Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is best known as the wintering home of the last wild flock of endangered whooping cranes. Visitors can enjoy stunning scenery, a diversity of wildlife, and a variety of recreational opportunities.
Aransas NWR Visitor Center at sunrise
Visiting the Refuge

Beginning April 15th, the Visitor Center is open for visitor registration and orientation Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. The Center is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and federal holidays. The auto tour is open daily from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

To register when the Visitor Center is closed: when you enter through the refuge main gate, there will be a wooden kiosk on your right just past the first road. Stop at the kiosk, pay your fee (CASH ONLY) or register your pass, and pick up a map

To get to the auto tour, turn right at the new road past the kiosk, follow it around the visitor center, and turn right onto the auto tour road. 

Visit Us

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a bit "off the beaten path," but it's well worth the visit! We invite you to drive our 16-mile auto tour, fish from our pier, walk up our observation towers, and relax and enjoy a picnic overlooking San Antonio Bay. Take time to stretch your legs along several miles of walking trails. You’ll find observation platforms, spotting scopes, diverse plants and wildlife, and stunning views of the bay and wildlife habitat.  

Location and Contact Information

      White-tailed deer buck surrounded by green vegetation
      2023 Big Game Hunting

      Find information about 2023 rifle and archery hunts here.

      About Us

      Established in 1937 for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge now encompasses more than 115,000 acres of diverse habitat along the Texas Gulf Coast. Perhaps best known as the wintering home of the last wild flock of endangered Whooping Cranes, the refuge is also home to a diversity of migratory birds and other resident wildlife.

      What We Do

      The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge.  

      Our Species

       The mild winters, bay waters and abundant food supply attract more than 400 species of birds to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, including the whooping crane, one of North America’s rarest birds. 

      Two large white birds with spindly legs and black tips on their wings coming in for a landing in a wetland

      The whooping crane occurs only in North America and is North America’s tallest bird, with males approaching 1.5 m (5 ft) when standing erect. The whooping crane adult plumage is snowy white except for black primaries, black or grayish alula (specialized feathers attached to the upper leading end...

      FWS Focus
      A greenish brown sea turtle laying on the beach

      The Kemp's ridley turtle is the smallest of the sea turtles, with adults reaching about 2 feet in length and weighing up to 100 pounds. The adult Kemp's ridley has an oval carapace that is almost as wide as it is long and is usually olive-gray in color. The carapace has five pairs of costal...

      FWS Focus
      A large reptile basking in the sun on a log over still water surrounded by green vegetation

      The American alligator is a large, semi-aquatic, armored reptile that is related to crocodiles. Their body alone ranges from 6 - 14 feet long. Almost black in color, the it has prominent eyes and nostrils with coarse scales over the entire body. It has a large, long head with visible upper teeth...

      FWS Focus

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