Regarded as a fantastic example of habitat restoration within the Rio Grande Valley, the Estero Llano Grande State Park is one of the most unique state parks in Texas.
Nestled right on the border with Mexico, about a 10 minute drive from the cities of Mercedes and Weslaco, the park is spread across 230-acres. It is notable for featuring the largest wetlands environment of all places in the World Birding Center network.
Sitting alongside the picturesque Arroyo Colorado, a stunning stream that splinters off from the Rio Grande, the park consists of a shallow lake that is flanked by native woodlands, marsh cane and shrublands.
Home to a massive range of bird species, it is a haven for those who enjoy spotting as many different breeds as they can. On any given day you will find plenty of enthusiasts to swap notes and location advice with.
For those looking for overnight accommodation, the only type the park has available is barracks with a group hall and kitchen. However, within three miles of it are a couple of other campgrounds that offer plenty of options for RVs, trailers and tent campers.
As you would expect, the majority of visitors to Estero Llano Grande State Park come here for birding and wildlife watching opportunities.
Outlined below is some further information about both of these activities, as well as a couple of other things you can do whilst you are here.
Birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park
With the park’s reputation preceding itself, Estero Llano Grande is a must visit birding destination. Especially in the latter part of the summer when water tends to be at a premium.
During this time, hundreds of shorebirds and waders flock to the park for respite and relief.
Whenever you come to the park be sure to bring your binoculars as you will be able to spot hundreds of different species. This includes vibrant coast species like Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill.
Other breeds you might see among the forested and thorn scrub areas include Wood Stork, Groove-billed Ani and Altamira Oriole.
If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots, both of which are quite rare.
Located in the Tropical Zone, the Indigo Blind provides an excellent platform to spot other rare birds like Green Jays and White-tipped Doves, who reside among the native and tropical non-native fruit trees.
ADA accessible, the blind also has a water feature and includes a feeding station that is filled during winter months.
Nature & Wildlife
Given its distinctive topography, the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. This includes the likes of American alligators, which can be viewed at Alligator Lake.
Despite its name, it is not guaranteed to see these creatures. However as you walk through the wetlands and bushy areas, you might get to see fauna like Common Pauraque, White-tailed Kite and even bobcats.
Hiking at Estero Llano Grande State Park
The park provides an important habitat to permanent and migrating wildlife, much of which can be seen along its hiking trails.
Overall there are 6 trails at the park which showcase its fabulous topography of wetlands, woodlands, ponds and thorn scrub, over a distance of 5 miles. Two miles of which are wheelchair accessible.
Here are all of the trails at Estero Llano Grande State Park, all of which are rated as easy, in terms of degrees of difficulty.
- trail 1 – Alligator Lake Trail. Length: 0.1 mile Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 2 – Llano Grande Hiking Trail. Length: 1.46 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 3 – Tropical Area Trails. Length: 0.74 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 1 – Wader’s Trail. Length: 1.16 mile Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 2 – Camino de Aves. Length: 0.94 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
- trail 3 – Orchard Trail. Length: 0.42 miles Degree of Difficulty: easy
Pets at Estero Llano Grande State Park
Visitors are welcome to bring their pets to the park, but they will need to be supervised and also restrained on a leash at all times during your stay there.
Some other restrictions may also be in place, so if you intend to bring your pet with you, it would be a good idea to contact the park’s main office to ascertain what they are.
Camping at Estero Llano Grande State Park
The only accommodation options available at the park are barracks with a group hall and kitchen, of which there are two.
Set across the Camp Thicket North Complex, the first barracks can accommodate a maximum of 80 people. The second is situated at the South Complex and can sleep up to 46 people.
Both of these facilities come with sizes of bunk beds and also feature kitchens with stoves and ovens, refrigerators, and bathrooms with showers. There are also large barbecue pits available for those who want to cook up a storm.
Each person who stays here will have to pay $22 for the privilege. Those staying at the south complex can also make use of a chapel.
For those specifically looking for somewhere to stay in their RV or trailer, there are several campgrounds located within 10 miles of the park.
This includes the Snow to Sun Resort, which is just 3.6 miles away, as well as the Leisure World RV park in Weslaco, just 2.2 miles away.
Between them, they offer an excellent range of caravan sites, camping options and holiday homes.
Estero Llano Grande State Park
3301 S International Blvd FM 1015
Weslaco TX 78596
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Estero Llano Grande State Park:
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