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Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge 'Aligator Head' © Dennis Eccleston
Close up of the large reptiles head and teeth.
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USA Parks
Texas
Gulf Coast Region
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
LAGUNA ATASCOSA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
LAGUNA ATASCOSA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
P.O. Box 450
Rio Hondo, Texas   78583
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Aligator Head'

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Close up of the large reptiles head and teeth.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Aligator near stream'

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This aligator is enjoying the warm 77F 25C fall sunshine.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Gator on bank'

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Aligators are not common in this part of Texas but there are a few in this reserve.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Nilgai'

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These are female Nilgai, the Indian Antelope which escaped from captivity in the 1930s and now successfully breed in south Texas. The much larger males have short horns and can weigh up to 800 lb.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Nilgai Bull'

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I have seen these bulls only twice on the reserve and on both occasions that was as they crossed my path at full gallop, making photography difficult.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Javelina'

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The Javelina or Collared Peccary is a common sight under the bird feeders at least until the prickly pear cactus comes into spring flowering where they often fight over seed droppings while green jays often feed for these same seeds on their backs.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Long Billed Curlew'

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These birds are typically seen in the marchy areas on the way towards the bayside loop exit.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Road Runner'

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Road Runners are very common in the reserve and often seen along the verges leading to the reserve entrance.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Reddish Eagret'

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This bird though rare and threatened in the USA is fairly commen in the Laguna

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Thrasher'

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Thrasher having a splash bath

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Green Jay'

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Green Jays are a common but colorful sight in the part of Texas and can almost always be seen at the parks feeders.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Osprey'

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Up to 6 or 7 Ospreys can often be seen on the parks shore area, fishing or with a fish on a roadside pole if it can be called a road leading to the park from Rio Hondo.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Coyote'

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Often seen on the park roads, especially in late afternoon, these canines often take little notice of the cars and walk past only a few feet away if you come to a stop.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Caracara'

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Another view of the Created Caracara

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

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Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Crested Cara Cara'

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A pair of Crested Cara Cara in their favorate mesquite tree.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
'Harris Hawks'

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These hawks gathered on a pole at the park entrance

The south Texas landscape is a unique blending of temperate, subtropical, coastal, and desert habitats. Mexican plants and wildlife are at the northernmost edge of their range, while migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes fly down for the mild winters. This combination makes Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge world famous for its birds, and home to a mix of wildlife found nowhere else.

Laguna Atascosa NWR is the largest protected area of natural habitat left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an oasis for wildlife with few alternatives. The refuge's 45,187 acres become more valuable with each acre lost to development--valuable to wildlife and valuable to those who enjoy wildlife in wildlands.
Nature of the Area
The south Texas landscape is a unique blending of temperate, subtropical, coastal, and desert habitats. Mexican plants and wildlife are at the northernmost edge of their range, while migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes fly down for the mild winters. This combination makes Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge world famous for its birds, and home to a mix of wildlife found nowhere else.

Laguna Atascosa NWR is the largest protected area of natural habitat left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an oasis for wildlife with few alternatives. The refuge's 45,000 acres become more valuable with each acre lost to development--valuable to wildlife and valuable to those who enjoy wildlife in wildlands.

When the Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda arrived in the Rio Grande Valley in 1519 he found a landscape very different from what we see today. The area was abundant with wildlife, and 3 million acres of coastal prairies and brushlands covered the landscape. Doves darkened the sky, deer grew fat on grasslands, and ducks filled the bays near the coast.
FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES OVERVIEW
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Trails
Kiskadee Trail (1/8 mile) starts between the Visitor Center and the refuge office building. This short, shaded loop surrounds a shallow pond that holds water in wet years. Featuring an observation deck and small bridge, Kiskadee Trail offers even the casual hiker an opportunity for a close-up view of several native shrubs and trees and possibly a variety of birds.

Mesquite Trail (1? mile) starts at the Visitor Center parking lot. Trees shade portions of the trail as it winds through grassy savannas. Two small ponds located along the trail hold water in wet years. Signs of deer and coyote are evident along the trail.

Paisano Trail (1 mile) is a remnant of the gunnery range located here during World War II. Verdin, roadrunner, long-billed thrasher, and plain chachalaca await the watchful birder. Our only paved trail, it is good in wet weather.

Lakeside Trail (1? miles) starts at Osprey Overlook on the Laguna Atascosa. Views of the lake and thorn forest provide the possibility of good birding. Wildflowers are plentiful, especially during March and April.

Moranco Blanco (3 1/10 miles) starts a short distance past Redhead Ridge on Bayside Drive. Moranco Blanco is a primitive route with good views of the bay and yucca in bloom (spring).

Alligator Pond: Alligator watching has become very popular at the refuge. During wet years they seem to inhabit every pond. Alligator Pond, .25 miles south of Osprey Overlook, usually has a gator or two. Alligators can also sometimes be seen on the resaca on Lakeside Drive. Alligators can be dangerous; stay on the road and do not feed or disturb them. Keep a close eye on small children and pets.

Biking:

Bicycles are permitted on tour roads and some service roads. Service roads are primitive routes where riders should be prepared for emergencies. Check with refuge staff for approved routes. Bring plenty of water, know how to repair a flat, and be able to walk several miles if your bike breaks down. Off-road riding is prohibited.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
March 22 Beautiful birds
Visiting family, excellent picnic area surrounded with Green Jays, Grackels, turkey Pheasants, cardinals, Orioles and many others. It was very cool!!
April 20 Amazing
In a few hours I added over a dozen new birds to my life-list. A very special place.
May 29 Breathtaking, surprises everywhere
Abundant wildlife for the wildlife enthusiast. My first time there and I will be back every year. The amount of wildlife is truly amazing! I saw deer, rattlesnakes, redfish tailing, bobcat, javelina, eagles, and the list goes on. A very unique place. It was like driving through a safari!
April 7 I love living here by VeronicaLucio
Laguna Atascosa is my get-a-way and the most peaceful, BEAUTIFUL area God has blessed us with down here in South Texas. Just this morning I drove out a sunsrise with a friend. We saw deer, beautiful birds, three nilgai, and serene land. At sunset two days ago we encountered and entire herd of magical nilgai running across the open land. It was breathtaking. We also saw an ocelot, a bobcat and javelina, deer, coyote and breathtaking birds. I have been out there several times a year and each time has proven to be phenomenal. I love taking friends, family and visitors to the area.
March 24 Our favorite place to look for wildlife by Joan
We are avid photographers and have seen most animals that live in the refuge. When it is wet, there are abundances of birds of every type and when it is dry, we seem to see more cats. There are always deer, nilgui, alligators, lots of roadrunners and bunnies, hawks, Mexican eagles, osprey, greenjays, ducks, pigs, javalinas and so many more. We are always searching for the elusive oscelot and I swear I saw a Jaguarundi a few years back. It is a very special place.
April 11 You must see it!!!
We did not expect to visit such a beautiful place. We have seen birds, rattle snakes and alligators. The views of the laguna are unique. We strongly recommend to visit it and to take the 15 mile drive loop.


Area Campgrounds

Hummingbird Cove RV & MH Park
32637 FM 2925
Rio Hondo, TX
956-748-2930


Seaway Village
35375 FM 2925
Arroyo City, TX


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Directions
From Harlingen, go east on Highway 106 14 miles past Rio Hondo. Take a left at the T and drive 3 miles to the visitor center. From South Padre Island, take Highway 100 out of Port Isabel and exit right on Farm Road 510 at Laguna Vista. Continue 5.4 miles to the Cameron County Airport road. Take a right and continue approximately 7 miles to the visitor center. From Brownsville, go north on Paredes Line Road (1847) through Los Fresnos to Highway 106. Take a right and go approximately 10 miles to the T. Take a left and drive 3 miles to the visitor center.

USA Parks
Texas
Gulf Coast Region
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
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