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La Sal Del Rey

LaSal_512x219La Sal del Rey, or “the King’s Salt,” is one of three naturally occurring salt lakes in South Texas. Sitting atop an estimated four million tons of salt, these hypersaline lakes are seven times saltier than the ocean.

Throughout history, these natural salt deposits have played a prominent role as a valuable source of salt for Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and western pioneers. Today, the salt lakes are under the protective umbrella of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

La Sal Del Rey was acquired in 1992 for inclusion in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The land was purchased to protect the main geologic feature, a 530 acre salt lake and its surrounding Tamaulipan thornscrub and grasslands. This 5,400 acre tract is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a ‘Site of International Significance’ for migrating shorebirds by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. This tract is notable as an important wintering area for the long-billed curlew, the largest shorebird in North America and one of the most threatened.  Surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reveal that more than 10% of the estimated global population of long-billed curlews use these lakes as roosting sites during the winter months. It is a favorite stopover for migrating geese, ducks, shorebirds and sandhill cranes.

Nature enthusiasts, birders and history buffs from around the world visit the site and enjoy the unique historic resources and diversity of wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, coyote, javelina, bobcat, nine-banded armadillo, and many kinds of butterflies. Some of the interesting bird species found here include snowy plover, sandhill cranes, white-tipped dove, wild turkey, Harris’s hawk, crested caracara, black-bellied whistling-ducks, white-tailed hawk, and Cassin’s sparrow.

The La Sal Del Rey tract is located within the same general area as East Lake and Teniente, two addtional tracts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge that are open to the public.

Directions: From McAllen, go North on Hwy 281 for approx 20 miles. Exit 186 East for approx. four miles to the kiosk on the north side of the road. From Harlingen, go North on Hwy 77 for approx 24 miles. Exit 186 West for approx 22 miles to the kiosk. For more information, tune into AM 530.

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Page Photo Credits — La Sal Del Rey / Dora Martinez
Last Updated: Jul 09, 2012
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