where members of the LGBTQ community can enjoy some rest and relaxation, curated events, and tons of outdoor activities. Rainbow Ranch is the well-known LGBTQ campground on Lake Limestone that prides itself on being “owned by the community and for the community.” With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to snag your slot in the camp’s calendar before they’re all booked up.

Rainbow Ranch’s aptly named owner, Brad Camp, explains that the property originally operated as a lesbian retreat. “It was owned by a lady named Peggy, who started it in 1997 as a lesbian tent campground.” When Peggy decided to sell the property in 2004, Camp and his ex were quick to make an offer. “We had met so many nice people and made close friends—people from Dallas, Austin, Houston, Central Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana,” the Dallas native recalls. “We wanted to buy it and keep it a gay camp, instead of letting it go some other way.”

Camp, who now co-owns the campground with his husband, Ragen Allsbrooks, touts the accommodations and features of the retreat: “We’ve got about 150 sites, most of which are RV sites. There are eight cabins and a house for rent that sleeps 14 people, which is great for family events or reunions. We have the pavilion area, and surrounding areas that work great for weddings.” Camp adds that several of the RV sites are reserved by people year-round who visit Rainbow Ranch on the weekends to build decks, plant gardens, and make it their home away from home.

For the weekend warriors looking to get some fresh air and enjoy outdoor activities, the lakeside camp is stacked with fun features. “We’re on the lake and we have canoes. People can bring whatever watercraft they like and go fishing. There’s a pool area to enjoy, a pavilion with a number of games, and we’ve got a lot of hiking trails,” the outdoorsman boasts.

Rainbow Ranch is known both for its inviting communal atmosphere and its popular year-round events. “We try to pick events that everyone will enjoy. For instance, drag bingo is a huge hit!” Camp notes. “We also try to do equal amounts of events for men and women—three or four a year. Some events are simple gatherings and hanging out, and others are pool parties. The pool events are so fun! Oktoberfest and Halloween are also some of my favorites. On Halloween, we’ve got a group of campers that put together a complete haunted house in the pavilion. We’ve done haunted trails, which is a huge hit!”

And since all of these events book up early, Camp’s advice to people looking to book their spot is to do so sooner rather than later. “People definitely want to reserve those dates early.”

Rainbow Ranch’s original sense of community that attracted Camp in the first place is what guides his vision for the popular getaway. When asked what sets his camp apart from others, he doesn’t hesitate to note the camp’s tradition of inclusion and acceptance that makes it unique and special. “We are the largest LGBT campground in Texas. To my knowledge, we’re the only one for men and women alike, as opposed to men only. We are open to everybody, year-round,” he emphasizes. “It’s more than just a campground. It’s more of a family atmosphere.”

For more information, visit rainbowranch.net.

This article appears in the May 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.


Zach McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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