Explore Outdoors

The upper Texas Gulf coast sits at nature’s crossroads. Four major biomes of spectacularly diverse flora and fauna converge here. In addition to the Gulf of Mexico, there are 150 miles of bountiful bays, barrier islands and ancient river deltas. Double canopy forests and the nation’s westernmost Cypress flourish along five major rivers and countless bayous. Coastal prairies, estuaries and marshes provide wide-open vistas of flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds.

Courtesy of © Bob Howen Photography. Sneak past drowsing alligators as you float through watery forests draped with Spanish moss. Climb a hawk watchtower at Smith Point and imagine spiraling with raptors as they search for prey on the coastal prairie below. Hunt waterfowl, deer and wild boar in season, or if you’re lucky, watch a bobcat stalk smaller game. If photography is more your style, join in the Christmas Bird Count – this region regularly boasts 3 of the top ten tallies in the entire United States. The bountiful estuaries and bays provide a multitude of fishing and crabbing opportunities, and seasonal hunting within the wildlife refuges and management areas abounds.

If you are looking to get out on the water, the upper Texas Gulf coast is also full of options. Christmas Bay and Galveston Island Park offer many miles of paddle trails for all levels, whether on a paddleboard, kayak or canoe. For those interested in speed, the steady Gulf winds make this area ideal for sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Into scuba? Dive the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary, a coral reef perched on a salt dome just off shore.

Want to stay dry? Hiking and biking trails, paved and off-road, thread along the coast, and around and through nature areas. Annually, more than 1,000 bike riders participate in Bike Around the Bay, a fully supported, two day, 180-mile bicycle ride around Galveston Bay. You can also visit the Galveston Sea Turtle Laboratory to see and learn about the 4 types of sea turtles of the region, including the endangered Kemp’s Ridley. Or, tour the bay on a dolphin watch.

This is but a small sampling of the varied recreational opportunities offered at this intersection of nature’s crossroad – upon designation this page will be updated with even more information.