Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Nueces Loop

Nueces Loop map

Nueces loop mapJames Rose RanchKickapoo Cavern State Park/Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural AreaLedge Water CampgroundLost Canyon Ecumenical RetreatFriday RanchPark Chalk BluffOpen V RanchCooks Slough Nature CenterFort Inge Historical ParkUvalde Fish Hatchery

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More information:

  • Uvalde COC, 830-278-3361, www.uvalde.org
  • Uvalde CVB, 830-278-4115, 800-588-2533, www.uvaldecvb.org
  • Brackettville COC, 830-563-2466
  • Del Rio COC, 830-775-3551, 800-889-8149, www.drchamber.com
  • Rocksprings COC, 830-683-6466
  • Texas Hill Country River Region, 830-591-1074, 800-210-0380, www.thcrr.com

018.gif HOTW 018 James Rose Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

The Rose Ranch, a 3,100-acre tract of rolling, juniper studded hills, provides extensive habitat for Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. The ranch contains river edge habitat, chaparral, rocky bluffs, and pasture edge, a combination that allows Green Kingfisher, Green Jay, and Bell’s Vireo to congregate here. The river’s cold water is as much as eight feet deep, which makes for excellent summertime swimming in the hot Texas clime, and it’s one of the few flowing waters in the area that is almost never dry.

830-563-2665, Call for directions.

019.gif HOTW 019 Kickapoo Cavern State Park (SP)/Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area (SNA)

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

From the intersection of US 90 and FM 674 in Brackettville, go north on FM 674 for 22.5 miles to the entrance on the left. Visitors need to call in advance.

This site covers 6400 acres of important wildlife habitat, and represents a convergence point for three distinct physiographical regions: the Edwards Plateau, Tamaulipan Brush, and Chihuahuan Desert. Steep limestone canyons provide rich and varied habitat for birds and mammals alike. Juniper and live oak predominate throughout the park, but the canyons contain Texas persimmon, shin oak, agarita, and evergreen sumac. Gnat-catchers, Vireos, Bushtits, Verdins, Varied Bunting, Montezuma Quail and one of the largest concentrations of Black-capped Vireo on public lands all occur here. Gray Vireo can also be seen with relative ease during the breeding season. Mammals more commonly seen in the park include White-tailed Deer, Raccoon, Ringtail, Gray Fox, Rock Squirrel, Porcupine, Rabbit, and various rodents. Uncommon species of reptiles and amphibians live in the park, including the Barking Frog, Mottled Rock Rattlesnake, and Texas Alligator Lizard.

Kickapoo Cavern, approximately one-quarter mile in length, boasts some impressive formations and can be toured by special arrangement. Stuart Bat Cave, slightly shorter than Kickapoo at 1068 feet, serves as a spring-summer home for large numbers of Mexican Free-tailed Bats from mid-March to about the end of October. Bat flights are often spectacular, and tours are available. Devil’s Sinkhole SNA is located north of Rocksprings on US 377 and features a deep vertical cavern and bat viewing opportunities. Devil’s Sinkhole Society 830-683-2287.

830-563-2342, Kickapoo Cavern State Park

830-683-3762, Devil’s Sinkhole SNA

020.gif HOTW 020 Ledge Water Campground

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site open daily. Fee charged.

Return to FM 674 North for 34.2 miles and take TX 377 East/right for 3.0 miles to Rock Springs. Take TX 55 South for 16.8 miles to campground on right.

Ledge Water Campground covers roughly 1000 acres of incredibly beautiful, wooded creek bottom. Much of the acreage is covered with juniper, and a lake formed by a dam on the creek provides a luxurious place to picnic, watch birds in the massive Live Oaks, or swim in crystal clear water. Northern Rough-winged Swallows feed along the banks, and Vermilion Flycatchers snap up insects in the picnic area. Upland habitat can be accessed by roads that allow birders to walk the area above the creek.

888-597-2267, www.ledgewater.com

021.gif HOTW 021 Lost Canyon Ecumenical Retreat

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

Return on TX 55 South for 9.1 miles to Barksdale. Go east on County Road 211 for 3.9 miles. Gate is on left.

This 210 acre retreat offers excellent nesting habitat for Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos. The owner is an avid birder and offers tours for guests and a checklist of birds seen on the property. Large cabins and a serene setting offer guests a chance to relax and enjoy the wildlife around them. Marked trails let you explore the property at your own pace. Dragonflies and butterflies also abound here from late spring onward, and a small lake provides habitat for waterfowl.

830-234-3250, www.lostcanyon.org

022.gif HOTW 022 Friday Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

This 7000-acre ranch on the Nueces River provides some of the finest river views available anywhere. The ranch is large enough to support a wide variety of wildlife, including predators and birds of prey. Night tours can also be arranged so that visitors can see the full variety of nocturnal fauna. Most western birds such as Verdin, Long-billed Thrasher, Cassin’s Sparrow, and Black-throated Sparrow occur here. This stretch of the Nueces contains native Guadalupe Bass, and is also excellent habitat for aquatic insects such as dragonflies and damselflies. Coppery Dancer, whose U.S. range is limited to a handful of Hill Country counties, and Comanche Dancer, which has a similarly limited U.S. range, occurs here. The ranch offers a variety of lodging and camping facilities, from a fully equipped lodge to secluded cabins and primitive campsites. Activities include hiking, ranch tours, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, and canoeing as well as wildlife viewing and photography.

877-374-3298, www.fridayranch.com, Call for directions.

023.gif HOTW 023 Park Chalk Bluff

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

From FM 334 and TX 55, go south 4.5 miles to gate on right.

Located along the north bank of the Nueces River, this park has long been a favorite of birders, offering “east meets west” habitats and the resulting diversity of birds and other wildlife. Look for the 300-foot tall bluff that provides a dramatic backdrop of changing colors and textures. Below the bluff, the river’s main channel is edged with dense thickets of willow and other riparian vegetation. These pools are favored hunting sites for Green Kingfisher. Cassin’s Sparrow, Bell’s Vireo, and Vermilion Fly-catcher, as well as Bewick’s, Carolina and Canyon wrens can be found here. In breeding season, listen for Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Olive Sparrow and Painted Bunting. During spring migration, Clay-colored and Chipping sparrows, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak, Baltimore and (nesting) Bullock’s Oriole, and Black-and-white Warbler sing here as well. Less common birds at Chalk Bluff include Ringed Kingfisher, Zone-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Vireo, and even Rufous-capped Warbler. Butterflies include White Peacock, Fatal Metal-mark, Elada Checker-spot, Vesta Crescent, and Bordered Patch. The pools and channels of the river provide habitat for a large assortment of dragonflies and damselflies such as Comanche Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, Checkered Setwing, Flag-tailed Spinylegs, Comanche Dancer and Coppery Dancer. Park Chalk Bluff offers tent and trailer camping as well as cabins, rowboat and paddleboat, inner tube and bicycle rentals.

830-278-5515, www.chalkbluff.com

024.gif HOTW 024 Open V Ranch

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site access restricted. Call ahead. Fee charged.

The Open V includes 250 acres representing a variety of habitats from grassy mesquite scrub with Vesper Sparrows to shady, graveled bottomland along Bird Springs Creek. A pond and the Nueces River add to the variety of scenery and habitats. A trail through the property allows guests to enjoy the plants and wildlife at their own pace. Comfortable lodging is available in the ranch house and camping is available along two miles of the Nueces River. Lipan Apache and Jumano Indian artifacts can still be found on the property.

830-278-3499 or 830-278-3883, Call for directions.

025.gif HOTW 025 Cooks Slough Nature Center

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

From the intersection of US 90 and US 83 in Uvalde, go south on US 83 for 0.4 mile to FM 117. Follow FM 117 south for 0.9 mile to CR 106 West. Turn right and go 0.5 mile to entrance.

The nature center offers three water treatment ponds that provide excellent habitat for wintering and migrating waterfowl. Ducks, cormorants, and herons can be found here regularly. A large overflow reservoir provides habitat for Green Kingfisher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, and Black-bellied Whistling Duck. An interpretive center and butterfly garden have also been planned. The nature center is an excellent example of a city using its wastewater facility as a means to create, and then enhance, wildlife habitat.

026.gif HOTW 026 Fort Inge Historical Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Site open for day use only. Fee charged.

Return to FM 117 and continue straight ahead, crossing FM 117, to FM 140. Go east for 1.2 miles and turn right on CR 375; continue 0.3 mile to gate entrance.

Established in 1849, Fort Inge runs along the Leona River and provides excellent wildlife habitat very close to Uvalde. Look for Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, and Long-billed Thrasher—avifauna characteristic of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The wooded edge of the Leona River below the dam also has a mussel shoal made of native shellfish that still thrive in the clear, unpolluted stream. Wintering birds make use of the cover and the lake above the dam, and migrants fill the trees during spring. Black-chinned Hummingbirds nest here.

830-278-3361

027.gif HOTW 027 Uvalde Fish Hatchery

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Return to the intersection of US 90 and US 83 in Uvalde, go west on US 90 for 1.6 miles and go south on FM 481 for 1.9 miles. Entrance is on right.

This federal fish hatchery has historically been one of the best places in Uvalde to see migrating shorebirds and waterbirds. At the back of the hatchery is a large wetland with two observation towers. When it contains water, the wetland is a good place to see ducks and shorebirds. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are seen here in some years, and breeders include Bullock’s Oriole and Vermilion Flycatcher. The hatchery is excellent for butterflies, and dragonflies are plentiful due to the emergent vegetation provided by the slough. This is a good site to see Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting, two of the area’s summer nesting birds.


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