Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. 

Seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, you can enjoy the many destinations and observation decks on the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has nearly 40,000 acres open for you to enjoy wildlife-related activities, including wildlife watching, hiking, and wildlife photography. And additional 6,000 acres are open to hunting. 

Driving Directions

Take highway 83 to Alamo. Turn South onto FM 907 for seven miles. At highway 281 (Old Military Highway), turn left and continue east for about one quarter of a mile. The refuge is on the south side of the highway. 

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

  • Restrooms are available at the breezeway in front of the headquarter offices/visitor center. 

  • Restrooms are available half a mile into La Sal del Rey from the Brushline Rd.  

Points of Interest

Let our staff and volunteers at the visitor center contact station help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here. Visitors can browse nature and wildlife exhibits, obtain maps and brochures, visit the Palmito Battlefield, La Sal del Rey and Roma Bluffs World Birding Center. Visitors can see an incredibly variety of plants and animal, including the elusive ocelot, striking Mexican blue-wing butterflies and colorful green jays. 

Know Before You Go

  • Know your personal and physical limitations. Emergency rescues are limited.  

  • Visit in the morning (sunrise - 10:00 a.m.) or in the late afternoon (4:00 p.m.- sunset) when wildlife are most active. In the summer it is too hot between 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.. 

  • It is hot and humid most of the year, be aware that heat exhaustion and stress can occur very rapidly. 

  • It is important that visitors bring plenty of drinking water, snacks, insect repellant, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. 

  • Visitors should also wear appropriate clothing for the season and comfortable walking shoes.

Visitor Tips

  • Visit in the morning (sunrise - 10:00 a.m.) or in the late afternoon (4:00 p.m. - sunset) when wildlife are most active. In the summer it is too hot between 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.. 

  • Don’t forget to download a map or pick up a map at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. 

 

Activities

Enjoy the scenery and wildlife at Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge! Please see each activity for specific locations and regulations.

Trails

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge does not have any publicly accessible trails, but we do have several scenic destinations for our visitors.

Boca Chica 

Open Season: Open year round 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel east to Harlingen on US 83 for 25 miles to the US 77/83 interchange. Stay right to take 77/83 (south) and travel 16.2 miles to the FM511 exit. Turn left at (Keller’s Corner) state Highway 4 (Boca Chica Blvd) and proceed east for up to 18 miles to the road's end at Boca Chica Beach. Boca Chica Tract begins at about 6.6 miles from Keller’s corner.  

Surface and Difficulty:  Sand/ Medium difficulty  

On the Boca Chica tract of Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge lies a secluded coastal environment interspersed with miles of beach, saline flats, mangroves, shallow bays and unique dunes of wind-blown clay known as “lomas”. Information kiosk located approximately 11.5 miles east of Brownsville on Highway 4. (The roads may occasionally be closed)  

East Lake  

Open Season:  Open year round 

Location: 4 miles away from Raymondville. From headquarters (Blue Goose Ln and Military Hwy), travel east on Military Hwy 4.8 miles to FM 493 Turn left (north). Go 29.1 miles. FM 493 dead ends into TX 186. Turn right (east) on TX 186. Go 9.9 miles to FM 1761, turn left (north). Go 2.6 miles. When FM 1761 turns, continues straight another 6/10 of a mile to Brushline Road. Turn left (west), go 0.5 miles to the Kiosk/gate parking area.  

Surface and Difficulty:   Land is relatively flat, except along the bank of the lake. The area is within the “sand sheet” soil type, so walking off-trail can be taxing or difficult. 

East Lake is the eastern-most salt lake of the 3 salt lakes in this region. The area supports Big Game hunting and support the long-billed curlew winter roosting area, which is why this area is designated a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. 

Palmito Hill 

Open Season: Open year round 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel east to Harlingen on US 83 for 25 miles to the US 77/83 interchange. Stay right to take 77/83 (south) and travel 16.2 miles to the FM511 exit. Turn left and follow FM511 (SH550) for approximately 12 miles. Turn left at State HWY 4 (Boca Chica Blvd) and proceed east 7.7 miles to Palmito Hill Road. Turn right (south) and proceed approximately 2 miles. Refuge is just ahead.  

Surface and Difficulty:   Area is flat, only a few feet above sea level. After rainfall, the area contains high clay content so it can be difficult to navigate via vehicle and is extremely muddy and sticky when wet. 

One of the most significant Civil War military sites in Texas, both regionally and nationally, is Palmito Ranch Battlefield near Brownsville. The National Historic Landmark National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark is a nationally significant historic place designated by the Secretary of the Interior because it possesses exceptional value in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. More than 2,600 places bear this designation, 10 of them on U.S. Fish and…

Learn more about National Historic Landmark
is the site of the last land battle of the war (May 12-13, 1865). Palmito Ranch Battlefield lies within a barren stretch of coastal plain, approximately midway between Brazos Island, a Union Army post during the war, and Fort Brown, the Confederate headquarters in Brownsville. The battlefield’s strategic position in the vicinity of the mouth of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexico border was no accident. During the war, the South's only international boundary was critical to the confederacy’s pursuit of international recognition and economic viability.  

La Casita 

Open Season:  Open year round 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel west on US 83 for 42 miles to FM 1430. Turn left (South West on FM 1430. Go 2.2 miles to small road. Watch for the road on the right (south), just past Casita Cemetery Road. If you reach the Justice of the Peace, you have gone one block too far. Turn south on small road for 0.5 miles to property.  

La Puerta 

Open Season:  Open year round. 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel west 41 miles (or 6.2 miles west of FM 2360 in Alto Bonito). Just before the curve, turn to the right to the gated entrance and public parking area. The tract is on the north and on the South Sides of US 83.  

Surface and Difficulty: Sand 

La Puerta, is an example of the semi-arid Tamaulipan thorn scrub that contains a unique habitat known as barretal. This plant community occurs on the natural gravel and caliche hillsides occurring on the western side of the tract. Characteristic plants are the native citrus tree called barreta, blackbrush, Mexican oregano, tasajillo, chaparro amargosa (goat bush), and allthorn. The habitat provides excellent wildlife watching and nature photography opportunities. Bird species found include the caracara, roadrunner, curved-bill thrasher, scaled quail, and Chihuahuan raven. Other animal species include the indigo snake, Texas tortoise, reticulate collared lizard, western diamondback rattlesnake, white-tailed deer, and javelinas 

La Sal del Rey  

Open Season:  Open year round 

Location: from headquarters (Blue Goose Ln and Military Hwy), travel 0.5 miles east on Military HWY to FM 493. Turn left (north). Follow FM 493 for 29.1 miles where the road dead ends into TX 186. Turn left (west) on TX 186 and go 2.8 miles to Brushline Rd. Turn right (north) on Brushline Rd. Then go 1.9 miles, turn left (west) into the gate/ parking lot.  

Surface and Difficulty:  Native soil/Difficult 

La Sal del Rey is a hypersaline lake that sits atop an estimated four million tons of salt. The lake is 10 times saltier than the ocean and was a valuable source of salt for Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and western pioneers. The walk to reach the lake is about 3 miles. HWY 186 parking lot is the historical marker. The lake is not accessible through this location. Use the Brushline Road parking lot location to access the lake. The bathrooms are available 0.5 miles into the Brushline Road entry.  

Roma Bluffs 

Open Season: Open year round 

Location: 610 North Portschellar St, Roma Texas. 

Surface and Difficulty:  Wood, ADA accessible  

In historic Roma, Texas, at the Roma Bluffs World Birding Center you will see rare birds, impressive 19th century architecture and outstanding views of the Rio Grande into Mexico. You will also have access to nearby native habitats. It is one of nine World Birding Center sites in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Roma Bluffs is the westernmost site, and the only one in Starr County. This region is known nationwide for its incredible biological diversity and rare tropical birds. 

Salineño 

Open Season:  Open year round 

Length: 2 acres 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel west on US 83 about 65 miles to Salineño Road. Turn left (south) toward the town of Salineño Road. Go 1.9 miles, through town and the river. The tract is on the left or south side of the road.  

Surface and Difficulty:  Native Soil  

The Salineño tract is made up of two acres owned by our partner, and is next to the 0.5-acre Kepler tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This tract is known for its unique diversity of resident and migratory bird species, its potential as a travel corridor for terrestrial wildlife species, and the opportunities it provides for wildlife viewing, environmental education and photography.   

Schalaben 

Open Season:  Open year round 

Length:   2 miles 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel east on Military Hwy 4.8 miles to FM293. Turn left (north). Go 29.1 miles. FM 493 dead ends into Texas 186. Turn left (west ) on TX 186. Go 1.9 miles. Property on the right (north).  

Surface and Difficulty: Native Soil  

The main entrance is located at 186 followed by a parking lot. A second parking lot is located on the northeast boundary of the property. A public parking area is located across the caliche road for accessing this property.  

Teniente 

Open Season:  Open year round 

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, travel east on Military Hwy 4.8 miles to FM 493. Turn left (north). Go 29.1 miles. FM 493 dead ends into TX 186. Go 3 miles to CR 30 (N. Roland Rd). Turn left (north). Go 8/10 mile, turn left (west) into the Kiosk/ gate. Entrance gates also a on CR 10 and CR 20. 

Surface and Difficulty: Native Soil 

The Teniente Tract is open for state-drawn permit for Big Game Hunting annually. The area is comprised of former farmlands which have been restored back to native habitat since acquisition. The area supports a wide variety of native wildlife, typical within the ranchlands of south Texas. 

Yturria Brush  

Open Season: Open year round  

Location: From US 83 and FM 907, proceed west on US 83 for 27.1 miles west to property, on right. Property is on the north side of US 83, 2 miles west of Havana. 

Surface and Difficulty: Native Soil  

This 1,800-acre tract is west of La Joya, Texas along Highway 83. Yturria Brush is an example of upland thorn scrub with the dominant vegetation of cenizo, Texas ebony, granjeno, Texas Kidneywood, palo verde, anacoahuita, and guayacan. There are also hairy wedelia, Mexican winged, crown-beard, and Texas lantana flowering plant as well as endangered Walker’s manioc. Purple sage attracts many of our visitors. Once we see the blooming of the Cenizo, we know it will begin to rain soon. 

Other Facilities in the Complex

The South Texas Refuge Complex is made up of Lower Rio Grande Valley, Santa Ana, and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuges.

Rules and Policies

To protect habitat and keep Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge a safe place for wildlife and people, please follow these simple rules: 

  • Keep wild things wild. All plants and animals are protected and should not be disturbed or collected. 

  • Drive only on designated roads. 

  • Camping is not allowed on the refuge. 

  • Leave only your footprints; take all litter with you. 

  • Cats and dogs pose a real threat to wildlife so please keep all pets on a leash at all times. Better yet, leave your pets at home. 

  • Possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on the refuge. 

  • The refuge is open from official sunrise to official sunset. 

  • Do not feed wildlife. 

  • Park in designated parking areas only. 

  • Walk only on designated roads and trails. 

Locations

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
7 Miles South Of Alamo, TX on FM 907 and 1/4 Mile East On Highway 281 Alamo, TX 78516-9509
Hours
Headquarters and Visitor Center Hours
Daily
8 am - 4:30 pm
Observation Decks and Other Destinations
Daily
Sunrise - Sunset