Facility Construction - Intermittent Closures

During the construction process for our new Visitor Center, expect periodic inconveniences around headquarters, such as detours, reduced parking, noise, or even trail/road closures. Please plan accordingly.

5/11/2023 - A portion of the road entering the headquarters area has changed and parking is reduced. The visitor center, parking lot, and auto tour are still accessible. Please follow the directional signage and do not cross the orange traffic cones.

8/24/2023 - The entrance road to the refuge will be closed for repairs Thursday, August 24th, starting at 9 a.m. CST. We expect the repairs to take only a few hours, and then the entrance will be reopened.

Visit Us

Visiting a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
is a great way to escape from every-day life and enjoy the serenity of nature. Go for a hike and look for signs of wildlife. Enjoy the beauty of numerous kinds of wildflowers. Bring your binoculars and look for birds soaring overhead or perched among the tall grasses. Watch, listen and discover the life that resides in these wild prairies at Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.   

Driving Directions

From Houston 

Travel west on I-10 and take Exit 721 towards Sealy. Take Hwy 36 south then right onto FM 3013 W and continue for 10 miles. Turn at the big blue sign onto Attwater Road (APC NWR Rd), and continue 2 miles following the signs to the refuge headquarters. 

From Austin 

Follow State Hwy 71 E to Interstate 10 Frontage Rd in Colorado County. Take exit 699 from I-10 E toward FM102/Eagle Lake. Travel 6.5 miles northeast of Eagle Lake on FM 3013. Turn at the big blue sign onto Attwater Road (APC NWR Rd), and continue 2 miles following the signs to the refuge headquarters. 

From San Antonio 

Follow I-10 E for 127 miles toward Columbus. Take exit 699 from I-10 E toward FM102/Eagle Lake. Travel 6.5 miles northeast of Eagle Lake on FM 3013. Turn at the big blue sign onto Attwater Road (APC NWR Rd), and continue 2 miles following the signs to the refuge headquarters. 

** The only public access to the refuge is from the Southeast off FM 3013. Some GPS navigational systems may not direct you to this point so please use caution when planning your arrival. ** 

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside, through the front double-doors of the Visitor Center.  

What To Do

Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails 

A 4-mile auto tour loop takes visitors through the prairie and along Coushatta creek. Crested Caracaras, White-tailed Hawks, a wide variety of sparrows and even the occasional prairie-chicken are seen from the auto tour, as well as other native wildlife such as black-tailed jackrabbits, coyotes and white-tailed deer. Several kiosks and interpretive panels with information about prescribed fire, native prairie restoration, and the Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken can be found on the auto tour route. 

All motor vehicles must stay on the designated auto tour route. The road is unimproved and adverse weather may force the refuge staff to close the road at certain times. The auto tour loop can also serve as a hiking or biking trail. Remember, the road is only open from sunrise to sunset. 

The Horseshoe Lake Trail (0.85 miles) and Sycamore Trail (1.2 miles) provide excellent opportunities to enjoy the native coastal prairie and riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
areas. There’s nothing like walking to truly feel the prairie grandeur, complemented by brilliant wildflowers, butterflies and tall grasses. Keep in mind that you could encounter venomous snakes, mosquitoes, alligators and fire ants as you trek around, so please stay alert and give them plenty of room. 

Wildlife Photography 

Wildlife, wildflowers and amazing sunrises and sunsets make for spectacular photography subjects on the refuge. Photographers will find that using their vehicles as a slow-moving blind on the auto tour will allow them to get close to many refuge birds such as the Crested Caracara, American Bittern, Song Sparrow, and occasionally even an Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken. Along the Sycamore Trail, benches are located in secluded, quiet areas near Coushatta Creek where a patient photographer might catch a Belted Kingfisher diving for its lunch, a white-tailed doe nursing her fawn, or a broad-banded water snake sunning itself on a sandbar. 

First Saturday Tours

The first Saturday of each month, a guided van tour of the refuge will take visitors on a 11/2 hour trip through the prairie.  Learn more here.

Know Before You Go

If you are visiting on a weekend day or federal holiday, the visitor center will be closed. However, maps and fact sheets are available at the kiosk by the parking lot. The auto tour and trails are still available to enjoy every day from sunrise to sunset.  

We want you to have an enjoyable visit to Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge so please come prepared: 

  • Bring plenty of water. A water refilling station and drinking fountains are available through the front double doors of the visitor center. 

  • Mosquitos and ticks may be present during warmer seasons, so insect repellent is recommended. Please check yourselves for ticks and remove them properly and safely as soon as able. 

  • Parts of our trails can often be muddy, so wear your hiking shoes or other appropriate closed-toe shoes to protect your feet. 

  • Dress for the weather and use a hat or sunscreen for sun protection. 

Visitor Tips

Wildlife viewing is best early in the morning. For the best chance to see a prairie-chicken, it is recommended to always drive the auto tour loop first before walking any trails. The entrance road before reaching headquarters may also be a good place to spot these elusive birds. Drive slow, looking ahead and along the road for the cryptic prairie-chicken. Don’t let rainy or misty weather deter you from visiting the refuge. Prairie-chickens like to walk on or along the roads to stay dry from the wet grass. 

Activities

Even if you don’t see the rare Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken, there are plenty of opportunities to seek out the 250+ bird species that use the refuge throughout the year. Explore this diverse habitat, keeping an eye out for deer, finding reptiles and admiring the numerous wildflowers. Feel free to walk the trails or drive the auto tour to see this historical prairie that used to stretch across the Texas coast.

Trails

Sycamore Trail

  • Open Season: Open year-round: Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 1.2 miles 

  • Surface and difficulty: Moderately easy mowed path 

  • Information: The Sycamore Trail begins at the visitor center and ends in the parking lot. This loop winds through the coastal prairie and the riparian riparian
    Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

    Learn more about riparian
    zone along the creek.

Horseshoe Lake Trail

  • Open Season: Open year-round: Not open to biking or horseback riding. 

  • Length: 0.85 miles 

  • Surface and difficulty: Moderately easy mowed path 

  • Information: The Horseshoe Lake Trail begins and ends at the small parking area and kiosk on the auto tour. This trail starts by crossing the bridge over Coushatta Creek and loops along Horseshoe Lake and the riparian habitat. An observation blind gives a hidden view of the water and any waterfowl or wading birds that may be using it. At the far end of the trial is a covered observation platform, offering shade while viewing the tallgrass prairie. 

Auto Tour

  • Open Season: Open year-round: Open to biking. Not open to horseback riding. 

  • Length: 4.2 miles 

  • Surface and difficulty: Gravel road; moderate to difficult if walking 

  • Information: A good way to observe wildlife from the confines of your vehicle! This road is also available for walking, jogging, and biking. The road loops back to headquarters and has little incline. Careful crossing the cattleguards and be aware there are cattle grazing in the area.  

Rules and Policies

Keep your National Wildlife Refuge safe for wildlife and people by following these simple rules. 

Locations

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
1206 APC NWR RoadEagle Lake,TX77434
Hours
Headquarters Office and Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
All federal holidays
Closed
Refuge Public Areas Hours
Year-round
Dawn - Dusk