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 Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge's many trails. Noisy chachalacas welcome the morning dawn while malachite butterflies float among the shadows. Spanish moss hangs from tall reaching ebony trees and sabal palms rise between prickly pear cacti. Step into this rare subtropical world at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

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

Entrance fees are charged by the vehicle. Commercial use fees are charged based on the group or individuals entering. Nature tram fees are charged by the individual.    

The first Sunday of every month is FREE! 

Daily Permits: 

  • General Visitors – $5.00 parking fee

  • Commercial – $25.00 single visit fee or $100 annual fee

  • School Groups – Free (includes all accompanying teachers, aides, and parents) 

Nature Tram:

  • $4 for adults

  • $3.50 for seniors

  • $2 for children (12 and under) 

Restrooms

Restrooms are available at the breezeway in front of the headquarters office and visitor center.  

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 watch an educational movie in our auditorium, browse nature and wildlife exhibits, and obtain maps and brochures. Visit the Observation Tower and Canopy Bridge. Visitors can also ride their bikes on the auto-tour loop or hop-on the Nature Tram ride. While there, visit the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor Nature Shop for field guides, t-shirts, and other educational items. 

What To Do

If you have 15-minutes. 

  • Check out the Malachite trail. 

If you have one hour. 

  • Check out the Tower and Chachalaca Trails. 

If you have half a day or more. 

  • Check out the Willow’s Lake and Pintail Lake Trails.

Know Before You Go

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

  • Hat 

Visitors should also wear:

  • Appropriate clothing for the season

  • Comfortable walking shoes 

Visitor Tips

  • Visit the refuge in the morning (daylight – 10:00 a.m.) or in the late afternoon (4:00 p.m. – Sunset) when wildlife is the most active.  

  • Binocular rentals are available.  

  • Maps can be found at the visitor center. 

Activities

Join us for exciting programs, tours, talks, and walks hosted every month at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. 

Trails

Bobcat Trail 

  • Open Season: Open–year round  

  • Length: 0.8 Miles (1.0 km) 

  • Surface: Caliche (gravel and sand)

  • Difficulty: Difficult, because you need to add an additional 1 mile to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 3.6 miles. 

  • Information: This is the only caliche trail that is available for bikes. It cuts down the middle of Wildlife Drive/Auto-tour loop and makes the biking ride 4 miles.  

Cattail Lakes Trail 

  • Open Season: Open–year round 

  • Length: 1.6 Miles (2.6 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Difficult, 3.2 miles roundtrip. 

  • Information: Meander through four distinct plant and animal communities along this 1.6-mile trail and discover the amazing biodiversity of the lower Rio Grande delta. Look for cactus wrens nesting in the prickly pear. Watch the great kiskadee pluck insects from the air! 

Chachalaca Trail 

  • Open Season: Open–year round 

  • Length: 0.5 Miles (0.8 km) 

  • Surface: Crushed granite and dirt

  • Difficulty: Easy, family friendly trail 

  • Information: This is one of the most popular trails. It goes through rare subtropical woodland. Here, you will see what much of the landscape along the Rio Grande looked like before European settlers arrived. 

Jaguarundi Trail  

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 1.5 Miles (2.4 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 1-mile to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 5-miles. 

  • Information: Southern Trail 

 Malachite Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 0.2 Miles (0.3 Km) 

  • Surface: Paved, Boardwalk, ADA compliant

  • Difficulty: Easy, family friendly trail

  • Information: Take a leisurely walk on this user-friendly short trail with benches and picnic tables overlooking the pond. Watch for a variety of butterflies, waterfowl, and other colorful birds. 

Mesquite Trail  

  • Open Season: Open–year round 

  • Length: 0.4 Miles (0.3 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 2.8-miles to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 6.4 miles.

  • Information: Southern Trail 

Oriole Trail 

  • Open Season: Open-year-round 

  • Length: 1.2 Miles (1.9 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 1.8-miles to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 6-miles. 

  • Information: Southern Trail  

Owl Trail 

  • Open Season: Open–year round 

  • Length: 0.3 Miles (0.5 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 1.3-miles to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 3.2 miles. 

  • Information: The Owl trail takes you straight to the ‘Cementerio Viejo”. The “Old Cemetery” is one of the most popular attractions. The cemetery contains about 30 graves, probably of workers or descendants of Benigno Leal, and a tomb constructed of hand-made bricks.  

Pintail Lakes Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 2.0 Miles (3.2 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Difficult 

  • Information: This trails winds around Pintail Lake, and part of the trail parallels the Rio Grande River. 

Resaca Loop Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 1.4 Miles (2.3 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 1.7 miles to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 6.2 miles. 

  • Information: Southern Trail 

Tower Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 0.5 Miles (0.8 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Easy, family friendly trail. 

  • Information: This short trail leads directly to Santa Ana’s unique attraction. Climb the 40-foot tower for a rewarding view of the surrounding habitat and amazing wildlife. 

Vireo Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 1.1 Miles (1.8 km) 

  • Surface and Difficulty: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Very difficult, because you need to add an additional 1.5 miles to get to the trail. Therefore, roundtrip is 5.2 miles. 

  • Information: Southern Trail 

Wildlife Drive/ Auto-tour loop 

  • Open Season: Open-year-round 

  • Length: 7.0 Miles (11.3 km) 

  • Surface: Pavement

  • Difficulty: Very difficult because of length 

  • Information: The auto-tour loop is the designated area for the nature Tram ride. On this ride you may see the various trails and main attractions at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can also ride their bikes on the tour loop. 

Willow Lakes Trail 

  • Open Season: Open year round 

  • Length: 1.6 Miles (2.6 km) 

  • Surface: Dirt

  • Difficulty: Moderately difficult due to length 

  • Information: This lush wetland attracts birds that depend on watery habitats for food and protection. Don’t miss the photo blinds, towers and canopy walk for wildlife viewing. 

Related Documents

Other Facilities in the Complex

The South Texas Refuge Complex consists of Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Locations

Santa Ana 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
Visitor Center Hours
Daily
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thanksgiving, New Year's Day and Christmas
Closed
Nature Trails and Bike Loops Hours
Daily
Sunrise - Sunset
Nature Tram Hours
Current 2022 Season is ending 4/10/22. The next season begins on November 2022- January 2023 and February 2023-April 2023.
9:30 a.m, Noon, and 2:00 p.m.