About the Refuge


Spanish moss drapes from trees and noisy chachalacas welcome the morning dawn as a malachite butterfly floats out from the shadows. Step into a rare tropical world at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 


Established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds. It is also at the northern-most point for many species whose range extends south into Central and South America. The refuge is right in the middle of all this biological diversity, which is what makes this 2,088 acre parcel the ‘jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.’ Though small in size, Santa Ana offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States beyond deep South Texas. 

Most out-of-town visitors will see or hear a new bird species before even making it into the refuge’s Visitor Center! Sit in the refuge’s breezeway and watch the birds or hike more than 14 miles of trails. Take an open-air tram ride or join a guided nature walk.