Spring is here and summer will soon follow, which means it’s time to take advantage of the Rio Grande Valley’s warm climate. Remember, you don’t have to travel far to take in beautiful South Texas landscapes. A short drive to southern Alamo will lead you to the beautiful Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. For the next few months, the trails at the refuge will provide a lush landscape perfect for exploring.
The refuge is home to hundreds of species of South Texas wildlife. For those of you visiting for the first time, there are birds, bunnies and butterflies roaming the park all year long. Here are four things you should definitely not miss when visiting the refuge.
The visitor center, which should be your first stop at the refuge, has live refuge turtles and reptiles on display. Take the time to look through some of the fun wildlife exhibits and grab a map to find out which trail you want to take. Ask volunteers to fill you in on the best spots to birdwatch. The visitor center is open every day from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM except on Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and Christmas.
The Tower Overlook and Canopy Walk
The Tower Overlook is arguably the top attraction at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Standing 40-feet high, the tower offers a unique and breathtaking open-air view of the Rio Grande Valley that you can’t find anywhere else.
Spend the day overlooking the leafy landscape below and snap pictures of the mossy Texas ebony trees. Watch for ocelots and chachalacas on the lower level of the tower. Just a few yards away sits the refuge’s canopy walk, which is a rope bridge connecting two towers high above the ebony trees in the area.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is also home to the ocelot, a beautiful spotted cat that was known to roam Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. These days it can only be found here in the Rio Grande Valley because of a loss of habitat. Ocelots are twice the size of a house cat and are often mistaken for Bobcats. They are mostly nocturnal and their beautiful spotted fur has made them the target of many hunters. They are currently protected by the United States as an endangered species.
The Valley is known for its migratory bird population, but sometimes it can be difficult to spot the rarest species. You can always get started with the Chachalaca. It’s so common that the refuge even has a trail named after it. The bird, which is known to also populate Mexico and Central America, is a large chicken-like creature known for its loud birdcalls. You can get up close and personal with the Chachalaca on whichever trail you choose because they are everywhere. They can be found scurrying across your path or feeding in trees and bushes.
Visit Us Today
Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of one of the premiere birding spots in the nation. Each year, thousands of birders travel to the refuge, helping boost the local economy with eco-tourism dollars. But local residents can also make a significant impact by taking advantage of this Valley treasure. For more information about the refuge, call the Alamo EDC.