Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds. The refuge is right in the middle of this biological diversity, which is what makes this 2,088-acre parcel the ‘jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.’ Though small, Santa Ana offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States.
Today, Santa Ana is a great getaway for outdoor lovers. While birdwatching is the main attraction for the refuge, there is much more to do. Novice and professional adventurers can hike the 12 miles of foot trails as each offers a different experience and view. It is the perfect place for any individual wanting to explore a different world.
And the Adventure Begins
Trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset. Park rangers, roving naturalists and guides are available year-round to assist visitors. Be sure to bring a map or pick one up at the Visitor Center.
• Chachalaca Trail
o One of the most popular trails at the refuge, the half-mile Chachalaca Trail leads visitors to the Willow Lakes. Here, elms and Rio Grande ash trees offer pleasant shade by the resacas.
• Cattail Lakes Trail
o Wander through four distinct plant and animal communities along this 1.6-mile trail and discover the amazing biodiversity of the lower Rio Grande delta.
• Pintail Lakes Trail
o This trail has it all: great birding, resacas and the Rio Grande itself. In winter, you can look for vermilion flycatchers illuminating the treetops with their striking red hues.
• Canopy Walk
o The Canopy Walk at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is the only one of its kind in South Texas! You’ll feel like you’ve begun a wild exploration as you cross the rope bridge that extends between two towers. Visitors get a chance to watch the wildlife above, below and right next to them in the Anacua and ebony trees.
• Tree Tower Overlook
o A must for any adventurer, just climb 40 feet and get a rewarding view atop the only open-air tower of its size in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. From the base to the intermediate deck and onto the top deck of Santa Ana’s unique attraction, visitors can enjoy changing views of the surrounding subtropical, riparian woodland and the amazing wildlife it harbors. Imagine standing on the tower and letting nature surround and engulf you.
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is one-of-a-kind in South Texas and is nestled in the heart of Alamo. Next time you don’t know what to do on a lazy Sunday, remember there’s a whole other world in your backyard. Contact Santa Ana at 956.784.7500 or visit their website if you have any questions about how to begin your adventure.