Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Austwell

4.4
#43 of 227 in Wildlife in Texas
Must see · Nature / Park · Hidden Gem · Wildlife Area
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a 115,324-acre (466.7 km2) protected area situated on the southwest side of San Antonio Bay along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. state of Texas. It is located in parts of Aransas, Refugio, and Calhoun Counties. It is situated on the southwest side of the San Antonio Bay, formed by the mouth of the Guadalupe River. It also includes nearly the entirety of Matagorda Island, a 38-mile barrier island. The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was established by Executive Order 7784 on 31 December 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the Aransas Migratory Waterfowl Refuge as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1940 changing the name to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
In October 1938, Civilian Conservation Corps Company 880 established camp south of Austwell, Texas. They built roads, ditches, firebreaks, and the residence facilities for the refuge. They constructed part of the spillway for Burgentine Lake, which serves as a major resting area for migratory waterfowl. They also graded the road to Austwell.
Bird life includes ducks, herons, egrets, ibises, roseate spoonbills, and the endangered whooping crane, whose population has recovered significantly since the 1940s.

Other fauna include American alligators, collared peccaries, snakes, and bobcats, which inhabit the refuge's grasslands, blackjack oak thickets, freshwater ponds, and marshes.

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Aransas National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
155 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We've stopped here a couple times. Enjoyed walking the trails, but the mosquitoes can be awful. The observation deck offers a great view, and binoculars are very helpful. We did not see any...  more »
  • Beautiful area and so well kept! We planned on doing some of the walks, but unfortunately, I forgot mosquito repellent which is an absolute MUST. The wind was high but didn't seem to bother the...  more »
Google
  • The bird watching was awesome, a few alligators, plenty of frogs and fish...keep an eye out for anything that moves. This is a large wildlife refuge that has several cool lookout piers, bridges, and towers. Some include free binoculars or telescopes to check out the wildlife. These lookouts were a short hiking distance from the nearby parking lots. They are currently demolishing the old visitor center that was damaged during Hurricane Harvey, but the temporary station had super friendly staff, water fountains, and the staff made plenty of suggestions for some day hikes. Be sure to bring plenty of ice water during the summer months. We spoke with some frequent park visitors and they recommended early morning or late afternoon visits during the hot summer months as the animals are more active then...and you can understand why.
  • My wife and I volunteered in the office as fee collectors and really enjoyed our time with them. Highly recommend volunteering with ANWR or visit them for the day.

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