Travel Destination: Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

When planning our Texas road trip, I found this wildlife refuge on the map between South Padre Island and Galveston Island. After further research, I determined it was worth a stop for a day at the refuge. We decided to stay in nearby Rockport for two nights so we would have a full day to explore the refuge and any surrounding area.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937. It was set aside to protect migratory birds and the vanishing native wildlife of coastal Texas. The habitats attract over 400 species of migratory and resident birds. Aransas NWR is the winter home for the only wild flock of endangered whooping cranes in the US! We soon discovered this is a big deal. Sadly, we did not see any whooping cranes on our visit. However, we discovered we visited at the start of the migration season and heard that a couple of whooping cranes had been seen at the refuge! Apparently, people come from around the world to this very location to see whooping cranes. Who knew?! Although we did not see the cranes, we were able to bring home a sweet reminder of our visit. Meet Willy the whooping crane, and Willy Jr. the whooping crane chick ❤️:

The refuge is located on San Antonio Bay. We explored the walking paths and observations points as well as the 16 mile auto tour. The auto tour wasn’t real exciting during the time of our visit, but we checked it out none-the-less.

We did leave our bug spray at the hotel (my fault). Thinking at first that we could get by without it, we immediately discovered otherwise and scurried quickly back to the visitor’s center where we gratefully purchased a packet of bug repellent wipes. Those bugs were relentless! But after wiping down exposed skin (and discovering they could access unexposed skin!), we stashed the used wipes under hats and in socks and headed back out. We could literally see dozens and dozens of mosquitoes hovering around us, but amazingly we took away a low number of bites. And fortunately, aside from a few ant bites, the mosquito bites faded quickly. I can not emphasize strongly enough the importance of strong bug repellent. My all-natural stuff didn’t seem up to the task on later adventures.

Below are a few my favorite photos of our visit:

Wild turkeys:

We saw several alligators on our visit, below you can see the distant, then closer view of the alligator we found at the end of our visit 🐊

It was worth the stop. The trails and paths are easily accessible, and the views are beautiful! The park includes an observation tower, fishing pier area, picnic area, and public restrooms.

If you are in the area, you may enjoy the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, Texas!
Date of festival: February 23–26, 2023.
The endangered Whooping Crane is the rarest of all cranes and among the oldest living bird species on the earth.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful pics …. the butterfly is my favorite. This post is more evidence of your love for the coast. 🙂 Happy New Year, Lisa!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Frank! I would say I hope to visit the Gulf Coast again in the future! …I love that butterfly photo too 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful place, Lisa, but I could do without the mosquitoes!! I’d love to see the crane festival, but we’ll be in LA that weekend for a 7’s rugby tournament. Ah, well, maybe next year. Thanks for all the beautiful photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Janet! Oh my goodness! If they didn’t have bug repellent in the gift shop, we would have had to leave to track some down. And it was like a 30 minute drive into this place from the main road. But they did, and we were happy 😊 Oh but how we wished we had seen the whooping cranes!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy says:

    I had to tell you… I was thinking of you and your post of Big Bend National Park just last week. We just visited there for two days. We just got back! We enjoyed ourselves very much. I remembered your pictures when we were there! So thank you!
    Thanks for all the pretty pictures of this Wildlife Refuge.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh that is so cool! I’m so glad you mentioned that! Sometimes I miss posts from people that I want to read. I wonder if I follow too many blogs?? (I hope not, I love them all!) I will keep my eye out for your next post. I Just love to see posts from places we are going, or places we’ve been. 🙂 …and I’m glad you liked the photos from the Wildlife Refuge!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Toonsarah says:

    Despite the lack of cranes, and the large number of mosquitos, this looks a fantastic place to explore with a camera! I love your close-ups of the butterfly and dragonfly, and that yellow flower, in particular, but it all looks really lovely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sarah! My husband found a discarded can of bug spray that he picked up and kept sprays as we walked. Those mosquitoes were crazy! But it was worth it, and such a beautiful place. Just wish we’d seen the whooping cranes!! PS: the yellow flower is one of my favs, it made the front of my 2023 calendar that I created!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Naomi says:

    I liked the water views, and the sleeping frog…and Willy Jr. and his mom. If we could visit that area, we would certainly enjoy checking this place out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Isn’t that frog so cute?!! 🐸


  6. Beautiful captures, Lisa! I still have this refuge on my bucket list. We had camping reservations near Port Aransas for October/November 2017 specifically to be near this refuge, I wanted to see those Whooping Cranes! Then Hurricane Harvey made a direct hit August 2017 and devastated the area and refuge. I am so happy to see it thriving once again through your photos! Someday, maybe we’ll make it there, fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, what a cool story, Donna! I’m so sorry you were not able to make it, and I don’t remember paying attention to where Hurricane Harvey hit. I will say that the more we visit the gulf, the more personal those storms and hurricanes feel. We visited Orange Beach Alabama the month after Sally hit Gulf Shores. In fact, I was looking to stay in Gulf Shores. The damage was horrendous. But they welcomed us with open arms! I hope you get to Aransas some day! It was an accidental discovery for us. But these places won’t hide from me in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. aussiebirder says:

    Beautiful place to visit but for the mozzies, I know what that is like as some of our wetlands are like that. The cranes are a big plus for you Lisa. I love the assortment of wildlife there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wind Kisses says:

    Thank you! This looks like a worthy stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, it was!!! And I just found it accidentally. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wind Kisses says:

        I appreciate the homework you are doing for us. I’m beginning to look forward to it. (April) A few trips before that, but. thats the next big one.

        Liked by 1 person

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