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Plan Your Visit

BBWD_512x219Welcome to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge!


(updated 10/16/2016)  FM106 and General Brant Road, which lead to the refuge from Rio Hondo, are undergoing major reconstruction.  Visitors are advised to take FM510 (off 77 south of Harlingen) to Buena Vista Rd  - follow the large brown signs directing you to Laguna Atascosa.  This will likely add more time to your trip.

Refuge Headquarters/Visitor Center:


Here, refuge staff and volunteers are available to provide you with maps, brochures and checklists and let you know what's happening on the refuge. This is also where the business of the refuge is conducted.

The refuge is open for public visitation seven days a week during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset).

Visitor Center open days vary seasonally.  Hours are from 8am to 4pm.  It is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

October - April, the visitor center is open 7 days a week.  (updated 10/16/2016 - Due to staffing shortages the visitor center will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until further notice)

May - September the visitor center is open Thursday - Monday (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).


Restroom facilities are available to the public seven days a week.


On closed days, or after visitor center hours, there is a self-pay kiosk with maps and information outside the visitor center entrance doors.


Explore the Refuge:
Seven days a week during daylight hours, you can enjoy Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge's many trails. Enjoy wildlife-related activities, including wildlife watching, hiking, and wildlife photography.

See our Visitor Activities page for more information on our tours and what you can do at the refuge.  The popular Bayside Drive is CLOSED to private vehicles.  See our Visitor Activities page for details.


To enter the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can pay entrance fees by cash or check at the Visitor Center, or with exact change or check at the self-pay station when the visitor center is closed.  Entrance fees are applicable whether visitors are walking, driving or bicycling on the Refuge.   All vehicles must display a valid Daily Entrance Pass – either issued by the Visitor Center staff or from the self-pay envelope.


Help Us Protect the Refuge

You can keep this Refuge special for wildlife and people by following all Refuge rules:

  • Be watchful for wildlife on roads – especially the endangered ocelot.
  • Please stay in the designated public areas (ie. drives and trails) for your own safety and to protect the habitat.
  • Keep dogs on a leash, and do not allow them to drink or enter water bodies due to the presence of alligators.
  • Pack out your trash.
  • Do not disturb or remove wildlife, plants or historic objects. Disturbance is caused by getting too close to wildlife, playing recorded bird/wildlife calls, feeding wildlife, or throwing objects at wildlife.  Metal detectors are not allowed.
  • No fireworks, fires, or alcohol.
  • Camping is allowed only at Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park (entrance and camping fees apply for this area, call 956-748-4633 for information). 


For your safety and comfort

  • Avoid chiggers, ticks and rattlesnakes by staying on trails. 
  • Be prepared with insect repellent, water and sunscreen.
  • Plan to hike or bike during the cooler hours of the day (March  - November).
  • Use a map to plan your trip when venturing out on trails.
  • Take a cell phone in case of an emergency.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes with closed toes.
  • If bicycling – see the Bicycling section

-From Harlingen, go east on Tyler Ave which becomes FM 106.  Continue 18 miles past Rio Hondo. Take a left at the T and drive three miles to the visitor center. (SEE DETOUR DIRECTIONS AT TOP OF PAGE)
-From South Padre Island, take Highway 100 out of Port Isabel and exit right on FM 510 at Laguna Vista. Continue 5.4 miles to the Buena Vista Rd (Cameron County Airport). Take a right and continue approximately 7 miles to the visitor center. 
-From Brownsville, go north on Paredes Line Road (FM1847) through Los Fresnos to FM510. Take a right and go approximately 10 miles.  Take a left on Buena Vista Rd (look for the detour signs) and drive 7 miles to the visitor center. 


Using a GPS: 
The lat/long for the visitor center is 26.229081, -97.347231. The physical address of the Visitor Center is 22688 Buena Vista Blvd., Los Fresnos, TX 78566.


Helpful Links: 
Harlingen Chamber of Commerce 
Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce 
South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce  

Page Photo Credits — Black-bellied whistling ducks / Steve Sinclair ©
Last Updated: Apr 18, 2017
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