RGV Visitors Guide

Page 51 Rio Grande Valley Visitors Guide 2023-2024 fly species, an equally exciting number of species of dragonflies, and such rarities as the threatened Texas Tortoise and Texas Indigo Snake. The resacas and wetland of the refuge attract a variety of water birds and other wildlife. The visitor’s center is staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A nature tram takes visitors on a 1 ½ -hour tour through the refuge while trained guides give information about the animals, plants, and history of the area. The tram operates seasonally from November through the end of April. Call the refuge for availability. Walking trails are open from dawn until dusk. Be sure and check out the rope bridge that takes visitors through the canopy. There are special events throughout the year as well, check the events calendar on www.fws.gov/refuge/santa_ana for more info. The refuge is located seven miles south of Alamo and one-fourth mile east of the junction of Highway 281 and FM 907. For information call (956) 784-7500. Admission is $5 per vehicle. Valley Nature Center Our Secret Garden, set in the midst of an urban community, the VNC has an exciting interactive visitor’s center leading into an impressive six-acre nature park. The park has a mile of interpretive trails through a recreated Tamaulipan thorn scrub forest, with an extensive collection of South Texas native plants. Their Mission is to provide educational opportunities, and foster understanding and appreciation of the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s unique natural flora and fauna. The Valley Nature Center offers a variety of fun and educational programs throughout the year for adults and children. The Valley Nature Center is located at 301 S. Border Ave. behind Gibson City Park in Weslaco. Open Tuesdays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed for major holidays. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for Seniors (55 and older), $3 for children (12 and under), and free for all VNC members. For additional details call (956) 969-2475, visit www.valleynaturecenter.org, or email info@valleynaturecenter.org. World Birding Center Not just one, but nine unique locations in the Rio Grande Valley. Each site of the World Birding Center has its own attractions for both the first-time visitor and expert birder. Not one season, but all seasons - as more than 500 bird species make the Birding Centers not-to-be-missed nature destinations. Desert terrain, riverside woodlands, palm-fringed resacas, barrier islands and crashing surf. Together, the nine different sites that make up the World Birding Center paint a colorful backdrop for birdwatching in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. From scenic bluffs high above the Rio Grande to teeming wetlands and coastal prairie, the World Birding Center network offers visitors a dazzling array of birding adventures. Visitors will be treated to nature tours, environmental education programs and state-of-the-art exhibits, all under the umbrella of a world class birding experience: The World Birding Center, where you will truly find “A Whole New Nature Adventure!” For hours, admission, and special events about the parks, visit the main website at theworldbirdingcenter. com. Links to each center is located on the right hand side. Scroll down to bottom of the site for contact information and their individual website if they have one. Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is a world-recognized birding hotspot and a celebrated location for nature lovers and avid naturalists to explore. This 797-acre State Park and World Birding Center has documented more than 360 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. The Visitor’s Center has a bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit hall, park store, and meeting room surrounded by butterfly gardens. Visitors can take the transportation shuttle, ride bikes, hike through the park or experience tent camping and fishing. A two-story observation tower gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the canopy as well as a peek into Mexico. Two enclosed bird blinds allow visitors to see birds up close. Over seven miles of trails with bird feeding stations (November to March) and water features offer a variety of opportunities to encounter wildlife. Join state park naturalists or park volunteers as they lead enjoyable and informative weekly programs. From bird walks to natural history tours and night hikes, there is something for everyone. The park is located at 2800 S. Bentsen Palm Dr. in Mission. For information call (956) 584-9156. Edinburg Scenic Wetlands is a 40-acre oasis in the midst of an urban area that offers observable wildlife year-round. The butterfly gardens between the parking lot and visitor’s center attract millions of butterflies during their migrations. Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, located at 714 Raul Longoria Rd. in the Edinburg Municipal Park, is known for water birds such as the Kingfisher and a variety of ducks. Please call (956) 381-9922 or visit www.edinburgwbc. org for information. Water is the magic ingredient for attracting wildlife, and Estero Llano Grande State Park, located at 3301 S. International Blvd (FM 1015) in Weslaco, has the largest wetland environment of the World Birding Center network in The Rio Grande Valley. This 235-acre refuge attracts an array of South Texas specialty birds and butterflies. 345 species of birds, 182 species of butterflies, and 61 of the 110 Valley species of dragonflies have been recorded at Estero Llano Grande since its opening in June 2006. This park is a great place to find Least Grebes, roosting Common Pauraque, and three species of Kingfishers as well as the Mexican Bluewing butterfly. Other notable rare bird highlights of the park have been the Northern Jacana, Rose-throated Becard, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat, and most recently the first U.S. record for the Red-legged Honeycreeper, and the first U.S. records for White-spotted Satyr, Brome-